Cyber Wars Escalating

October 24th, 2012
in econ_news, syndication

Econintersect:  Over the past several weeks and extending back two years cyber-terroristSMALLmassive cyber attacks have been causing major internet problems.  There have been attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities coordinated by the U.S. and Israel according to a report in The New York Times in June.  This was said to be an escalation of a cyber attack program begun by George W. Bush in 2006.  Another cyber weapon was also mentioned in the NYT article that has been collecting information from the computers of Iranian government officials.

Follow up:

In August a massive cyber attack on the computers of the world's richest company, Saudi Aaramco.  The attach is reported by The NYT to have destroyed 3/4 of the company's data files and replace them with images of a burning American flag.  The attacks were attributed to Iran but no proof has been offered to support that claim (NYT).

Just two weeks ago U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned  of a "dire threat" to the U.S.  From The New York Times (11 October 2012):

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta warned Thursday that the United States was facing the possibility of a “cyber-Pearl Harbor” and was increasingly vulnerable to foreign computer hackers who could dismantle the nation’s power grid, transportation system, financial networks and government.

From the same New York Times article:

In August, a cybersecurity bill that had been one of the administration’s national security priorities was blocked by a group of Republicans, led by Senator John McCain of Arizona, who took the side of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and said it would be too burdensome for corporations.

Since then U.S. banks have found that lack of a cyber security program can be expensive as well.  The Wall Street Journal has reported that there have been a number of hacker attacks on U.S. banks in recent weeks.  These have been primarily of the DOS (denial of service) variety where the bank's internet interface is flooded with huge amounts of traffic disrupting interbank communications and the use of online banking and other facilities to serve customers.  These attacks have also been attributed to Iran.  The wall Street Journal says that the activity was approved at the highest level of the Iranian government.  Banks have told the WSJ that they are spending money to beef up their internal and internet electronic security.

A group calling itself Qassam Cyber Fighters has been announcing in advance which banks they would attack but the banks have not been able to thwart the intrusions even when warned.

The United Nations has just published a report that offers guidelines for countries to use in taking on terrorists who use the internet for attacks, recruiting and disseminating information.  From NDTV Gadgets:

The 148-page report aims to promote a better understanding of the ways extremists use the Internet and to increase international cooperation in order to ensure "effective criminal justice responses to this transnational challenge."

Particular challenges include developing national legislation that help investigators and prosecutors tackle online "terrorist" activity, but while guaranteeing human rights and fundamental freedoms, the UNODC said.

John Lounsbury


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