The official website of Sri Lanka Army, www.army.lk has been hacked by suspected LTTE hackers this morning (May 1). The Webmaster of the Army called the attack a desperate bid by the LTTE propagandists to hold the truth on humanitarian mission being revealed to the world. He said measures are being taken to restore the website soon. (1) In addition, the government newsportal, www,lankapuwath.lk has also been hacked by suspected LTTE hackers, this morning.
The internet has fast infiltrated the society and culture of today’s world. The computers are assigned more responsible and computer networks have proven to be extremely useful in all aspects of life. Important information is stored in computers and access to such data bases can cause serious harm.
Cyberterrorism is defined as “The premeditated use of disruptive activities, or the threat thereof, against computers and/or networks, with the intention to cause harm or further social, ideological, religious, political or similar objectives. Or to intimidate any person in furtherance of such objectives.” This definition was created by Kevin G. Coleman of the Technolytics Institute. (2)
This can include use of information technology to organize and execute attacks against networks, computer systems and telecommunications infrastructures, or for exchanging information or making threats electronically. Examples are
· hacking into computer systems
· introducing viruses to vulnerable networks
· web site defacing, denial-of-service attacks
· or terroristic threats made via electronic communication. (3)
An example of cyber-terrorism could be hacking into a hospital computer system and changing someone's medicine prescription to a lethal dosage as an act of revenge. It sounds far fetched, but these things can and do happen. (4)
Some Examples (2)
1. Terrorists in Romania illegally gained access to the computers controlling the life support systems at an Antarctic research station, endangering the 58 scientists involved. However, the culprits were stopped before damage actually occurred.
2. In May 2007 Estonia was subjected to a mass cyber-attack in the wake of the removal of a Russian World War II war memorial from downtown Talinn. The attack was a distributed denial of service attack in which selected sites were bombarded with traffic in order to force them offline; nearly all Estonian government ministry networks as well as two major Estonian bank networks were knocked offline; in addition, the political party website of Estonia's current Prime Minister Andrus Ansip featured a counterfeit letter of apology from Ansip for removing the memorial statue.
3. In October 2007, the website of Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko was attacked by hackers. A radical Russian nationalist youth group, the Eurasian Youth Movement, claimed responsibility.
Cyberterrorism can have serious implications on countries, their people and economy. Internet based business can break down. Computer system damages can have serious financial implications and the loss of certain data cannot be estimated financially.
Here are few key things to remember to pretect yourself from cyber-terrorism:
All accounts should have passwords and the passwords should be unusual, difficult to guess.
Change the network configuration when defects become know.
Check with venders for upgrades and patches.
Audit systems and check logs to help in detecting and tracing an intruder.
If you are ever unsure about the safety of a site, or receive suspicious email from an unkown address, don't access it. It could be trouble. (4)
1. Ministry of Defence Sri Lanka. News. [Online] 05 01, 2009. [Cited: 05 01, 2009.] http://www.defence.lk/new.asp?fname=20090501_01.
2. Wikipedia. [Online] [Cited: May 01, 2009.] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyber-terrorism.
3. [Online] [Cited: 05 01, 2009.] http://www.ncsl.org/programs/lis/CIP/cyberterrorism.htm.
4. Computer Ethics. Jimmy Sproles, Will Byars. 1988.