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House of Commons Leader Margaret Beckett took time out from spreading fear about the flesh-eating Millennium Bug to talk instead about the threat of hackers bringing the country to its knees. Addressing the Critical National Infrastructure Conference yesterday, she said that while the dangers from an electronic attack on key information systems was low at the moment, they would increase in time. The more the country relies on networks for critical information, the more susceptible it becomes to attack, she said. "I don't want to exaggerate the danger of a malicious attack on the infrastructure," she said, before reeling off a catalogue of potential apocalyptic disasters. "Network attacks respect no boundaries," she said. "In the USA... there have been plenty of occasions where intruders have gained access to quite a large number of systems. Not so much access to top secret, national defence computers -- but certainly some important ones such as those which control telecommunications networks." Thankfully, as the audience was about to dash for the doors and head for the hills, Mrs Beckett assured them that the UK had not suffered in the same way. "I said earlier that I did not want to exaggerate the risk, but I do want to assure you that it is being taken seriously," she added. Well, that's all right then, isn't it...? ®

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