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Cyber-jihad fails to materialise

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A much hyped cyber-jihad by Islamist s'kiddie hackers on Western websites failed to materialise on Sunday.

The SANS Institute's Internet Storm Centre reports that 11 November passed off normally. So Bruce Willis, fresh from a cinematic outing battling cybergeddon in Die Hard 4pointless.0 can hang up his miraculous colour-changing singlet.

Rumours of the planned attack first surfaced in Israeli intelligence magazine DEBKAfile late last week. It reported that an Islamist website was calling on true believers to mount an attack on the forces of Western, Jewish, Israeli, Muslim apostate and Shiite Websites.

Rather than launching the supposed assault without notice and through a network of compromised machines, the Islamists are reportedly looking to rally recruits to download a package called Electronic Jihad Version 2.0. Instructions on how to use the malign version of Seti@Home for would-be cyber-jihadis will be made available across an impenetrable email network, the organisers of the effort reportedly claim.

Days later a revamped DIY DDoS package - dubbed Electronic Program of Jihad - surfaced online. Others tools also arrived on the scene.

Finnish anti-virus firm F-Secure downloaded one such a tool, a package called E-Jihad30.exe from a site named al-jinan.net (the site is now inactive).

"This tool creates a botnet using a server at jo-uf.net - a domain registered to Iraq," it reports. "However, we've been monitoring this server all day and its IP address continues to point to 127.0.0.1. So at least regarding this botnet, nothing's gonna happen."

It's not the first time rumours of a forthcoming cyber-jihad have surfaced. In December 2006, the US Department of Homeland Security warned banks and infrastructure firm of a possible electronic attack. Nothing much happened then either. The DHS might argue that the warning caused the attack to be aborted or defences to be put in place in time.

Rather than mass attacks that fail to materialise, the pattern of low-level attacks (often featuring web defacements) by Islamic hackers is real and has been ongoing for some time. Defacement activities tend to flare up when incidents like the depiction of the Prophet Mohammed by Danish newspapers hit the news, but they remain at a low level more or less constantly. ®

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