Computer security researchers suggest ways to thwart new form of cybercrime
Most experts on computer crime focus on attacks against Web servers, bank account tampering and other mischief confined to the digital world. But by using little more than a Web search engine and some simple software, a computer-savvy criminal or terrorist could easily leap beyond the boundaries of cyberspace to wreak havoc in the physical world, a team of Internet security researchers has concluded.
At a recent Association for Computing Machinery conference on privacy in an electronic society, the researchers -- including a Johns Hopkins faculty member -- described how automated order forms on the Web could be exploited to send tens of thousands of unwanted catalogs to a business or an individual. Such an onslaught would not only pose problems for the victim, but it could also paralyze the local post office charged with making such deliveries, the researchers suggested. After explaining how such attacks could take place, the researchers proposed several technological "fixes" that could help prevent them.
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