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The Threat of Cyber-Terrorism

Boot Camp feature for Tuesday, March 2, 1999

Worried about Y2K? Of more concern to some experts are cyber-terrorists. I'm Fred Fishkin with Bootcamp, a report on computers and technology. The warning came from Interpol and an international conference in London. The United States is open to attacks by cyber-terrorists who could create more chaos than the worst Y2K scenarios imagined. How real is the threat?

"It's very real and it's very scary."

At IBM's T J Watson Research Center, Dave Safford is the manager of the Global Security Analysis Lab. What kinds of attacks are of most concern?

"Well I think the most important ones and the information warfare ones. Our critical infrastructure protection is obviously, has to be the first priority and it's something everybody is working on quite hard now. The critical infrastructure is the electricity, telephones, defense communications ...all of those things obviously have to be protected."

The Defense Department, the FBI and no doubt, the CIA all have teams trying to stay one step ahead of potential cyber-terrorists. One chilling report from London in recent days said hackers had managed to seize control of one of Britain's military communication satellites and issued blackmail threats. The Global Security Analysis Lab at IBM estimates there are only about one hundred elite hackers in the world. And while strides are being made all the time to improve security...

"There's always the joke that as soon as you make something foolproof, they build a better fool."

And while the Y2K threat will be history a year from now, worries about cyber-terrorism are here to stay.