Internet warfare

Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at
Fri Nov 3 07:14:20 MST 2000

>From todays Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Joint Defense Against Computer Attacks Urged

F.A.Z. PULLACH. The president of the German Intelligence Service sees an
array of economic and political threats poised to attack the country's
finely woven network of computers in times of peace and crisis.

To protect Germany from these threats, officials, police and intelligence
services need to develop a strategy of close cooperation, August Hanning
said on Thursday.

Speaking at an intelligence service symposium in the Bavarian town of
Pullach, Mr. Hanning said he was particularly concerned about computer
viruses. Such viruses are self-replicating pieces of computer code that can
cause computers to malfunction. Last May, millions of computer users in more
than 20 countries saw just how devastating such a virus can be after they
received an infected e-mail message and opened an attachment titled
"ILOVEYOU." That bit of human kindness caused an estimated DM45 billion
($19.7 billion) in damage.

Mr. Hanning said he was also concerned about the effect such viruses could
have during crises. "Computer viruses are becoming a larger part of
conflicts between countries," he said.

German Lieutenant General Walter Jertz, a NATO spokesman during the Kosovo
war, knows firsthand just how big the threat to military computers is. At
the start of NATO's bombing campaign in 1999, Serbian forces flooded NATO's
computers with 10,000 e-mails. "We could not use the Internet for hours and
could not work over our network," Mr. Jertz told the conference.

In face of such threats, Mr. Hanning said personnel and technical costs
would have to rise, and he reminded listeners that his agency's budget, just
like that of the Foreign Ministry, had not been raised for over a decade.

In view of Germany's export-oriented economy, Germany should be more aware
of its exposed position, he said, adding that the country should play a
greater role in international crisis management.

The undersecretary in the Ministry of Education and Research, Uwe Thomas,
said all state agencies would have to be won over to the idea of "a single
security philosophy." Mr. Thomas also said the extent of the threat caused
by attacks on data and data networks depended on the stability of the
countries concerned. Unstable societies will likely pose a greater threat,
Mr. Thomas said.

Mr. Thomas also said computer crime had tripled in the last seven years,
with 46,000 reported cases in 1999. Credit-card fraud easily accounted for
most crime, although on-line banking will certainly overtake that area in
the future, he said.

He also pointed to the rapidly growing market for coding technology for data
traffic. The information and communications industry is growing by around 10
percent annually, but the encryption market is climbing by about 60 percent.

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