DID YOU HEAR?

A top Pentagon official warned Congress of an "electronic" Pearl Harbor by cyber-terrorists and said the target is more likely to be commercial than military, according to reports from the Associated Press (AP). Even though its computer network is penetrated by computer hackers as often as 10 to 15 times a day, the Defense Department thinks it has done a good job protecting vital national security interests, according to Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre. He told the Senate Armed Services Committee that all the computer intrusions so far have been against nonsensitive portions of the Pentagon computer system. But he said he was increasingly worried about the vulnerability of commercial and financial interests.

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The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), bombarded with e-mails from consumers fearing government regulation of the Internet, has tried to dispel the notion, according to AP reports. "I want to say this as clearly as I can ... as long as I'm chairman of the Federal Communications Commission this agency will not regulate the Internet," Bill Kennard says. He was addressing rumors that have circulated for a long time. The FCC concluded in February that a computer user's dial-up calls to the Internet are interstate communications subject to federal jurisdiction. The FCC said the decision resolves a dispute among phone companies on how to compensate each other for Internet connections and how to clarify the role of state and federal regulators.

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The most common technique used to fix computers vulnerable to Year 2000 failures is only a short-term remedy, and even advocates of the method acknowledge it will require other expensive repairs or replacements within a generation, according to a report from the AP. The temporary fix, using a sophisticated twist of logic to fool computers, is highly controversial among insiders because it's intended to work for only a few decades - typically 30 years. One expert describes computers already fixed with the technique as "little ticking time bombs waiting to go off." The Clinton administration and industry analysts estimate the method is being used to patch 80 percent of computers in the worldwide repair effort expected to cost $300 billion.