There is an interesting story about a low level war being waged against the US by jihadist cyber terrorists. It mostly seems to be nuissance DOS attacks so far, but the threat me increase over time. It’s interesting how this copares to the Russia/Estonia cyber dust up earlier this year:
This cyberwar is embodied by scores of extremist Islamist and pro-terrorist websites that spew hatred for America, Israel, and others. Some sites train Islamists in Internet hacking skills, while others are more slanted toward military weapons training for jihadists. Nearly all are involved in recruitment, information exchange, and extremist propaganda of one kind or another. What is alarming is the sites demonstrate a steady progression of skill levels among many of the cyber jihadist groups, making their brand of cyber-warfare a greater threat than in recent years.
Earlier this year, cyber-attacks against Estonia demonstrated what a cyberwar could resemble when expertise is motivated en masse. Pro-Russian hackers attacked numerous Estonian sites in the wake of major protests over the bitterly disputed removal of a World War II-era statue and graveyard. The attacks brought down numerous government websites and one major banking site. NATO even rushed a cyber-warfare team to the country to assist the Estonian government, and the nation’s justice minister requested that the European Union classify the attacks as acts of terrorism.
One positive result of the attacks against Estonia has been greater global attention to the cyber-warfare threat. Dr. Linton Wells II, a former principal deputy to the assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration, has suggested that the Estonia attacks “may well turn out to be a watershed in terms of widespread awareness of the vulnerability of modern society.” As one who worked for Wells when I served in the military, I find his warning a chilling harbinger of an age when like-minded hackers possess potent cyber-warfare skill sets and tools.
While the skill levels of most jihadists are not up to the levels of many Eastern European cyber criminals or noteworthy Chinese hacker groups, they are improving. Furthermore, the Internet enables a confluence through which many politically indifferent cyber criminals could, for a price, be marshaled to attack the United States and its allies. Malefactors could launch attacks through huge freelance armies of “botnets” — legions of software robots installed on computers around the world for nefarious purposes.