Businesses are being warned they will be in the firing line when the war against terrorism breaks out.
Business in the firing line
Experts at Globalcontinuity.com say a 'significant proportion' of the war will be fought on a 'hidden battlefield' - computer systems - with businesses becoming important targets.
A spokesman said: 'The threat is real. Bin Laden's terrorists have proved to be very adept in the use of technology and it is almost inconceivable that they will not have identified the Internet and direct hacking as powerful terrorist tools. An information war will be fought, utilising new and powerful computer viruses; probably types never seen before.
'The military and government systems will be prime targets, but businesses will be high on the list - terrorists tend to fight by erosion, hacking away at the economic base of their enemies.'
Companies are being urged to tighten up security measures now to protect them from hackers.
Globalcontinuity.com cite the rise in tension between China and Taiwan a year ago, when it was reported both countries had developed thousands of viruses aimed at destroying each other's information processing and communications capabilities.
The spokesman added: 'Should such an information war occur, it would not be localised. As we have seen recently with the Code Red and Nimda viruses, there would be a major risk of computer viruses spreading rapidly round the world via the Internet, with potentially severe consequences for the continuity of businesses worldwide.'