Magazine article National Defense

Expert Warns of Nexus between Cybercriminals and Terrorists

Magazine article National Defense

Expert Warns of Nexus between Cybercriminals and Terrorists

Article excerpt

Terrorists who want to stage a cyberattack against the United States may lean on criminal networks to assist them, a former Defense Department official said.

Steven Bucci, former deputy assistant secretary for homeland defense, said conventional wisdom states that terrorist organizations aren't interested in cyberattacks because they don't make for spectacular, bloody video footage that can be used for propaganda.

He disagrees. Imagine infiltrating the computers of a chemical plant, and ordering them to "open up all the valves," he said at a Heritage Foundation talk. Such an attack could rival the Bhopai disaster in India, and deliver the effects groups such as al-Qaida are looking for.

"That's pretty clam spectacular, and pretty elegant from an attack standpoint. You don't really need that big a capability," he said.

A full-scale cyberwar between nations is possible, but unlikely, Bucci said. It's akin to nuclear war where there was mutually assured destruction. "The most likely threat in my mind is a cyberterrorist attack enabled by cybercriminal capabilities," Bucci said.

Such an operation would require more than a single hacker sitting at a computer, but not a whole lot more. …

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