Cyber terrorism is a step closer

Behind the escalating war of words between North Korea and the United States in the wake of the cyber attacks on Sony lies a dangerous, but inevitable trend: the beginnings of real cyber terrorism.

Although we have yet to witness a major cyber terrorist incident, the potential for one is real, both in terms of motivation and vulnerability. The inescapable fact is that critical national infrastructure is vulnerable to damaging attacks and offensive techniques continue to outstrip our ability to counter them.

Back in 1999 I forecast that the electronic Pearl Harbour would occur around 2006-08, and was branded a doomsayer. Unfortunately, there are still many authorities in denial about the risks. They are the elephants in the room: too damaging to contemplate and too expensive to fix. They will not be addressed until a massive incident occurs.      

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Did not the way the Russians took the US-supplied Georgia Air Defences off-line count as a 'Pearl Harbour'? Did not the emptying out of the US Government global messaging database by Bradley Manning count? Did not Edward Snowden's similar exercise count? Why does the the emptying out of Sony not count? What are you actually waiting for? Amazon, Google, Walmart or Tesco to be taken off line? That would not be a Pearl Harbour (an attack on an isolated, albeit important, defence base). It would be the start of World War 3 - food riots in the streets followed by regime change (democracy replaced by martial law and Military/Home Office take-over) within days? [or it would have been before the toppling of Tesco]. But none of the above would be a 'terrorist' incident. The 'terrorists' are too busy using the internet for recruitment. funding raising and organisation with the connivance of too many within the internet community, as I implied in the course of my Christmas blog on the need to make positive use of it to expose the IS supporters as heretics and thus enable them to be isolated and taken out
Lets also get our priorities right. The Lizard Squad has just stolen Christmas with its attacks on Xbox and PlayStation services - who will punish them and how? If on-line suppliers cannot get their acts together and use civil law (and the support of the parents, children and adult gamers) to "take out" those reponsible what hope is there for addressing those whose aim is death and destruction. Has the era of "responsive" security passed its zenith to be replaced by "robust response" - even in the teeth of determined opposition from National Security services (who fear their own activities, offensive as well as defensive, may be crippled as the vulnerabilities they exploit are exposed and removed) and On-line Advertisors (who seek to monitor our every key stroke).