[ISN] Asian security meet warns of terrorist assault via Internet

From: InfoSec News (isn@private)
Date: Mon May 22 2006 - 22:33:12 PDT


May 23, 2006

Southeast Asia will inevitably face an Internet-based attack by
terrorists against key institutions, even though militant groups lack
the technical savvy so far, security experts said yesterday.

Developing nations remain especially vulnerable to a cyber assault
because they haven't built up defenses for their computer, banking and
utility systems, said Yean Yoke Heng, deputy director general of the
Kuala Lumpur-based Southeast Asian Regional Center for

"The threat is real," Yean told reporters at the start of a regional
cyber security meeting. "Definitely, we are vulnerable .... It's not a
question of how or what; it's a question of when. So we better get our
act together and be prepared for this eventuality."

Regional authorities currently have no specific information about
possible threats, which could include the hacking of public networks
or the spread of a computer virus, but "it's always good to be one
step ahead of this terrorist threat," Yean said.

The five-day conference, which brings together security officials and
analysts from Malaysia, the US, Japan, Cambodia, the Philippines,
Singapore and Thailand, will discuss how governments can prevent
terrorists from exploiting information technology.

So far, Southeast Asian militant groups such as the al-Qaeda-linked
Jemaah Islamiyah network have mainly used the Internet to channel
propaganda, recruit members, raise funds and coordinate bomb attacks,
said Rohan Gunaratna, a Singapore-based militant expert.

"It will take a very long time for Southeast Asian terrorist groups to
develop the capability to attack the Internet," Gunaratna said. "For
now, groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah are using the Internet as a
medium to create a new generation of radicalized Muslims."

There are more than 1,000 jihadist Web sites in Southeast Asia,
Gunaratna said. He said captured Jemaah Islamiyah suspected leader
Riduan Isamudin, or Hambali, used the Internet to communicate with
operatives involved in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people
in Indonesia.

Despite no evidence of an imminent cyber attack, Southeast Asian
authorities should still study how technologically advanced
governments in the US, Europe and Australia are safeguarding digital
assets from terrorist exploitation, Gunaratna said.

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