Fed: Cyberterror fears missed real threat

Friday, 1 August 2003, 12:00 PM EST

When airliners crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001, the nature of the attack took America's defenders by surprise. They were expecting hackers.

"We were very shocked in the federal government that the attack didn't come from cyberspace," said Marcus Sachs, cyber program director in the Department of Homeland Security.

Speaking at the Black Hat Briefings here Thursday, Sachs ran through the history of the U.S. government's interest in information operations and "cyber terrorism," the Tom Clancy-esque theory that rogue nation states and terrorist groups would attack the U.S. by hacking into the computers controlling critical infrastructures, like the electric grid or air traffic control systems.

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