Secure Computing Corporation, a computer security company, "believes that the new Electronic Jihad Version 2.0 software has the potential to create havoc among sites that might be targeted," as the company put it in a press release.
Paul Henry, VP of technology evangelism at Secure Computing, said that the first version of Electronic Jihad allowed the user to conduct a denial of service attack. The most recent iteration allows for a coordinated, or distributed, denial of service attack.
"As to how imminent the threat is, I have to rely on the posting on DEBKAfile," said Henry. "People I've talked to say it's a reliable source."
Despite the fact that Electronic Jihad relies on "an old attack methodology," Henry said that he believed people have grown too lax about the potential impact of distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks because such attacks haven't been common in the wild in recent years.
Marc Zwillinger, a former cybercrime prosecutor with the Department of Justice and a partner at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, said it's hard to tell how to view such reports. "There have been on and off warnings of e-jihads for years, some of which have materialized and some of which haven't," he said.
While the involvement of Al Qaeda may sound ominous, Zwillinger noted that terrorists menacing people with zombies -- subverted PCs -- are no more dangerous than the security risks faced by Internet users every day. And, he added, networks today, tend to perform better against denial of service attacks than they did several years ago.
In a February, 2007 article, "Cyberspace as a Combat Zone: The Phenomenon of Electronic Jihad," Eli Alshech, Director of the Jihad and Terrorism Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, characterized e-jihadists as more of a nuisance than a threat.
"[E]lectronic jihad, in its current state of development, is capable of causing some moderate damage to Western economy, but there is no indication that it constitutes an immediate threat to more sensitive interests such as defense systems and other crucial infrastructure," the article says. "Nevertheless, in light of the rapid evolvement (sic) of this phenomenon, especially during the recent months, the Western countries should monitor it closely in order to track the changes in its modes of operation and the steady increase in its sophistication."