Local News

N.C. State's Cyber Defense Lab Set Up To Keep Terrorists Offline

Posted April 24, 2003 8:46 a.m. EDT

— When people think of terrorism, most of them may think of physical attacks.

But a city's infrastructure, including sensitive government computer systems, is also vulnerable to terrorism.

When it comes to computers, most users may worry about things like e-mail viruses and spam. But the federal government and private companies have a lot more at stake when it comes to protecting their networks.

That's why professors and graduate students at N.C. State are working to unplug cyberterrorists.

"Cyberterrorism, I guess, would be an extreme form of hacking," said Douglas Reeves, a computer technology professor at N.C. State.

While hacking is merely a nusiance, cyberterrorism can obliterate a computer system.

"An example of cyberterrorism would be somebody trying to take down the Internet, so that nobody could reach anybody using the Internet," Reeves said. "Another example if things come to pass is the telephone network. Someone might try to disrupt the operation of the phone systems."

N.C. State has opened a Cyber Defense Laboratory on Centennial Campus. The lab gives students and faculty the tools to develop secure computer systems.

Four faculty members and 27 graduate students in the lab are working on research projects for the federal government and private companies. They say their biggest challenge is developing security for wireless systems.

"We need to not be alarmist or panicking," Reeves said. "But we need to be seriously concerned, because we rely more and more upon computers and networks to do our daily activities."