Information Warfare: April 3, 2003


The war against Iraq is also being fought on the Internet. In the ten days after the war began on March 20th, at least 30,000 web sites have been defaced, brought down or otherwise messed with by anti-war hackers. Very little real damage has been done. Being against the war is very popular with college age kids, and this includes many geek types who know how to commit web vandalism. On March 28th, a more skilled hacker brought down a server that hosted over 2,000 websites. Pro-war (apparently American) hackers have also gone after Arab sites, performing the same defacement. Al Jazeera, the Arab language TV news network, has been under constant hacker attack. This became most intense after al Jazeera broadcast pictures of dead American soldiers. Most of the anti-war attacks are coming from Russia, China and France. These three nations, ironically, were most responsible for arming the Iraqi military and doing business with Saddam. 

Attacks on U.S. Internet users in Kuwait, and combat units in Iraq, have been minimal. The U.S. armed forces have a lot of experience with Internet hackers, and tend to quickly spot hacking attempts, and disconnect the servers in question check them for viruses and such. PCs with combat units often use the Department of Defenses secure, encrypted net. These PCs use removable hard drives, which are treated like top secret cryptography equipment (that is, locked up when not in use and ready to be destroyed if threatened with capture.) 

Last weekend, the Iraqi Internet access was cut as coalition bombs took out the servers and satellite dishes that served as the portal to the outside world for most Iraqi Internet users. Iraqis with cell phones can still rig a system that will dial in to Internet connections outside Iraq. Until servers and satellite dishes are replaced, the only ones in Iraqi with easy Internet access will be coalition troops and journalists with their portable satellite dishes.


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