The past 10 years saw some terrifying technology
The dawn of the new millennium prompted fears about the future, but so far reality has not quite matched the predictions of catastrophe. The first ten years passed uneventfully - well, aside from Y2K and a bunch of intelligent computer viruses. Here's a look back at the past decade, and ten of the most terrifying tech scares.
Years: 2004 - 2009
Predicted outcome: Not applicable
Actual outcome: The fastest-spreading email worm ever
In January 2004 a new email worm began spreading around the net, appearing as a transmission-error message with an attachment. If the victim ran the attachment, the worm would not only send itself out to everyone on any address book it could find but also would attach itself to any copies of Kazaa to spread via peer-to-peer networks.
The worm eventually gained the name Mydoom, courtesy of a McAfee employee who was one of the first to discover the virus.
Mydoom has resurfaced intermittently since then, and a variation on the worm was a part of the 2009 cyberattacks on South Korea. The original author of the worm has never been found, but security firms have speculated that it was commissioned by email spammers and that it originated in Russia.
Year: Reported in 2007
Predicted outcome: Hackers on steroids, 'The Internet Hate Machine'
Actual outcome: Porn on YouTube, DDoS attacks on Scientology
In 2007, KTTV Fox 11 News in Los Angeles ran a sensational report about a group called Anonymous. According to the KTTV report, this "Internet hate machine" was to be feared for such devastating crimes as spoiling the end of the new Harry Potter book. The report was rife with creepy, faceless pictures and lurid phrases such as 'hackers on steroids' and 'domestic terrorists'.
Unfortunately, KTTV's fantastic report was wrong: Anonymous is not a specific group at all, just a name for any random collection of users from various online communities and IRC networks working together (rather, in the same direction) at any given time. Wired has more accurately described Anonymous as a group of "supremely bored 15-year-olds".
Crimes - internet annoyances, really - that have been attributed to Anonymous include DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks on various websites (including that of the Church of Scientology, and, more recently, websites that withdrew support from WikiLeaks) and assorted cases of internet vigilantism.
5. RFID tracking
Years: 2002 - Present
Predicted outcome: The government will be able to track your every move
Actual outcome: New passports
Radio-frequency identification, or RFID, is a technology for tracking assorted objects. RFID most commonly appears in the form of tiny chips, or 'tags', which can be attached to an object for identification and monitoring; currently they're embedded in a variety of things, including passports, security passes, and store inventory. Information stored on the chip is accessible to an RFID reader, which transmits frequency waves that 'wake up' the chip.
RFID technology has been heavily criticised, and it's not hard to see why: Even if manufacturers put chips in products without intending to invade people's privacy, the technology can be exploited easily. In theory, RFID tags could be used to track everything from shopping and spending habits to someone's exact location.
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