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Using the Cyber Solution to Settle the Score

April 13, 1999|ART BUCHWALD

It has now been decided the world will not end in a bang or a whimper--but with a virus. The computer, which was originally a boon to mankind (where would a MasterCard be without it?), has become a diabolical weapon to bring human beings to their knees.

You need look no farther than New Jersey to discover a mad Dr. Strangelove programmer at work. Someone, now identified as an unhappy hacker, infected millions of computers with a deadly software bug that brought heartache to thousands and cost companies millions of dollars. The angry man tainted tons of e-mail so it would travel thousands of miles and chew up programs like a swarm of locusts.

There are potentially thousands of hackers sitting in their homes who could copycat the same thing.

Let us go to Hynaman Falls, where Arnold Coffee, age 16, has just been informed by his father that he can't have the car for the evening. Arnold, furious, goes to his room and turns on his computer.

"How," Arnold asks the computer, "can I make my parents sorry they won't give me the car?"

The computer replies, "You can either refuse to speak to them or you can blow up the world."

Arnold says, "Give me a hint as to how I can blow up the world."

"Push the Control key while sticking your fingers on the Page Down and Alt keys. Then delete the second paragraph without locking mail merge. Use your chin to hit the escape button. This will send out a message to Danny Williams in Leesburg, Va., that will infect Carla Mimosa's computer in North Dakota. From there the virus will spread through the system until it winds up in Santa Fe, N.M.

"One thousand copies will go to General Motors, that will unknowingly send out 110,000 e-mails to NASA, that will forward 1 million copies to the social security system in Australia."

"My screen is full of viruses. Do I have time to say goodbye to my girl?" Arnold asks.

"It's too late. You just blew up her hard drive."

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