Re: [ISN] Think tank warns of cyberterrorist plots

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Thu Jan 07 1999 - 18:20:40 PST

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    Reply From: jeradonah lives <jeradonahat_private>
    >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 
    i had not recognized that law enforcement, consulting and security firms
    had been able to 1.) either read the minds of their potential adversaries
    or 2.) infiltrate "cyberterrorist" cells (yes, cells.  after all, the
    internet makes the existence of a large-scale organization irrelevant to
    the nature of the task) in order to make these assertions.  if it is the
    latter, i think it would be appropriate to publish more information as to
    the nature of the infiltration so that we can judge the credibility of
    these kinds of assertions... 
    otoh, if they have merely detected the rantings of a few kids, i would
    suggest prudence, because all young envision how they would take over the
    world and history records very few of them actually doing so (alexander
    being the last one i can think of -- napoleon and hitler if you are
    >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. 
    this is an interesting report to come out of georgetown university.  i am
    actually shocked at this.  it shows how little high technology is
    understood by social "scientists."  that should frighten us even more,
    given the respect that politicians and policy-makers have for such
    >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 
    yes, this assertion is taken directly from the testimony that l0pht gave
    before congress.  no one seems to understand that by the time hackers
    achieve this level of virtuosity they have gained respect for not only
    the medium (the internet) and its users (even the stupid ones), but also
    a more sophisticated concept of right and wrong than is possible if one
    works with or for the government...
    >"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 
    this theoretical attack, which is the basis for the pentagon's current
    thinking in this area, seems to me to be the least likely cyber threat
    that the u.s. military would face.  it would be just as easy to
    reconfigure the gps system so that, when activated, u.s. missiles would
    be one or more degrees off target, ships, planes, tanks and troops would
    have difficulty navigating, and yet generals would be confused as to why
    the trouble.  furthermore, it would also be just as easy to delay or
    interrupt communications of voice and data, again circumventing the u.s.
    military's technological advantage.  chaos, as a science, through the
    proper introduction of feedback loops and the use of several significant
    constants, could be used to wreck chaos among the
    indeed, it seems to me that, when other countries' military and research
    establishments have examined the u.s. military institution that they will
    opt not to duplicate the u.s. military's dependence upon technology
    (despite its performance in the gulf war), but to seek the ways to
    obviate it.  this course would not only be _far_ less expensive, but it
    would also be possible.  hackers can be found almost every where!
    >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 
    hmmm, was i the only one who, after the initial reports of the modern
    equipment and technology used by bin Laden, was shocked by how old that
    equipment and technology turned out to be?  again, this goes to
    intelligence: does someone have inside information on these so-called
    cyberterrorists or are we being asked to check our intelligence at the
    >The U.S. has no laws or regulations regarding when to launch a 
    >cyberattack or counterattack in this new postnuclear age. 
    quite frankly, this is another example of how people, stuck in their old
    newtonian mindset, simply don't get it.  we are not trading one threat
    (nuclear) for another (the internet).  we face both!  indeed, we face
    both those as well as a chemical/biological threat.  and no one seems to
    be able to get a grip on the true nature of the emergent threat(s) here.
    it is a fact that governments once retained sovereignty, and, in doing
    so, was able to control the intellectual and physical growth of the
    nuclear and chemical threat.  until the past 25 years or so, the
    government was the primary employer (whether directly or indirectly) of
    almost anyone who had knowledge in these areas.  but the training of
    scientists has exceeded the ability of governments to use them, the
    discipline has developed faster than the ability of governments to
    understand and/or incorporate it, and other institutions have found uses
    for people trained in this area outside of government control.
    moreover, the control of important materials has lapsed in the
    post-soviet era.  it is not only conceivable the a private person, group
    or institution could put together its own atomic weapon based on the
    proliferation of knowledge and the lack of material control alone.  for
    chemical weapons, the same principles apply, although the control problem
    is even greater.  instead of control entities numbering in the tens for
    nuclear materials, with chemical materials those control entities number
    in the tens of thousands.
    and then there is the internet and the increasing reliance on computers
    for everyday life (as well as "national defense").  if knowledge has
    proliferated in the fields of nuclear and chemical science it has
    exploded in the computer "sciences."  and the threat is great.  the
    potential for damage, while perhaps not on the scale of the explosion of
    a nuclear device (or is it?), could level whole industries, commands and
    governments for days, weeks, perhaps even months.
    the fact is, sovereignty is being pushed down to the individual.  this
    has profound consequences for governments and military organizations. 
    but it also requires a re-evaluation of what constitutes a threat.  is
    the proliferation of knowledge, the very thing that makes all three of
    these "threats" not only possible but perhaps even likely, a bad thing? 
    because that is what must be halted if you begin to take these threats
    seriously.  the emergent era has extended the old newtonian principles to
    a new (and startling) degree, and it is _open-source_.  knowledge not
    only must be free, it is free.  and it is also easily acquired.  
    the threats are obvious.  the solution is not so easy, at least not for
    those who wish to protect the status quo of an increasingly archaic
    >"Most political leaders are reluctant to face the fact that not only 
    >are the traditional prerogatives of national sovereignty being
    >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 
    the sovereignty of the state has already disappeared.  good riddance!
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