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[] Cyberterrorismus ist 'Fantasie', Graham Cluley von Sophos,

By Chris Lee 

Security experts have labelled cyber terrorism as "fantasy" and called
the FBI "ill-advised" for raising unnecessary concerns about viruses.  
Following Osama bin Laden's attack on the US, Richard Clarke,
cyberspace security adviser to the White House, described the
perceived threat to America from viruses and hacking as a "digital
Pearl Harbor".

But no evidence has so far been produced to suggest that "rogue
nations and terrorists" are waging an information war against the

"If there was going to be cyber terrorism, why hasn't it happened?"
asked Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for antivirus (AV)
specialist Sophos.

"Viruses don't make good weapons for warfare; they have no guidance
system so the sender could easily become his own victim unless
protected and even then the most sophisticated viruses have antidotes
written for them by AV companies within a matter of hours," he said.

Cluley insisted that cyber terrorism was not the next battlefield for
international conflict. Only a few politically motivated viruses have
been launched, all of which were harmless and easily dealt with, he

He also criticised the FBI over its Magic Lantern, a Trojan virus
which the Bureau plans to release on suspected terrorist groups to
extract information from systems without their knowledge.

The hacking technology is believed to be more than three years old,
according to some US experts.

"It seems like the FBI is just trying to see if they can come up with
different options and ways that electronic surveillance can be done,"
said Vincent Gullotto, director of security specialist Networks
Associates' AV emergency response team.

AV specialist McAfee, part of Network Associates, denied reports in
the Washington Post last week that it would make sure its software did
not prevent Magic Lantern.

Sophos believes the FBI is not best placed to preach about AV
measures, having itself been a victim of the SirCam virus earlier this
year when classified documents were sent to the FBI's mailing list
because it had failed to update AV software.

The FBI has also failed to prosecute David L Smith, the author of the
Melissa virus which caused $80m worth of damage to US businesses.
Smith pleaded guilty on 10 December 1999 and has still to be

"Funny that," said Cluley, given that the FBI itself is now developing
its own viruses.

Cluley also criticised the Bureau's handling of the Code Red affair in
July, when FBI spokesmen warned of the "meltdown of the internet".

"The FBI was ill-advised. It should have said it only affected
business users and here's how to deal with it," he explained.

Code Red does not even feature in Sophos' top 10 most reported viruses
for the year.

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