Panel: Future attacks on U.S. info systems likely

Leaders of a federal commission told the House Armed Services Committee yesterday that attacks on United States information systems by small terrorist groups are likely to threaten the country's national interests in the next 25 years.

They also suggested that national security strategy in the future should address the threat of electronic attacks on the infrastructure that supports financial markets and aviation.

The panel, representing the United States Commission on National Security/21st Century, included former Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colo.), former Sen. Warren Rudman (R-N.H.), former Atlanta Mayor and United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, and Norm R. Augustine, the former chairman and chief executive of Lockheed Martin Corp.

In an interview after the hearing, Augustine said electronic or information attacks in coming years might do damage equal to "weapons of mass disruption"—assaults that could have an "enormous disruptive impact on our lifestyles." He said he did not believe the United States was preparing well enough to defend against such cyberattacks.

Yesterday's hearing followed the release last month of a commission report assessing the probable state of the international security environment over the next 25 years. The report predicted that America's growing dependence on knowledge-based technology will create "new vulnerabilities" to attacks using advanced technologies.

Commission members will release a second report laying out a new national security strategy in April. In March 2001, the commission will release a more detailed plan for making that strategy a reality. The commission's first report appears online at www.nssg.gov.

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