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Hackers worse than terrorists – Robin Cook

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Hackers are a greater threat than terrorists, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook reckons.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, he said that a "computer-based attack could cripple the nation more quickly than a military strike". Cook made the claims in a debate on the work of the intelligence services.

But where have we heard these claims before? Ah, yes the US National Security Agency, whose director Air Force General Michael Hayden said last November: "The virtual battlefield has "taken on a dimension within which we will conduct operations to ensure American security."

Spooks in the UK haven't had so much to do since the quiescence of the IRA and spooks everywhere have had very little do since the collapse of the Soviet Union (except spy on France). But what a great way of justifying their existence than in seeking out and destroying exponents of electronic warfare, wherever they may be.

It's a dirty job but does anyone have to do it? Where where are these Cyberterrorists? What are they destroying, what has been crippled? Actually we can answer the where - that's right, it's Canada. Last year FBI director Louis Freah described this otherwise harmless country as a 'hacker haven' responsible for 80 per cent of the foreign attacks on US computers.

Britain has had just one, very big false alarm on the Cyberterrorist front. Last year, the City of London police warned banks to look out for anarchists who might try to infiltrate their companies and hack their computers, in their Stop The City protest.

Anarchists claiming to be hackers had threatened to disrupt the computers of city firms, but the idea of such people putting on a suit each morning and getting to work for 8 am (people start early in the City), all the time acting undercover beggars belief. DOS attacks would have been a lot easier and a lot less risky. In the event nothing happened, but no thanks to the doughty Boys in Blue. Their warning about secret anarchist-infiltrating hackers was ludicrous then, it looks even more ludicrous today. ( For a contrarian view, read this article dangers of hacker infiltration, by John Leyden.)

Besides, we all know that it's the virus writers wot cause the real trouble.

BootNote

Interesting that Robin Cook recognises that there is acutually a difference between hacking and terrorism, unlike the government as a whole - in the Terrorism Act 2000, which became law in February, the definition of terrorism was broadened to include hackers. Anyone who "seriously disrupt(s) an electronic system" with the intention of threatening or influencing the government or the public, and they do it to advance "a political, religious or ideological cause", then they're a terrorist. ®

So Daddy, what did you do in the Cyber-War?
Hackers are terrorists, says UK law
US Congress whips up 'cyber menace' again
Police request right to spy on every UK phone call and email
Cyberwarfare levels the playing field
NSA stakes out virtual battlefield
Hackers can make your PC explode
Watch out! there's a cyberterrorist about
City faces up to hack attack

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