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Vulnerabilities / Threats

Report: Al Qaeda Schedules Cyber Jihad for Nov. 11

Unconfirmed report raises questions, sets bloggers blogging

The IT security blogosphere is burning up today, following an unconfirmed report that Osama Bin Laden and his followers are planning a massive cyber attack on Western targets in less than two weeks.

DEBKAfile, an Israeli news organization, yesterday published a report stating that counter-terrorism sources have intercepted and translated an Arabic "Internet announcement" that proposes an attack on Western electronic targets to begin on November 11. The attack will begin with 15 targets and will expand to "untold numbers," according to the report.

Dark Reading canvassed U.S. law enforcement agencies in an attempt to confirm the report. So far, none has provided confirmation, although media representatives acknowledged that they have received numerous calls. Google searches show many instances of the DEBKA story on a variety of Websites, but so far there is no official word to suggest that the report -- attributed to unnamed sources -- is anything more than a rumor.

However, a security researcher says there might be cause for concern, following his analysis of the latest version of electronic jihad software being passed around the Web. Paul Henry, vice president of Secure Computing, said through a spokesman that the new software is significantly easier to use and potentially more dangerous than early versions. (See 'Electronic Jihad' App Offers Cyberterrorism for the Masses .)

"The new Electronic Jihad Version 2.0 software has the potential to create havoc among sites that might be targeted," according to the spokesman. "Secure has a screen shot that has been translated into English that shows how easy it is to configure attacks. Additionally, the version of the software adds detail and intelligent coordination capabilities, providing focus for the attacks to make them much more effective. It could get even scarier if the jihadists implement Web 2.0 style attacks down the road."

Secure Computing has not seen the "Internet announcement" from Al Qaeda and cannot confirm the DEBKA report, the spokesman said.

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    Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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