Feeds

US Congress whips up ‘cyber menace’ again

There be monsters on line

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Reducing security risks from open source software

Declaring "cyberterrorism" a growing threat to national security, US Representatives James Saxton (Republican, New Jersey) and Saxby Chambliss (Republican, Georgia) introduced legislation this week calling for a revised legal framework for prosecuting terrorist hackers, and renewed public-private sector cooperation in combating the "cyber menace."

House concurrent resolution twenty-two declares cyberterrorism to be "an emerging threat to the national security of the United States which has the potentiality to cause great harm to the Nation's critical electronic infrastructure."

Saxton and Chambliss call for federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies to conduct a new study of cyberterrorists, defined as computer-savvy terrorist groups determined to crack American computer networks and sabotage critical infrastructures like banking and finance, energy production and distribution, transportation, and national defence.

If passed, the resolution would not put new laws on the books, but would establish a largely symbolic "sense of Congress" that cyberterrorists are real, and that new laws are needed to punish them.

But belief that terrorists are turning to hacking is not universally held, even among relatively hawkish insiders. Speaking at a security conference last year, then-White House counter-terrorism Czar Richard Clarke said he believed that foreign governments could inflict grave damage on US infrastructures electronically, but that terrorist groups still prefer bombs to modems.

"I don't know what a 'cyberterrorist' is," Clarke said. "We have not found a terrorist group engaged in computer attacks on the United States. We haven't even found one preparing for computer attacks on the United States."

The legislation comes amid renewed interest in hi-tech terrorism, sparked by a USA Today report Tuesday that mid-East extremist Osama bin Laden uses e-mail and encryption in planning terrorist attacks.

The preamble of the resolution also supports continued funding for the Clinton administration's cyber security programs, including the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Centre (NIPC), and the Commerce Department's Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office, and it endorses Clinton's 2000 "National Plan for Information Systems Protection."

An identical resolution stalled in committee last year.

© 2001 SecurityFocus.com, all rights reserved.

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Microsoft: You NEED bad passwords and should re-use them a lot
Dirty QWERTY a perfect P@ssword1 for garbage websites
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
Crooks fling banking Trojan at Japanese smut site fans
Wait - they're doing online banking with an unpatched Windows PC?
NIST told to grow a pair and kick NSA to the curb
Lrn2crypto, oversight panel tells US govt's algorithm bods
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.