By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Other experts doubt it's quite so simple. "If they could've, they would've," says George Friedman, a former Pentagon adviser who now runs an Austin-based private intelligence company called Stratfor. Friedman says the legions of cyberterror "experts" are little more than storytellers.
It's true that there's nothing cyberterror buffs enjoy more than pointing out vulnerabilities and bragging about how they could exploit them. Howard Schmidt, former security chief at Microsoft and now the vice chairman of the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, was reminded of this professional pride this summer, when he told an assembly of computer engineers that, in all his years in the field, he himself had never been a victim of computer crime. "Is that a challenge?" hollered a consultant in the crowd. "We have the technology."
The room erupted. And the laughter wasn't just at the expense of an easy target like Schmidt. It hit on an obvious but rarely spoken truth: that most of us will never encounter even a petty thief online, but that the creators of the most devilish cyberterror scenarios are right here among us, designing software, writing techno thrillers, and setting government policy. And they're scaring us silly.
"We're all sitting around looking in the mirror, asking if someone was just like us, how would he take advantage of our weaknesses?" says Fred Freer, a retired CIA analyst and specialist in the Middle East. "Of course, they're not just like us. We've got to get out of this crazy reactive mode and stop trying to scare ourselves. We're all chasing our tails and looking more and more foolish."
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