Top 10 tech scares of the decade

The past ten years saw some terrifying technology--and we haven't even faced the Death Star yet.

By Sarah Jacobsson Purewal, PC World |  Security, security, y2k

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 criticized, 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.

6. ILOVEYOU Virus

Year: 2000

Predicted outcome: Not applicable

Actual outcome: Over 50 million computers infected; over $5.5 billion in damages

The ILOVEYOU virus was a computer worm that spread via e-mail. Similar to other e-mail worms, the virus required that users run the executable file (written in Visual Basic Scripting, or VBS). To induce victims to do so, the worm disguised itself as a text file by putting .TXT into its name; when people saw that the file was called "LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.vbs," they thought they were opening a harmless text file.

Once the victim opened the file, the worm would send copies of the e-mail to the first 50 contacts in the user's Windows Address Book, and then make changes to the system (it would overwrite a number of files, including all .JPG and .DOC files, with copies of itself).


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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