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Electronic Jihad rears its head, again
Published: 2007-11-02

A group sympathetic to the goals of militant Muslims has called for support in attacking financial Web sites and services on November 11, according to a security firm and an Israeli news site.

The would-be attackers plan to use a program, dubbed Electronic Jihad 2.0 by its creators, to level denial-of-service attacks against unnamed sites, according to security firm Secure Computing. While older versions of the attack program required users to manually input the targets, the latest version allows a central server to control who is attacked, said Paul Henry, vice president of Secure Computing.

Henry likened the network of systems created by the program to a "manual botnet."

"If you look at the translated site, they are talking about causing financial harm, so I assume they are talking about financial sites," Henry said. "Before it was primarily Israeli sites -- now they have claimed they are going after Western interests."

Whether the call for an electronic jihad is credible remains a significant question. The invitation to attack Web sites -- first reported by Israeli muckraking news site DEBKAfile -- would not the first time that bot masters have attacked networks for political reasons. In May, Russian hackers attacked government sites in Estonia, hobbling much of the northern European nation's network. However, past calls for electronic jihad have mostly lacked muscle: In 2004, a similar call failed to generate any threat, while news of another religious-inspired attack in 2003 turned out to be a hoax.

A member of the U.S. Secret Service had sent the public report of the attack to the Miami Electronic Crimes Task Force mailing list, said Secure Computing's Henry. However, a Secret Service spokesman would not comment on how seriously the security service was taking the report.

The DEBKAFile article stated that the group calling for electronic jihad claimed links to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, but produced no evidence that such a link exists.

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Posted by: Robert Lemos
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