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CIA director warns of potential for attack on networks (1996)

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San Francisco -- The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is considering creating a new center at the U.S. National Security Agency to ward off attacks on U.S. networks that are vital to the government, utilities, air traffic, and financial centers, CIA Director John Deutch said.

"My greatest concern is that hackers, terrorist organizations, or other nations might use information warefare techniques as part of a coordinated attack designed to seriously disrupt" emergency and routine operations in the U.S., he said in testimony before a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs in Washington, D.C.

A classified report on foreign information warfare plans indicates that a number of countries are developing the tools to conduct information attacks, mostly on military networks, he said.

"I am convinced that there is a growing awareness around the world that advanced societies, especially the U.S., are increasingly dependent on open, and potentially vulnerable information systems," Deutch said. "I am convinced that organized information warefare threat from both state and non-state actors will grow over the next decade as the technology proliferates."

Hacker attacks have received the most attention, but they are just one method of debilitating a company's -- or even a country's -- network.

"While attention is focused on computer-based `cyber' attacks, we should not forget that key nodes and facilities that house critical systems and handle the flow of digital data can also be attacked with conventional high-explosives," he said. "International terrorist groups clearly have the capability to attack the information infrastructure of the United States, even if they use relatively simple means." --Elinor Mills, IDG News Service