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Security experts are saying that a reported al-Qaeda cyber jihad attack planned against Western institutions should be treated with skepticism.
The attack was reported by DEBKAfile, an online military intelligence magazine. Citing anonymous "counter-terror sources," DEBKAfile said it had intercepted an Oct. 29 "Internet announcement," calling for a volunteer-run online attack against 15 targeted sites, set to begin Nov. 11. The operation is supposed to expand after its launch date until "hundreds of thousands of Islamist hackers are in action against untold numbers of anti-Muslim sites," the magazine reported.
Such an attack could be launched with a known software kit, called Electronic Jihad Version 2.0, said Paul Henry, vice president of technology evangelism with Secure Computing. This software, which has been in circulation for about three years, has recently become more easily configurable so that it could be more effective in a distributed denial of service attack, such as the one suggested by the DEBKAfile report.
Attackers would download Jihad 2.0 to their own desktops and specify the amount of bandwidth they would like to consume, not unlike the SETI@home software package used to scan for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.