While acknowledging the potential for a cyber attack, "you could say that about anything," said William Orvis, security analyst with the Department of Energy's Computer Incident Advisory Capability (CIAC). "It would be just as easy for Iraqi terrorists to make trains run off the track." An FBI spokesperson agreed, saying that the Bureau did not plan to release an advisory warning people about the threat of cyber-attack.
At least one group thought that an attack was possible.
A report released on Monday by the Center for Strategic & International Studies called for greater recognition of the threat posed by attacks and terrorism conducted over the Internet. "No enemy can match the U.S. military, as demonstrated by the Gulf War," stated the report. "Cyber terrorism and cyber warfare thus become a plausible alternative," it speculated.
The report lists various incidences where crackers -- hackers with malicious intent -- broke into key U.S. systems, including last year's so-called Analyser intrusions that were initially thought to be an Iraqi assault on Pentagon computers. "Anything those hackers could do, our adversaries could do," said CIAC's Orvis. Nonetheless, he noted that computer attacks are less extreme than real-world terrorism. "It's not going to blow your computer up in front of you and turn you into bloody pieces," he said. "But, an attack might slow down pieces of the economy for a while until we find out who's doing it."