Terrorists Are Jumping on the Cyber Crime Bandwagon
All law enforcement officials worry about another 9/11 scenario. TSA personnel risk incredibly bad publicity to frisk and even strip search the elderly, all to prevent the unthinkable. Christmas travelers will wait in long airport lines later this week to be screened by personnel trying to stop terror in the air.
NYPD has an entire unit devoted to prevent terror incidents, with 100 officers currently stationed outside the United States, co-located with agencies like the Israeli Mossad and Scotland Yard. Even small police departments stage scenario-based training exercises to prepare for effective critical incident management in a possible terror incident.
Next time, such an attack may be executed on a US target from a terrorist sitting behind a computer thousands of miles away. Many experts believe that the next terror threat will be cyber terror. Authorities recognize that a cyber terror attack can make as much of an impact as a traditional terror event with fewer possible complications for the terrorists. Such an attack would be low cost, avoid physical boundaries such as border crossings and airport security, and be relatively easy for a group with the right skills to deploy.
The most likely way terrorists would execute a cyber attack would be a blended approach, using computer-based worms, Trojan horses, malicious codes, etc. to detect and exploit any computer vulnerability a hacker could find. Hackers can no longer be considered harmless computer geeks.
Hackers in Springfield, Illinois infiltrated the municipal water system’s computers in November. Hackers have attacked 911 systems twice. In 2000, a hacker was convicted of using a computer worm to infiltrate 911 computers. The worm was designed to flood the system with fake calls and delete data from the agency’s hard drive. Authorities were able to foil both of these attempts. The only damage thus far was a burned out water pump.
These two examples are frightening when one considers what the capability to commit such crimes could do in the hands of a terrorist instead of a hacker. Potentially, cyber terrorists could take down utilities in a large metropolis like New York City and then decimate the 911 system so first responders couldn’t help effectively. Another scenario would be a cyber-based attack on critical financial infrastructure, such as the Federal Reserve Bank or Wall Street.
All this havoc could come to us directly from another country… no danger to the terrorist, no visa, no flying lessons, no suicides…just keystrokes. The expense is minimal compared to the expense of a traditional terror attack.
What does law enforcement need to do? Take the threat seriously. Allocate budgeted funds to firewalls and other protective computer programs and equipment. Create computer threat inter-agency police work groups. Practice redundancy in computer operations with back up storage maintained off site. Hire nerds. No, seriously.
Learn more about this article here: