Computers: A Threat from Malicious Software

Hackers are slipping dangerous miniprograms into big systems

Early this year a bomb went off in a computer at the Los Angeles department of water and power. The device did not explode; it was a "logic bomb," a smidgen of spurious software coding that had been secretly inserted into the giant IBM machine. At a preassigned time, the logic bomb suddenly went off and maliciously froze the utility's internal files. Work came to a standstill until a team of experts, including the Los Angeles police department's newly formed computer crime unit, was able to uncover the subversive coding. The unknown criminal, who could face five years in the California...

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