Al Qaeda continues to frighten the U.S, the cyber war is begun

Pierluigi Paganini May 26, 2012

Many experts are convinced that the death of Bin Laden marked the end of an ideological group that has been beheaded of its leaders and that began to slowly fall apart. The same experts are convinced that from the rubble of the group might begin small groups, definitely dangerous, but without a central coordination that can make them really offensive as the original organization.

Other security experts believe that the historical group is changing its skin exploring new offensive ways, in particular they are convinced that next wave of attacks will come from the cyber space.

A a secret report issued December 21 by the Canadian Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Services raises the specter of a possible future cyber attack by agents or sympathizers of Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda terrorist organization. Although to date there is no proof of the al Qaeda’s interest in a cyber offensive the possibility of conducting a cyber attack is high considering the huge financial resources of the group to purchase the equipment required and to acquire the needed expertise.

“Bin Laden’s vast financial resources, however, would enable him or his organization to purchase the equipment and expertise required for a cyber attack and mount such an attack in very short order.”

In one of its interviews bin Laden has spoken regarding the possible constitution of a cyber army.

“hundreds of Muslim scientists were with him who would use their knowledge … ranging from computers to electronics against the infidels,”

according to the Canadian report bin Laden may have planned a cyber attacks against the West.

Recently it has been published on internet an Al Qaeda video of six-minute and that instructs Al Qaeda followers regarding U.S. vulnerability to cyberattacks inviting Muslims to the battle.

Susan Collins and Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee , consider it very disturbing, they declared in fact:

“This tape is really alarming,”

“It’s essentially instructing anybody who’s sympathetic with Al Qaeda’s ideology to engage in cyberattacks, and the tape is telling them how easy it is to do so.”

The US official are scared by the video, sources of intelligence have  confirmed in recent months that many terroristic groups are trying to arrange a cyber offensive against US. Recent public reports have demonstrated that Western critical infrastructures are still too vulnerable to cyber attacks and for this reason is trying to engage a cyber war against its enemy.

Cyber security experts are continuously alerting US government regarding the increasing of number of attacks against control systems of critical infrastructure of the country.

The senators Lieberman confirmed that the Homeland Security Department responded to 100,000 cyber incidents in 2011, and informing that there has been a spike in cyber intrusions maybe made by Iranian hackers.

It’s clear that in this scenario Al Qaeda could collaborate with other hostile countries to attacks the US and also to acquire capacity and knowledge to drive an attack against US.

“There is real evidence that the Al Qaeda groups want to pursue and are beginning to pursue the capacity to launch a cyberattacks against America,”

“I mean, that is the real and present danger and that Iran will share that cyberattack capacity with terrorist groups.”

The US monitoring is focused on cyber terrorism threat, new subversive groups are planning to attack US on its soil compromising strategic plants such as nuclear facilities or power grids. CIA and international intelligence agencies have started a massive campaign of prevention that has as objective the monitor of the web to prevent cyber attacks or the organization of terroristic events.  US cyber army is also attacking the principal web site used by Al Qaeda for activities of propaganda.

Last month Al-Qaeda’s main internet forums have been attacked, they were offline for several days,many others sites were downed during last weeks including two of the terrorist organization’s top sites, al-Fida and Shamukh al-Islam.  The nature of the attacks suggested the intervention of groups of hackers hired by governments committed to the fight against terrorism.

Recently the State Department has launched several covert cyber operations against al-Qaida hacking into al-Qaida websites in Yemen, secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed that cyber experts based at the State Department hacked Yemeni tribal websites, replacing al-Qaeda propaganda that bragged about killing Americans.

“Within 48 hours, our team plastered the same sites with altered versions of the ads that showed the toll al-Qaeda attacks have taken on the Yemeni people,”

Yemen’s al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, is considered one of the most active and dangerous cells, responsible of several attacks that have killed hundreds of Yemeni soldiers and accused to be organizers for several attacks against US.

Clinton also added that the cyber attacks have been arranged creating dedicated a task force of specialists, including special operators and intelligence analysts, housed at the State Department.

Authors of the success are the experts of the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, that patrol the Internet and social media gathering information on al-Qaida’s, on its propaganda and on its recruiting campaign.

“Together, they will work to pre-empt, discredit and outmaneuver extremist propaganda,” Clinton said.

As described confirms the importance of a cyber strategy which seeks to defend the major U.S. facilities and work to prevent cyber attacks against the American people.
This is just another battle that the U.S. must prepare for.

Pierluigi Paganini


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