Information Warfare: July 17, 2002


A classic Information War vulnerability are the three million SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems installed around the world. Over the last three decades, SCADA use has become more popular, as it is a cheaper and more effective way to monitor and control power, water, agricultural, sewage treatment and industrial systems. Al Qaeda computers have been captured containing research on SCADA systems. What makes SCADA vulnerable to al Qaeda attack is the increasing use of wireless transmission of data between sensors and control systems, as well as using the Internet for moving information and commands. Nearly all SCADA data is not encrypted, and any one using the right, off-the-shelf, equipment can intercept SCADA and manipulate the systems. On the plus side, there are a lot of different SCADA system types out there, and you need people with some SCADA experience to figure out how to manipulate the systems to destructive ends. In addition, there are not a lot of programmers and SCADA engineers among the al Qaeda faithful. But the potential is there, and it's well to remember that a few years ago no al Qaeda members knew how to fly a jet airliner. 


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