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Slammer or glamour for DOS hackers?

Respondents to a TechTarget.com poll showed little mercy toward those responsible for the recent denial-of-service attacks on several high-profile Web sites. In fact, some of the poll's participants were downright bloodthirsty.

Joan of Arc was burned at the stake.

Marie Antoinette met her death at the guillotine.

And those responsible for the recent wave of denial-of-service attacks should face an angry lynch mob -- at least according to one out of every five people who responded to an informal Web-based poll by TechTarget.com. Many respondents were downright bloodthirsty.

"These immature, childish sh---s should get exactly the punishment they deserve," according to Paul Toms, who recommends "40 whacks across their bare [bottoms] with a leather belt."

While 21 percent of the 329 people who participated in the informal Web-based poll said they'd like to see the culprits strung up, more called time in the pokey an apt sentence. Forty-three percent opted for 10 to 20 years in jail.

"We have to start taking responsibility for our actions," said Ron Wolford, a database administrator. "Actions which are contrary to the common good should have consequences."

No doubt eBay, Amazon.com and Yahoo would agree. Last month's denial-of-service attacks, which bombarded the sites with so many information requests that they froze, kept Yahoo offline for about three hours. Estimates put the cost in advertising and sales revenue to that company alone between $200,000 and $500,000.

Police still have not made an arrest.

"Would you rather have a teenage prankster point out the vulnerabilities of so-called enterprise-ready e-commerce or would you rather wait for organized crime to clean those companies out?" asked Jiri Doskocil, a system's manager. "Go ahead, make my day."

Doskocil's remarks reflect the feelings of many survey participants. In fact, 20 percent felt that those responsible for the attacks are so crafty they ought to be rewarded with a job at the Pentagon.

"A person like this can teach us a lot more about our flaws, rather than locked in a cell," said Arco M. Llorens, a network administrator.

"Why not have them work to get rid of kiddy porn?" George Webb proposed. "It seems that if they are good at what they do, have them prove it."

Last month's attacks have reinforced the importance of Internet security, even if it means that companies will have to pay more to ensure that they stay online. Framingham, Mass-based market research firm International Data Corp. has said the market for security consulting will skyrocket to $14.8 billion by 2003, up from $6.2 billion last year.

"We need to put aside our petty jealousies, be professional, build this thing and run it like it should be run -- securely," according to Wayne R. Hainsworth. The network/PC technician, a former salesman who has only been an IT professional for five years, puts the onus on the industry to be more responsible.

"The Internet world we live in now doesn't belong to a handful of techies who are the only ones who know what's going on," he said.

Some respondents were merciful; 16 percent suggested probation for the attackers. One even thought the best punishment would be hitting them where it really hurts - in the hardware.

"They could have a choice, a few years in jail or a life with only a 386 PC running Windows 3.1 with a 9600 band modem!" said systems engineer Mark Alexander.

The poll was conducted by Dedham, Mass.-based TechTarget.com, which creates information technology web portals such as SearchDomino.com, SearchWin2000.com, Search400.com and SearchStorage.com.

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