Cyber Terrorism Term Paper

Pages: 6 (2274 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 7  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Terrorism

Cyber Terrorism & Information

All human efforts are now directly or indirectly connected with the Internet and this is leading to a use of the anonymous method of exchange of information that is permitted by it. This mode of information transaction is in turn sometimes becoming a threat to citizens, different ethnic or religious groups, communities and ultimately countries. The present situation is that Internet is continuously expanding and more responsibilities are being given to computer systems, and the systems themselves are becoming more complex and interdependent. This is increasing the possibility of these computers being used as a threat. This had given rise to cyber terrorism using cracking walls over computer networks and other attacks. (Cyber-terrorism: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Our own imaginations do not find it difficult to realize the need for protecting this infrastructure and understanding the enormous damage that this could cause. There are examples like the Solar Sunrise becomes an important reminder as well as the writers of popular fiction like Tom Clancy to continuously remind us of the damage possible. (O' Neil, 2001) There have been some instances where computer viruses have degraded or even shut down the functions of some parts of nuclear plants, but these attacks are not understood to be deliberate. It is also not known that any case of cyber attack that has led to the death of any individual. The worst known damage has occurred in Maroochy Shire, Australia. (Cyber-terrorism: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Cyber Terrorism Assignment

This was in Queensland, and there on April 23, 2000 police stopped a car on the route to Deception Bay and found a stolen computer as well as a radio transmitter within the car. The driver of the car was Vitek Boden aged 48 and he had turned his car into a pirate command center for sewage treatment which was along the Sunshine Coast of Australia. This arrest finally stopped the waste water troubles of Maroochy Shire gong on for two months. The system was being troubled by leaks of hundreds of thousand of sludge into parks, rivers and the grounds of a hotel. This troubled the Environment Protect Agency of the area as it led to the death of marine life, creek water becoming black in color and stench for the residents. Boden had done this 45 times before being caught, the reasons were unknown. This case has been studied thoroughly as it is the only case known where a digital control system was used deliberately for causing harm. (Gellman, 2002)

The details show that Boden found it easy to break in. He was earlier with the supplier of remote control and telemetry equipment to the utility, and was only trying to get a contract from the utility for solving the problems that were being caused by his own activities. For disturbing the system, the software on his laptop was identifying itself as "pumping station no. 4" and then stopping the issue of all alarms. He had thus made himself the central control system and was able to disturb the sewage and drinking water systems as he wanted. He had total control of the 300 nodes controlling fresh water, and he had the citizens at his mercy. As in the many utilities elsewhere, Maroochy permitted its technicians operating remotely to change the digital controls. The user had learnt the usage of these controls as an insider, and the software that he used was the same international software. These manuals are available on the Web, and he had no difficulties. (Gellman, 2002)

Another common area where cyber terrorism is expected is the air traffic system. This is due to the air traffic control system all over the world being well computerized. The feeling is that the terrorists can get hold of the controls of the system, or change the system in a manner so that the planes end up being flown into one another. The problem with this imagination is that it ignores the total human elements that control flying. The computers of the air control system do not directly control the aircraft, but act as mere aids to the human controller. Even if the controller gets wrong picture due to the computer systems, there are other human beings to take care of the flaw. The most important of these is the pilots. They are taught the importance of being aware of all other aircraft in the region apart from their own location, direction and altitude. (Cyber-Terrorism - Fact or Fancy?) Even in the worst cases, the pilots have to be removed before the plane can get into an accident. There have also been plans by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency to put up worst case scenarios on the Internet, but this was stopped as many felt that this could end up as being help for the terrorists. (Thibodeau, 2001)

The importance of the computers to the terrorists is not in such action but in recording their financial ledgers, Target lists, attack plans and names of co-conspirators. An important example of this was the case of Ramzi Yousef, who was the mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing. He was caught in the Philippines and his computer seized. This laptop contained his entire plan to blow up 11 American airlines in the area. Naturally the information was encrypted, but the software next to the computer had his password in it, and this enabled the security agencies to understand his plans. If the FBI had not been able to understand his plans and even one of his other conspirators were able to carry out his plans, it would be a serious damage to the people. (Vatis, 2001)

One of the main areas that are vulnerable is the electrical energy systems, gas and oil pipelines. This is due to their use of SCADAS or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems. This enables the computers to command, control and communicate for the systems. These use a number of computers for monitoring the flow of electricity on a line or oil through a pipe. The computers control the amounts that flow through and have the ability to increase or decrease the flow. If an enemy can get an entry into the system, then the person can cause a large damage over a large area. The problems of the system come from the reason that they are dependent on open systems of the public switch telecommunication network and the Internet. (Vatis, 2001)

In practical position today the cyber terrorists are hackers who take up cyber attacks as a test of their skills against important targets in the government or outside. Some times there are also institutional hackers who may financial motivation for such attacks. Organized crime groups and industrial espionage agents who are acting on behalf of foreign companies or U.S. competitors may also use them for competitive advantage. The existing terrorist groups - both international and local may use cyber terrorism. When foreign intelligence agents want important figures from information warriors or defense contractors, they mat also use cyber terrorism. In times of conflict, military services can use information war as a part of military attack plan, or even as an asymmetrical attack. All these people can be viewed as terrorists depending on their motivation.

As an example let us take up the case of a large number of entries into the Defense computer systems. These were noticed and reported to the FBI in February 1999, and the investigations were undertaken by the Air Force Office of special Investigations. Part of the target was also the NASA and the Inspector General became a part of the team. The attacks were taking place all over the country, and since it was connected with defense made people worried. When tracked back, it was seen that the attacks were being organized by two juveniles in Northern California. Some of the attacks were also traced back to a young man in Israel who called himself the Analyzer. The attacks were a result of their talk on the Net. (Vatis, 2001)

Yet the problem is not so simple, and the U.S. government has very little power in this regard. This was seen when the Chairman and Vice Chairman regarding critical infrastructure met the President. They had been informed by Finland that researchers had found a serious deficiency in the Internet's standard language for sending data through the switches. The concerned government team had found this to be a threat for air traffic control and military phone links, among other threats. This led to the critical infrastructure board and the homeland security office asking private organizations whether they would tell the government the names of people working in those sites. The FBI can only collect the names of bank employees, but is unable to take action in other industries. (Gellman, 2002)

The major problem that is facing the world today is that all this information is now available with al Qaeda, and they also had the techniques to program them. This was seen in all… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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