Urgent action is required to avert the destruction of America's critical information infrastructure, according to a report by an influential Washington think tank.
Warning of an "electronic Waterloo", the Centre for Strategic and International Studies said that President Clinton's $1.46 billion programme to protect against cyber terrorism does not go far enough.
The group paints an alarming picture of America's state of unreadiness. This is backed by Pentagon estimates that a co-ordinated attack by fewer than 20 cyber terrorists located strategically around the world, and operating with a budget of less than $10 million, "could bring the US to its knees".
"No enemy can match the US military, as demonstrated in the Gulf War. Cyber terrorism and cyber warfare thus became a plausible alternative," the report said.
The centre concluded that the administration's protection plans do not go far enough and said the findings of the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection, "identified only the tip of a very large iceberg."
The report stated that a cataclysm can only be averted if the Federal Government co-operates with the private sector on security initiatives to protect utilities, financial and transportation systems.
However, Julian Whitehead, former chief of staff of Britain's Defence Intelligence Centre, said Clinton's initiatives have reassured the public and provide a way forward that Britain is likely to adopt.
"The present threat to information systems is not from terrorism but from malicious damage, which continues to be posed by weirdo hackers and virus authors," said Whitehead, now senior consultant with security firm PCSL.
For more stories see 24 February issue of Network News
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