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Cyberattacks From Left Field

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By Gautham Nagesh April 17, 2009

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The Internet is buzzing about the release this week of a controversial report from DHS' Office of Intelligence and Analysis detailing the threat of returning military veterans being recruited by radical right-wing groups (think skinheads, Timothy McVeigh).

Here at Nextgov, we're more interested in the report's counterpart about left-wing extremists.

The report about the radical right warns against the rising danger of veterans who may be prone to violence and trained in combat skills. The greatest danger from the radical left? Non-violent activists who will use cyberattacks to push for animal rights and environmental protections. From the report:

DHS/I&A assesses that cyber attacks are attractive options to leftwing extremists who view attacks on economic targets as aligning with their nonviolent, "no-harm" doctrine and tactic of "direct action."

The report notes that cyberattacks should appeal to anarchists and other leftist groups because of the potential economic damage, without risking physical harm to any victims. Quite a distance from the right-wing report, which states

DHS/I&A assesses that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat. These skills and knowledge have the potential to boost the capabilities of extremists--including lone wolves or small terrorist cells--to carry out violence.

An interesting take on two very different groups of people. If I didn't know any better, I would think that the government doesn't believe left-wing radicals are capable of violence or that something like the Weathermen never existed. According to the report, if they did still exist, instead of bombing a weapons factory they would hire a hacker to take down the systems of Northrup Grumman or Lockheed.

Which begs the question: Aren't there any neo-Nazi hackers out there?

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