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Vladimir Golubev

Cyberterrorism as a new form of terrorism

Vladimir A. Golubev A rapid development of global information technologies became one of the factors of organized transnational crimes. Extremists and supporters of brutality apply the latest technologies to popularize their own ideology and wage information wars.

The wide use of information technologies in technological process resulted in the emergence of cyberterrorism characterized by the intervention into the work of computers, computer systems and networks, unauthorized modification of computer data to disorganize the work of the national critical infrastructure, threaten people with death, inflict material damage and so on.

Ukraine’s Criminal Code, Article 258 “Act of terrorism” envisages the criminal responsibility for assassinating, In this context “cyberterrorism” [1] can be defined as a premeditated, politically motivated attack on computer information, computer system and network that creates danger to human life and health or causes other grave consequences to compromise public safety, intimidate people or provoke armed conflicts.

Cyberterrorism is a serious threat for people that can be compared with nuclear, bacteriological and chemical weapon, but it is not fully realized and studied because of its novelty. The appropriate experience of the world community proves the doubtless vulnerability of every country especially as the cyberterrorism has no state frontiers. A terrorist is capable of threatening any information system worldwide.

It is practically impossible to forecast or trace computer attacks in reality. Therefore, the attack can be launched at any time and from any point of the world by teen hackers, hostile countries, criminals, spies and terrorists. Considerable resources will be required to establish who is responsible for it.. Also, it is quite problematic to collect evidences om cyber incidents, as well as to prosecute, search, arrest and extradite criminals because of the complexity of current laws worldwide. Many countries improve now their contradictory legislations but it requires additional efforts and time.

Experts express deep concern about the vulnerability of critical infrastructure computer systems (transport, nuclear power stations, water-supply, power engineering and so on) connected to the Internet. Today the Net covers more than 150 countries throughout the world and the number of Internet users grows.

According to the experts, the Internet is not still ready for cyberattacks and their number will be increasing in the near future. On September 12, 2001, the US Senate held an extraordinary meeting dedicated to a question: “How vulnerable are critical information systems?” Since computer systems connected to the Internet are a “core” of the national infrastructure, people and law enforcement bodies should settle this issue. It is no coincidence that the US President’s assistant for national security Condoles Rice stated at the computer security conference: “Every field of the national economy including power engineering, transport, communication and banking sector uses computer networks and depends on their efficiency. Their failure can paralyze the whole country.”

The analysis of the foreign experience in fighting cybercrimes proves their tendency to increase. A wide use of computer technologies favors it. Economically developed countries suffer from numerous cybercrimes that cause damages.

Cybercrime researches showed that it does not suffice to use only technical and technological means of information security to prevent cybercrimes.

The paradox consists in that the more sophisticated is software the more vulnerable are traditional means of technical protection of information in computer systems, in particular, from an unauthorized access. The problem is also that up-to-date electronic means of processing and transferring information and technical facilities of its illegal interception and access have a simultaneous development. Criminal organizations can easily obtain an access to them [2].

The legal fight against terrorism is constantly improved. For example, in 1998 the USA passed the President’s PDD-63 Directive on ensuring security of the national critical infrastructure. The Inter-departmental plan to fight terrorism (1999) and National schedule to protect information systems (2000) followed it.

Six weeks after terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, the US Congress approved a new antiterrorist law “Act 2001”. It introduced a new legislative term “cyberterrorism” and classified different forms of hacking and inflicting losses to protected computer systems of citizens, juridical persons and state departments including offices that organize national defense and ensure national security.

Finally, the US President has recently signed up the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace and the Senate approved a law on establishing the Ministry of Territorial Security.

The same processes proceed in the Europe countries. One of the most important goals is to regulate the use of computer systems in a legal and organizational way. On November 23, 2001, the European Council passed a Cybercrime Convention, the first international agreement on juridical and procedural aspects of investigating and prosecuting cybercrimes. It specifies efforts coordinated at the national and international level and directed at preventing illegal intervention into the work of computer systems. Susana Statnic, head of the Ukrainian delegation, also put her signature under the Convention [3].

There are some “cyberthreats” that give rise to a general concern. Among them are computer cracking, inforwar, cybercrimes and cyberterrorism as well. Cyberterrorism includes political and economical destabilization, sabotage, theft of military and civil assets and resources for political purposes. Richard Clark, the former US National Security Council coordinator for security, counter-terrorism and protection of infrastructure, often drew attention to the danger of using computers to derange critical infrastructures.

