[ISN] Cyber-terror plan panned as "barmy"

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Thu Feb 10 05:21:12 EST 2005


February 09 2005 
By Will Sturgeon 
World Security Organisation is a non-starter...

A controversial UK security vendor is calling for the creation of a
World Security Organisation (WSO) to crack down on 'cyber-terror' as
well as real world threats by air, land, sea and space.

Yet some in the industry have criticised the 'cyber-terror' part of
the plan, saying it is bogged down in fanciful thinking and hyperbole.  
One expert has even branded it "barmy".
DK Matai, the chairman of mi2g will tomorrow night address the Oxford
University Internet Institute with a proposal for a body which would
tackle the issue of 'cyber-terrorism'.

According to the company, he will address 60 attendees, including
senior execs from the banking and insurance sectors as well as
representatives from the academic, diplomatic, government and
intelligence fields.

Among the proposals he will present are the creation of "a global
collaborative venture more powerful than Interpol" as well as plans to
"reduce poverty levels in deprived areas from where radicals and
organised crime members are recruited".

But such bold claims have lead one leading anti-virus expert to brand
the plans as "barmy".

Speaking anonymously he told silicon.com: "We could just laugh this
off as barmy, were it not for the fact that government, the City and
now Oxford University actually take this self-appointed guru
seriously. That's where I stop laughing and start worrying about the
direction things are going."

Addressing the specific accusations above a statement from mi2g said:  
"Far from engaging in hyperbole, we feel that our point of view is
balanced and realistic."

And Matai remains bullish about the role the WSO could play in
ensuring greater safety for internet users and world governments.

"The feedback we have received has been overwhelmingly in favour of
The World Security Organisation," he said in a statement. "We invite
further dialogue in this area because a significant need for such an
institution has now been clearly identified by several countries."

Central to any criticism of these plans is the fact that evidence of a
genuine cyber-terror threat is yet to be presented by any respected
body, according to Simon Perry, VP security strategy at CA who was
recently invited to advise ENISA (the European Network and Information
Security Agency) as a member of its permanent stakeholders group.

Supporting this view, Pete Simpson, ThreatLab manager at Clearswift,
told silicon.com: "There has not been a single cyber-terror threat.  
Not one. It's entirely fabricated and non-existent."

Simpson suggested "political propaganda" and "commercial propaganda"  
may both be playing a part.

Addressing whether the claims of mi2g should be regarded as genuine
cause for concern, leading computer science academic, Ross Anderson,
from Cambridge University, told silicon.com: "The use of the word
'cyber-terrorism' signals marketing rather than anything else."

The other misconception with cyber-terror, according to CA's Perry, is
the idea that terrorists will have a means of attack other than those
attacks we see currently.

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