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Cyber Terrorism Now at the Top of the List of Security Concerns

by John Reed on September 12, 2011

By Kevin Coleman — Defense Tech Cyberwarfare Correspondent

In the shadow of the 10th anniversary of the 9–11 terrorist attacks, the United States finds itself facing a different threat from terrorists. Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Janet Napolitano recently stated that, “The U.S. has become ‘categorically safer’ since 9/11, but cyber-terrorism now tops the list of security concerns.”

One of the most accepted definitions of cyber terrorism comes from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). According to the FBI, cyber terrorism is the “premeditated, politically motivated attack against information, computer systems, computer programs and data which results in violence against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents.” That definition is intentionally broad to leave room for the seemingly continuous change in the cyber attack strategies and tactics used in general that are often adopted by terrorists.

Cyber terrorist seem to have an endless number of targets to attacks. Given that the United States is the most computerized country in the world, you would have thought that we would have or should have learned valuable lessons from the cyber attacks on Estonia and Georgia as well as the Stuxnet incident in Iran, but it appears we haven’t! Could a Stuxnet type attack be launched against the critical infrastructure systems of the United States and be successful? The answer is yes and many believe that is highly likely!

Government is moving quickly as compared to the sluggish pace we have come to expect. However, this pace is nowhere near the speed this threat is evolving. Many security professionals find it difficult to sit and watch as their continuous warnings go all but unheard. Equally concerning is that federal legislators seem to be more concerned about how they can get a piece of the monies being allocated to this threat and jobs for the area they represent rather that the national security threat of a cyber terrorist attack on our critical systems!

In remembrance of those who lost their lives on 9–11 as well as those who continue to suffer from the affects of the events that day.

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