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EU agencies ally to fight cyberterrorists

Sept. 30, 2010 at 1:00 PM   |   Comments

BRUSSELS, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Interagency teamwork will fight cyberterrorists whose attacks can cripple governments as well as hurt personal computers, European officials said Thursday.

The European Union's European Network and Information Security Agency will start working with the European Police Office, the EU's criminal intelligence agency, to track down hackers, officials said.

In addition, new laws will criminalize the creation of malicious botnets that turn computers into "zombies" that attack vital computer systems.

"To anyone thinking that cyberattacks are an abstract concept, I would say that for millions of people each year there are already direct practical consequences," European digital-agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said at a news conference.

"When your money is quietly stolen from your bank account or your country is shut down, as happened to Estonia in 2007, the threat suddenly becomes very real," she said.

Of particular concern are the Conficker botnet that takes over computers and commands them remotely by its authors, and the Stuxnet computer worm, which sabotages industrial computer systems, including at nuclear power plants.

Conflicker can steal money and classified information. It prevented French jet fighters from taking off last year and shut down British and German army Web sites, EUobserver reported.

Stuxnet is reported to have affected nuclear facilities in China and Iran, prompting speculation secret Israeli and U.S. intelligence services were involved, EUobserver said.

Computer security researcher and former U.S. National Security Agency officer Charlie Miller told EUobserver last month a hostile power could devastate the EU for slightly more than $100 million and a team of 750 spies and hackers.

A result could be all EU countries suddenly without power, telephone and Internet service and air, rail and road transportation. Stock-exchange and bank transactions could be frozen, government data scrambled and military units cut off from central command or sent fake orders, Miller said.

© 2010 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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