[ISN] Clarke joins latest cyberterror debate

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Mon Feb 14 05:23:48 EST 2005


Dan Ilett
February 11, 2005

Proposals for a World Security Organisation to tackle cyberterrorism
continue to alarm experts, including former White House cybersecurity
chief Richard Clarke

Richard Clarke, the former White House cyber security advisor, has
criticised a UK company for using the term "cyberterrorism".

DK Matai, chairman of security consultancy company mi2g, put forward
proposals to the Oxford University Internet Institute on Thursday
night for a World Security Organisation to tackle cyberterrorism.  
Matai argued that the threat was so great that governments should
consider setting up electronic counter-attack forces to battle radical
groups and organised criminals online.

In response Clarke, who was a security advisor to four US presidents,
said he disliked use of the word "cyberterror" as he doesn't believe
it actually exists.

"Cyberterrorism is not a term I like," said Clarke, now chairman of
Good Harbor Consulting. "Many different groups use
cyber-vulnerabilities and it's hard to know who they are. Some may be
terrorists, but not many. It's a very serious problem that costs
millions, but it's not terrorism."

Matai made his proposals in a lecture to the Oxford University
Internet Institute, an academic forum that debates on the development
of the Web. Members include Derek Wyatt MP, chairman of the All Party
Internet Group, and Richard Allan MP, chairman of the European
Information Society Group.

Other security experts are also unconvinced that cyberterror poses a
genuine threat, with one leading anti-virus expert branding the plans
as "barmy".

Last year, the UK president of the Information Systems Security
Association Richard Starnes said that cyberterror was not yet a

"Cyberterrorism is a word that the press loves because it gets people
to read stories," Starnes said. "A good portion of what we get is not
terrorism. Terrorism is where you try and change the political
situation of a country by using terror. Web defacements don't really
count for that. Terrorists use the Internet for recruiting,
fundraising and research, but not a lot else."

Other observers share his scepticism. Speaking at the CeBIT technology
fair last year, security expert Bruce Schneier, chief technology
officer of Counterpane Internet Security, said the threat posed by
cyberterrorism had been overestimated. He added that rather than
fostering a climate of fear, disrupting the Net and other
communications networks would probably just annoy people.

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