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 ó and that of their counterparts in Western Europe and the U.S. ó is digital attack. "This, unfortunately, is the future face of terrorism," says Dmitri Chepchugov, head of Directorate R.

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