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One of the greatest terrorism threats lies in cyber-space.


The modern menace could use the net to gain entry to all sorts of crucial infrastructure, and by shutting down one system cause a cascading effect, which could be devastating.

"What happens if there is a cascading effect on our interconnected network of cyber technology and the critical infrastructures of water, sewer, emergency response and transportation, food delivery (fail)?" said former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno this week at a terrorism and technology conference in Whistler.

"We must not wait for a cyber-space Pearl Harbor to strike us before we begin to take steps to protect our economic lifeblood."

Reno, who was paid $75,000 US to speak at the conference, was just one of the headline speakers.

The head of Canada’s spy agency, Ward Elcock also spoke, as did the former head of the FBI Louis Freeh.

All warned the over 370 delegates of the need to form partnerships between government security agencies and high tech business if the "net-wars" are to the won by the good guys.

They also encouraged all levels of government to start working together.

"There is more than enough to be done without worrying about turf wars and who gets the credit," said Reno.

On the Sunday before the conference the CBS news show 60 Minutes aired a segment which described Canada as a haven for terrorists.

The hallways of the conference buzzed with the fallout from the story.

Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Elcock panned the story, which was rooted in comments from a former employee of CSIS.

"Such people have sought to find a haven in Canada," he told conference attendees.

"Hardly surprising, given our reputation as with other wealthy Western democracies, for openness —both for money and people — along with one of the most multi-ethnic populations in the world drawn in part from areas of conflict around the world."

His sentiments were echoed by Louis Freeh, former director of the FBI.

"I don’t think that is a fair characterization and I certainly wouldn’t agree with that," he said.

"If you look at places where major terrorist attacks have taken place the nature of some of these groups, the al-Qaeda group in particular, which is active in 62 counties, uses people such as fishermen, teachers and store clerks for these particular operations.

"So I don’t think any country, and certainly not Canada, is accurately called a haven for terrorists.

"What Canada, and the United States, and all of our major countries are, are transit points for individuals who don’t fit the classic prototype of a terrorist."