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[infowar.de] USA Today 06.05.02: Cyberspace Full Of Terror Targets
Nichts neue, aber wieder einmal trefflich gehyped.
USA Today May 6, 2002 Pg. 11
Cyberspace Full Of Terror Targets
By Tom Squitieri, USA Today
WASHINGTON Government and private computer networks are facing new threats
of terrorist attacks, ranging from an attempt to bring havoc to a major
city to nationwide disruptions of finances, transportation and utilities.
But people with knowledge of national intelligence briefings say little has
been done to protect against a cyberattack.
Some of the threats come from individuals who might have connections to
Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network in Pakistan and elsewhere, those who
have been briefed say.
The specific threats, in part, prompted a meeting April 18 of government
intelligence and information-technology officials to discuss protecting the
nation's computer networks.
"This threat is growing," Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., says. "It's a big threat,
because it is easy to do and can cause great harm."
Congress is trying to reduce the threat. Legislation has been proposed to
create a national "cybersecurity defense team" to identify areas most
vulnerable to attack and determine how to reduce the danger.
Other legislation would make it easier for companies to share information
without being subject to antitrust or freedom-of-information laws. Such
communication could alert the government to a terrorist attack, as opposed
to more common cases of computer hackers targeting a company or agency. It
could also help companies defend against attacks.
The vast array of potential targets and the lack of adequate safeguards
have made addressing the threat daunting. Among the recent targets that
terrorists have discussed, according to people with knowledge of
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based in Atlanta. It is
charged with developing the nation's response to potential attacks
involving biological warfare. The nation's financial network, which could
shut down the flow of banking data. The attack would focus on the FedWire,
the money-movement clearing system maintained by the Federal Reserve Board.
Computer systems that operate water-treatment plants, which could
contaminate water supplies. Computer networks that run electrical grids and
dams. As many targets as possible in a major city. Los Angeles and San
Francisco have been mentioned by terrorists, intelligence officials say.
Facilities that control the flow of information over the Internet. Richard
Clarke, the White House special adviser on cybersecurity, says such sites,
of which there are 20 to 25, are "only secure in their obscurity." The
nation's communications network, including telephone and 911 call centers.
Air traffic control, rail and public transportation systems.
Officials are most concerned that a cyberattack could be coupled with a
conventional terrorist attack, such as those on Sept. 11, and hinder rescue
"Cyberterrorism presents a real and growing threat to American security,"
says Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., top Democrat on the House Intelligence
Committee's panel on terrorism and homeland security. "What I fear is the
combination of a cyberattack coordinated with more traditional terrorism,
undermining our ability to respond to an attack when lives are in danger."
The Bush administration is seeking about $4.5 billion in its 2003 budget
request to protect federal computer systems. That's about 8% of its
information technology budget.
Clarke warned lawmakers earlier this year that the threat of a cyberattack
was greater than previously imagined. He says it could take three or four
years to markedly improve the government's ability to prevent such attacks.
Long before Sept. 11, officials warned of the nation's vulnerability to
cyberattack. The Pentagon and many large companies have experienced limited
attacks. Hackers calling themselves the "Deceptive Duo" recently
infiltrated Pentagon computers and left a message indicating that the
attacks were made to show "how sad our cyber-security really is."
In 2001, cyberattacks caused $12 billion in damage and economic losses.
Such attacks were successful in penetrating security systems at an airport
in Massachusetts and a dam in Arizona, causing shutdowns of both facilities
but no loss of lives or long-term damage.
"The principal myth that you will hear is that nobody can actually change
the operation of a physical system through computers," says Alan Paller,
director of the System Administration, Networking and Security Institute,
which teaches people how to protect computer systems. "There have been
people who have already demonstrated how that can be done."
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