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Germany

Guarding Against Internet Terrorism

Germany has increased funding and staff of its internet security department, but some experts say that won't be enough

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Internet terrorists could hit anywhere at anytime

The attacks were vivid and obvious. Hijacked airplanes flew into buildings, destroying them in clouds of black smoke and fire and killing thousands of people.

The next attacks might not be so visual.

The possiblity that hackers could infiltrate a government or business computer system and wreak havoc has put officials and internet security experts in Germany on high alert.

The concern is that terrorists will go after the internet infrastructure dealing with “electricity, water, banks, every aspect of daily life,” said Michael Dickkopf, of the Department of Security in Information Technology.

To guard against the possibility, the department has increased its personnel and budget.

“We were already active before the Sept. 11 attacks, but now we’re going to get some more personnel and financial support,“ he said. That means adding 21 new bodies to a staff of about 350 people and a cash inflow of 15 million Euro.

But some experts think that might not be enough.

“It’s difficult for any authority to regulate an area as shifting and complex as the Internet,” Christoph Meinel, who heads the Institute of Telematik at the University of Trier, told Deutsch Welle Online. “The dangers, the threats change, which is difficult for an authority.”

No computer system is absolutely secure, and many don’t have the capabilities to fend off the most rudimentary attacks, say experts. Even Lock Keeper, a security component recently invented by Meinel’s institute has one major vulnerability: it can’t protect attacks from the inside.

“There are no specialists that can oversee the entire system,” Meinel said.

As a result computer security experts will have to play catch up, adapting to the various hacker strategies as they rear their heads, Meinel said.