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"I'm a farm boy. It's very interesting; you can detect self-starting characteristics in this society and they are strongest among people who have had some kind of rural upbringing and a very impressionable stage."
- Frank Herbert

Retaliatory Tapeworm (Counter-Worm)  
  Using computers to deliberately damage another person's reputation and well-being.  

While impersonating a minister, computer genius Nickie Haflinger happened to offend a certain Shad Fluckner, an employee of Anti-Trauma, Inc. When Haflinger woke up in the morning to find his power out, he took steps to discover the source of the problem.

A sweet recorded voice told him his phone credit was in abeyance pending judgment in the lawsuit that was apt to end with all his assets being garnisheed...

Lawsuit? What lawsuit?...

Then the answer dawned on him, and he almost laughed. Fluckner had resorted to one of the oldest tricks in the store and turned loose in the continental net a self-perpetuating tapeworm, probably headed by a denuciation group "borrowed" from a major corporation, which would shunt itself from one nexus to another every time his credit-code was punched into a keyboard. It could take days to kill a worm like that, and sometimes weeks.

He sent a retaliatory worm chasing Fluckner's. That should take care of the immediate problem in three to thirty minutes, depending on whether or not he beat the inevitable Monday morning circuit overload.

From The Shockwave Rider, by John Brunner.
Published by Harper and Row in 1975
Additional resources -

For more information, see the article on the term tapeworm, which Brunner is widely regarded as having originated.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Shockwave Rider
  More Ideas and Technology by John Brunner
  Tech news articles related to The Shockwave Rider
  Tech news articles related to works by John Brunner

Retaliatory Tapeworm (Counter-Worm)-related news articles:
  - 'Webtribution' Fact And Fiction
  - Software Agents Fight Unseen On The Web

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