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Cyberterrorism threatening critical infrastructure

By Vladimir Golubev
Date: October 16, 2003

Cyber Terrorism Cyber threat is widely discussed at the different social and governmental levels. The inadequate understanding of the risks related to this threat, results both in underestimation, and to reassessment of its gravity. However, a threat of cyber attacks is quite real and the related risks are high.

The practical cyberterror risk assessment was the purpose of U.S. Naval College's and Gartner's joint researches «Digital Pearl Harbour». During tactical exercise the experts acted as cyberterrorists and imitated a large-scale cyberattack on the U.S. national network infrastructure. Results of the tactical exercise have shown that cyberattack can really disable telecommunications systems in densely populated regions.

So, until we shall not protect our cyberspace, some keystrokes and connection to the Internet - all is necessary to harm economy and to threaten people lives.

Cyberattacks differ on targets: attacks to the data and attacks to control systems.

According to experts on cyber security, a plenty of the largest industrial enterprises and other crucial elements of critical infrastructure are vulnerable before cybercrime and cyberterrorism.

More than 80% of a critical network infrastructure are in private sector which in many cases are not well informed on information safety.

Infrastructure of the Internet is the most vulnerable before cyberattacks. It is enough to give an example of network worm Nimda which inflicted $3 billion loss to organisations connected to the Internet .

According to experts and law enforcement agencies, the greatest threat from the side of cyberterrorists consists in opportunities of a global information network, the Internet, for launch cyber attack, directed to vulnerable sectors of a critical infrastructure, first of all, communications and power engineering.

Computer Crime Resesrach Center

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