The FBI is looking at people with suspected links to al Qaeda who have shown interest in mounting an attack on computer systems that control critical U.S. infrastructure according to a senior official. While there is no evidence that terrorist groups have developed sophisticated cyber-attack capabilities, a lack of security protections in the U.S. computer software increases the likelihood that terrorists could execute attacks in the future, the official warned. If terrorists were to amass such capabilities, they would be wieled with ” destructive and deadly intent,” according to the FBI’s Cyber Division.
Some experts have said that cyber attacks pose the greatest threat to the United States after nuclear war and weapons of mass destruction-and they are increasingly hard to prevent. The experts warn of “cybergeddon”, in which an advanced economy-where almost everything of importance is linked to or controlled by computers-falls prey to hackers, with catastrophic results.
The deputy secretary for public safety in New York State described “a huge threat out there” against everything from banking institutions to water systems to dams.
Computer hacking-once something of a sport for brilliant delinquents-is rapidly evolving around the world as a weapon of war. Russian hackers allegedly mounted huge assaults on internet networks in Estonia and Georgia last year, while Palestinian sympathizers have orchestrated attacks against Israeli websites.
A spokesperson with Global Terror Alert said websites and social networking tools already allow underground Islamist leaders and militant organizations to recruit and communicate in safety worldwide.
Jihadist websites can be destroyed, but “you knock one out and another pops up the next day”, according to the Global Terror Alert organization. Young militants are learning to code software and are getting help from freelance experts who may have nothing to do with Islamist causes.
Final thought: The FBI is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to al Qaeda. Its now looking into whether the terrorist organization could attack the U.S. by launching a cyberattack, aiming for an online 9/11.