October 22, 2003

Cyber-Terrorism? Eh. Me Not Think So

Today, James Lileks wrote:

As you may have read - not in newspapers, heaven forfend - a large portion of the blogworld has been crippled by attacks on the company that hosted a pro-Israel website, and the attacks are coming from servers that host Al Qaeda groups. This makes me uneasy; there's something else going on here, I think. It's like hearing reports from Alaska radar stations of peculiar blips on the screen. Someone's testing something.

What do we call these guys? Script Qiddies? Haqers? How about: Jew-Hating Gynophobic Devil Pawns, or JHGDPs for short? (Pronounced: Je-hig-dip.)

I've no reason to say this, but: my antennae are twitching. I have this feeling that 2004 is going to feel a lot like 1968. But it's just a feeling.

Far be it for me to disagree with Sir Lileks, but I have to disagree with Sir Lileks. Although I have no doubt that cyber-terrorists exist, and that they're out there lurking like digital bogeymen, I don't particularly fear their technological expertise.

For the record, yes, some al Queda-linked Web sites got together and apparently went after an Israel-based Web site called Internet Haganah which, as I understand it, is a site that tries to expose and shut down web sites that recruit and encourage terrorists. In the process, the jihadist hackers inadvertently overloaded a Web hosting site called Hosting Matters, which hosts a lot of popular blogs, including A Small Victory, Instapundit and Amish Tech Support.

The hackers utilized a Denial of Server attack which, in the hacker world, is basically among the most unsophisticated methods of hacking you can perform. Compared to the real Internet menaces out there, it's the equivalent of Harry Anderson pulling a rabbit out of a hat while David Blaine levitates nearby. Guys, you brought down one Internet site and some blogs. BLOGS! And those only briefly. So, you disconnected some folks on a conference call. Big deal.

Still, that doesn't keep the jihadist idiots of the world from engaging in some self-congratulatory back patting. Heck, to hear these guys talk, you'd think they brought the entire Internet down and stole the personal identification of every person who ever purchased off e-Bay or Amazon. I particularly loathe the heading of the site: "Jew-boy's Site Goes Dooooooown!!!!!!!" Nothing like a little rampant anti-Semitism mixed with unabashed glee. But, whatever.

My point is, these folks are about as sophisticated as Mike Tyson in a jail cell throwing a television around like a gorilla with luggage. They hardly constitute a real threat to the wider world of the world wide web. They couldn't hack their way into a cookie jar if it came to finding vulnerabilities in the major corporate sites on the Internet, and even the smaller players are shoring up potential flaws faster than cyber-jihadists can read instruction manuals on how to author Internet viruses. They're so far behind when it comes to understanding Internet and network technology, they may as well be tapping away on an Apple IIc.

Still, I'd still feel safer if the entire world were running on Linux rather than Windows.

UPDATE: Kinda, sorta, somewhat related. A recent post over at Healing Iraq underscores just how unsophisticated(though admittedly unsophisticated in a truly evil way) terrorists can be.

I heard some very distressful news today. Someone has been writing graffiti all over Baghdad threatening to kill children who accept the new schoolbags that are to be gifted to them by UNESCO for the new school season. Also warning that any hand waving to the infidel Americans will be cut.

Are these people sane? I mean what are they thinking? Is this our latest form of 'resistance'? Threatening our own children for getting some shiny new schoolbags. I am trying very hard to understand. This so called resistance is getting hated more and more by Iraqis everywhere. I'm sure this will only add to that scorn exponentially. They are losing any sympathy they may have had earlier. The terrorists have turned out to be MUCH dumber than I thought.

Posted by Ryan at October 22, 2003 12:02 PM
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