FBI warns Congress of terrorist hacking

FBI warns Congress of terrorist hacking

Summary: The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is warning Congress that terrorist groups may employ hackers to attack the United States. Separately, Anonymous was brought up by the FBI.


Robert S. Mueller III, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), yesterday warned Congress of terrorist hacking in the "FBI Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2013." He believes that while terrorists haven't hacked their way into the U.S. government yet, it's only a matter of time.

Here's an excerpt of Mueller's testimony to a House appropriations subcommittee reviewing the FBI's budget:

To date, terrorists have not used the Internet to launch a full-scale cyber attack, but we cannot underestimate their intent. Terrorists have shown interest in pursuing hacking skills. And they may seek to train their own recruits or hire outsiders, with an eye toward pursuing cyber attacks. These adaptations of the terrorist threat make the FBI’s counterterrorism mission that much more difficult and challenging.

On February 28, 2012, the hacktivist group Anonymous hacked into a telephone conversation taking place between FBI authorities in New York and law enforcement in London. They then posted the 16-minute recording of the conference online, which you can watch in the YouTube video above, to embarrass authorities.

It remains to be seen whether or not Congress will take action to defend against a terrorist hacking attack on the U.S. Most likely though, the FBI will simply just get the budget bump it is looking for. The statement Anonymous made last month will likely be a good argument. In fact, Mueller names the group in his testimony:

Over the past year, the FBI and our partners have also pursued members of Anonymous, who are alleged to have coordinated and executed distributed denial of service (DDos) attacks against various Internet companies. To date, 16 individuals have been arrested and charged in more than 10 states as part of this ongoing investigation. According to the indictment, the Anonymous group referred to the DDoS attacks as Operation Avenge Assange and allegedly conducted the attacks in support of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. The defendants are charged with various counts of conspiracy and intentional damage to a protected computer.

Even this month, Anonymous has been very busy, as you can see in the links below.

See also:

Topics: Government US, Government, Security

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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  • Far More Likely

    Far more likely, the eavesdroppers just exploited another stupid human trick.

    And personally, I would much rather have publicity hounds doing this than a covert enemy that is going to leave us feeling safe and secure while using the information against us in a more nefarious way. When you know you've been pwn'd you act a lot differently than when you think you haven't been.
  • Phone call hack was a hoax?

    The Internet's insecurity is a serious problem, of course, but the "hacked" phone call between the FBI and Scotland Yard might have been a much simpler job than this story implies. I heard a report on NPR (from the New York Times, from the FBI) that Anonymous got hold of an email with the phone number to let them dial in as one of the conference participants. It's at the end of this post on the NPR Two-Way blog, February 3rd:

    • If true, really low-tech solution

      You would think that they would be monitoring the numbers of the people who connected for that tele-conference.
  • Perhaps it's an inside job!

    Two major security orgs speaking on a standard non-encrypted line? Duh!

    Whatever happened to encryption?!
  • More fear mongering

    The "worst case scenario" business after our tax dollar...