Computer Crime Research Center


Dealing with cyber terrorism

Date: February 16, 2004
Source: Capital News 9

"You want to help yourself, your business, your county, your country? Secure your system. Be the first part in this war on cyber-terror," Lance Ulanoff of said.
"War" seems to be exactly how cyber attacks of any kind are now being viewed. For all the havoc the MyDoom virus is causing as the fastest spreading virus ever, it has at least encouraged government to finally step in and offer a coordinated response to future attacks. The Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday a new National Cyber Alert System, described as "E-mail products [that] will provide timely information on computer security vulnerabilities, potential impact, and action required to mitigate threats, as well as PC security 'best practices' and 'how to' guidance." It's a step Senator Chuck Schumer said, while long overdue, still isn't enough.

Schumer said, "What DHS did today was essentially challenge computer hackers all over the world to put a virus into email that mimics the DHS email warnings. If I were a betting man, I'd put a few dollars down that the next virus that clogs computer networks is going to be transmitted disguised as an email that looks like one of these DHS email alerts."

What scares security experts most about MyDoom is that it wasn't seemingly pointless, like many viruses. This one was hackers, with a cause.

Washington is now stepping in and enlisting your help in the fight to protect the nation's cyber-infrastructure.

MyDoom is essentially the definition of cyber-terrorism. Investigators believe it was launched by a radical faction of one group, in this case users of the open-source operating system Linux, trying to damage or cripple another group -- in this case a company called SCO.

Ulanoff said, "These people are angry at SCO for suing IBM, for supposedly having a piece of the Linux code that they own. So they're going to launch, through MyDoom, on Feb. 2 through Feb. 14, a denial of service attack which would bring down that website. But in the process of doing that they, infected hundreds of thousands, even millions of systems to make their stupid point. And they were incredibly effective because it hit fast. There were no anti-virus vendors prepared to handle it, because it was launched on the weekend."

So, might a National Security Alert System have helped? Homeland Security admits it is just a first step in the first line of defense -- a defense it said will continue to evolve. If you'd like to receive notifications from the system, checkout this website.
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