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[] CIA Answers Questions about Cyberterrorist Threat to US,

Bureau of National Affairs
No. 212 Friday November 1, 2002
Page A-15
ISSN 1523-567X
Regulation & Law

Computer Security 

CIA Answers Senate Intelligence Questions About Cyberterrorist Threat to
United States 

The threat of cyberterrorism against the United States is expected to
"become increasingly viable," and will come not just from Al Qaeda but
from other terrorist organizations, the Central Intelligence Agency told
the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in a report slated to be
officially released as early as Nov. 1.

The report is made up of unclassified responses to 48 questions posed by
committee members following a Feb. 6 hearing. The answers were sent by
the CIA to committee chairman Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) on April 8 but
have only recently been made public.

The questions and answers deal with the CIA's assessment of the
terrorist threat to the United States and an update on the war on
terrorism. In response to a question about the possibility of
cyberattacks against the nation's critical infrastructure systems, the
CIA said that various terrorists groups, including Al Qaeda, "are
becoming more adept at using the Internet and computer technologies, and
the FBI is monitoring an increasing number of cyber threats."

The CIA said that "Sunni extremists," Hezbollah, and a group formerly
known as Aum Shinrikyo are among the most likely to launch such
attacks.  Al Qaeda and Sunni extremists "have both the intentions and
the desire to develop some of the cyberskills necessary to forge an
effective cyber attack," the CIA said. "Aleph, formerly known as Aum
Shinrikyo is the terrorist group that places the highest level of
importance on developing cyber skills," the agency said. "This group
identifies itself as a cyber cult and derives millions of dollars a year
from computer retailing."

In answer to a question about foreign spying against U.S. companies, the
CIA indicated that "[t]he acquisition of sensitive economic information
from US companies, both here and abroad, runs the full spectrum of
collection methodologies, including unsolicited e-mail; soliciting
open-source information and research; inappropriate conduct during plant
visits; exploiting multinational conferences and business information
exchanges; covert open source collection; illegal purchase of
export-controlled technologies; theft of trade secrets and critical
information; tradition agent recruitment."

An unofficial copy of the CIA answers is available on the Internet site
of the Federation of American Scientists, at

Copyright 2002 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., Washington D.C.

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