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Unknown Assailants Bring Down Internet Institutions; How to Send a Kiss Over Cyberspace; Hooking Up Harlem to the Economic Web of the Future

Aired February 12, 2000 - 12:30 p.m. ET


ANNOUNCER: Today on CNNdotCOM...

PERRI PELTZ, CO-HOST: A cyberattack like no other.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Around 11:00, we got hammered.


PELTZ: Internet institutions brought down by unknown assailants.


PIERRE THOMAS, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: You have a range of people that could be involved in this, everyone from 15-year-olds to a foreign government.


PELTZ: Answers and questions on the safety and security of the Web.

Miracle on 111th Street: How a little girl from Harlem named Miracle is helping bridge the digital divide.


MARA ROSE, DIRECTOR, PLAYING TO WIN: She knows how to make Web sites now. She knows how to use Photoshop.


PELTZ: Hooking up Harlem into the economic Web of the future.

Love in cyberspace.


MARSHALL HAYS, WHODOYOULOVE.COM: I mean, who doesn't love love and kissing?


PELTZ: So you and that special someone really click? Check out these Web sites to add a dash of passion to your love connection this Valentine's Day.

All that and more on CNNdotCOM.

ANNOUNCER: CNNdotCOM, with Perri Peltz and James Hattori.

PELTZ: Welcome to CNNdotCOM. I'm Perri Peltz.

A broad and pounding electronic assault on major Web sites this week has changed our cyberworld forever. It's revealed the Internet's vulnerability. Hackers -- or maybe just one individual -- crashed or crippled numerous sites, including Yahoo!, eBay, eTrade, even our own, by flooding them with messages.


(voice-over): The attack on has been linked to a server at the University of California, Santa Barbara, that according to a school official. The official says an intruder used the school's machine at least twice.

(on camera): Who's behind the attacks? We still don't know, but the FBI and the Justice Department are investigating. But that's just one of the many questions surrounding these Web attacks.

For answers, we talked with a number of experts, who offered up explanations in these bites.


STUART VARNEY, CNN ANCHOR: We have a developing story concerning eBay.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: ... integrally involved with a site that has come under attack.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: ... computer hacker attack disrupted some of the highest-profile sites on the Internet...

PATRICK HOUSTON, ZDNET: Our servers were bombarded in, like, a five-second period with thousands of requests for pages.

RICK LOCKRIDGE, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Denial of service, in this case, apparently resulted from these hackers going out and hijacking as few as 50 powerful computers and getting those 50 computers to act like soldiers on a battlefield, bombarding these Web site computers with up to a gigabyte of information per second.

That's more than a million pages of text information per second. And, of course, the servers for these Web sites, as big and sophisticated as those servers are, simply can't handle that kind of onslaught.



JONATHAN MANN, CNN ANCHOR: Computer hackers...

PIERRE THOMAS, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: We have a range of people that could be involved with this, everyone from 15-year-olds to a foreign government.

LOCKRIDGE: Right now, the prevailing theory seems to be that this isn't just the work of one or two people, because the effort that they marshaled was too big to have been produced by just one or two hackers.

KEVIN MITNICK, FORMER HACKER: Well, the definition of a hacker has been distorted. And for someone to do a denial of service attack and maliciously, you know, basically sabotage systems is really vandalism. You know, you think it's -- there's a distinction between being a computer hacker and being a vandal.

HOUSTON: The Internet is like a small town where there are no locks on the front doors, no street lights, and no cops on any corner.

STUART MCCLURE, RAMPARTS SECURITY: Security becomes a priority that's pushed down further and further on the list of a lot of these e-commerce sites.

LOCKRIDGE: The message that was sent was, despite the sophisticated security precautions you Web site administrators have taken in the past to guard against viruses and hackers, it simply wasn't enough.

SPACE ROGUE, @STAKE: It's not difficult at all. What we're looking at here is probably somebody who's downloaded, like I said, a predefined or prewritten software that has a malicious use, where they're trying to actually take down or deny access to various Web servers. As much trouble it is to download a piece of software, install it, and double-click on your mouse, is all the skill that's necessary.

LOCKRIDGE: I don't think they have any goal other than to disrupt and make a name for themselves and call attention to themselves. And that is exactly what they did in this case. They went out and they got front-page news and headline news across all media today. These people, if they were out to attract a lot of attention to themselves, they succeeded very well at that.

MCCLURE: As more and more companies go online, and as more and more consumers depend on e-commerce online, you're going to find a lot of people wanting to bring those folks down.

