FBI: We're not worried about terrorist cyberattack

By Reuters

Story last modified Wed Dec 07 13:33:00 PST 2005

Terrorist groups lack the capability to launch a damaging Internet-based
attack on the United States, and foreign governments are probably behind
many online spying attempts, FBI officials said on Wednesday.

Al-Qaida and similar groups do not have the ability to disable power plants,
airports and other "critical infrastructure" through the Internet, said FBI
Assistant Director Louis Reigel, who heads the enforcement agency's Cyber

"There's nothing on my desk, or the director's desk, that would cause any
concern today," Reigel told reporters in a briefing at FBI headquarters.

Peter Trahon, who heads the FBI unit that handles computer intrusions,
added, "We're not aware of any plan to attack U.S. infrastructure."

But foreign governments are likely behind many of the hacking attacks on
computers that house military or technology secrets, Reigel said.

"We do have intrusion cases that there's a strong potential that they're
state-sponsored, so we're looking at that. Do we have the proof that they're
state-sponsored? Absolutely not. Do we have suspicions? Absolutely," he

Reigel declined to say which countries he thought may be involved, but said
there were "not just one or two."

"It's far cheaper for a country to steal information and use that
information to develop technologies that have taken America years to
develop, so if a foreign country could do that, we're actually seeing
attempts to do that," he said.

Chinese hackers are thought to have copied sensitive material from hundreds
of unclassified U.S. government computer systems over the past several

Reigel said he had not seen any definite proof the Chinese government was
involved, and he did not raise the issue on a recent visit to China.

"It would not have gone anywhere, so I did not address it," he said.

Reigel added the FBI did not have a suspect but had enough information to
track down the author of a version of the Sober computer worm that nearly
knocked the FBI's computer system offline last month.

Because that recent worm disguised itself as a message from the FBI,
messages sent to invalid e-mail addresses were routed back to the FBI at a
rate of 200,000 per hour.

"It almost killed our system," he said.

Story Copyright © 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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