Every now and then, we read about a political site that crashes due to cyber attacks, usually merely a program that spams thousands of log ons and crashes the server.

But twice in the last month, Christian websites that I read have reported cyberattacks from Islamic countries.

Artist and author Michael O’Brien reports that his website, which included an essay about the Pope’s Regansburg talk, has been the subject of a cyberattack:

I expect that those of you who visited the Studiobrien website toward the end of May were surprised that once again militant Islamic hackers web saboteurs had brought down the site. The webmaster (and web-fixer) dont quite know how the hackers were able to get into the innards of the site again. It seems they work hard at decoding the locked gates, then enter and do ! whatever damage they like. The first two hack-jobs were not uncomplicated to fix, and both times the site was back on line within a couple of days. But this third attack pushed us off-line for eleven days.

A bunch of clever lads in Istanbul are responsible for doing this to a number of Christian sites. They leave their signature when they fold their tents and disappear into the desert of cyber-space….

O’Brien then goes on to muse about how anger and hatred destroy men’s souls, and the need for prayer.

However, cyberattacks against government and business websites could be much more serious. And there is indeed a hacking war against the west using our own weapons.

Hackers could destroy bank records (something Tom Clancy has already written about in one of his novels). They could take down electric plants and airports. They could destroy your medical records.

Many of these things have already happened piecemeal, usually due to innocent glitches or mischievious viruses. And we in Asia were off line for days (and in our rural area, almost a month) due to the Taiwan earthquake destroying  an underseas cable.

So far cyberattacks by Islamicist groups targeting their enemies seem more to be annoying rather than systematically destructive.

Yet Russia’s recent cyberattack on Estonia shows how vulnerable we are to such attacks.

The US government has long been aware of the danger, and has long been the target of probes by the adventurous and the malicious: even our old MSDOS system in our tiny federal Indian Clinic was once taken off line by a virus a couple years ago…which meant we had to dig in the written record to check for vital information; and now, they have fancy electronic records, so might be even more vulnerable.

Another aspect of the war on terror that you can worry about.

Well, I can’t do much about it, except take Mr. O’Brien’s advice:

we must pray for those who harm us, do good to them, love them. This is not emoticon love, for it is improbable that any human being can feel affection for someone who is causing him pain. Rather we must practice loving by choice, by will, by persistent prayer.

Hmmm…where did I put my rosary? I know it’s around here somewhere…

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician working in the Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket 

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