Cyber Terrorism Research Paper

  • Length: 13 pages
  • Sources: 6
  • Subject: Terrorism
  • Type: Research Paper
  • Paper: #88428814

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Cyber Terrorism

The Internet that we know today and use in our everyday lives was founded in the early 1970s. But all through the Cold War, the apprehension of data theft led to the Internet becoming a decentralized system. But it was not until the late 1980s when the Internet, after years and years of research was made available to public. This was a big change because now anyone in the public could gain access of huge amount of data from anywhere in the world. The following list tells us how Internet can be used to spread evil, and assist terrorist organizations to apply more danger and fear to the world. According to Weimann (2004), the Internet has:

- easily approachable

- no single controller or regulator to control or censor information

- the makings for widespread spectators all round the globe

- the power for the user to remain anonymous

- quick access to information

- little installation and usage costs

the ability to combine multimedia (such as graphics, texts, video and audio) and gain access to multiple types of data (such as applications, books, movies and posters, etc.)

- affected the way we communicate and transfer information over mass media.

There is nothing different between the physical form of terrorism and cyber terrorism except that computer are used to carry out assaults. Hacking into FBI or CIA central to intimidate the American public could be perceived as cyber terrorism. Another instance could be gaining access to patients' medical records and alter them in a way that could be detrimental to the patient's health. According to a research in 2003, the forecasted e-commerce expected through the Internet was such that without it, the world economy would have suffered a loss of 6.5 billion in transactions (Coleman, 2003, p.2).

When we attempt to classify cyber terrorism, it can be done through two means, either internet-based or effects-based. Whenever the attack is done with the objective to harm and cause serious economic destruction, it is known as internet-based attack. On the other hand whenever the attacker is intends to produce fear, as it is done in an orthodox terrorist attack, it is said to be an effect-based attack. In line with the Army (P. II-1 and II-3, 2005), low levels of (1) secrecy, (2) integrity, (3) availability, along with (4) physical destruction are the four main aims of a cyber attack.

The growth rate of the usage of technologies like Internet as well as other telecommunication tools by the terrorists is increasing day by day. The reason behind this increase could be the substantial physical border security, which leaves no other option for the extremists to attack the United States, except using internet and other similar weapons. In doing so, the terrorists group is emphasizing on formulating bonds with criminal organizations along with heightening their IT skills, so that a cyber attack can be executed perfectly. The credit card frauds and collection of money are the two major tools which are used by the terrorist groups to generate funds which could be invested in the execution of a cyber attack (Pladna, 2007).

The alliance between the terrorists and cybercriminals might be increasing rapidly. This is true particularly in the areas of South Asia and Middle East, so that the smuggling of arms and drugs, and the global movement of money can be performed without any hurdle (Rollins & Wilson, 2005). The ultimate goal of the terrorists of these partnerships with cybercriminals could be the continuous improvement of their IT skills; moreover, the cooperative drug trading could also enable them access to extremely competent computer programmers (Pladna, 2007).

The presence of the terrorists and their allies along with their huge information technology workforce was also witnessed at the time of subway and bus bombings in England, in July 2005 (Pladna, 2007).

There may however be difficult and confusing situations whereby it is actually complicated to distinguish between a normal hacker who is a cyber criminal or an actual attack which may be a cyber terrorist. The major issue with the terrorist attacks is that they search for loop holes in order to plot for attacks in future. Whereas the cyber terrorists' main motive is to search for instances where they can earn money and gain something out of the situation. The FBI has been successful in recognizing cyber crimes and reported that the internet criminal activities are basically targeted towards compromising the email accounts or defacing and logging onto different websites (Pladna, 2007).

The overload of information has however caused these network attacks to come up as one of the major problems. It was stated by Lourdeau (2004) that the FBI suggested that in the near future, trends will be seen whereby the terrorists will implement their activities through other hackers for the sole reason of complimenting the entire process of conventional internet crimes and attacks. According to the discovery of Muller (2007), in recent times, the Yearly Assessment of the threats reflect that that the terrorists have started making increasing usage of the internet as a medium of communication. Furthermore, their source of plotting out attacks, proselytize and hire as well as fully train the hackers so as to be a source of help in financial terms as well as in logistics in the entire criminal process. This is turning out to be a major source of concern for the FBI and needs to be monitored strictly.

According to IBM, in the year 2005, the statistics of threats to computer securities had almost doubled and had become a major concern for the government and its related agencies because this was becoming quite dangerous. Due to these increases, it has become quite an issue in order to clearly draw a line between a cyber criminal activity and an actual attack inflicted by a terrorist. Thus the United States along with other countries is working on devising laws to put a stop to such activities. However, by the current results it may be suggested that there might be growing trends in these attacks since they are gradually pacing up and are spreading out. This may prove to be too large for the government agencies to cater to if these statistics keep up and nothing is done about them (IBM, 2005).


The word "terrorism" has no particular definition generally accepted all around the world up till now. Similarly, the word "Cyber terrorism" has no particular explanation generally accepted worldwide. Owing to the complications determining with confidence the intent, identity, or the political enthusiasms of the enemy, it is challenging to label a computer intrusion as "Cyber terrorism" (Rodriguez, 2006).

Cyber terrorism has been defined to be based on the impact of an intrusion, by few security specialists. Though it is not commenced with any political intention by criminals, built-in activities, where computers are embattled result to be disruptive and devastative enough to cause panic as compared to a usual act of terrorism (Rodriguez, 2006).

Cyber terrorism are defined, in this "effects" view, as computer attacks that are inadequate in extent yet, but may cause death, airplane crashes, injury, contamination of water, wide power outages or loss of confidence in some parts of the economy. Cyber terrorism can obtain the shape of a physical intrusion that demolish mechanical nodes used for vital communications, as stated by some on-lookers, which includes telecommunications, internet as well as the electric power grids, devoid of touching keyboards. Also a few federal spokespersons have declared the cyber security engraves transversely all features of critical communications protection. Furthermore, cyber operation cannot be divided from the physical features of businesses due to their inter-reliant function (Rodriguez, 2006).

At the end "Cyber terrorism" can be classified, by the above theory of effects and intents, as the usage of computer as targets, or weapons, by politically enthusiastic sub-national sets, international, or concealed agents who cause violence and destruction. Their intention to manipulate the viewers, or make government a reason to modify its strategies. This description, covering a number of ideas about cyber terrorism incorporates all three techniques for computer attacks; named as follows (Rodriguez, 2006):

1- Physical Attack

2- Electronic Attack (EA)

3- Computer Network Attack (CNA)

Methods employed in a Cyber Attack

The computer attacks when defined, take into account any activity headed against computer systems that disturbs the tasks carried out by them, alters their processing control, or harms the data stored in them. The attack methods, based on their type, vary in targeting weaknesses and have various armaments. A number of these techniques may be falling under the present capacity of a few terrorist organizations. Three different techniques of assault are named, depending upon the effects of the arms utilized. Nevertheless, the growth of technology may start to diminish the differences among them (Rollins and Wilson, 2007).

The methods are as follows:

A physical attack is the one having the use of orthodox weapons against a computer station or its communication lines.

An electronic attack (EA) comprises the exploiting the…

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