Within the realm of cyber warfare, cyber terrorism is evolving at a very fast pace. It has become a concern of not only Americans but almost every other government. This threat has changed the traditional terrorist way of fighting. No longer do terrorists need to blow up buildings or bomb ships but can now exert control over them in a different way. The use of computers to aid in terrorist attacks has reached a new level since they can now sit safely behind a keyboard and cause havoc. The main threat in the US and abroad is the threat to our critical infrastructures. These systems are what keep governments running smoothly and effectively. They are vital to the operations of many governments and if disrupted can cause chaos as well as a loss of life depending on the system that is attacked. These attacks have the potential to be more deadly than any traditional terrorist attack. The possibility for cyber terrorists to attack along with a traditional attack makes it even more deadly. This is the new landscape of warfare, and it is constantly evolving to become a bigger threat.
Cyber Warfare: Cyber Terrorism 3/27/13 CSEC 620 Individual Assignment 3
2 Cyber Warfare: Cyber Terrorism The Threat Cyber terrorism is the worlds newest threat against the United States. The FBI defines cyber terrorism as "The premeditated, politically motivated attack against information, computer systems, computer programs, and data which result in violence against noncombatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents" (Elmusharaf, 2004). This definition provided by the FBI can be broken down into several layers. The first layer is that of the actors, their motives are political in nature and are thought out and planned. They are targeting computer systems which would include vital infrastructures that allow the US to function. Their wanted result is that of causing panic, mayhem, and even death to innocent civilians as well as US forces. The battle landscape against the United States has changed from the normal battle fields of sand and dirt to that of the information super highway. This allows for terrorist attacks that no longer target physical assets, but instead targets our computer systems, cyber infrastructure, and other computer based systems. These systems can include municipal systems, nuclear power plants, hospitals, and financial sectors. The biggest threat from cyber terrorism is to the United States critical infrastructures (Piggin, 2010). These infrastructures include power grids, nuclear power plants, communications systems, water, food production, health care, financial and transportation (Piggin, 2010). Each one of these systems has its own vulnerabilities and own consequences if they are exploited. Power grids are an obvious target; they provide power to the US and allow us to function normally throughout our day. Many people take this luxury for granted however once it fails it can throw an entire city into chaos. Such as the incident in August of 2003 in New York City and much of the New England area when the power grid failed leaving millions without power
3 Cyber Warfare: Cyber Terrorism and entire cities gridlocked with traffic unable to move. Power grids as of 2009 were considered to be extremely vulnerable and needed to be updated with better cyber security (Neil, 2009). The failure of these grids was said by President Obama to be the same as a nuclear or biological attack (Piggin, 2010). This is now considered a top fix for the nations cyber security industry. With power grids comes both a physical and cyber asset that can be extremely deadly in both forms if attacked, nuclear power plants. These plants when working properly create electricity for millions of Americans. However, these plants pose both a concern for a physical attack as well as a cyber-attack. With many of these plants being automated the risk for a cyber-terrorist attack that causes a meltdown would be not only catastrophic but also exactly what a terrorist organization would want. Nuclear power plants rely heavily on systems that automate the entire plant. These systems are vulnerable to viruses, malware, and traditional hacking methods (Neil, 2009)(Piggin, 2010). Communication infrastructures are another valuable asset that is susceptible to cyber terrorism. This target if attacked could cause major problems for our emergency management as well as personal communication. Since the systems that run many of the SCADA networks do not use any security or adequate security to fend off an attack they are open to being targets for cyber terrorists (Patel, Bhatt, Graham, 2009). SCADA networks consist of a master terminal, remote terminals or intelligent electronic devices designed to capture data around the network. The communication between these different terminals is not up to the security standards that they should be. Their security that is used is easily cracked and thus makes for an easy target (Patel ET all, 2009). These networks often communicate over the normal network and do not have a separate independent network to operate on. If cyber terrorists attacked our communication
4 Cyber Warfare: Cyber Terrorism networks it would make it very difficult for 911 centers to dispatch both police and ambulances. This could mean the loss of life or other chaotic situations. Our water and food production systems both are valuable targets to cyber terrorists (Hayes, 2010). Many of these systems Americans do not worry about and never feel as if they can be targets. This is due in part to the fact that many of these systems were not only designed and built way before anyone knew what a cyber-terrorist was but also before many of these systems were ever automated (Hayes, 2010). Just because these systems were built before the Internet was around does not mean they are not easy targets for cyber terrorists. Causing disruptions in food production and water purification and distribution could seriously disrupt Americans lives. Health care systems would be a huge target for cyber terrorists. This would include the making, testing, and distribution of drugs. People assume when they open a bottle of medicine it is both what they bought as well as safe to take. If a cyber-terrorist gained access to a drug manufacturing system they could not only change drug ingredients but possibly have wrong labels placed on drugs. This could put millions of people at risk by simply changing a few manufacturing commands in a drug labeling system. Financial firms housing the financial data of millions of Americans are an ideal target for a terrorist to cause significant damage. An attack on a financial institution if done right could cause significant down time of that institution (Montgomery, 2003). This would make purchasing even the most basic good near impossible until the banking institution came back online. This could cause great hard ships to people that do not carry around cash and rely on their credit or bank cards.
