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Cynical predictions of a cyberterrorist threat have generated the hysteria which frightens companies into paying for redundant security

By Timothy Quinn   September 2002

In the summer of 1997 a top secret exercise, code-named Eligible Receiver, took place in Washington DC. The Department of Defence purchased around 30 computers and secretly installed them out of the reach of neighbouring government systems, connecting them to the outside world only through an internet service provider. Analysts were brought in from the NSA and given an assignment to “take down” the US. The results of this exercise-still classified-remain a source of dispute to this day.

There are two schools of thought as to what happened during the three months in which the US attacked its own electronic…

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