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FBI plays cyber-fear card again

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There's a new warning from the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC), an elite cyber squad famous for infecting its own network with SirCam, and which consistently manages to worry us about the wrong things at the wrong time.

Today it's a blistering cyber attack from Europe targeting American ISPs and Web sites. Only it seems not to have occurred, in spite of being based on 'credible information'. One has to wonder if the original source might be an IRC channel full of boastful young wannabes.

"On the afternoon of August 05, 2002, the National Infrastructure Protection Center received credible, but non-specific information that wide-scale hacker attacks against U.S. Web sites and Internet Service Providers (ISP) are being planned for later tonight, possibly emanating from Western Europe.

The purpose of this alert is to recommend that Web site and ISP administrators heighten their awareness of network traffic during this period and encourage them to report suspected malicious activities to their local FBI office or the NIPC and to other appropriate authorities."

One imagines from the wording that devastating DoS attacks, a minor nuisance requiring no skills, were feared. Perhaps the would-be attackers couldn't quite figure out how to accomplish their diabolical mission. Of course there's always the possibility that the announcement itself, exhibiting the NIPC's remarkable vigilance and incredible powers of infiltration, discouraged them.

Or perhaps it was just another piece of alarmist fluff cooked up by the NIPC public relations office. It's been a while since NIPC was in the news (and ages since it was in the news for something other than ridicule), so the PR bunnies may well have felt it time for a little publicity stunt.

We note that the venerable cyber-sleuth agency is slated to be removed from FBI auspices and assimilated by the proposed Department of Homeland Security, an even vaster bureaucracy in which, we expect, it will continue to languish peacefully as it has, or more so. ®

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