5 Cyber Warfare: Cyber Terrorism In the United States we rely heavily on many different modes of transportation. Our vast networks of roads, rail and air transportation systems move people all over the country. This type of target for a cyber-terrorist could cause everything from a small traffic jam to mass casualties from a plane crash. The necessary software and hardware to cause such a disaster is readily available and also easily obtained (Mann, 2002). Analysis of Motivation Cyber terrorism includes several actors, terrorist, defender, and targets. The key actors in this array are the terrorists themselves. They are the ones targeting both government and nongovernment targets. These targets are mentioned prior and are essential to the United States as well as other major countries running smooth and effective. These actors are new to terrorism, where they once drove truck bombs into buildings they now unleash viruses into banking systems (UK 'COULD BE TARGET FOR CYBER-TERRORISTS', 2003). These terrorists however have the same end goal as their traditional counterpart. They both seek to terrorize and inflict fear and pain into others for their own political agenda. This is what terrorism is all about and has been since the beginning of time (Matusiz, 2011). Terrorists whether cyber terrorist or what are considered more traditional terrorists have similar agendas, they just have different ways at completing the final result. Cyber terrorists use the power of computers and utilize tools previously unused by terrorists. Cyber terrorists also do not have to give their own life to complete a mission unlike some of their traditional counterparts. Their missions are completed behind a desk under the anonymity of the Internet. Their ultimate goal is to cause disruptions in or societies to better their cause. The disruption of our critical infrastructures would be an ideal target to complete these missions. With cyber terrorism they can easily mount several attacks in a shorter period of time without extensive planning (Hinde, 2001). With airport security
6 Cyber Warfare: Cyber Terrorism reaching a new high it is harder for terrorists to slip bombs onto planes or even hijack them. But with cyber terrorism they can simply hack the computer system of these planes or air traffic controllers and possibly cause an even bigger catastrophe. On the other side of the terrorists are those employed to protect the United States and other countries from these threats. Both private and public sectors are joining forces to stop these attacks and prevent a major incident from happening. One of these joint ventures is the Information Technology Information Sharing and Analysis Center (IT-ISAC) (Stevens, Jusko, 2001). The mission of IT-ISAC is to report and exchange information among its industry members concerning electronic incidents, threats, attacks, vulnerabilities, solutions and countermeasures, best security practices, and other protective measures; to establish a mechanism for systematic and protected exchange and coordination of such information; and to take other appropriate action commensurate with these goals (Stevens, Jusko, 2001). This is just one example where public and private partnerships are helping to curb cyber terrorists. There are also other types of ISACs that respond to specific industries such as power companies, financial firms, and telecommunications companies (Stevens, Jusko, 2001). Many government agencies as well as private firms have their own cyber security operations that operate 24 hours a day 7 days a week to combat this threat. As with all terrorist operations the usual target is that of innocent bystanders. These innocent targets are used because it strikes fear into people. Imagine how many people feared getting on a plane or going into a high-rise building after 9/11. This is why many times high profile and symbolic targets are chosen. The twin towers were not chosen simply because they were tall but they were symbols of an iconic American skyline and also a financial epicenter. In any type of war there are expected casualties such as soldiers that you rarely hear about, but
7 Cyber Warfare: Cyber Terrorism when it is innocent people killed it makes the news and horrifies people. A cyber-attack targeting a large metropolitan area causing sewage being pumped into fresh drinking water could cause many deaths as well as causing many to fall sick. Innocent bystanders do not exist in the eyes of the terrorists but are grouped alone side those fighting the physical war as well. So in cyber terrorism there are three parties, the terrorists, the defenders, and the targets. Defending the Risk There are many ways both electronically and physically to defend against cyber terrorism. The first approach would be to use a strong encryption for both connections as well as storing of data. Since some terrorists are simply after data storing that data in a secure manor is ideal. The use of quantum technologies is a big step in keeping our connections and data secure (Korchenko, Vasiliu, Gnatyuk, 2010). This also includes quantum cryptography, quantum secure connection, and quantum secret sharing (Korchenko, Vasiliu, Gnatyuk, 2010). Quantum technologies do not have to be used however but are a very secure method. Since the threat is constantly changing sometimes a good defense is simply studying and keeping a close eye on those trying to attack you (Tsuchiya, 2009). Using network analysis terrorists can be tracked down to a physical location and physically stopped or apprehended (Tsuchiya, 2009). A strong cyber defense is a must with this new threat in place already. The proper use of security measures such as firewalls, encryption, digital certificates, and intrusion detection and prevention systems can almost completely halt an attack. If the networks these infrastructures are operating on are secure using all the proper technics then cyber terrorists will not stand a chance (Saini, 2007). Protect, detect, respond are the three key elements of protecting our infrastructures of cyber terrorists (Piggin, 2010). If proper measures are taken ahead of time to protect your systems then the systems is harder to penetrate and use in a malicious manner. Detecting a
8 Cyber Warfare: Cyber Terrorism potential problem as well as system penetrations is critical in stopping and minimizing damage. The last step of responding means bringing the system back online if it does fail as well as stopping the threat and finding out who was responsible for the attack (Piggin, 2010). In one incident back in April of 2009 the Virginia State Drug Database was held hostage for a reported $10M (State Drug Database Held Hostage, 2009). This database held the records of all the drugs dispensed through all the pharmacies in Virginia. This database was used to prevent prescription drug abuse, and was used by law enforcement and other government agencies. The compromised system could have allowed someone to send out false prescriptions as well as steal patient information (State Drug Database Held Hostage, 2009). Investigators said they were unaware if they system or its information had actually been compromised. Conclusion Within the realm of cyber warfare, cyber terrorism is evolving at a very fast pace. It has become a concern of not only Americans but almost every other government. This threat has changed the traditional terrorist way of fighting. No longer do terrorists need to blow up buildings or bomb ships but can now exert control over them in a different way. The use of computers to aid in terrorist attacks has reached a new level since they can now sit safely behind a keyboard and cause havoc. The main threat in the US and abroad is the threat to our critical infrastructures. These systems are what keep governments running smoothly and effectively. They are vital to the operations of many governments and if disrupted can cause chaos as well as a loss of life depending on the system that is attacked. These attacks have the potential to be more deadly than any traditional terrorist attack. The possibility for cyber terrorists to attack along with a traditional attack makes it even more deadly. This is the new landscape of warfare, and it is constantly evolving to become a bigger threat.
9 Cyber Warfare: Cyber Terrorism Cyber terrorism includes several key groups; the terrorists, defenders, and innocent bystanders or targets. These terrorists target the innocent bystanders to cause chaos, death, and to get their political ideology out to the masses. The defenders work day and night to not only defeat these terrorist but also neutralize their efforts and determine who they are. They must constantly evolve and understand the full scope of their opponent. To be effective they need to stay one step ahead of their enemy, and be proactive in their search and prevention of their tactics. The third groups of people are the innocent bystanders that are the final targets of the terrorists. They are the ones that need to be prote...