Information Warfare: August 29, 2002


On July 31st, 2002, fourteen Italian hackers (including four teenagers) were arrested in northern Italy and charged with attacking U.S. government web sites, and various other cybercrimes. This came after a ten month investigation. The word then went around in Italian chat rooms that the young hackers buddies were going to exact retribution by making massive denial of service attacks on U.S. government sites. The NIPC (an FBI organization that is supposed to warn Americans if Internet attacks are coming, or how to deal with ones that have already happened) subsequently announced that the Italian hacker's friends were going to launch a major attack on U.S. sites. Then NIPC announced that there had been a major attack attempt, represented by a major increase in Internet traffic from Europe at two AM one day. Internet engineers, when queried about this, universally said that they knew of no such unusual surge. What Internet engineers did want to talk about, now that they had the media's attention for a few seconds, was the general ineptness of NPIC in particular, and the FBI in general, when it came to keeping an eye on Internet crime. NIPC had issued many false alarms in the past, including some "warnings" that were sent out after the event in question had already occurred. The NIPC really went over the top in 2001 when they predicted an avalanche of attacks from China (in response to the EP-3 incident.) In 1999 NIPC had excitedly predicted the coming of "Y2K Viruses" (which never existed, except in the imagination of some NIPC bureaucrats.) While the media still pays attention to NIPC, most Internet professionals consider the organization an embarrassing joke. The NIPC, so far, has been more interested in snagging headlines than providing any useful service to the Internet community.


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