Information Warfare: The Forsaken

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August 13, 2006: In the United States, counter-terror organizations, especially the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), are now urging businesses and government organizations to make sure they update their Microsoft computer operating systems on a regular basis. This sudden interest in timely software upgrades, by DHS, is largely a result of changes in who is committing Internet based crimes. Until the past few years, a lot of the damage was done by young guys (geeks) experimenting, or deliberately trying to cause damage, to enhance their online reputations. But now, computer crime is big business, and increasingly controlled by organized crime. There are still a lot of individual freelancers out there, but the most dangerous players are the large criminal organizations. Also to be feared are those hacking organizations run by governments, for the purpose of doing lots of damage, via the Internet, when called on. What DHS fears is that terrorists might purchase net based weapons, like bot nets (control of thousands of hacked home and business PCs), from criminal gangs, and use them for terrorist attacks on the increasing number of targets attached to the web.
Microsoft tries to patch vulnerabilities as quickly as they show up, but many users never bother to apply the patches. This leaves thousands of businesses and government organizations vulnerable. DHS is urging users to turn on the "automatic upgrade" feature of the Windows operating system. But what terrorists depend on, for both bot nets and potential targets, are the millions of individuals and organizations, that don't.

 


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