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Volume 27, Issue 4

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The Real Threat

Written by  Glenn Fiedelholtz Thursday, 22 November 2007 01:22

Information warfare (IW) is not new in the United States. The Department of Defense (DOD) has for approximately 30 years been preparing for and defending against our adversaries’ employment of IW. However, with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks against the United States, the possibility of the threat of cyber attacks against our infrastructure have dramatically increased. This recent attack illustrates the terrorists’ use of new tactics to maximize their ideological aims in causing casualties and economic disruption to our society. Therefore, IW is not an emerging threat but may be a reality. Louis J. Freeh, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in his testimony before the Senate Subcommittee for Technology, Terrorism and Government Information, stated that terrorists are increasingly using the Internet to formulate plans, raise funds, spread propaganda, and communicate securely. Freeh cited Director Tenet of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as supporting his assertion that terrorist groups are increasingly utilizing computer files, e-mails, and encryption to support terrorist operations both domestically and internationally. In one example of cyberspace terrorism, the former director reported that convicted terrorist Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 stored detailed plans to destroy United States airliners on encrypted files on his laptop computer with the intent to instruct terrorist groups to commit terrorist acts against the United States. Similarly, Osman bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, may have used the Internet to communicate with his co-conspirators to coordinate the murder of 3,000 innocent civilians. The general definition of IW consists of those actions to protect, exploit, corrupt, deny, or destroy information or information resources in order to achieve a significant advantage, objective, or victory over an adversary.