I blogged already several times about Cyber-Terrorism. I think it is important to try to keep the pulse of these developments and to understand what the terrorists are capable of doing. There is an article about a recent event, where somebody tried to gain information about certain devices that ware critical for the critical infrastructure and the possible consequences: Cyber-Attacks by Al Qaeda Feared – pretty scary, I tell you.
But much more interesting is the analysis based on different interviews on the capabilities and about what the counter-terrorists found on the notebook of terrorist. This is pretty interesting to read: What are AlQaeda's Capabilities?
Just a few quotes:
- Richard Clarke (former Whitehouse Cybersecurity Advisor): We, as a country, have put all of our eggs in one basket. The reason that we're successfully dominating the world economically and militarily is because of systems that we have designed, and rely upon, which are cyber-based. It's our Achilles heel. It's an overused phrase, but it's absolutely true.
It could be that, in the future, people will look back on the American empire, the economic empire and the military empire, and say, "They didn't realize that they were building their whole empire on a fragile base. They had changed that base from brick and mortar to bits and bytes, and they never fortified it. Therefore, some enemy some day was able to come around and knock the whole empire over." That's the fear.
- John Arquilla (Associate Professor of Defense Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School): What bothers me more than anything else, as I look at the data each year coming out of the various computer emergency response teams, is that hackers could do a tremendous amount more damage than they choose to do. This says to me the threat is real. We need to get our arms around it before people do get serious about making costly, costly disruptions a way of life. ...
- John Hamre (Former US Deputy Secretary of Defense): Terrorists are after the shock effect of their actions, and it's very hard to see the shock effect when you can't get your ATM machine to give you $20. When we had this last worm or whatever it was, I went down to the bank, tried to get money out of the ATM machine, and I couldn't get any money out. Well, it was frustrating to me personally, but it doesn't translate in the same way that flying an airplane into a building does. So I don't think that it has the essential quality that terrorists are looking for, which is this startling impact on society.
Now if it's possible, for example, to have rolling blackouts in entire cities, that, of course, does have more potential implications. That was much more likely four and five years ago. But in all honesty, I think we've done a lot to warn ourselves about this. In almost every one of these people that run big utilities, there's always some guy in the back that knows how to turn off the computer and turn on the electricity again.
So I personally think that it's not likely to be a cyber terrorist event in the near term. But it's still a serious problem.
So, how real is it really?