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Cyber-Terrorism & Security New Definitions For New Realities. Dan Verton Vice President & Executive Editor. FISSEA March 2005. This Is A Controversial Topic.

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cyber terrorism security new definitions for new realities

Cyber-Terrorism&SecurityNew Definitions For New Realities

Dan Verton

Vice President & Executive Editor


March 2005

this is a controversial topic
This Is A Controversial Topic
  • “The problem is that when you make a recommendation before [an attack] happens, people tend to think you're nuts.”
  • “That's the kind of mind set that made it difficult for us…the institutional bureaucracy…couldn't see the threat because it hadn't happened.”

Richard Clarke Testifying at 9/11 Commission Hearing, 3/24/04

before we do anything
Before We Do Anything…
  • Accept the FACT that vulnerabilities open doors to the unexpected.
  • Accept that there is NO separation between the cyber world and the physical world.
  • Terrorism is multifaceted. Traditional definitions must be adapted to the new realities.
  • We’ve become distracted – insider threat is real & growing.
  • Change the way you THINK about future threats…don’t be a security APPEASER.
  • According to Webster’s Dictionary:
  • \Ap*peas"er\, n. One who appeases; a pacifier.
  • According to Verton’s Dictionary:
  • \Ap*peas"er\, n. “One who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last.”
    • Sir Winston Churchill
what do i really mean by appeasement
What Do I Really Mean By“Appeasement?”
  • Maybe we are growing dangerously complacent?
  • Maybe we do underestimate our enemies?
  • Maybe we really do think this is as bad as it can get?
  • Maybe the threat-independent model is not how we should be approaching these issues?
the vulnerability matrix
ElectricThe Vulnerability Matrix

5,800 registered hospitals

Viruses, Worms

Home Users

5,000 airports

300 maritime ports


3,000 govt. facilities

2,800 power plants

104 commercial

nuclear plants

Broadband Connections


26,000 FDIC institutions




150,000 miles transmission lines



66,000 chemical plants



130 overlapping grid controllers


300,000 production sites


Natural Gas



Waste Water

120,000 miles of major rails


2 billion miles of cable

2 million miles of pipelines

Natural Gas

1,600 municipal wastewater facilities

80,000 Dams

it security how important is it really
IT SecurityHow Important Is It Really?
  • Not only about $… It’s about public safety too!
    • Railroads.
    • Water & Wastewater Treatment.
    • Uranium Mining.
    • Oil Wells, Water Flood Operations.
    • Airline Baggage Checking.
    • Aug. 14 Power Failure.
    • Online Information Control.
defining the future threat intent capability
Russian FAPSI

Pakistani ISI

Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence

Hackers for Hire,

Organized Crime,

Disgruntled Insiders

Defining The FutureThreat = Intent + Capability
defining the evidence omar bakri muhammad bin laden s man in london
Defining The EvidenceOmar Bakri MuhammadBin Laden's man in London
  • Syrian-born, radical, founder of Al-Muhajirun
  • Spokesman for the International Islamic Front, the political wing of the International Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, led by Osama bin Laden
  • Has recruited for Hamas, Hezbollah and various groups in Afghanistan
  • FBI memo on July 10, 2001, noted a connection between Middle Eastern men in Phoenix-area flight schools and Bakri's London-based Al-Muhajirun.
bakri on cyber attacks
Bakri On Cyber Attacks
  • "In a matter of time, you will see attacks on the stock market."
  • “I would not be surprised if tomorrow I hear of a big economic collapse because of somebody attacking the main technical systems in big companies."
  • "The third letter from Osama bin Laden…was clearly addressing using the technology in order to destroy the economy of the capitalist states. This is a matter that is very clear."
other evidence historical
Other Evidence - Historical
  • L’Houssaine Kherchtou, a 36-year-old Moroccan, was one of al-Qaeda’s early trainees in high-tech methods of surveillance. Teacher = Abu Mohamed al Amriki
  • Fey Street (Peshawar) Electronics Lab run by Abu al-Alkali and Salem the Iraqi.
  • “They found out that I don’t know anything about electronics, and they told me just to study from the beginning and to recognize...the different components.”
  • Degree in engineering?
Slacke & Terr0r

On 8th of March F-Secure got a report of a network trojan known as "Slacke"

Report came from Russia

The trojan was written by a Kuwait hacker group Q8SEE

Slacke & Terr0r

The worm downloaded additional code from a website

The website was WWW.LUVZ.ST

.ST is the domain of São Tomé and Príncipe


the net widens
The Net Widens

The .ST domain rights were sold to a company operating in Stockholm, Sweden

According their WHOIS, was registered to: Administrative Contact Information  Company Name: JordanChat  Contact Name: TeRrOr Address: Irbid , 00962 , irbid , IR , JO Expire date: 29 Oct, 2003

the net reaches u s
The Net Reaches U.S.

CHAT.CNN.COM > #Noticias in Mexico

insider threat
Insider Threat
  • Why spend R&D money when you can steal it?
  • Economic Espionage: $ hundreds of billions
  • Four forms of insider:
    • Internal (current/former employees, executives)
    • External (contractor, maintenance, business partner)
    • Collaborator (external working with internal)
    • Rogue Ideologue (seeks hire for purpose of doing harm)
  • Technology Complicates Internal Defenses
    • The Perimeter is gone!
    • USB devices, cell phone cameras, common configuration errors, lack of access controls, contractors, outsourcing
    • Places premium on automated tools, data-centric
types of data being stolen
Types of Data Being Stolen
  • Computer source code
  • Business plans and design specifications
  • Customer and order information databases
  • Motorola 2-way radio specifications
  • Newest Intel chip specifications (twice)
  • Sales and pricing data
  • Oil and gas well logs and software used in the analysis of the information
  • Engineering drawings for next generation of Gillette razor systems
  • Eng. Drawings Next Generation Space Shuttle

(inside or outside??)

case ramon
Case: Ramon

An intellectual of sorts, highly educated, conservative in his politics, painfully introverted, somewhat arrogant and kind of a geek.

Expert programmer who preferred communicating with associates through e-mail rather than in person.

Hacked his employer's computer system without permission to show management that there were serious security gaps that needed to be fixed.

  • Robert Hanssen – The worst insider spy case in FBI history.
insider psychological profile
Insider Psychological Profile

Introverted: A common characteristic of IT specialists, which can pose a significant management challenge.

Frustrated: Family or social problems may be compounded by negative attitudes toward authority.

Computer-dependent: Such individuals often prefer online activity to direct social interaction.

Ethical flexibility: Dangerous insiders view malicious actions as justified, given their circumstances.

Entitlement: Feelings of being “special” employees—for example, the only ones with the necessary training. Being overworked with no rewards can lead to a desire for revenge.

Reduced loyalty: Some insiders identify with the IT/programming profession and not with the organization that employs them.

Lack of empathy: The impersonal nature of cyberspace leads to a lack of regard for the impact of the perpetrators’ actions on others.

final thought 9 11 think differently
Final Thought – 9/11Think Differently

Security is about a lot of things, not only bits & bytes