Local sites potential targets for cyberterror

Tuesday, 3 September 2002, 11:26 AM EST

From nuclear plants to gas pipelines to electric utilities, Western Washington contains several "critical infrastructure" facilities that terrorists might target - through their computers.

Two recent incidents have heightened concern about cyberterror attacks, and have raised new questions about the capabilities of al-Qaida and other terror groups.

Late last year, FBI agents in San Francisco discovered that sophisticated hackers, working from the Middle East, had intruded into sites detailing Bay Area emergency telephone service, electrical generation and transmission, and the operations of nuclear power plants.

And last month, federal officials said they detected a series of small electronic attacks against U.S. Internet providers, including some in Seattle. The initial government alert cited Italian authorities who warned that "wide-scale hacker attacks" were planned against U.S. sites.

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