What makes cyber terrorism a possibility is the well-established use of computers in almost all-essential aspect of civilian life as well as armed forces valor. If a question is asked that is it feasible, for a terrorist to penetrate into the computers of the US, British or Russian military and launch a nuclear missile? Although the answer is most expectedly, “no” but being not a very forceful no, makes it frightening. Computers control many functions. The power plants, telephones, manufacturing of pharmaceutical products and a million other crucial things are all operated through computers.
The computer-controlled operations include all crucial systems that control airline traffic, perform airline reservation and scheduling, transportation systems, control water and oil pipelines and such. Interference in any one of these can easily cause loss of life or widespread chaos. The armed forces of almost all developed nations are having the use of computers not only in their offices but also in the vital methods of controlling the weapon delivery systems as well. The forces are linked on the network that is always susceptible to interceptions as a result of electronic warfare. This is a big threat and surely the terrorists will be well aware of this weakness. The threat of Cyber terrorism is real.
The Internet is another major exposure where as the Internet was designed to be highly dependable but not as highly safe. The designers took into consideration how to keep data traffic on the Internet flowing in spite of failures of the routing computers and communication links that make up the network. It was assumed that any computer connected to the Internet belonged to a responsible governmental or commercial enterprise and not to an unruly individual. Today the situation is much different all the users of PCs are now one network system through Internet. This has resulted the individuals entering on to the sensitive sites and either collecting or destroying the vital information, commonly knowing as hacking.
The Internet permits a computer connected to the network to send data to any other connected computer. Hence a person with a PC connected via a phone line, can send any type of information to a computer running the airline reservation system. When a packet arrives at the destination, a computer picks it up and performs some tasks to see why the packet came there and what to do in response. This way the viruses are being created, sent and vital information is being destroyed. Cyber attacks can come from locations all over the globe via the Internet the most common form of entry into a corporate network. Cyber terrorists can gain access to proprietary information, destroy or duplicate it, plant viruses that would freeze business and damage e-commerce sites and tamper with financial data, to name just a few damaging effects.
Cyber threats to infrastructure is possible using hacker software that can be obtained via the internet, National Security Agency officials hacked into systems that would have allowed them to shut down the entire United States power grid and control elements of the U.S. Pacific Command. As if this test could produce a worse result, only one of the several hacker test groups was even detected and most units avoided any attempts to trace them [Cyber Terrorism]. The lesson that must be learned from the report is that cyber terrorism is an imminent threat to the United States, or any other technologically advanced country. Even nations with more primitive technology may be adversely affected. With the proliferation of technology increasing at an astronomical rate, the threat of cyber terrorism will only get worse. The game has been set, and the arena has been selected. Now, we simply wait to see who takes the field first. [Cyber Terrorism]
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It is apparent that the correct people are taking the threat critically. Nevertheless this is not enough to quell the impending storm. A lot more is required to be done. A distinction will have to be made between terrorists who make use of available technology, being the pure cyber-terrorist and, the traditional terrorists who may increase their armory of more usual methods, such as bombings, hi-jacking, and murders, with new methods such as computer viruses, Radio Frequency Weapons, and "denial of service" attacks.
There is a need for proactive and reactive approaches through which forensic investigation is required to be done, to determine how the intruders gain access into the network systems, identifying the terrorists and extent of the damage done, protecting the systems from repetitions. Vulnerability assessments, identifying the areas of high risk and developing and implementing customized policies and procedures. Besides a secret and a clandestine approach is also to be utilized which should involve placing of some undercover operatives into an organization to identify the same risks and threats. Sometimes discontented employees are also a threat, particularly during hard economic times.
Through use conventional computer technology, terrorist can also disrupts the computer communications of major U.S. banks, financial institutions, and stock markets. If that happens, the economy will plunge into deep hole. Using the similar technology, the terrorist can remotely alter the formulas for prescription medicine at a major pharmaceutical manufacturer, adding unsafe amounts of chemical ingredients into medicine. This can be source reactions and over-doses, badly affecting and killing thousands. Similarly the terrorist can also remotely modify the pressure in suburban gas supply lines, causing explosions. Not much has been done in these regards to protect these vital installations.
In reaction to sharp wakefulness of the probable cyber-terrorism the Commission of Critical Infrastructure Protection board established during one of their research that the amalgamation of electricity, communications and computers are essential for the continued survival of the U.S. because of the potent threat to all of these services by cyber-warfare. The assets to initiate a cyber attack are available at usual places in the world where a computer and a connection to the Internet can create devastation. Furthering to the problem it is also evident that the public and private sectors are fairly uninformed of just how much their lives depend on computers as well as the susceptibility of those computers.
Another problem related with cyber terrorism is that the trouble must be resolved by identifying the persons responsible for and finding out their location from they attacked. The board recommended that vital systems should be secluded from outer correlations or sheltered sufficiently trough strong measures, for example developing the best practices for use of password and protection, and use of confined action logs. Most other government institutions and departments have also shaped various kinds of groups to deal with cyber-terrorists. The CIA for example created its own group, the Information Warfare Center, staffed sufficiently with round the clock reaction team. The FBI probes the hackers and related cases. The Secret Service follows banking, fraud and wiretapping cases.
There is so much to probe and find out about the cyber terrorism. A lot has already been done and a lot more is to follow. The terrorists have no boundaries and have no definite targets and so are the cyber terrors. They can operate from anywhere and for any type of targets they wish to choose. In this unconventional type of warfare the attacker is always a looser because the terrorists select the battleground of their own choice. What we have to do is to keep on finding out the probable targets of the cyber terrors and make the best possible effort to remain prepared.
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