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Richard Clarke & Cyberterrorism. Will There Be An Electronic Pearl Harbor?

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KittyWampus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-28-04 05:21 PM
Original message
Richard Clarke & Cyberterrorism. Will There Be An Electronic Pearl Harbor?
Edited on Sun Mar-28-04 05:29 PM by cryingshame
Today after hearing Clarke's interview I learned he was NOT demoted to Cyberterrorism Czar. He resigned as Counterterrorism Czar and asked Bush to create Cyberterrorism post. Clarke went on to write his report on Cyberterrorism because he felt it was that important.

So I wondered WHY Clarke felt Cyberterrorism is THAT important. Just did a google on Clarke/Cyberterrorism. Found videoclips and interviews. Here is an except and some links. This IS important and perhaps some will recall the power outages last summer. We had one here in New York, England and somewheres else.


Q:You've been criticized for overstating the case for cyberterrorism. The statements you've made about
a potential "electronic Pearl Harbor" have been viewed in some quarters as an exaggeration of the
threat, perhaps an attempt to increase the budget for cybersecurity programs.

A:Without talking about whether or not we have enemies, just look at our vulnerabilities. You can
take virtually any major sector of our economy-or, for that matter, the government-and do a
vulnerability analysis and discover that it's relatively easy to alter information, disrupt and confuse
the system, and even shut the system down.

In some cases, people will say, "So you turned off a computer; big deal." But in other cases,
shutting the system down has consequences-the electric power grid crashes, trains stop running,
airplanes crash into each other. Obviously, these are significant things; the economy is badly
damaged, the nation is unable to operate for a period of time and people die.

So I don't overstate the vulnerabilities. In fact, I go around understating them because I don't
want to publicly put my finger on precisely where some of these vulnerabilities are.

Is it difficult to talk about out loud? You can talk about it broadly, but when you limit yourself to
sweeping generalities like "we are vulnerable as a nation," there are always people who will doubt
you. If you can get them into a closed room and get them at least a temporary security clearance,
you can give them some specific examples, and we've done that with a number of groups. We got
permission to bring people in on a one-time basis, sit them down, and show them classified
information, and they away worried. So I think the vulnerabilities are pretty well

Q: What about the term electronic Pearl Harbor?

A: The difference between an electronic Pearl Harbor and the actual attack on is that you
can now attack scores of cities and the connecting fiber between them, so the economic effects
can be much more severe. The economic effects of the attack on Pearl Harbor were insignificant.
It's a different kind of war, and it can happen.
As we build the next generation of networks, we have to be aware that we have now become
completely dependent on IT for the functioning of our economy. There is no way to go back; you
can't eliminate that dependency. Because the economy and national security are now dependent
upon IT networks, the next-generation networks must be secure.

Q: Now, what about enemies?

A: I don't think there are any terrorist groups engaged in cyberactivities. I never use the word
"cyberterrorism." Other people do. So it's not about "cyberterrorism...."

Q: You dismiss popular reports of groups like Palestinians and Israelis, Indians and Pakistanis, attacking
each other's Web sites...

A: Attacking each other's Web sites doesn't really bother me. The really major terrorist groups like
Osama bin Laden's, Hamas and Hezbollah don't seem to be developing really sophisticated
cybertools-yet. The people I worry about are at the low end of the spectrum. Crackers doing it for
fun, organized criminal groups that do it for extortion...there's a lot of that going on, some of
which gets reported, but most of which doesn't.

My sense is that it's about 90 percent not reported.
That's about right. And then at the high end of the spectrum, there are countries organizing
military and intelligence units to do offensive operations. I don't know why anyone would disbelieve
me when I say that.

Let me distinguish between two things. I recently read a detailed report about China's
development of an extensive cyberwar capability...

That's a matter of public record; they say very explicitly that they are developing this capability.
But that's a military capability that might be used in the event of war-not just cyberwar, but war.

Q. Why would you assume that it would only be used in the event of war?

A. I'm trying to distinguish between war and the kind of maneuvering that takes place under the
cover of intelligence in a relatively stable global environment.

A major attack on our infrastructure to shut down our electricity or airplanes would not be an
isolated incident...

No, it wouldn't be an isolated incident, but that doesn't mean we have to be throwing nuclear
bombs at each other, either.

Q. It wouldn't be part of a larger attack?

A. No, it wouldn't, not at all. No one has done this-yet-so there's not a lot of history, not a lot of
military doctrine, not even a military strategy. But I don't see why it can't be done in isolation.

Let's go back two years. China was saber rattling and threatening Taiwan, and Clinton sent two
aircraft carrier battle groups into the straits between China and Taiwan-throwing a little symbolism
. No one was shooting, but the tensions were getting up there. What if China,
in those circumstances, did a little symbolism-throwing back to us while our carrier battle groups
were moving into position, and all the lights went out in California? China would never have to say
they did it and we would never be able to prove they did it.


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havocmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-28-04 05:42 PM
Response to Original message
1. the nation's big weapons are computer controlled and guided
aren't they? Hasn't there been some hacking already into DOD systems?
Sounds like a vulnerability that could get WW III kicked off with any number of other nations with big weapons.

And wouldn't it be difficult to do almost anything if the electronic infrastructure were down? Remember the mess when commercial planes didn't fly for a couple days? Apply that to the transfer of crucial data/finances/payrolls, on and on.

Think about how hard it is to straighten out an error with your credit card statement. Imagine that on a global scale and dealing with the distribution of materials live depends on. Staggering to try and envision the possible problems!

It would be mayhem and cost billions to sort out.
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KittyWampus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-28-04 06:46 PM
Response to Original message
2. kick
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Deja Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-28-04 06:53 PM
Response to Original message
3. If your system is on the internet, it's going to be at risk.
I loved it when Microsoft's core server got hacked... If they had half a brain (they don't, they prefer to buy out everybody else's products and their R&D departments) they'd have found a way to effectively deal with the situation to protect themselves. (there's an obvious way, albeit somewhat tedious.)

One day, our technology will be successfully used against us...
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