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[infowar.de] Streit um Gefährlichkeit von Cyberterrorismus/Hackerangriffen
Study Makes Less of Hack Threat
By Noah Shachtman
Story location: http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,56382,00.html
Wired, 02:00 AM Nov. 14, 2002 PT
Despite the panting about "cyberterrorists," and despite the scare
mongering about venomous hackers preying on fragile federal networks,
attacks on government computer systems are declining worldwide,
according to a recently released report.
In the United States, reported intrusions into government networks fell
from 386 in 2001 to 162 in the first 10 months of 2002. Worldwide, such
attacks have declined by about a third -- from 2,031 last year to a
projected 1,400 today.
The report, from the British firm mi2g, comes just a day after the U.S.
Justice Department indicted
<http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,56332,00.html> Londoner Gary
McKinnon for breaking into military and NASA systems -- and the U.S.
<http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,56351,00.html> a $903 million
bill for beefing up computer security.
"As we move forward in our war against terrorism, it will be as
important for us to secure cyberspace as it will be for us to secure the
homeland against malicious attack," Rep. Nick Smith (R-Mich.) said after
the passage of the Cyber Security Research and Development Act.
To many in the computer security world, mi2g's numbers show just how
craven these sorts of statements are.
The government hacking figures are like the "similar and consistent drop
in violent crime statistics. Despite these facts, politicians have been
claiming the public was under siege. Here we go again," wrote Oxblood
Ruffin, founder of the Hacktivismo <http://www.hacktivismo.com> online
action group, in an e-mail. "Threats will always be exaggerated because
that's how one strip mines civil liberties. This is the real battleground."
The anti-terrorist USA Patriot Act
<http://www.epic.org/privacy/terrorism/hr3162.html>, signed into law by
President Bush last October, makes it easier than ever for federal
authorities to pry into e-mail, phone conversations, voice messages --
even Web surfing paths. It also punishes unauthorized computer access
with up to five years in jail.
This year's decrease in government intrusions has occurred while the
overall level of hacks worldwide has risen, from 31,322 in 2001 to
64,408 so far this year. That doesn't surprise Lawrence Walsh, editor of
Information Security magazine.
"Most of the attacks today are made by unsophisticated 'script kiddies'
using off-the-shelf tools. What's the incentive for them to go after
government systems?" Walsh asked. "There are more rewards available from
attacking small and medium-sized businesses -- like credit card
information and financial data. And these networks are typically not as
Others in the computer security arena are reluctant to draw too many
conclusions from the report.
Winn Schwartau, author of Pearl Harbor Dot Com, noted that mi2g seems to
be relying solely on hacks that have been publicly documented.
But the government is "increasingly reluctant to admit to the world that
they've been hit," he said.
Marquis Grove, editor of the Security News Portal
<http://www.securitynewsportal.com>, added in an e-mail, "Their
statistics are basically worthless. Mi2g doesn't have a crystal ball or
inside information from the U.S. government sources."
Even if the report only counts the most obvious attacks against
government networks, it does convey an important message, hackers noted.
"There is no such thing (as cyberterrorism), currently. And I do not
ever see such things taking place in the near future or distant future,"
Lilac Echo, who runs the security website WBGLinks
<http://www.wbglinks.net>, wrote in an e-mail. "Though it makes for good
print, it's pure fiction.
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