[ISN] Think tank warns of cyberterrorist plots

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Wed Jan 06 1999 - 17:37:35 PST

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    Think tank warns of cyberterrorist plots
    Research suggests that America needs to prepare for Net warfare.
    December 18, 1998
    Web posted at: 10:00 PM EST
    by Nancy Weil
    (IDG) -- Cyberterrorists are plotting all manner of heinous attacks that
    if successful could "destabilize and eventually destroy targeted states
    and societies," according to a gloomy new report from the Center for
    Strategic and International Studies. 
    The report, which offers recommendations for averting cyberwarfare, has in
    its introduction alone enough dire news to make the year 2000 computer
    glitch seem like a minute blip on the worry scale. 
    Consider this: "Information warfare specialists at the Pentagon estimate
    that a properly prepared and well-coordinated attack by fewer than 30
    computer virtuosos strategically located around the world, with a budget
    of less than $10 million, could bring the United States to its knees." 
    "Such a strategic attack, mounted by a cyberterrorist group ... would shut
    down everything from electric power grids to air traffic control centers.
    A combination of cyberweapons, poison gas, and even nuclear devices could
    produce a global Waterloo for the United States." 
    What, me worry? 
    For those who believe U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies have
    a handle on the threat of cyberterrorism, consider this: "In fact, law
    enforcement's electronic capabilities are from 5 to 10 years behind the
    transnational crime curve." 
    With that comforting thought in mind, the report notes, "Cyberterrorists,
    acting for rogue states or groups that have declared holy war against the
    United States, are known to be plotting America's demise as a superpower." 
    At the top of the list of rogue cyberterrorists is Osama bin Laden, who
    allegedly is plotting terrorist attacks on either New York or Washington,
    D.C. Computers are key in his arsenal, said the CSIS report. 
    "In today's electronic environment, many haters can become a Saddam
    Hussein and take on the world's most technologically vulnerable nation,"
    notes the report, which tells of satellite uplinks among terrorist
    liaisons around the globe. The authors make it clear that they are indeed
    trying to scare the complacency out of us. 
    Cyber-Cold War
    While enemies of the U.S. realize they can't take on the nation with
    conventional weapons, their alternative is cyberweapons launched by
    keyboards. "Information warfare tools" like logic bombs, viruses, worms,
    and Trojan horses are proliferating. 
    "They are no longer the stuff of science fiction. America's adversaries
    know that the country's real assets are in electronic storage, not in Fort
    Knox," the report said. CSIS counts eight countries with cyberwarfare
    capabilities as advanced as ours. 
    The U.S. has no laws or regulations regarding when to launch a cyberattack
    or counterattack in this new postnuclear age. 
    "Most political leaders are reluctant to face the fact that not only are
    the traditional prerogatives of national sovereignty being challenged by
    the Information Revolution but they are disappearing rapidly in
    cyberspace," the report said. "The nineteenth-century model of an
    independent state has become one of trappings rather than substance." 
    CSIS, a privately operated public research organization, has some suggestions:
      * Explain the threat. U.S. officials should tell those in charge of
        critical infrastructures and its major users just what is the threat
        from strategic information warfare, and how to prepare. 
      * Develop national security policies that consider the Information
        Revolution. CSIS recommends setting policy and objectives,
        determining who has authority for "offensive IW" (information
        warfare), and setting guidelines for targets.
      * Make strategic information dominance a national security objective.
      * Adopt policies to ensure critical government services will continue.
      * Work with the private sector.
      * Prepare the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence agencies for 
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