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7/2/2007
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'Electronic Jihad' App Offers Cyberterrorism For The Masses

U.S. businesses would be greatly impacted by any large-scale cyberattacks because most of that infrastructure is run by companies in the private sector.

Although cyberterrorism has been around since the Internet reached the mainstream more than a decade ago, a relatively new Web-based application offers Islamic jihadis a way for even the relatively nontechnical to target and attack Web sites perceived to be anti-Islamic.

The "Electronic Jihad Program" is part of the long-term vision jihadi Web site Al-jinan.org has to use the Internet as a weapon, something that affects any organization that relies on the Web.

Electronic Jihad allows users to target specific IP addresses for attack in order to take any servers running at those IP addresses offline. The application even includes a Windows-like interface that lets users choose from a list of target Web sites provided via the Al-jinan site, select an attack speed (weak, medium, or strong), and the click on the "attack" button.

The concept of "electronic jihad" is a relatively recent strain of cyberterrorism interested in very specific network and economic disruption, Dorothy Denning, a professor in the Department of Defense Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School, told InformationWeek. Its audience consists of malicious Islamic hackers aligned with Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida, and the extremist Islamic movement. "The attacks from jihadists are interested in taking Web sites down and disrupting economies that they don't like," she added. "It's something to be taken seriously."

U.S. businesses would be greatly impacted by any large-scale cyberattacks against either them or the country's critical infrastructure because most of that infrastructure is run by companies in the private sector. The government and the U.S. business community "are one-in-the-same target," Andrew Colarik, an information security consultant who holds a Ph.D. in information systems security from the University of Auckland, told InformationWeek. Even businesses that don't run critical infrastructure elements could be affected because "there's a cascading effect if you attack the infrastructure."

The latest version of Electronic Jihad software, 2.0, is designed to quickly update its list of target sites and to work with different Internet connection speeds. The application is also described as being capable of using different proxies to override government Web site blocking technology, Abdul Hameed Bakier, an intelligence expert on counterterrorism, crisis management, and terrorist-hostage negotiations, wrote in a recent report for the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington, D.C., think tank established on Sept. 11, 2003, to study and analyze global terrorism.

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