A fast-growing Web of fear As if the hackers weren't enough, now we've entered the age of push-button terrorism. Michal Revah reports on a conference dealing with the the implications of modern-day cyber-terror "Push-button terrorism" and "modern-day cyber-terror" in the first paragraph is a bad start. Buzz words and hype. "Kodak put its first camera on the market about a hundred years ago, with the slogan 'you push the button, we do the rest.' Today we have entered the age of 'mouse terrorism,' terrorism at the push of a button," says Prof. Yonah Alexander, director of the Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies (ICTS) of the Center for Technological Education - Holon and George Washington University Terrorism Studies Program, and one of the organizers of the conference on "Threats of the Technological Age."The conference, held on March 17-18 in Tel Aviv and Holon, integrated three areas specific to the modern age: cyber-terrorism; super-terrorism: biological, chemical, and nuclear; and the environment - global warming. Beyond the connection between these areas and the development of technology, these are dangers faced by the modern world, and they require interdisciplinary cooperation between scholars, governments and industry to at least offer ways to minimize damage. The first session dealt with terror and the Internet. Precise instructions on how to prepare bombs can be found on the Internet, and terror organizations use it to transmit information and even to recruit supporters. No one is surprised any more to hear about the Pentagon computers being hacked into, and the world banking systems claim that millions of dollars have been made to "disappear" by hackers. But activities by hackers may be considered criminal, at worst, or just a pain in the neck, at best. The same cannot be said for terrorist activity on the Net. Banks claiming that is counterproductive and definitely not on par. Banks have continually NOT reported any hacking incidents as it undermines their secure reputations. Today, the situation is still manageable. Colonel (Ret.) Marvin Leibstone, of the Computer, Security and Technology Studies Project in the U. S. looks ahead with anxiety. "The threat of cyber-terrorism is real, especially because of the sensitivity of our information systems, some of which have already become the target of break-ins. Today, it is much harder for conventional terrorists to wreak as much damage, as they used to in the past, because of standard security methods, for example such as those that exist in airports. That is why it has become much more important for terrorists to embrace remote control methods. A cyber-terrorist is anyone using electronic communications to control destructive action from afar. The threat has become global, because the world and our daily lives have become more and more dependent on sensitive information systems, and other international systems." A partial list of possible cyber-terrorist targets: an attack on the operation of electric, water, gas, television or telephone supplies; penetration into food or drug manufacturing firms to disrupt their production; interference with air or land transportation - concrete scenarios exist of how an air collision between two planes can be produced; disruption of communications between governments, which today is largely effected by electronic means; and military targets. Cyberterrorists can disrupt the data of intelligence units and interfere with intelligence operations. Data bases of different organizations can be penetrated, and use made of the data they contain; or public trust in these agencies or the information they provide can be undermined by compromising their data bases. They can even cause intentional disruptions of volcanoes, which are also dependent on electronic communications. Prof. Alexander adds: "On the basis of our studies, the challenges of the 21st century are very serious, and we are all in the same boat. There is no difference between nations or countries because of the globalization of the systems in use. An attack on international economics, for example, hurts all the countries of the world.", There has never been a cyberterrorist attack. "We always thought of Iran in connection with chemical weapons, and then there was the attack on the Tokyo subway with poison gas. We must think one step further, to anticipate what could happen. It is known that countries that support terror are directing their people to technological and computer studies in order to use their knowledge in the future. The Internet already serves as an arena for psychological warfare. We have to consider the dangers and the chances that the Internet will be used for terror." Scholars have an obligation, believes Alexander, to identify the dangers and indicate the possible ways to combat them. Scholars, along with those in industry and in the field of security, feel like cats chasing mice - the hackers, who are getting better all the time. Today, they can hack into computers faster than the industry or the universities can find solutions. That is one of the reasons the organizers of this conference felt the need to combine forces with others involved in the hunt, to raise awareness of the problem. This was the main purpose of the conference - the first of its kind held in Israel - as well as to create a meeting place for people from different fields. Among the 70 participants were representatives of foreign embassies in Israel, scholars - including six who came for the conference from the U. S. and Russia, industry representatives, led by Stef Wertheimer - the keynote speaker, members of the Knesset, military personnel and one police representative. People could be seen exchanging business cards. Woo Hailong, a political consultant at the Chinese embassy in Israel, and one of the participants in the conference, took a personal and professional interest in it. "Although it hasn't yet happened, the threat exists, and it must be studied. I imagine that I will present the subject to my embassy or government.".