Cyber Intelligence: Cyber Jihad

on July 25, 2011 at 10:01 AM

The death of Osama bin Laden has brought new threats of retaliatory strikes–including threats in cyber space.

Al Qaeda has called upon lone-wolf terrorists to launch attacks against Britain and the West. Not only are they calling for traditional acts of terror but also for what they have termed a “cyber jihad.”

Cyber security experts say that a few dozen highly influential web sites that are frequented by terrorists have communicated the call to action by multiple al Qaeda leaders. They have augmented their use of the Internet for communications through the uses of social networking sites.

The Sun (in the United Kingdom) has recently reported that terrorists have attempted to invade Facebook in what has been termed “a campaign of electronic warfare.” There are even reports that al Qaeda has assembled cyber attack teams and assigned them specific targets that have been called “key” computer systems.

What is most troubling is that just recently, intelligence has triggered warnings about “insiders.” According to intelligence sources in Britain, intelligence collected from the bin Laden compound clearly indicates this was a method of attack he was planning.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a warning that was titled “Insider Threat to Utilities.” In this warning DHS warns “violent extremists have, in fact, obtained insider positions,” and that “outsiders have attempted to solicit utility-sector employees” for damaging physical and cyber attacks.

Could their plans be cyber sabotage by an insider working in a critical infrastructure facility that could include chemical plants, nuclear power plants, or oil refineries providing al Qaeda with the kind of massive attack thought to be actively being sought for the Sept. 11th anniversary?

Kevin G. Coleman is a long-time security technology executive and former Chief Strategist at Netscape. He is Senior Fellow with the Technolytics Institute, where he provides consulting services on strategic technology and security issues.