"The cyber terrorism threat is real, and it is rapidly expanding." This was the chief conclusion of FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III in a speech before the RSA Cyber Security Conference on Thursday. The remarks, given before collected cyber-security professionals, highlighted the growing threat posed by Foreign Terrorist Organizations on the World Wide Web.
As Mueller recognized, the virtualization of terrorism poses a threat to the United States and the international community on a number of fronts. Today, terrorists "are not limiting their use of the Internet to recruitment or radicalization; they are using it to incite terrorism." While there are thousands of extremist websites promoting violence and providing jihad instruction, that is only one facet of this emerging threat.
Also of concern is the use of developing technologies to undertake attacks on Western infrastructure. Demonstrative of this threat are the attacks in Estonia in 2007 and in the Republic of Georgia in 2008. "Wave after wave of data requests shut down banks and emergency phone lines, gas stations and grocery stores, even parts of each country's government."
To combat this threat, the FBI has created cyber squads in every field office, running "complex undercover operations and examin[ing] digital evidence." Additionally, the FBI will continue to reach out to both the private sector and international partners to disrupt terrorist abuse of technologies. Highlighting the effectiveness of this cooperation, Mueller pointed to an investigation last October in which the Egyptian authorities, in concert with the FBI, "dismantled a computer intrusion and money laundering scheme operating in the United States and Egypt."