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Communications of the ACM


How a Supervillain (or a Hacker in His Basement) Could Destroy the Internet

Samy Kamkar

Samy Kamkar, who hacked the MySpace social network with the Samy worm in 2005, is today a white-hat hacker, helping companies catch security flaws before they can be exploited.

Credit: Jock Fistick

U.S. senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) sealed his legacy in 2006 when he infamously referred to the Internet as a "series of tubes." This was a simplistic description in the extreme for the varied and intricate architecture that comprises the Internet's physical and virtual infrastructure. While it might be excused as a gaffe from an older generation, Stevens was partially responsible for regulating the Internet at the time he made the remarks.

Unfortunately, Stevens, who passed away in 2010, was not alone in his misunderstanding of how the Internet works, and ignorance in this area—far from being bliss—is dangerous. The series of tubes and other machinery that make the Internet possible can and have been disrupted. They can even be destroyed, say experts.


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