Information Warfare: January 12, 2005

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Russia has become the source of criminal gangs able to carry out destructive attacks via the Internet. The gangs have organized teams of highly skilled, and highly paid, programmers and Internet experts, mainly for the purpose of carrying out Internet based crime. For example, between 1999 and 2002, 4,044 cases of Internet fraud were traced to Russian based organizations. But in the first half of 2004, there were 4,295 cases. While for most of the past decade, the majority of hacking was done by hobbyists, it is estimated that some 90 percent of the current Internet hacking is done for criminal gain. This is seen in the way that most current Internet viruses are used for criminal scams. 

What is most worrisome about this is that criminal gangs are often a source of goods and services for terrorist organizations. While gangsters, even Moslem ones, generally avoid dealing with terrorists, they are always willing to provide goods and services to anyone willing to pay. Terrorists understand this, and usually represent themselves as fellow criminals looking for equipment or services that will assist them in some non-terrorist operation. The gangs dont want to get involved with terrorism, if only to avoid the exceptional efforts the police make when terrorism is involved. But its worrisome that some seriously dangerous Internet weapons are now available in the criminal market place. If a terrorist cell has someone who knows enough to use some of these tools, some serious damage could be done via the Internet courtesy of  criminal grade Internet weapons (which are currently used for extortion or to cripple a competitor). 

 


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