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University Unveils Cyber Threat Calculator

The Cyber Threat Calculator can be used to assess a potential attackers' intent and capabilities and provides a number that indicates the level of risk.

A University of New Hampshire research team has unveiled a Cyber Threat Calculator to assess the risk individuals post to the nation's cyber infrastructure.

The university's Justiceworks researchers and students developed the tool. University representatives revealed it Thursday at the Department of Defense Cyber Crime Conference 2007 in St. Louis. The university plans to release the UNH Cyber Threat Calculator to private cyber security experts later this year.

"Nation states potentially pose the greatest threat with regard to cyber security to the United States," Andrew Macpherson, director of UNH Justiceworks' Technical Analysis Group, said in a prepared statement. "Clearly Russia and China are two of the top countries because they have more developed capabilities, but it may not be in their interest to use cyber attacks for strategic attacks ends. Both countries have worked on doctrine and there is some evidence that they are incorporating it into their military training as well. However, individuals, political groups, religious groups and organized crime groups also pose ongoing risks and should be considered cyber threats, as well."

The calculator allows security experts to enter information about terrorist groups, governments, religious organizations, or individuals. Using known information about past behaviors and current circumstances, it assesses the potential attackers' intent and capabilities and provides a number that indicates the level of risk.

Some law enforcement authorities and security experts use similar risk assessment tools to determine how likely someone is to commit a violent crime.

Macpherson, a cyber crime adviser to the New Hampshire Department of Justice who has worked with the Department of Homeland Security National Cyber Security Division, said cyber attacks are a real threat.

"With approximately 85% of the cyber infrastructure owned by the private sector, it's not just a government problem," he said. "There are increased risks as computer networks become more integrated with all aspects of our lives and infrastructure."

A Discovery Channel docudrama, scheduled to air Sunday, will feature Macpherson and cyber attack scenarios that will be possible in 50 years.

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