Fears of cyberterrorism during the war on Iraq proved unfounded, says Peter Rojas, but increased online security will benefit us all. The war in Iraq was supposed to dramatically raise the likelihood of a major cyberterrorist attack against the US and its allies. Some even predicted a “digital Pearl Harbor”, an electronic assault that could have shut down power plants, crippled the banking system, or disabled the air traffic control network. DK Matai, chairman and chief executive officer of the internet security firm mi2g, predicted that it was highly likely that “the launch of a physical attack on Iraq will see counterattacks from disgruntled Arab, Islamic fundamentalist, and anti-American groups”. Now with the war winding down, fears that Iraq, al-Qaida or even sympathetic hackers in Russia and China would open up a second front in cyberspace have turned out to be completely unfounded, with little or no evidence that either they or anyone else engaged in cyberterrorism. What happened? Quite simply, the expected attacks just never materialised. According to Tim Madden, a spokesman for Joint Task Force-Computer Network Operations (JTF-CNO), created by the US Strategic Command to handle network defence and attack, there has been no significant increase in attempts to infiltrate US military computers since the war began. Internet security firms confirm that since mid-March, the level of activity has been almost normal. “We are seeing the same number of attacks today as we were seeing two months ago,” says Vincent Weafer, senior director of Symantec Security Response. “We just haven’t seen much evidence of any targeted attacks.” Full Story
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