“It is pretty much accepted by those in the know that the next major attack on the West by Al Qaeda is likely to be an attack on the IT infrastructure of the USA and the UK rather than bomb plots,” says McDowell, “simply because whilst the bomb has an immediate and newsworthy impact in the eyes of the terrorist, it is limited in scope and tends to strengthen the nation attacked rather than defeat it or damage its morale long term.”
Mr McDowell points out that the majority of companies large and small in the UK are open to a cyber attack because they have not taken some very basic IT security precautions.
Al Qaeda is determined to attack the western way of life and what better way to do this than to cause huge and potentially on-going damage to the economy of the west through damage to the IT infrastructure of a country or region. We know it can be done as the Russians have already brought parts of Estonia to a standstill through illegal hacking activities of the banking system because Estonia upset its larger neighbour.
We know the Chinese are hacking into the US defence systems and vice versa on a daily basis – so it’s not beyond the wit of terrorists to attempt a similar, massively debilitating attack on the UK or US economy to bring the banking and finance systems and even Government itself to a shuddering halt.”
A quick check on Google will reveal more than 70,000 entries relating to ethical hacking training by a wide range of organisations and companies. How do they know for sure that every attendee on a course is seriously looking to become an ethical hacker? The skill sets for ethical hacking – and the tools they use – are the same whether their intentions are malicious or well meaning.
“The 9/11 attackers were trained supposedly innocently to fly aeroplanes at flying schools in the USA, reminds Mr. McDowell: “Are we training potential cyber terrorists to hack into IT systems and web sites here in the UK?” he asks.
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