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The threat of CyberTerrorism evaluated

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#1 Blake


    Former Commander In Chief

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Posted 07 January 2003 - 10:33 AM

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) released a report last month on the threat of Cyber Terrorism. James A. Lewis, CSIS analyst and author of "Assessing the Risks of Cyber Terrorism, Cyber War and Other Cyber Threats," says the United States' infrastructure is not as vulnerable as some would have you believe. Lewis says, "While many computer networks remain very vulnerable to attack, few critical infrastructres are equally vulnerable. Computer network vulnerabilities are an increasingly serious business problem, but their threat to national security is overstated." The report centers on the concept that computer networks and critical infrastructures are separate entities, and that a threat to one is not a threat to both.

Lewis's claim is in the minority of expert opinion on the matter. According to Computerworld, he "offers few examples and technical details to support his claims." The CSIS report flies in the face of what, seemingly, the rest of the analyst community is saying. Brenton Greene, deputy director of the National Communications System, a government agency responsible for keeping communications online during a national crisis, opines that the cyber and physical infrastructures are too intertwined to be separated. He believes that change in one direcly affects the other.

Richard Clarke, chairman of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, says, "Cyberspace still is underappreciated as a threat." Clarke blames infrastructure vulnerabilities on unknown security holes in software in wide use and on the new technology that is constantly put to use. Clarke has also expressed great concern over wireless technologies.

Clarke says the next wave in terrorism will focus on the destruction of the American economy. He says some countries are creating cyberwarfare tactical units, and that criminal groups are getting involved in cybercrime.

Read more in Computerworld's reports "Think tank: Cyberthreat overrated" and "Cyberthreats not to be dismissed, warns Clarke."

I'm not sure what to make of this whole thing. I'm still a bit jaded by the "Y2K Bug" hysteria. To date, the worst thing I have heard happen in relation to the Y2K Bug is an over-one-hundred-years-old woman being issued an automated reminder to enroll for school. She was 104 or 105, but the computer system thought she was 4 or 5 and that it was time for her to begin kindergarten.

I suppose there is a lot more opportunity for CyberTerrorism to disrupt business than many would want to admit. Still, it would be difficult for cyber terrorists to make a big dent. Shutting down a business's website is damaging, but not fatal. Stealing trade secrets and distributing them freely about the Web could be bad. I'm just not sure where this could go.

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