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French Version

'Net' results of last week's attacks

Stating concern, a US official went as far as describing the potential threat as "an electronic Pearl harbor!"

Moments after the attacks on NewYork and Washington last week, many people involved in computing and information technology started to talk about the cyber wars that would result and how computer network security would be put to the test.

Following such a massive attack, the United States government isn't taking any chances, and it's issued warnings to governmental agencies and big business to watch out for further attacks through the Internet.

Stating concern, a US official went as far as describing the potential threat as "an electronic Pearl harbor!" The Pentagon has a series of studies that show that a cyber-attack on computer and communication systems could cripple the U.S. as severely as a physical attack. Such an attack could shut down water systems, power plants, railroads, airports, and oil and gas pipelines. Each system is usually controlled by a central, vulnerable location. As US networks and sites shore up security, something else is happening: American and pro-America hackers are conducting a massive cyberwar on Islamic sites, and the results are beginning to emerge. If the site is Pakistani, Iranian, Iraqi, or Afghani, then it's sure to be attacked by angry hackers whose efforts of cyber-vengeance, regrettably, are based on Islamaphobia.

These hackers have already defaced the Web site of the Iranian Ministry of the Interior.

As you would expect, the official web site of the Afghani government (www.afghangovernment.org) has also been devastated.

One of the groups, recently formed, is called 'The Dispatchers' and states its aim "to strike out against Palestinian and Afghani sites." This shows the levels of ignorance and mindless accusations directed at the Palestinian people by some members of the American public.

In fact, I can't help but think that there are Israeli or pro-Israeli hackers involved in these and similar groups who will try to utilize any incident to attack Palestinians and the Palestinian cause. On another note, the US Government also has to worry about protecting its citizens against charity scams and hoaxes that have emerged since the attacks. With so much public sympathy, crooks will flourish on the Internet. These "crooked" citizens will collect money from their "kind-hearted" fellow citizens with promises to send that money to World Trade Center victims and families, when what they're actually doing is keeping the money all to themselves! Already, government agencies are telling Internet users to keep a watch out against such scams.

Also, seeing as e-ticketing no longer meets the required levels of travel security set by the US authorities, the whole Internet ticketing industry will be put on hold, or maybe even scrapped, in favor of normal, paper tickets that satisfy more stringent security guidelines.

Looking at this whole issue of cyber-response to current events reaffirms the fact that every time there's a conflict in the "real-world", the Internet mirrors that conflict. It happened between the US and China, it happened between the Israelis and Palestinians, and now it's happening again.

This time, however, there's an "indiscriminant" attitude involved, a lot of anger and an effect that will be felt on the Internet for a long time.

If the Internet mirrors the "off-line" world, then we should all hope that the world will go back to normal soon. That's, possibly, the only way cyberspace will return to it's normal level of problems. It already had it's fair share before all this happened!

Amman 20-09-2001
Zeid Nasser
The Star

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