LOCKRIDGE: The damages were done to the Web sites in loss of advertising revenue and perhaps loss of prestige. But individuals probably didn't lose any money on this, just Web sites. So in terms of damage, a small amount of damage, a large amount of annoyance. HOUSTON: Tomorrow, someone could come along with a slightly different variation on the same kind of intent, and it could happen all over again.

LOCKRIDGE: Say, for example, we decide at some point to migrate the 911 emergency system over to the Internet, which would make a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons. Well, if you do that, and then there is a denial of service attack against the 911 system in the future, say so many years out, then that's a very serious problem.

As we depend more on the Internet, we're going to have to make it more secure than it is now.


PELTZ: And we'll be right back.

ANNOUNCER: Still ahead on THE DOT, pucker up and click. How to send a kiss over cyberspace.

It gives you a number of options of certain types of kiss that you might want to send.

ANNOUNCER: There's much more when CNNdotCOM continues.


ANNOUNCER: From Dublin, Ireland, here's James Hattori.

JAMES HATTORI, CO-HOST: Do you know which country, after the United States, is the world's biggest exporter of software? The Emerald Isle, Ireland. And here in Dublin a team of 250 Microsoft workers is preparing for the European launch of Windows 2000. The program is being localized into 16 different languages to be shipped to customers across the European continent.

And speaking of new releases, here's this week's edition of NewsFiles.


(voice-over): A winning ticket. While Microsoft waits to roll out Windows 2000 February 17, Bill Gates is joining forces with Richard Branson. It's a marriage made in -- well, cyberland, sort of. The outlandish CEO of the Virgin Group is hooking up with the more conservative chairman and chief software architect of Microsoft in hopes of winning the license for Great Britain's lottery. The current license runs out this year.

Microsoft would supply the technology to Virgin's nonprofit People's Lottery. The idea is to have the lottery available over the Net and on cell phones. According to the Virgin king, that alone would raise an additional $3 billion each year for charity.

And does Gates have any problems with technology encouraging even more people to gamble? His response, "At least the money goes to good causes." No word on how much, if any, Gates and Branson would make on the deal.

Show and tell. Buy a soda with your cell phone. Use the Internet to swap closets or listen to the Net on a regular radio, with a little help from this gizmo, not gadgets or technology of the future, but of the here and now. Specifically, last week in Indian Springs, California, the site of Demo 2000.

The computer elite got a sneak peek at some of the hot new Web- based businesses and devices. Included in the new e-businesses launched at Demo 2000,, a legal information and services company founded by Ed Koch. The former mayor of New York says his site is very consumer friendly because...

ED KOCH, THELAW.COM: I'm not a tecchie kind of person.

HATTORI: He said it, not us.

And that's NewsFiles.


PELTZ: Love on the Internet is becoming a hot commodity. estimates online buyers will spend more than $650 million on their Valentines this year. The hottest e-commerce categories, gifts and flowers.

But if you want to go beyond the standard box of chocolates, there's a wealth of ways on the Web to say, Be mine.

Here's James Hattori with Nothin' but Net.


HATTORI (voice-over): Valentine's Day 2000 is just a heartbeat away, and love is in the air. In fact, it's all over cyberspace. Numerous Web sites are vying for your undying attention. and its companion Web site,, can not only fulfill your Valentine needs but aim to keep love alive long after the holiday.

They were created by three single 20-something guys in Dallas committed to modern love and romance for romance's sake.

MARSHALL HAYS, WHODOYOULOVE.COM: If you look on the Internet, you see most of the love-related sites up until recently have been pornography related or online dating sites. And we thought, Well, what about the people that are already in a good relationship and want to find a way to express their love to someone overseas or just, you know, around the corner?

HATTORI: offers up plenty of amorous content. You can design your own personalized love card or send your sweetheart a special I Love You in English, Swahili, or any other language.

Rather than flowers this holiday, why not deliver a love coupon good for one evening of pampering? Love Astrology will profile your sign, find your match, and give you the inside scoop on the stars' mystic dance of love.

For more down-to-earth advice, there's the Dating Doctor, a chat room, and links to other love- and sex-related sites.

KIM ZETTER, "PC WORLD" MAGAZINE: You know, romance is always good year-round, so certainly it's a good site to come back to, try and figure out how to maybe energize your relationship when it's not necessarily a holiday.

HATTORI: Of course, Valentine's Day just wouldn't be complete without a kiss, or at least a

ZETTER: It's actually really easy to send a virtual kiss. You just log onto the kissing booth, and it gives you a number of options of certain types of kiss that you might want to send. For instance, a French kiss, if you want to send someone, is a picture of lips with a French beret and a little pencil mustache on it. There's a trainer's kiss, which is puckered lips on training wheels.

It's very silly, but it's fun, and it's just something light to send some -- to someone to give them a smile for the day.

