Mark Loizeaux is president of Controlled Demolitions; he blows up buildings for a living. Complaining about the ineptitude of modern terrorists, he's quoted in the July 1997 Harper's Magazine as saying: “We could drop every bridge in the United States in a couple of days. … I could drive a truck on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and have a dirt bike on the back, drop that bridge, and I would get away. They would never stop me.”

As technology becomes more complicated, society's experts become more specialized. And in almost every area, those with the expertise to build society's infrastructure also have the expertise to destroy it.

Ask any doctor how to poison someone untraceably, and he can tell you. Ask someone who works in aircraft maintenance how to drop a 747 out of the sky without getting caught, and he'll know. Now ask any Internet security professional how to take down the Internet, permanently. I've heard about half a dozen different ways, and I know I haven't exhausted the possibilities.

The knowledge is there; the systems are vulnerable. All it takes is someone with just the right combination of skill and morals. Sometimes it doesn't even take that much skill. Timothy McVeigh did quite a number on the Oklahoma City federal building, even though his banausic use of explosives probably disgusted a professional like Loizeaux. Dr. Harold Shipman murdered possibly as many as 150 of his patients, using artless techniques like injecting them with morphine.

At first ...

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