November 25, 2005
A CYBER terrorism attack is not a case of if, but when, according to a
Monash University academic.
Chris Beggs told an information warfare and security conference at
Deakin University yesterday that an internet-based attack was only a
matter of time away.
``It's not too far off,'' he said.
``It's only a matter of time, I believe, that a cyber-terrorism attack
The cyber-terrorism sessional academic yesterday put his case forward
for a proposed cyber-terrorism capability framework.
Mr Beggs' proposal included seven criteria which all need to be
satisfied for an attack to be officially classified as a
The criteria includes:
TERRORIST leaders with advanced information and a communication
technology (ICT) skill set;
TERRORISTS with advanced hacking tools and techniques;
ACCESS to new advanced ICTs;
ADVANCED knowledge of SCADA (intelligence) systems;
TERRORIST insiders within the organisation of selected target; and
Mr Beggs said all seven criteria had to be satisfied for an act to be
considered a real cyber-terrorist attack.
He cited an example of a former council worker in Queensland who in
2001 hacked into a sewerage system 46 times and released a million
litres of sewerage into local rivers and waterways.
Mr Beggs said the man, who carried out the operation via a wireless
laptop, had satisfied all criteria except for being politically
The act was therefore not considered to be a proper cyber-terrorist
attack and should just ``serve to act as a warning'' about the
potential for such an act to be carried out on home soil.
He said the criteria would be used to assess a terrorist group's
capability to orchestrate a cyber-terrorism attack.
``The more capabilities acquired, the higher possibility of pulling
off an attack,'' he said.
He said the threat of a cyber attack became more imminent as
terrorists learned more about information and communication systems.
He said US authorities had warned ``Al-Qaeda has far more interest in
cyber-terrorism than first thought''.
``These attacks could destroy infrastructure systems such as phone
systems, power systems, water, gas or nuclear power plants,'' he said.
Mr Beggs said terrorist groups were already using the internet for a
range of reasons, including planning, propaganda, hacking,
communication, fundraising, recruiting and training.
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