Japan, France and Great Britain take urgent steps to oppose this threat. Ukraine’s President Leonid Kuchma signed up amendments to the National Security Conception. On June 19, 2003, Ukraine’s Parliament passed an appropriate law. This Conception specifies the most important national interests. According to it, Ukraine should guarantee constitutional human rights and freedoms, protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity, ensure sanctity of State borders, prevent foreign intervention into its home affaires, create competitive socially oriented market economy and constantly increase a living standard.

It also indicates threats to Ukraine’s national security and interests: 1) regional and local conflicts (first of all, near Ukrainian frontiers)^; 2) structural and functional imbalance of political system of the society, which particular links are not capable of reacting to national security threats in a joint way^; 3) big external and internal national debts^; 4) shady national economy^; 5) drain of scientists, experts and skilled manpower abroad^; 6) cybercrimes and cyberterorism.

Passing new Ukraine’s National Security Conception will favor the fight against this evil at the national level, as well as international cooperation and coordination of efforts of law enforcement bodies and security services [4].

Since its independence, Ukraine has joint the world information community. For example, it created a single national system of e-payments (it has no match in CIS countries) under the aegis of Ukraine’s National Bank thereby strengthened its sovereignty and secured economic safety at the regional and international levels.

Ukraine introduces Internet information technologies, creates other transnational, national, widely or strictly specialized networks. Practically every perspective field of the social activity uses computers, local and global computer networks and software ranged from the most simple to the most sophisticated.

A rapid development of informatization makes it possible to use computer technologies for mercenary purposes. Today Ukraine has the same level of cybercrimes as the USA in early 80s. However, their rate of growth cannot but put Ukraine on its guard. Some peculiar properties of our country should be taken into account to judge the threat of cyberterrorism. First, it is a high potential and professionalism of native programmers that are willingly enlisted by such leaders of software industry as Microsoft. Second, young people are capable of mastering technical innovations in a quick way. Constant reduction of prices at electronic computers can result in increasing the number of the Net users. Third, there is no doubt that still weak but already evident economic upsurge will extend the computerization and allow approaching countries with developed infrastructure, it making the cyberterrorism threat quite real.

It is supposed that in 2003-2004 Ukraine may suffer losses o $3 billion inflicted by computer crimes.

There is a definite relation between acts of terrorism and the development of information infrastructure and national computerization. Especially as the development of satellite connection systems and global networks (first of all, the Internet) allows attacking from any part of the world. Therefore, cyberterrorirm is the most acute problem for countries with highly developed IT-structure. Though cyberterrorists threaten many states, the USA is a “number one target” for cyberterrorists because of its total computerization.

It is evident that the Internet becomes criminal: there are many web sites popularizing the criminal ideology^; the Net services are used to exchange criminal experience and coordinate criminal activities.

The Internet was exploited to organize acts of terrorism in New York in September 2001. Then American intelligence services found in the Net dozens of Islamic web sites used by “Al-Kaeda” to transfer information and instruct its agents. According to analysts, the Koran quotations, senseless signs, phrases and expressions contained instructions for Islamic agents. Even the color of pictures and references made sense for initiated persons. Messages were also hidden at unlinked pages or in chats. Special analytical departments were engaged in deciphering messages and signs on Al-Kaeda web sites. According to them, after September 11, web site data traffic had some “splashes’ followed by attempts to assassinate.

Experts think that terrorists will hardly manage to commit such a crime once more. However, there is hardly a person who can say it for sure that terrorists will not find some hackers that are capable of developing programs to damage the whole US infrastructure.

Can hackers be referred to cyberterrorists, by the way? This question has no clear reply yet. Some countries consider them as computer hooligans, other ones that suffered a lot from their tricks – cyberterrorists. It is thought that hackers themselves will bring the society to a single opinion. Hackers and cyberterrorists have the same weapons and targets. They are inseparable. Early or late, every hacker can become a cyberterrorism or a tool of cyberterrorists. The arsenal of hackers and cyberterrorists includes:

- Various attacks that allow penetrating into a network or take control of it in an illegal way^;

- Computer viruses including network worms that modify and destroy information or suspend the work of computer systems^;

- Logical bombs – commands introduced into a program and launched under definite conditions, for example, after a definite period of time^;

- “Trojan horses” that make it possible to carry out definite operations without user’s knowledge (there are some “Trojans” that send their masters through the Internet various data on an infected computer including passwords of registered users)^;

- Means of suppressing network information exchange.

