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Source: Security Wire Digest

Posted on September 17, 2001

(Additional relevant information: InfraGuard)

      Authorities fear that a "cyberwar" between U.S. and Middle East hacktivists may be underway and are urging companies to lock down their systems in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

      The FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) issued a terrorist threat advisory to InfraGard members to brace for an upswing in cyberattacks until at least Oct. 11. The agency says it doesn't know of any specific threats. "However, infrastructure owners and operators should be at a heightened state of alert and should implement appropriate security measures--both physical and cyber," NIPC wrote.

      There were a few reports of Web site defacements and possible denial-of-service (DoS) attacks on Islamic sites as of Friday, according to news sources. A Russian hacktivist named RyDen is believed to be behind last week's defacement of the Afghan Taliban Mission to the United Nations, registered in Flushing, N.Y. The defacement shows a picture of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden next to the title "Bastard Still Wanted, Dead or Alive." It mentions the FBI's $5 million reward for Bin Laden's return. "You can become a MILLIONAIRE, do it for yourself!" the defaced site reads.

      Bin Laden is the leader of an extremist terrorist group suspected of masterminding Tuesday's hijacking of four commercial airliners that crashed into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and the Pennsylvania countryside--killing and wounding thousands. Bin Laden may be hiding out in Afghanistan, where the Taliban government has denounced the attacks but also refused the United States' request to extradite bin Laden for Tuesday's attacks and other previous attacks around the world.

      The official Web sites of the Presidential Palace of the Islamic State of Afghanistan and Islamic Republic of Pakistan were both taken offline, possibly due to DoS attacks, according to published reports. One message posted to hacking newsgroups Tuesday gave an address for one of the sites with the instructions "trash this site ASAP."

      Both mainstream and underground messages boards were rife with threats of retaliatory strikes against Arab communities, including cyberattacks against Islamic Web sites. The NIPC warning of possible hacktivist activity against government and corporate Web sites is reminiscent of an escalation in Web site defacements in May between U.S. and Chinese hackers sparked by the collision of a U.S. Navy surveillance plane and Chinese fighter jet.

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