HATTORI: is also the one safe place to kiss and tell, filled with real-life best and worst kiss stories, plus the kissing tip of the day.

HAYS: We set up a forum for people to enter their first-kiss stories, and we ended up getting, like, 300 within the first day. So we realized, hey, we're onto something. And we've then expanded that to allow first kiss, best kiss, and worst kiss stories. And actually my mom down in Houston reads 20 stories every day and posts them online for other users to read.

HATTORI: So whether it's advice, prepuckered kisses, or an oasis of love you're surfing for, this Valentine's Day log onto and the Virtual Kiss for a romantic Internet interlude.


PELTZ: Still not sure what to give your Valentine? OK, get your Palm Pilot, and we're going to give you a few more sites that you might want to check out. If you'd like to serenade your sweetheart but you just can't carry a tune, you'll find help at It will locate the nearest barbershop quartet. is geared towards your smallest loved one. That's where you can find games and coloring books. And if your Valentine has been very, very good, check out A ruby-encrusted bracelet for her, a black alligator billfold for him.

For me? I'll just take some of those great chocolates.

We'll be right back.

ANNOUNCER: Coming up, IDG's NerdWord. The word of the week, "flame." Will it keep love burning this Valentine's day? The answer when we come back.


PELTZ: And now, NerdWord. This week's word is perfect for that time of year when our fancies are supposed to turn to love, "flame." No, it's not when a torrid online love connection becomes too hot to handle, and it's not a term for a computer crash that turns your PC into a nuclear meltdown. To flame is to make inflammatory, sometimes personal or obscene, remarks on the Internet, particularly in a chat room or through e-mail.

When an Internet discussion turns into a series of personal attacks, that's called a flame war. So if you're ever interested in rekindling the fires of passion with an old flame, don't flame.

We'll be right back.


PELTZ: Welcome back.

High-tech and low-income, bringing the two together has become a No. 1 priority of the Clinton administration. Just last week, President Clinton proposed $2 billion in tax incentives to encourage computer donations by private companies.

He also called for $100 million to create high-tech centers in low-income neighborhoods. We visited one of these community technology centers. It's helping bridge the digital divide in a place that's become a symbol of the gap between the haves and have-nots.

For more on that story, let's go to Harlem.


(voice-over): It's Monday morning in a Harlem apartment building, and children are waking up early to get ready for school. This is Miracle. That's her name, Miracle Jackson. She's 12 years old, and she's on her way to school with her friend Jessica.

Some say Miracle lives on the wrong side of the digital tracks, in a community where many people can't even afford to buy a computer. Miracle is lucky. After school, she and her friends can take advantage of a tech center right in the middle of Harlem called Playing to Win.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN (on phone): Hello, Playing to Win.

MIRACLE JACKSON: There's classes here where (UNINTELLIGIBLE) learn that we're making games like our own, we're making our own games that actually work that we can put on our Web sites.

PELTZ: Here, anyone from Harlem can use a computer at a nominal charge. Mara Rose is director of Playing to Win.

MARA ROSE, DIRECTOR, PLAYING TO WIN: Miracle's wonderful. She comes here every single day after school, and she is incredibly savvy with the technology. She picks things up really quickly. She knows how to make Web sites now. She knows how to use Photoshop. She knows how to use Illustrator.

PELTZ: Miracle is not alone. This is Melvin Johnson.

MELVIN JOHNSON: This is my baby right here.

PELTZ: He's part of a group of teenagers at Playing to Win which publishes an online newspaper called Harlem Live.

JOHNSON: This kid that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and he was on, like, 19, and saying how he had a good job, he was on his way to NYU. And I figure, why can't I do that?

PELTZ: When Antonia Stone (ph) founded Playing to Win in 1983, she had a dream.

ANTONIA STONE: A dream of having a center in some kind of low- income neighborhood where people could just drop in, put their hands on a computer, learn something about the technology, learn what it would mean for them so that -- what it would mean for their lives.

PELTZ: Back in the late 1970s, Stone quit her job as a math teacher at a prestigious Manhattan prep school to develop the idea of community technology centers. At that time, it was by no means obvious that low-income neighborhoods would need or even want computers.

STONE: The Macintosh wasn't a saleable item. Bill Gates was in college. It was the very dawn of individualized technology.

PELTZ: But she was convinced that computers were going to make a difference for everyone, and she worried about who would get to use them.

STONE: If computers are expensive and if nobody has them at home and they're only in independent schools and in rich school districts like Scarsdale and various places, what's going to happen to the rest of the world?

PELTZ: And now, today there is CTC Net, a group of over 350 community technology centers in disadvantaged neighborhoods across the country. They're all based on the model of Playing to Win, and they're all the tools of opportunity, helping people shift careers into the new digital economy.

