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September 2004

U.S. critical infrastructure security: Highlighting critcal infrastructure threats

Somewhere in Pakistan's mountainous interior, U.S. and Pakistani operatives last spring discovered a laptop with detailed reconnaissance of American targets. Al Qaeda apparently spent years carefully staking out the headquarters of several high-profile financial firms--Prudential, Citigroup, NYSE, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. It was a chilling materialization of Osama bin Laden's 2001 edict: "Concentrate on hitting the U.S. economy through all possible means." The Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) wasted no time alerting its members to the threat, even though the intelligence pointed to a physical attack rather than a cyber-strike. "You can't just look at this as a threat of a physical attack. If you have a physical attack that involves cyber-assets, it's considered a cyberattack," says FS-ISAC chairperson Suzanne Gorman. Al Qaeda's objectives were clear: Attack rich and visible components of the nation's critical infrastructure to disrupt the U.S. economy, undermine ...

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