U.S. computer networks are most threatened by terrorist organizations that may purchase software code from cybercrooks to hack into sensitive platforms, a possibility that may be at hand within a few years, federal information technology and intelligence officials recently said.
Although enemy states are often fingered as perpetrators of network attacks directed at the United States, this is often not the case due to the high financial and political costs, says former CIA director James Woolsey. "We don't have the [degree] of strife [with] those that have these capabilities — such as China and Russia," that would make them want to attack the United States, he says. "The ultimate problem we face is the possibility that we will have an enemy whose objective is total destruction." Woolsey noted that power plants are a conspicuous target, as a major attack could disable the electrical grid.
Most developed nation-states have the resources to implement a full-scale cyberattack, while terrorist organizations are behind the curve in the computer programming needed to wreak significant havoc, says former National Intelligence director Mike McConnell. He suggests the possibility that hostile nation-states could provide terrorist groups with the technology to launch an attack but deny involvement.
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Abstracts Copyright © 2009 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA
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