Computerworld - If history is a guide, any Bush administration plan to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq would likely set off a firestorm of hacker activity targeting U.S. networks and infrastructure. And those attacks could be greater in number and affect a broader cross-section of U.S. businesses than anything seen before, according to intelligence experts.
Surges in cyberattack activity have typically accompanied major international crises during the last several years, including the Arab-Israeli conflict, the war in Kosovo and the collision of a U.S. spy plane with a Chinese fighter jet over the South China Sea last year (see story).
However, any significant expansion of the U.S.-led war against terrorism, including an invasion of Iraq, could unleash an unprecedented wave of hacker activity, intelligence and security experts said.
Eric Shaw, a former psychological profiler at the CIA, said he will be watching for increases in activity from specific threat groups.
"Islamic hacking groups have been uniting over the India-Pakistan and Israeli-Palestine [conflicts] and they are traditionally Iraq supporters and anti-U.S. and anti-Israel," said Shaw, who now works as a cybersecurity consultant at Stroz Associates LLC in New York.
A second group includes a mixture of U.S. and European-based antiwar hackers, said Shaw. "Think about [groups] of young, liberal, elite, Western-educated youth [coming out] against the war. It would be a lot smaller than the Vietnam generation but could still be potent," he said.
Moreover, a ground war in Iraq could spur other governments in the region to launch sophisticated state-sponsored information warfare campaigns. That's the conclusion of a study published two weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks by the Institute for Security Technology Studies at Dartmouth College.
Ruth David, former director of science and technology at the CIA and now CEO of Analytic Services Inc. in Arlington, Va., said an orchestrated attack exploiting well-known vulnerabilities could be launched with little regard for precise targeting, and could cause significant disruption and financial loss to the "softest targets," the bulk of which are in the private sector.
"Ironically, a serious attack of this type may engender even greater public support for any military action under way and is unlikely to seriously impede our ability to achieve military objectives," said David.
The Bush administration has formally stated that it is the policy of the U.S. to respond to cyberattacks by any means appropriate, including military action.
"Such an attack could significantly debilitate U.S. and allied information networks," the Dartmouth study concluded. That report was written under the guidance of Michael Vatis, a former director of the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center.
The real change
- Why Projects Fail CIOs are expected to deliver more projects that transform business, and do so on time, on budget and with limited resources.
- The New Business Case for Video Conferencing: 7 Real-World Benefits Beyond Cost-Savings This whitepaper provides insight into the value of video conferencing in today's business environment, and how organizations are using visual collaboration to find...
- Gartner Magic Quadrant for Client Management Tools The client management tool market is maturing and evolving to adapt to consumerization, desktop virtualization, and an ongoing need to improve efficiency.
- Audit Ready and Asset Optimized: The Solid Promise of an Intelligent Software Asset Management Solution In this paper Frost & Sullivan examines the benefits of enterprise-grade Software Asset Management solutions, and how these solutions serve as the convergence...
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy... All Cybercrime and Hacking White Papers | Webcasts