http://news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,4286006%255E15318,00.html Wires 09May02 A "CYBER jihad" could be launched against the West as terrorists moved from the real world to an internet-based virtual world, a US expert warns. Michele Zanini, a consultant with the think-tank McKinsey and Company, said terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda were already making huge use of the web for communications, propaganda, recruitment and target data. Another expert, Rand Europe senior policy analyst Kevin O'Brien said there was potential for terrorists to cause huge losses to the West by damaging information technology systems. Dr Zanini and Dr O'Brien were speaking at an international conference on global terror in Hobart. Dr O'Brien said Western-developed IT had become the "great equaliser" as it was exploited by terrorists and rogue states. He said the cyber world was chaotic and without boundaries and Western security agencies were traditionally ill-equipped to deal with its threats. Both experts said newer terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and Hamas were different to earlier ones that had been hierarchical and bureaucratic. Al-Qaeda was a fluid network of semi-autonomous groups, hard to pin down and with links to about 20 other groups. In the wake of September 11, it was clear terrorists were using the internet as a weapon of war, the experts said. Terrorists used the net to gather intelligence, including target information, and counter-intelligence. They made and moved money on it and were suspected of even manipulating stocks for profit. They could also use it for worldwide planning and coordination, propaganda, psychological terrorism and rumour-mongering. Rogue states could equally use it and China and Taiwan were already battling a cyber war, according to the experts. Dr O'Brien said the danger to business was of great concern, with some websites particularly vulnerable. An interruption of a few seconds on the New York foreign exchange market could cost billions of dollars. Companies could also be damaged through extortion, brand destruction and fraud. Dr O'Brien said much more co-operation and information-sharing between governments and business was needed to combat the threats. Australia, Britain and Canada had moved in this direction, but the US response was still hampered by agency turf wars and personal rivalries, he said. However, on the wild world of the web, there's an unlikely ally in the war against terror. Dr Zanini said traditional hackers had a quite different culture to terrorists and the two did not mix well. There was even an organisation called Hackers Against Terrorism, a sort of virtual vigilante group, he said. - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email firstname.lastname@example.org with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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