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Innovation in Information Security

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$1 Million gets you International Hacking Capabilities

A recent briefing by the US Department of Homeland Security has thrown up some interesting figures about the level of online attack capability that a number of designated terrorist organisations are believed to possess. What is somewhat surprising is the level of capability being claimed for a relatively low level of investment.

That a number of these organisations are developing an ability and commensurate plans to target online services and data stores is not a surprise. After all, online attacks represent almost the perfect form of attack - significant short to medium term effect for almost no personal risk, easy to set up and administer and have effects far beyond the immediate region.

Figures were quoted in the report for Hezbollah, which is estimated to be devoting almost $1 million of the estimated $60 million annually that it receives to electronic warfare. From that amount it has apparently developed the capability to tap and monitor / hijack fiber optic networks, though it could be assumed that much of whatever capability they have has come direct from their state sponsors (Syria and Iran).

While people are coming to rely upon the Internet as an essential service, it wasn't all that long ago that there was no real level of interconnection as such and so the wider community probably won't be too greatly affected by an attack on an individual level. Communities as a whole may suffer due to outages with essential services and service providers that may be relying upon the Internet for operations.

How the terrorist organisations compare to the existing spam networks, Russian and Chinese controlled botnets, and system and software updates going awry remains to be seen. Perhaps now that Information Security threats have been linked with terrorist groups, the Information Security may start to see some of the funds set aside to combat terrorism.

17 June 2008

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