Before he arrived at Playing to Win, Fahim Abdur Razak (ph) had a career as a boiler mechanic.

FAHIM ABDUR RAZAK: I got hurt. And they said, You can't do this work any more. This -- no more physical work. So I learned Web development here. And I'm teaching it now. And I'm, like -- I never even imagined being a Web developer.

PELTZ (on camera): How does that feel? RAZAK: When you actually work doing something you love, it's totally different. I mean, I love computers. I do this at home. I go home, I'm on my computer. So I get paid to do this.

PELTZ (voice-over): Playing to Win is not just about helping adults enter the computer economy. It's also finding creative ways to introduce everyone to computers.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: You have information she needs?

PELTZ: But not everyone believes that computer access is what children like Miracle and her friends need most to get ahead in life. David Gelerntner (ph) is a professor at Yale University. He teaches computer science but warns that computers will not fix societal problems.

DAVID GELERNTNER, YALE UNIVERSITY: I think computers is the absolute last thing they need. They need to learn reading and writing and history and arithmetic. That's what will turn them into educated citizens. That's what will make them economically productive, and vastly more important, that's what will make them capable citizens and productive human beings. That's what they need.

PELTZ (on camera): Why not use the money, the time, the resources, and really focus on teaching these kids how to read and write? Aren't computers the icing on the cake?

RICHARD COLTON, DIRECTOR, HARLEM LIVE: But they are reading and writing. I mean, and they're given a reason to read and write. I mean, it's not just to hand in to the teacher and who will grade it. This is something that goes out on a worldwide audience, so they're motivated to learn.

PELTZ (voice-over): Rasan Harris (ph) and Richard Colton direct the Harlem Live program, one of the most popular at Playing to Win. They believe computer access is everything.

RASAN HARRIS, DIRECTOR, HARLEM LIVE: In the modern world, to be able to have access to everything that's out there, you need to know where that information is. A lot of information right now is on the Internet.

PELTZ: And educators around the country seem to be in love with computers. The U.S. Department of Education says increasing numbers of studies show that computer access for kids pays off with improved academic performance, higher attendance, and more real world skills.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRLS: Eighty-three minus six...

PELTZ: And Congress is now spending millions of dollars to support computer education. But experts like Gelerntner have their doubts about those studies and the money being spent on computers.

GELERNTNER: All right, you've spent a billion dollars on computers. What good have they done? It's a hard question to answer. The data are not available. But certainly we don't have the data that says it's worth the money.

COLTON: Look for a fat map (ph) somewhere else.

PELTZ: While some experts disagree about the benefits, the kids are hard at work, using their computers and asking questions of their advisers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) open three question think about (ph), but he's not here yet, so...

COLTON: The kids are producing, and, like, their story will get e-mail applause from folks from all over.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ebony, you got any idea?

COLTON: And all of a sudden, they don't see themselves as, like, a failure or someone who's not really good at communicating or writing. They're someone who's really proud of their work.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: What did you think about all the hype of Y2K? Was it justified?

COLTON: And then they take more risks, and they take more risks, and that snowballs into, like, a lot of different opportunities that they might not have even ventured in in the first place. But it was caring and getting involved with people that really makes a difference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, thanks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take care, y'all.


PELTZ: And it seems that the critics, such as Gelerntner at Yale, might agree that engaging the kids is really what matters most.

GELERNTNER: There is no substitute for parents, relatives, somebody, an adult who takes a personal interest in the child. And we all know that.

ROSE: And you guys are going to add it to your Web site?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

PELTZ (on camera): Is Playing to Win a miracle?

ROSE: It's funny, because people love the fact that there's a Miracle here, because it -- you know, it's fun to talk about it that way. I don't -- I'm not -- I can't answer that. I mean, I think it's wonderful. I don't know that it's a miracle.


PELTZ: If someone can't get to the Net, then bring the Net to him or her. That's the philosophy of an online network targeting urban consumers. It's called Urbancool Network, and it's in the process of building Net-stand kiosks in shopping malls, schools, movie theaters, and other popular gathering spots. The kiosks will contain computers that feature high-speed Internet access to -- where else? -- the Urbancool Online Network. The address?

We'll be right back.


PELTZ: That's it for this week. Coming up next week, this man was once the Bill Gates of the modem world. Now he owns a honky tonk. What happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It gets to be real easy to just spend money just to be spending it.

PELTZ: A fortune made and lost. That story next week this time on CNNdotCOM.

Thanks so much for watching. From all of us here at THE DOT, I'm Perri Peltz. We hope to see you again next week.


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