Computers Under Attack Can Hack Back, Expert Says

Can vigilantism save computers from the next big virus threat?

Striking back against a computer that is attacking you may be illegal under U.S. law, but a security researcher says people should be allowed to neutralize one that is unwittingly spreading destructive Internet worms like Nimda.

"Arguably the biggest threat the Internet faces today is the propagation of a big worm," Timothy Mullen, chief information officer of AnchorIS Inc., based in Charleston, South Carolina.

Worms are a form of self-propagating virus that once set in motion can wreak havoc by taking control of other machines and then use these to launch attacks on the wider Internet.

"The next worm is going to happen, and it's going to be worse," Mullen said at the annual DefCon hacker conference, which started on Friday.

The defensive strategy of "strike back" is gaining some support among members of the U.S. Congress. They will be voting on a bill backed by movie and music studios that would allow retaliation to help thwart Internet piracy.

The bill, proposed by Democratic Congressman Howard Berman of California, would protect copyright holders from liability if they infuse destructive decoy digital files into peer-to-peer networks to penalize users.

Mullen said his hack back idea is different because it is designed to improve the security of cyberspace and would not harm any computer systems.

News source: Technology - Yahoo! News

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