An overrated threat

What I want to know is: If the hackers who busted into the Air Force's World Wide Web
site were capable, as they claimed, of taking over the e-mail system, why didn't they spam
the place? If, as they claimed, they could access top-secret data, why didn't they print
out a page and send it to, say, Pierre Salinger?


This isn't a dare. I ask these questions because I don't believe the hackers got any
farther than the Web server itself, a clearly insecure environment.


Threats to information security are well-documented. But the Air Force incident of late
last month should remind us not to overreact to every little prank. Security of a Web site
is by no means a barometer of the security of the other parts of an organization's
information infrastructure.


You can isolate a Web server from the rest of the network. You can use CD-ROMs to hold
Web data so that it can't be overwritten. You can partition off interactive parts with
firewalls or isolate them from your internal e-mail.


If someone steals my newspaper off my front lawn, does that mean they have access to
the safe in my basement?


This latest federal Web site violation is indeed an embarrassment and shouldn't have
been allowed to happen. But it's highly doubtful these hackers could have launched a
fighter strike.


Readers no doubt will notice the improved look and feel of GCN this issue. We've
upgraded to white, coated paper stock and made several typographical improvements. We've
changed the look of our Technology Report section, with new page headers that make it
easier to navigate. Also, a roomier layout on the opening page of Product Reviews gives us
more space for our main review each issue.


This all coincides with the start of GCN's 15th year of publication. Other recent
changes include a major upgrade of the test lab in our Silver Spring, Md., offices. Plus,
we are increasing our frequency from 26 issues to 30 issues per year.


GCN has been privileged to enjoy unmatched readership and reader loyalty throughout its
publishing history. It's not because we're geniuses but because our editorial material is
based on careful and ongoing research into reader requirements. We trust you'll find the
latest improvements to your liking. As always, we welcome-and thrive on-your comments and
suggestions.


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