Computer hackers with
political agendas have become a fast-growing threat to big
companies worldwide, a corporate intelligence company said on
WASHINGTON -- "The methods they are using are in their infancy," said
Kent Anderson of Control Risks Group, an international business
The political cyberthreat was highlighted along with those
on the ground at a rollout of the British-based company's
"Risk Map 2001," an annual survey of perceived dangers to
Anderson traced "hacktivism" to the 1994 Zapatista
guerrilla uprising for greater democracy and Indian rights in
the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.
The Internet-era activism brings the methods of guerrilla
theater, grass-roots organizing and graffiti to cyberspace.
Operations include espionage, Web page defacements,
"denial-of-service" attacks to swamp the target, and virus
"We're going to start seeing this sort of thing for a whole
range of issues," including animal rights and other fringe
causes, said Anderson, a data security expert whose resume
includes consulting jobs for the FBI and its counterparts in
Britain, Russia, Germany, Norway, Denmark, and Switzerland.
Hacktivists are increasingly focusing on companies rather
than governments, he told a press conference. Calling it a
"gray area" for law enforcers, Anderson said in some ways the
phenomenon was not unlike old-fashioned picketing.
The survey listed 12 countries or parts of countries as
representing "extreme" political and security risks to
multinational companies, up from five in 1997, when Control
Risk introduced its current ratings scale.
Those countries are Afghanistan, Burundi, Chad, Congo
(Brazzaville and Democratic Republic of Congo), Eritrea,
Theiopia, Liberia, Russia (Chechnya), Sierra Leone, Somalia,
Sri Lanka (north and northeast), and Sudan.