Tuesday December 7, 1999

FBI Official Says Primed for Y2K Internet Malice

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. federal agents are prepared for malicious attacks on Internet web sites under cover of any broader confusion during the transition to the new millennium, a senior official said Tuesday.

Michael Vatis, director of the FBI's national infrastructure protection center, told a meeting of international business representatives and legal officials the bureau would be on the alert although it had no hard evidence of any planned attacks.

``It's natural to expect there might be people doing stupid things with computers,'' he said, discussing concerns that computer confusion generated by the date change may provide cover for attacks on Internet computers.

Some devices risk crashing if their internal programming does not enable them to recognize 2000 as part of the next century. Fears have also been voiced that computer hackers could exploit that confusion, especially with viruses.