Digital Terrorism
March 1998
pg 14

  In the olden days - that is, pre-Internet - someone who wanted to spring
a prisoner from jail would either go in in a hail of bullets or hold
hapless humans hostage until the coveted criminal was released to escape
in a waiting car, boat, or plane.
  Not so in the age of the Internet, when the threat of physical harm has
been replaced with the threat of harming millions of computers. I'm
referring to the recent incident in which Yahoo, the most widely used
search engine, was held ransom briefly by digital daredevils trying to
liberate the notorious hacker Kevin Mitnick from jail. Mitnick gained

Yahoo was not held ransom at all. The web page of one of their servers
affecting a small percentage of viewers was changed.

near-celebrity status several years ago when he was hunted down and caught
for theft of company records and thousands of credit card numbers as well
as some other electronic vandalism. His crimes and subsequent capture were
chronicled in several books including TakeDown, co-authored by New York
Times writer John Markoff and cybersleuth Tsutomu Shimomura. Mitnick's
hacker compatriots said they had planted a virus that would supposedly be
released into the system of anyone who had used the Yahoo search engine in
December 1997. In return for his release, they would provide an antidote
to the virus.
  As it turns out, an antidote wasn't needed because there was no virus
that could be detected, so Mitnick remains incarcerated. Most experts

This implies that if there WAS a virus, he would have been released. That
is silly.

agree that it would be incredibly difficult to perpetrate such a caper,
but there's definitely a moral to this story. It's only a matter of time
before someone actually will succeed in carrying out a mass attack on
computerized citizens through the Internet. However, you can protect
yourself against being a victim.
  The main thing you should do - and I realize this is like saying "Eat
broccoli. It's good for you." - is back up your system regularly on
separate media. If a virus does infect your system, which could happen
even without a wide-scale attack, your most valuable files would be safe
in a drawer or collectin dust. So don't keep putting it off. Back up

Just don't back up infected files.

- Maggie Canon