Hackers use Y2K bug
as a smokescreen
Bill Goodwin reports
@ Computerweekly, © 1999 Reed Business Information Limited
Security experts warn that cyber-criminals
will exploit the millennium bug as a cover for hacking and virus attacks.
Businesses should brace themselves for an outbreak of sophisticated computer
viruses as the year 2000 approaches, computer security experts warned last
A new generation of viruses that cause havoc by re-setting the central clocks
of mainframes and PCs could strike before the end of the year, IT security
firm mi2g claimed.
The warning comes amid rising concern among some IT managers that cyber-criminals
or disgruntled staff could exploit the millennium bug as cover for hacking
or virus attacks.
"Companies could be hit by thousands of viruses. They cannot assume
it will be business as normal," said Martyn Emery, director of year 2000
consulting firm Corporation 2000.
"It may be that companies will have to disable their e-mail systems
for the first seven days of the New Year," he added.
DK Matai, managing director of mi2g said the company has already shown
that it is technically possible to write a virus that can attack the internal
clock - one of the most vulnerable parts of a computer system.
An attack on a computer system that is not year 2000 compliant could lead
to a serious malfunction, causing loss of data and damaging businesses, he
Even when systems are Y2K compliant, moving a clock forward will cause software
licences, passwords, user accounts and files to fail.
In one test, the production line of a major car manufacturer ground to a
halt when the clock was rolled forward to January 2000. The robotics systems
stopped dead with no way to recover them, said Matai.
Although many organisations are highly aware of IT security, the internal
clock remains a vulnerable part of most computer systems.
There are no off-the-shelf packages to protect the internal clock. Companies
would have to develop their own software to monitor clocks and issue alerts
when anything was changed, Matai warned.