Internet terrorism a grave threat

I remember the Cold War. We were taught in school to be ready for an "Atomic War" and given instruction on where to run and where to hide. That was scary stuff.

We are now facing terrorism in a new form, cyber attack. Iain Lobban, the director of Britain's top-secret GCHQ surveillance centre is concerned that this threat "goes to the heart of our economic well-being and national interest".

It has been explained that internet terrorism can occur when hackers perform "denial-of-service-attacks" which can disrupt your service and crash the servers.

What is cyber warfare?

A normal internet connection occurs when your system exchanges messages with a server. Your system "pings" the server with the serve acknowledging with a signal back to you. You establish the connection by responding to the server.

A "one-to-one denial-of-service attack" is when there a half open Internet connections. A system "pings" the service with a series that cannot be acknowledged. This can be because it is not a real address. The server tries to acknowledge, waits and finally gives up. Due to the volume of the half open connections the server is so busy it cannot accept any further calls, including the "real" one from your system.

"Distributed attacks" occur when tens of thousands of "pings" are sent from "zombie" computers taken over by a hacker(s).

The world leaders in cyber warfare are the Chinese. They regularly hold computer hacking competitions. The winners are recruited to join the Peoples' Liberation Army cyber specialists.

Beijing is aiming at being the world's undisputed cyber warfare super power by the middle of the century.