Computer Crime Research Center


The USA at risk of cyberterrorism

Date: May 20, 2004
Source: The Dartmouth Online
By: Tim Spellman

Cyberterrorism expert Andy Cutts of Dartmouth's Institute for Security Technology Studies addressed the Dickey Center's War and Peace discussion panel Friday, briefing the group on Operation Livewire, a recent nationwide cyberterror simulation that tested America's preparedness in the event of a major cyber attack.

Cutts spoke specifically about the possibility of a sustained, campaign-level attack on the United States' computing networks, such as banking, law enforcement, energy and emergency response networks, by an unknown adversary. Because of the anonymous nature of cyberterrorism, he said, such an attack could come from virtually any source, including an enemy state or a small terrorist group.

"There have been examples of cyber attacks that have gone on for years, and the National Security Agency still does not know who is perpetrating them," Cutts said. "There are hundreds of thousands of computers in this country that are compromised."

When asked if there was any idea of who was controlling these computers, Cutts said there was not.

"In the event of a cyber attack," Cutts said, "the first question is who is in charge. Well, it's not clear."

The nation lacks an efficient means of relaying information to a single, central decision-making body in the event of a cyber attack. Because such an attack would span the jurisdictions of multiple government bodies at both state and federal levels, communication and decision-making would be problematic.
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