Cracks in the System

Monday, 10 June 2002, 5:28 PM EST

Three flights up a scruffy building in central Moscow, a small paper sign pasted on the wall directs visitors to Directorate R of the Moscow police. R stands for nothing: it was just the next code letter available in 1986 when the police decided to set up their own communications-security branch.

These days the Directorate's bread-and-butter work is computer and mobile-phone fraud. But their biggest nightmare and that of their counterparts in Western Europe and the U.S. is digital attack. "This, unfortunately, is the future face of terrorism," says Dmitri Chepchugov, head of Directorate R.

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