ISLAMIC State (ISIS) jihadis could launch a fatal nationwide terror attack by targeting the power grid and broadband, say Europe’s top cyber security specialists.
The depraved terror group is edging closer to being able to take down electrical grids which would mean people “will die” and the British economy could crash, claims Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at cyber security specialists, F-Secure.
Mr Hypponen, who has advised governments on cyber-security in the US, Europe and Asia, said it would be possible to bring down the UK’s broadband network, either through a physical or virtual attack.
The cyber-security expert said: “ISIS has demonstrated they have the most credible offensive cyber capability of any of the jihadist extremist movements.”
But he admitted it would not be easy as the level of their operational skills would have to be extremely high.
James Blessing, chair of the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA), said a physical attack on broadband infrastructure would be possible but the jihadis would have to hit a number of high-security locations at the same time.
Buildings housing special ‘internet exchange points’ are scattered across the UK for web traffic to pass through from one network to another.
Mr Blessing said: “The majority of traffic that’s shared in place happens on the London Internet Exchange (LINX).
“That doesn’t mean that everybody uses LINX, it basically means that’s where lots of it is shared.
“These places are not unsecure, they are in highly-guarded locations that as a network engineer are a pain to get into.
“They are in high security buildings and there’s usually a perimeter fence that is well away from the building. You would have to have a seriously big truckful. You’re talking a load of fertiliser bigger than the IRA used to use.”
Mr Hypponen told internet comparison site Cable.co.uk if ISIS did not have the capability to launch an attack of that enormity he believes they would go after a bigger target – such as the UK’s electrical grid.
He said: “Why bother toying around taking down the net if you could take down the electric grid?,
“That’s going to kill the net too, and it’s going to cause much more damage and mayhem.
“If the net is down, people won’t die. If electricity is down, people will die.”
Their fears come less than a month after Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne warned ISIS fighters are trying to develop the capability to launch a deadly cyber attackagainst Britain’s infrastructure.
Talking at Britain’s spy headquarters, GCHQ, he said: “ISIL are already using the Internet for hideous propaganda purposes; for radicalisation, for operational planning too.
“They have not been able to use it to kill people yet by attacking our infrastructure through cyber attack.
“But we know they want it and are doing their best to build it.”
The Chancellor said public spending on cyber-security would be almost doubled to a total of £1.9 billion over the period to 2020.
He said: “It is right that we choose to invest in our cyber defences even at a time when we must cut other budgets.
“The Internet represents a critical axis of potential vulnerability.”
source: Daily Express