TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Southeast Asian Cyber Attacks Still Way Off

Southeast Asian Cyber Attacks Still Way Off

Reuters News Wire (
Mon, 22 May 2006 10:47:42 -0500

Southeast Asian extremist groups have turned to the Internet to
recruit people and raise funds but they have not yet been able to
mount cyber attacks, a security expert said on Monday.

Rohan Gunaratna, head of the political violence and terrorism center
at Singapore's Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies, said
regional militant network Jemaah Islamiah (JI) used the Internet
extensively to spread its propaganda.

"It will take a very long time for Southeast Asian groups to develop
the capability to attack the Internet," he said. "Instead of attacking
the Internet, they are using the Internet."

He was in Malaysia to address Southeast Asian security officials on
U.S.-backed training on counter-terrorism, including cyber-terrorism
and suicide bombing.

A Malaysian counter-terrorism official told the meeting that the
threat from cyber attacks in the region was real but offered no
information of any specific threat.

"The threat is real. It's not the question of how or what, but it is
only of when," said Yean Yoke Heng, deputy head of the Malaysian-based
South East Asia Regional Center for Counter Terrorism.

"We need a better coordination ... to be better prepared to face any
cyber attacks by hackers, by terrorist groups," he said.

Malaysia announced recently that it would set up a center that
provides an emergency response to cyber attacks on the economy or
trading system of any country.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said companies such as Symantec
Corporation of the United States, Japan's Trend Micro and Russia's
Kapersky Lab have agreed to be key partners.

Gunaratna, who has written books on al Qaeda and JI, played down the
possibility of such attacks by regional militant groups.

"There are no groups in Southeast Asia that are capable of attacking
the Internet at this point of time," he told reporters.

"But there are a number of terrorist groups that are using the
Internet very effectively to distribute propaganda, to recruit, to
raise funds and to coordinate terrorist attacks," he said.

They include JI, al Qaeda's franchise in Southeast Asia, he said.

Noordin Mohammad Top, a Malaysian suspected of masterminding bombings
on the Indonesian holiday island of Bali last year, is currently
leading JI's operations.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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