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September 11th Does Not Mean Cyberwar is Coming
From: InfoSec News <isn () c4i org>
Date: Mon, 17 Sep 2001 03:59:40 -0500 (CDT)

Forwarded from: Richard Forno <rforno () infowarrior org>

September 11th Does Not Mean Cyberwar is Coming.
Richard Forno
rforno () infowarrior org

(c) 2001 by author.
Permission to reproduce in whole, or part, with appropriate credit.

September 11, 2001 is a date -- now seared into the memory of our
nation -- that was a brutal awakening for 21st century America.  It
was also a stark reminder that the method of attack for terrorists
will be a high-visibility, high-body-count target; not hacking,
cracking, or conducting a so-called "cyber war."

UBL, Saddam, Quasimodo, or any other terrorist is not going to snicker
in their cave or palace and proclaim that "God is great, those
Americans are running scared because my forces have crashed the NASDAQ
systems!" Nobody ever died from a directed TCP/IP packet, nor are such
IT-related incidents akin to the fearful dinner-time discussions
regarding the "Red Threat" during the Cold War.

Seeing a smoking crater that was a world landmark makes an emotional
impact on everyone - adults and children - around the world. Thus, the
graphic impact of such physical strikes is much more appealing to the
terrorist since they elicit a far greater visceral emotional response
from the victim society left to cope with the aftermath.

In the aftermath of our national tragedy, there is an understandable
increase in emotional rhetoric in chat rooms and coffee bars across
America that the recent attacks will precipitate a so-called "cyber
war."  This "cyber war" will likely be no more than the
run-of-the-mill nuisances and mundane mischief that network and
security administrators see on a daily basis: web defacements, ping
floods, virus attacks, and so on.  Sadly, there are a growing number
of security and "intelligence" vendors making claims that the attacks
of September 11 will culminate in or help launch a "cyber war"; thus
creating an unnecessary amount of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) on
a topic that is in no way as pressing a concern as the very real
emergencies that we are currently facing.

Of course, it goes without saying that during this time of concern, IT
administrators and security staff should be on heightened alert to
monitor for suspicious activities on their networks, and report any
such activity to the appropriate entities. This should be expected in
any national crisis situation.  However, any computer system
considered "essential" and a "critical element of the national
infrastructure" should NOT have been connected to a public network in
the first place.  Proper security planning on such systems before
their deployment should always outweigh operator convenience in such
critical circumstances.

Granted, one cannot rule out an increase in computer security
incidents during this time. Certainly, the IT industry should exercise
due diligence in safeguarding their systems.  But everyone involved
should make a concerted effort to refrain from -- and resist -- any
and all attempts to capitalize on this real-world tragedy through
fear-mongering statements and marketing tactics implying that phantom
packets are waiting to strike our networks during this tragic period.
September 11th's attack on Freedom should not be perverted into an
opportunity for free commercials for anyone. Period.

My thoughts and prayers to those responding to this incident, and to
the families and friends of those lost during this week's events.

Richard Forno

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