Electronic Pearl Harbor: Should We Be More Worried About Terrorists Using Digital Weapons Rather Than Chemical and Biological Attacks?
That’s been two hours you’ve been unable to get on-line now. So much for always-on, you think, as you go to fill the kettle. You turn the tap and – nothing, there’s no water. And that’s when the lights go out. Now the phone line is down, too. There’s always the mobile – but why is it dialling 999 all by itself? This is the kind of scenario that government and private computer experts will be studying as they look into the growing possibility of a “cyber-terrorist” attack on what is known as our “critical information infrastructure” – the electronic systems vital for government, armed forces, business, finance, telecommunications, utilities, or emergency services. There have been warnings from parts of the IT community that terrorists could attempt something like this for at least 10 years, but now governments are taking it much more seriously. Last week the FBI issued an alert warning that the threat of war with Iraq, and increased tension with North Korea, could lead to increased numbers of attacks on US infrastructure. Meanwhile Erkki Liikanen, European Commissioner for the Information Society, announced the formation of the European Network and Information Security Agency, a new body to improve cross-border cooperation and offer advice on computer security. “Network security has become a key concern, especially in the aftermath of the September 11 events,” he says. “The malfunctioning of networks and information systems concerns everybody: citizens, businesses and public administrations.” Full Story