Hackers have also declared cyberwar
Police authorities yesterday urged all Internet service providers (ISPs) and individual computer users to maintain high alert on hackers and viruses that could invade their systems as the U.S.-led war on Iraq continues escalating.
Officials at the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) under the National Police Administration said that modern wars have now extended from battle fields to cyberspace as hostile groups, including terrorists and disgruntled anti-war groups, now can easily wage new battles to sabatoge the opponents' information and telecom networks.
While government agencies have heightened security measures after President Chen Shui-bian repeated vows to back the tough U.S. actions against terrorist groups and Iraqi rulers, the nation should not relax its guard against possible attacks on the Internet.
Officials said that after the launch of the new war against Iraq, Taiwan anti-virus companies have discovered a new "Say No to War" virus that can propagate anti-war messages via unsolicited e-mails, damage data files, and cause breakdowns of computer systems.
Hackers and viruses written by terrorists or anti-war organizations often use the loopholes of computer systems or networks to launch attack in the form of "denial of service" (DoS) by sending out massive volumes of e-mails to paralyze the computer servers.
The hostile groups may also combine viruses and software programs called "worms" to sneak into a computer system and plant disguised "Trojan Horse" software programs to lure users into activating the viruses or to monitor users' computers from a distance, according to the officials.
They may also utilize computer servers with lax security systems to use the Web sites in a third country or area as the springboards to wage the attack.
The CIB has joined hands with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to break a hackers group named "G-Force" that sympathizes with the al-Qaida terrorists organization after the terrorist attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.
G-Force had utilized the host computers of an ISP in Taiwan as the springboard to attack U.S. government Web sites, including those of the Defense Department.
In order to conceal themselves, the officials said, the hackers like to choose computer systems that have relatively weak security and handle a wide variety of services, but are seldom used.
Such Web sites can be easily selected for hiding the viruses or "worm" software programs, they explained.
The staff members on the Cabinet's national information and telecom security task force have been closely monitoring both the developments of the Iraqi war and the computer systems of key government agencies, financial institutions, public utilities systems like water and power supply, transportation, telecom, and aviation services.
Combing the public and private resources, the task force can immediately activate security systems whenever abnormal information flows are detected after the log system is triggered.
However, the privately run ISPs and enterprises should not neglect the possible hiding of the hackers in their computer systems with the misconception that they are only "small potatoes."
The officials said that companies may consider temporarily separating the Internet from intracompany networks as well as to use different personal computers with fire walls to prevent attacks from hackers or viruses.
They said it would be best to adopt the same high-alert safeguard system as adopted by national defense units, financial and securities firms, and hospitals to have reserve copies of major software programs and set up the synchronous remote data systems to cope with possible crises.
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