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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 201390 Find in a Library
Title: Insecurity Alert: How Cyber Terrorists & Hackers Could Compromise the Nation's Emergency Response Systems
Journal: Homeland First Response  Volume:1  Issue:3  Dated:July-August 2003  Pages:32-33
Author(s): M. Kathleen Stewart M.S.; Charles Stewart M.D.
Date Published: July 2003
Page Count: 2
Type: Instructional Material
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article describes how cyber terrorists and hackers could compromise the Nation's emergency response systems and suggests measures that can be instituted to prevent this from happening.
Abstract: The article first describes actual recent instances in which a computer "virus" or "worm" was injected through the Internet to launch denial-of-service attacks against a particular site. Although cyber attacks thus far have not impacted emergency services, new and improved cyber intrusions could affect phone and other trunked communication systems (including some radio links) for a city or larger region of the country. Although control systems are unlikely to be directly damaged by an Internet virus, the denial of service to control points for water distribution systems, railroad switch points, power grids, chemical plants, and telephone systems may cause widespread nondestructive failures. Any of the viruses/worms described in this article could be redesigned to destroy or severely cripple the country's 911 system. One of the most effective ways to protect computer systems from intrusion is to install and frequently update a good virus protection program; establish a schedule to do operating system updates and run a virus scan. If a virus is found, eliminate it. Have the virus protection set to scan a document before it is opened, and never open any file that has an ".exe" at the end of the file name, unless that file is expected from someone known and trusted. Administrators should have a sound backup plan that can restore the agency's operating system and essential programs in an emergency. The most important security action may be to report any suspicious e-mail or unusual computer activity to the system administrator or other designated person. Establish an on-call point-of-contact to the Internet service provider as well as appropriate law enforcement officials. By keeping antivirus software up-to-date and using good computing practices, a system can be protected from intrusions that disable computer operations. 4 references
Main Term(s): Domestic Preparedness
Index Term(s): Computer privacy and security; Computer related crime; Counter-terrorism tactics; Cyber Terrorism; Terrorist tactics
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