DATE=5/12/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUNDER TITLE="LOVE BUG" & CYBER-WAR NUMBER=5-46307 BYLINE=JIM RANDLE DATELINE=ROSSLYN, VIRGINIA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Experts in cyber-war say the conflict in Kosovo and the recent "love bug" virus that affected computers worldwide mark the beginning of a new era of information warfare. They say future conflicts will see a wider and more deadly use of computers as weapons. Some experts also say computer conflicts will likely have a much greater impact on the daily lives of ordinary people, even in peacetime. V-O-A's Pentagon correspondent, Jim Randle, reports. TEXT: Computer experts say NATO forces launched the fiercest computer attack in history on Serb communications, air defenses and military activities during last year's war in Yugoslavia. But cyber-war expert Kevin O'Brien says Western forces could have -- and should have -- done much more with information warfare, which he calls "I-W." /// 1st O'BRIEN ACT /// While NATO enjoyed many tactical successes using I-W in the conflict with Yugoslavia, I-W failed because it was never fully employed. /// END ACT /// Mr. O'Brien is a scholar who follows computer and military issues closely from King's College in London. He spoke at a professional seminar near Washington (Friday). During the war in Kosovo, he says, NATO's cyber- warriors had many computer programs and techniques that could be used as weapons, including "exotic" software that could confuse critical military computers running Serb air defenses. /// 2ND O'BRIEN ACT /// Planners devised schemes to insert false messages and targets into the [Serbian] centralized air-defense command network. These, however, were never fully implemented, due to political hesitation. /// END ACT /// Mr. O'Brien says political timidity by national leaders meant that only about one-tenth of such computer weapons saw any action. He says computer hackers from U-S intelligence agencies located huge foreign bank accounts owned by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, and kept track of them even after the conflict was over. Concerns about causing economic chaos and legal questions once again kept the agents from taking action, such as emptying the bank accounts. Mr. O'Brien argues that such concerns are misplaced. In his view, if cyber-war had been more effective, there would have been much less need for traditional bombs and bullets -- and the deaths they cause. Meantime, historian Daniel Kuehl [pron: KEEL] says future armed conflicts will certainly see much more use of information and computers as weapons. /// KUEHL ACT /// ...Because the information component of national power is becoming increasingly important to, let me say, dominant in global business, global politics, and the art and practice of warfare. /// END ACT /// Professor Kuehl teaches classes in information warfare to military and government officials at the National Defense University in Washington. Government and military computers are not be the only targets in this new age of information attacks, according to computer scientist Dorothy Denning. The Georgetown University professor says the recent "love bug" computer virus cost billions of dollars by causing chaos for business, government and personal computer users around the world. She says this demonstrates the growing vulnerability that comes with the growing reliance on computers, particularly those linked to the World Wide Web. Ms. Denning says it is very convenient to have computers controlling electric grids, chemical plants, water supplies or hospital information systems -- but such convenience comes at a price. /// DENNING ACT /// In this kind of environment, the opportunities for mischief or really serious harm and damage ... explode from where they are now. Right now, cyber-space is not that closely coupled with the physical world. You can get hold of a lot of information, but you can't control a lot of processes. But I see that changing, and the threat is going to change with it. /// END ACT /// Computer warfare expert Kevin O'Brien says experts issued warnings months ago about computer viruses like the one that appeared this month, hidden in e-mail messages marked "I LOVE YOU." The rogue program hijacked the hard drive of anyone who opened a file attached to the e-mail message, by immediately sending electronic copies of itself to computers around the globe. The virus also copied victims' passwords, and many victims reported their private files were damaged. Mr. O'Brien says the next offensive computer program could hit even harder, because the hackers who write virus programs are becoming more skilled, and because more people are using vulnerable computers each day. (Signed) NEB/JR/WTW 12-May-2000 20:38 PM EDT (13-May-2000 0038 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .