CyberWhoCares? IT Should!

Monday, 2 December 2002, 7:02 PM EST

Is cyberterrorism real? Should corporate IT be worried about it? A few weeks ago, I would have answered no to both questions. I would have argued that labeling any computer attack as "terrorism" is a grotesque exaggeration. I would have cited renowned security expert Bruce Schneier, CTO at Counterpane Internet Security Inc., who contends that genuine cyberterrorism is still decades away.

"A network going down is not terrorism. Everyone who watched on Sept. 11 knows what terrorism looks like," Schneier said in an interview with Computerworld Canada last month. "I would define cyberterrorism as using a computer to make planes fall out of the sky or buildings collapse."

But then we published an interview with Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, a London-based Islamic cleric who is directly linked to Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. He talked about how al-Qaeda is actively planning to use the Internet for cyberattacks against U.S. companies. Several intelligence and security experts said those threats should be taken seriously -- certainly as seriously as we take other computer crimes.

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