For nearly two decades, al-Qaida and groups it’s inspired have tried to attack U.S. and other Western targets across the world, with mixed results.
June 18, 2009
WASHINGTON – Terrorist groups that have long used the Internet to spread propaganda are increasingly tapping the Web to teach Islamic extremists how to be hackers, recruit techies for cyberwarfare and raise money through online fraud, U.S. officials say.
A senior defense official said intelligence reports indicate extremist groups are seeking computer experts, including those capable of breaching government or other sensitive network systems. …
To date, experts say extremists largely have engaged in “sport hacking” – defacing or taking down Web sites belonging to groups they consider enemies, such as sites featuring Shiite, Jewish or Christian beliefs. …
But some recent activity suggests there may be an aggressive push among extremists for expertise such as engineering and technical backgrounds that could be used against the U.S. government or other vital systems. …
Terrorist groups lack the skills to match the abilities of sophisticated governments such as the U.S., China and Russia in launching widespread Web attacks, but they could hire someone who does, Steven Chabinsky, assistant deputy director of cyberissues for the Obama administration’s director of national intelligence, recently told a technology conference.
Reaching out to hackers with equipment and expertise could enable those groups to transmit viruses or worms to take over computers and direct them to send spam, carry out identity-theft or take down Web sites.
Some officials contend that extremists don’t have to take down a critical network or system to have an impact. Even the ability to penetrate and deface a well-trafficked Web site could shake public confidence in the government.
New Terrorism Forecast for U.S. (December 26, 2008)
Psychological Profile of Ayman al-Zawahiri (June 3, 2009)
Psychological Profile of Osama bin Laden (June 4, 2009)
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