http://www.insidevc.com/vcs/television/article/0,1375,VCS_234_2360645,00.html Roger Harris October 20, 2003 What this country needs aren't bigger bombs and deadlier bullets. What it needs is a Corps of Hackers devoted to protecting the nation's computer infrastructure from cyber invasion. So says cyber terrorism expert John Arquilla. Computer hackers are an untapped and unrecognized military resource, Arquilla said in a recent speech to The World Affairs Council of Ventura County. Money and effort now spent tracking down hackers and throwing them in prison with bank robbers and drug peddlers would be better spent recruiting hackers for national security work, said Arquilla, co-director of the Center on Terrorism & Irregular Warfare at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. This may not seem like a great idea if your mental picture of a hacker is a bleery-eyed sugar-swilling geek who gets his jollies breaking into computers and planting destructive computer viruses. If that's what you think, you would be wrong about much of the hacker community, according to Arquilla, a leading expert on Internet and cyber terrorism threat assessment. Arquilla, who helped develop the offensive cyber weapons used by the U.S. military in Kosovo, in Afghanistan and in the Gulf War, describes the U.S. hacker community as an intelligent, motivated and patriotic band of cyber warriors whose computer skills go far beyond simply extraordinary. They aren't paratroopers, but they are ready and willing to wage war against cyber terrorists, said Arquilla, who is in regular contact with some of the elite members of the hacker community. "They are the cyber frontiersmen. ... Particularly since 9-11 they want to serve their country," Arquilla said. Skeptics contend hackers are untrustworthy lot who, among other things, have broken into Pentagon computers and sent damaging computer viruses swirling through government and business computer systems. It's true that an organized group of hackers once roamed around military computer systems for weeks at a time and some hackers even obtained administrative control of military computers and could have wrought great havoc, Arquilla said. "The real question is why didn't they do more damage," Arquilla said. " ... They didn't because that's not what turns them on." The government needs to adopt "a less poisonous" attitude toward hackers and find a way to use their talents for the public good, Arquilla told the three dozen members of the local World Affairs Council who attended his lecture held at Rockwell Scientific Co. headquarters. In an interview earlier this year on "Frontline," the PBS public affairs program, Arquilla put it this way: "We have to re-examine that punitive approach to the hacking community, and try, instead, to turn it into something that can be useful, and perhaps even to reform some of these people away from their own illegal actions." National security depends on it, said Arquilla, who has written several books on the threat of cyber terrorism and the role of information technology in waging war. Networked communications systems give the United States a great advantage on the battlefield. The network uses information technology to multiply the power and efficiency of weapons systems. It allows the military to attack with precision and speed. But the network also is vulnerable to disruption of the communications network. Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups have their own hacker training programs and are developing "weapons of mass disruption" that could prove just as deadly as bombs and bullets. We need the help of the elite hackers to prepare defensive and offensive weapons that will be needed in what Arquilla believes is an inevitable cyber attack. "The clock is ticking," he said. -- Roger Harris is the editor of Fast Forward. Questions, comments and criticisms can be e-mailed to Rharris@private His phone number is 645-1050. For those who prefer snail-mail, the address is P.O. Box 6711, Ventura, CA 93006. - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomo@private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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