Hackers Will Be Out in Full Force On New Year's Eve

Event Summary

Many IT decision makers will be waiting in angst to see what forays will transpire on the eve of the new millenium in regards to Y2K computer glitches. At this same time, hackers will be out in full-force concocting what could turn into the biggest hackfest we've seen yet. While CIOs, IT directors, and network administrators, get ulcers over Y2K, computer snafus much more serious than Y2K will be complicating an already precarious and unknown outcome as hackers use the Y2K opportunity as a cover for unsavory non-Y2K related hack sessions.

John Koskinen, President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion has asked hackers to spare our nation a day of reprieve from hacking stating "We're going to have enough things going on that weekend that this will not be a particularly good weekend to demonstrate the need for more information security."

"We've already seen an increase in virus activity in the run up to the 31st, especially worms that are spread by email systems. An example is the NewApt worm that was discovered on December 14th," says Ian Poynter, president of computer security consulting firm Jerboa Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "I'm sure that there will be some security-related fall-out in organizations that are well prepared for Y2K. Along with more standard technical measures, we're recommending an increase in user education. Raising user awareness of security issues increases the likelihood of catching things that slip through a company's defenses."

Market Impact

There is a lot more to watch out for than simple epic date mishaps. Viruses disguised as Y2K bugs as well as Y2K fix scripts is just one thing to watch for. Be on the look for strange financial transactions that cross global time-zone boundaries. In fact, any out of the ordinary file transfers that cross global time-zone may be reason for concern.

User Recommendations

  • Do everything you can to secure your networks and systems before December 31st.

  • If it won't impact your business, disconnect your corporate network from the Internet from noon on December 31st to noon on January 1.

  • Run any re-usable password files that are exposed to the Internet through crack or l0phtcrack to identify insecure passwords beforehand so that they can be changed as necessary.

  • Scan your network for well-known security exploits and remedy all vulnerabilities before December 31st.

  • Make sure that your syslogd and other system loggers are generating good and useable log files before December 31st.

  • Any organizations that care about Y2K will have already performed their Y2K due diligence. Any Y2K fix scripts seen running in a system's process table as the new millennium rolls in may be cause for concern.

  • Every business and organization should have a security engineer on-call on New Year's Eve.

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