There is no doubt that new detrimental means will appear because of a constant modification of cyberterrorists’ weapon depending on the reliability of computer network protecting systems: the better is the defense the more aggressive is the attack.

On May 1, 2000, the Internet was infected with the “I love you” virus that very quickly intervened into the work of governmental establishments, parliaments and corporations worldwide. The Pentagon and computer security private companies launched the antiviral program. The FBI and Philippine’s NBI detected and arrested a native hacker who infected the Internet by sending the “I love you” virus to e-mail addresses: spydersuper.net.ph and mailmesuper.net.ph. It destroyed 45 million computer networks worldwide including those in the Pentagon and British Parliament. “I love you” has become the most active computer virus ever existed. Experts warn that the virus can develop its destructive potential because it is capable of modifying itself.

According to the American Computer Economic Group, the “I love you” virus is the most serious act of terrorism ever fixed. It has caused a damage of $6.7 billion for first five days of its existence.

Unfortunately, the danger of virus cyberattacks keeps on increasing. In April 2002 the Klez worm again attacked the Internet and infected millions computers worldwide. As a result, the number of infected machines goes on growing in a rapid way while the epidemic scales and danger of this detrimental program put it among such viruses as “I love you”, “Code Red” and “Sircam” that caused colossal damages, their exact sum being to estimate.

September events (2001) exposed some problems connected with the protection of computer systems and once again showed the importance of information security technologies and danger of their underestimation. Many companies and organizations focused on data protecting technologies. The Federal Computer Incident Response Center (FedCIRC) created a RFP system that will routinely distribute software renovations and patches to all governmental organizations. The Pentagon intelligence service develops a system of revealing attacks on the US Defense Department. This system will allow military programmers to track hackers and collect evidences of their illegal activities. Most of large IT-companies (for example, IBM, Internet Security Systems and so on) offer their clients (often free of charge) technologies and means to protect and restore an attacked information infrastructure in an effective way.

As to the problem of cyberterrorism, it can be concluded with confidence that the cyberterrorism threat enters our reality. The technical progress develops so quickly that the society can only realize its negative consequences when considerable efforts are required to correct the situation.

The problem of cyberterrorism in Ukraine is of a dual character: on the one hand, the country cannot afford to equip its chemical plants and nuclear power stations with up-to-date means of e-control. On the other hand, the national information infrastructure becomes a strategic resource that requires constant attention.

Today the issue of fighting cyberterrorism should be put among the terrorism and organized crimes. It is necessary to carry out a comprehensive approach to solving this problem at the international level.

The effective anti-cyberterrorism cooperation with international law enforcement bodies requires simplifying the procedure of making adequate decisions that is complicated with the necessity to coordinate documents to be ratified. First, frame resolutions should be applied versus agreements. Second, questions of internal security ought to be submitted to the Europe Council and any decision has to be taken by a majority of votes.

Many juridical and technical problems emerge when the following conditions are lacking:

1. Legislative acts regulating criminal-procedural actions.

2. Experts in revealing and exposing information and telecommunication crimes.

3. Necessary technical means of suppressing cyberattacks.

4. Reliable system of interaction between local and foreign law enforcement bodies.

Solving these top priority issues at the international level will make it possible for law enforcement agencies worldwide to direct their coordinated efforts at fighting cyberterrorism.

1. V. Golubev Cyberterrorism as a new form of terrorism. – http:// www.crime-research.org/library/Gol_tem3.htm. 10.04.02.
2. V. Gavlovsky, V. Tsimbalyuk Cyberterrorism as a factor of Ukraine’s national information policy. - http:// www.crime-research.org/library/Gavlovsk.htm. 23.03.02.
3. V. Golubev Computer crime investigation / Monograph. – Zaporozhye: Humanitarian University “ZIGMU”, 2002. – P.46.
4. Computer crimes as a national security threat http://www.crime-research.org/news/2003/07/1402.html. 14.08.03.

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