‘Don’t hack Iraq’ warn US authorities

17 Feb 2003

Prospective patriotic hackers have been warned not to attempt cyber attacks in the run up to potential conflict in the Middle East.

The warning was issued by the US National Infrastructure Protection Centre (NIPC), a body responsible for critical infrastructure threat assessment, warning, vulnerability and law enforcement.

According to the NIPC, recent experience has shown that during a time of increased international tension, illegal online activity such as spamming, web defacements and denial of service attacks often escalates. This activity can originate within another country, which is party to the tension. It can be state-sponsored or encouraged, or come from domestic organisations or individuals independently. Additionally, sympathetic individuals and organisations worldwide tend to conduct hacking activity, which they view as somehow contributing to the cause.

As tensions rise, it warned that it would be prudent to be aware of and prepared for this type of illegal activity. Attacks, it said, may have one of several motivations such as political activism targeting Iraq or those sympathetic to Iraq, by self-described ‘patriot’ hackers or political activism, or disruptive attacks targeting US systems by those opposed to any potential conflict with Iraq. Furthermore, it warned of criminal activity using the current crisis to further personal goals.

Regardless of the motivation, the NIPC warned that such activity is illegal and punishable as a felony. The US Government, it said, did not condone so-called ‘patriotic hacking’ on its behalf.

During times of potentially increased cyber disruption, it advised that owners and operators of computers and networked systems should review their defensive postures and procedures and stress the importance of increased vigilance in system monitoring.

By Dick O’Brien