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U.S.: Al Qaeda Eyeing Cyber Threats

Cyber-security threats such as phishing and identity theft are a major headache for businesses, and there is now a possibility that groups such as al Qaeda will use these techniques to fund terrorist activities, warned 9/11 Commissioner Jamie Gorelick at the RSA Conference in San Francisco.

"Criminal enterprises' use of cyber tools to steal identities and funds is growing," she told a meeting of the Cyber Security Industry Alliance. "The nexus to terrorist organizations hasn't been proven, but historically, terrorist organizations have funded their activities from any number of criminal activities."

Now it appears that government agencies are getting nervous about groups such as al Qaeda resorting to such methods. "It's a fair level of concern within the law enforcement community that that nexus will occur," said Gorelick.

These sentiments were echoed by Richard Clarke, the former Special Adviser to the President for Cyber Security. Clarke urged the public to dispel any mental images of al Qaeda as low-tech tribesmen wandering the Hindu Kush.

"A lot of the people that have been arrested have advanced degrees in computer science," he said. "They have hacker tools on their desktops."

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