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Computer Attack and Cyber Terrorism: Vulnerabilities and Policy Issues for Congress

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Citation Edit

Congressional Research Service, Computer Attack and Cyber Terrorism: Vulnerabilities and Policy Issues for Congress (RL32114) (Oct. 17, 2003) (full-text).

Overview Edit

This report presents a working definition for the term cyberterrorism, plus background information describing how current technology and management processes may leave computers exposed to cyberattack, and a discussion of possible effects of a cyberattack. Potential issues for Congress are presented in the second section, including: whether appropriate guidance exists for a DOD information warfare response to a cyberattack; whether the need to detect possible cyberterrorist activity interferes with individual privacy; whether the roles and responsibilities for protecting against a possible cyberterrorist attack need more clarity for government, industry, and home users; and, whether information sharing on cyberthreats and vulnerabilities must be further increased between private industry and the federal government. The final section describes possible policy options for improving protection against threats from possible cyberterrorism.

Appendices to the report explain technologies underlying computer viruses, worms, and spyware, how these malicious programs enable cyber crime and cyber espionage, and how tactics currently used by computer hackers might also be employed by terrorists while planning a possible cyberterror attack.

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