Computer Crime Research Center


Cyber terrorism: myth or reality?

Date: March 08, 2004
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: Vladimir Golubev

Some sceptics think that "cyberterrorism" is fiction. They think it is necessary in Ukraine or Russia for an "article in the budget", money that can be appropriated by government officials. Experts in field of counteraction to computer crimes and cyber terrorism say that cyberterrorism is a serious threat to mankind. It can be compared to nuclear, bacteriological and chemical weapon. Extent of this threat, due to its novelty, is not still realized and investigated. Present experience of the world community in this area illustrates doubtless vulnerability of any state because cyber terrorism is capable to expose information systems wherever they are located.

Only one virus attack on the largest in Ukraine telecommunication service provider JSC "Ukrtelecom" in Ukraine on November, 16-19, 2001. Attack of virus Nimda seriously affected functioning of computer network counting more than 700 computers and tens of servers. It has led to temporary disconnection from the Internet, and also to failures in corporate email system. Virus infected hundreds of computers, broke work of some servers and functioning of corporate e-mail server in the Ukrtelecom general office and also of thousands of ordinary citizens of Ukraine.

Consequences of this attack testify that such actions were aimed only at Ukrtelecom, but also against government authorities. Such criminal actions fall under Article 258 "Act of terrorism" of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. Unfortunately, such examples are not only. They pose great danger for people.

The problem of cyberterrorism excites the public more and more. It is in the limelight of Internet mass-media always. As computer systems are connected to the Internet, they are the "kernel" state infrastructure. National infrastructure, first of all, nuclear reactors, large storehouses of strategic raw materials, transport control systems, water and electricity supply systems, biological and chemical laboratories draw more and more attention of each country as potential "targets" of cyberterrorists. Alongside with traditional kinds of intimidation, terrorists widely use computer technologies and the Internet in their arsenal. For example, a known sect Aum Sinrike (AS) worked on creation of the electromagnetic pulse "guns" disarming computer systems, carried out experiments on creation of new dangerous network viruses.

Today international terrorist groups widely use e-mail and various sites in the Internet for conducting propaganda and recruiting new members. Messages of breaking of computer systems and non-authorized access to restricted information became usual. The answer to question "Is cyberterrorism a myth or a reality" does not raise doubts of most experts. Hundreds of thousands attempts of non-authorized breaks in bank, military and corporate computer systems are filed annually all over the world. It is problematic to qualify these offences according to traditional "computer crimes" articles.

Taking into account that such illegal actions violate unlimited circle of public relations and special public danger of this phenomenon, it affects interests of huge amount of people. Also cyber terrorism is capable to cause essential economic, political and military harm to the state. Creation of effective nation-wide complex system on preventing and counteracting to cyberterrorism is necessary. And it is necessary to do it today. Tomorrow will be late!

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2006-06-08 13:08:36 - it is simply... rhoda
2005-09-02 21:56:25 - Veri nice site! Stefanie
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