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ADVISORY 01-020

"Increased Cyber Awareness"
September 14, 2001

The National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) expects to see an upswing in incidents as a result of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Increased hacking attacks are likely to have two motivations:

  • Political hacktivism by self-described "patriot" hackers targeted at those perceived to be responsible for the terrorist attacks. NIPC has already received reports of individuals encouraging vigilante hacking activity.
  • Virus propagation in which old viruses are renamed to appear related to recent events. One such incident has already been reported in which a new version of the life_stages.txt.shs virus was renamed wtc.txt.vbs to appear to be related to the World Trade Center.

The NIPC reiterates that the above conduct is illegal and punishable as a felony, with penalties extending to five years in prison. Those individuals who believe they are doing a service to this nation by engaging in acts of vigilantism should know that they are actually doing a disservice to the country.

To limit the potential damage from any cyber attacks, system administrators are encouraged to follow best practices to ensure the security of their networks. Some of the most basic measures are outlined below:

  • Increase user awareness
  • Update anti-virus software
  • Stop hostile attachments at the e-mail server
  • Utilize ingress & egress filtering
  • Establish policy and procedures for responding and recovery

For a more comprehensive security checklist please refer to the following sites:

  • www.cert.org/security-improvement
  • www.microsoft.com/technet/treeview/default.asp?url=/technet/itsolutions/security/tools/
    tools.asp
  • www.sans.org/topten.htm

Recipients of this advisory are encouraged to report computer intrusions to their local FBI office (http://www.fbi.gov/contact/fo/fo.htm) or the NIPC, and to other appropriate authorities. Incidents may be reported online at http://www.nipc.gov/incident/cirr.htm The NIPC Watch and Warning Unit can be reached at (202) 323-3204/3205/3206 or nipc.watch@fbi.gov