NIPC to hackers: Don't try this at home

While the Bush administration drafts its cyberwar rules, the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center is warning off volunteers who want to lend a hand by launching their own attacks against foreign enemies.

'The U.S. government does not condone so-called 'patriotic hacking' on its behalf,' the NIPC said in an advisory this week. 'Regardless of the motivation, the NIPC reiterates that such activity is illegal and punishable as a felony.'

So far, NIPC doesn't have to worry about amateurs stealing the wind from U.S. sails. Mi2g Ltd., a London digital risk management company, reports no significant political hacktivism.

'We have not been able to collect much evidence for anti-Islamic or protest attacks against Iraq from U.S. or western hackers at all in the last year,' the company said in a statement. But it noted 'numerous pro-Islamic and anti-war-on-Iraq attacks from hackers based in Morocco, Egypt, Eastern Europe, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia. ' The one incident that did surface in a digital attack against an Islamic radical movement online turned out to be a hoax.'

NIPC, an interagency group focused on the safety of the nation's critical and cyber infrastructures, issued its warning in an advisory urging heightened awareness of cybersecurity. 'Recent experience has shown that during a time of increased international tension, illegal cyberactivity often escalates. Sympathetic individuals and organizations worldwide tend to view hacking activity as somehow contributing to the cause. As tensions rise, it is prudent to be aware of and prepare for this type of illegal activity,' the advisory said.

NIPC recommended:
  • Raising awareness

  • Updating antivirus programs

  • Scanning for malicious code arriving through e-mail servers

  • Filtering at maximum security levels

  • Setting policies for responding to and recovering from attacks.

  • About the Author

    William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.


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