Many folks think of "Web security" as little more than a leading-edge oxymoron. The Web's popular image, fueled by Hollywood and the medium's unsettling newness, is of a wild, wide-open information autobahn. Instant Web- security experts warn of viruses and on-line break-ins. News reports portray an Internet populated by hackers, data thieves and cyber-vandals. It seems scary enough to make any sensible business manager unplug the modems and seal up the firewall.

But like a lot of popular notions, it may be more virtual myth than real-world fact.

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