[ISN] Al-Qaeda plot to bring down UK internet

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Mon Mar 12 2007 - 22:28:32 PST


By David Leppard
The Sunday Times
March 11, 2007

SCOTLAND YARD has uncovered evidence that Al-Qaeda has been plotting to 
bring down the internet in Britain, causing chaos to business and the 
London Stock Exchange.

In a series of raids, detectives have recovered computer files revealing 
that terrorist suspects had targeted a high-security internet hub in 

The facility, in Docklands, houses the channel through which almost 
every bit of information on the internet passes in or out of Britain.

The suspects, who were arrested, had targeted the headquarters of 
Telehouse Europe, which houses Europes biggest web hotel, containing 
dozens of servers , the boxes which contain the information that makes 
up the web.

Security experts say the plot against Britains internet hub reflects the 
constantly changing threat from Al-Qaeda and related Islamic extremist 

Last year MI5 uncovered intelligence which suggested that Islamic 
terrorist suspects had carried out reconnaissance of the huge Bacton 
complex of gas terminals on the Norfolk coast. The threat led to the 
deployment of armed guards around the plant.

A senior Whitehall security official said the internet plotters appeared 
to be planning to infiltrate the hub, possibly to blow it up from the 
inside, according to evidence on a computer hard drive seized in raids 
on the homes of terror suspects in southern England last year.

The Telehouse facility was the subject of intense reconnaissance. The 
evidence suggests that it was one of a range of options considered by 
the suspects, the official said.

The discovery led Eliza Manningham-Buller, head of MI5, to set up the 
Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure last month. It is a 
special MI5 unit to help to protect infrastructure sites from terrorist 
attacks, such as telecommunications, the internet and key utilities such 
as oil, gas installations and nuclear power stations.

Without these services, the UK could suffer serious consequences, 
including severe economic damage, grave social disruption, or even 
large-scale loss of life, the MI5 website says.

The Telehouse hub is nicknamed CTU after the counter-terrorist 
headquarters in the American television series 24. It is designed to 
provide back-up power for all Britains vital network services in the 
event of a large-scale terrorist attack elsewhere.

Yesterday the company confirmed that it was required to go on a 
heightened state of alert last year, when security officials say they 
uncovered the plot. It declined to discuss the threat but said it wanted 
to reassure its customers that it was doing everything possible to 
protect itself from terrorism.

Robert Harris, its technical services director, said: Major co-location 
companies such as Telehouse are strategically important organisations at 
the heart of the internet.

Security and business continuity are critically important. Our industry 
remains as alert as possible to any threat, terrorist or otherwise, and 
we are in regular communication with the appropriate authorities.

The climate in 2006 required a heightened state of alert. In 2007 we 
remain in this heightened state of awareness to any such security threat 
and are in regular dialogue with the authorities.

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