Cyber Terrorism and Other Cyber Attacks

Introduction

Inasmuch as the new technology is providing employment for numerous people across the world, it has its own negativities (Conway 26). The Internet has changed the face of modern terrorism. Cyber terrorism is believed to be politically instigated as politicians fund terrorists to sabotage and intimidate citizens in the quest to advance their agendas and propaganda. The vice continues to grow even as governments all over the world continue to formulate strategies aimed at countering the ill practice. This study paper will analyze the nature of cyber terrorism in the modern world and explore the relationship between politics and this form of terrorism. The paper will also discuss other forms of cybercrimes.

Cyber terrorism

Cyberterrorism is wide, and thus it cannot be captured under one definition. The controversy, in the definition, is caused by the changing nature of cybercrime activities. However, cyberterrorism conventionally refers to the illegal attacks and threats of attack to computer network infrastructures by hackers with the intent of intimidating or coercing the authorities or citizens with the sole aim of furthering political or social goals (Jones 5).

For an act to amount to cyber terrorism, it must be directed to a person or a group of persons, and it must be severe enough to cause sufficient harm that can instill fear to the targets. The United States Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) defines cyber terrorism as an illegal attack against computer network infrastructures and data stored therein by some undercover agents with the aim of intimidating the targeted groups (Stohl 236). The FBI links the vice to political animosity amongst political leaders. Cyber terrorism includes both the actual attack as well as threats to accomplish such attacks.

Apparently, the main objective of cyber-terrorist groups is to force governments to alter their policies. This assertion is evidenced by the recent trend in cyber-terrorism attacks that indicates great political involvement in the vice (Lachow 439). For example, in 1997, a terrorist group in China provisionally interrupted by a Chinese satellite. The group’s mission was to send a signal to the government that they were opposed to increasing western investment in the country (Nykodym, Taylor and Vilela 414).

A similar case befell Sweden in 1998 when terrorists hacked the Swedish right-wing moderate’s political party days before the election date. The same year, another group of terrorists invaded the network of the Mexican government protesting against corruption and impunity (Lachow 445). The above-described cases are clear evidence that politics play a major role in the rising cases of cyber terrorism.

According to experts in political science, cyber terrorism is meant to cause alarm and intimidate a targeted society coupled with influencing the aforementioned society into embracing an ideological goal. The FBI links cyber terrorism to politics, and it argues that terrorists only act as agents of political principals who use the intimidating society as a stepping-stone towards achieving a hidden agenda.

The invention of the Internet, coupled with the promulgation of social media networks, has contributed greatly to the severity of the vice. According to a report tabled by the United States Institute of Peace in 1998, an estimated 15 terrorist groups had active websites on the Internet by then (Stohl 229). The number doubled in 2000, and since then, there has been a tremendous rise in the number of websites owned by terrorist groups.

Many political analysts in the world have linked all kinds of terrorism to politics. Cyber terrorism is similar to traditional terrorism, with the only distinguishing factor being that the former is an automated form of crime. Just as the traditional terrorist used crude means to compel governments to alter their administrative policies, cyber terrorists use the Internet to intimidate governments and express their opposition towards certain strategies (Jones 4).

Cyber terrorism has a great economic impact on various governments all over the world. Given that cyber terrorism is politically motivated, it may at times target the economy of a nation with the objective of denying the government sufficient funds to conduct its business and thus compel it to listen to the hackers’ demands (Lachow 457). The US has been listed among the nations that use a huge amount of money towards securing their cyberspaces in an attempt to restore public confidence in the effectiveness of cyber activities.

Politically motivated cyber-terrorism targets public entities to disrupt government services, and thus force citizens to lose confidence over the ruling government (Conway 28). In most cases, such incidences aim at destabilizing the government or forcing the leaders to abandon or change certain policies. Tourists, who are a major source for revenue for governments, shy from visiting countries with cyber terrorism. This aspect is a major setback to the implementation of a 24-hour economic system that many nations across the world are fighting hard to achieve.

In such cases, politicians behind the attacks will have accomplished their ideological mission since governments will not have enough resources to implement their agendas effectively. The vice causes countries to lose huge amounts of money in the form of foregone taxes. It also denies young people employment opportunities, thus leading to increased crimes.

Cyber terrorists target public offices such as military bases, airports, railways, bus stations, and other public transportation systems (Jones 7). Terrorists may also target energy plants such as power and electricity plants, water plants, and gas plants in order to deny people access to such services. Other targets for the terrorists include police stations and medical setups coupled with fire and rescue stations (Stohl 233).

The attacks are meant to cause fear and intimidation to the targets. Disruption of the aforementioned entities may cause great losses on top of causing heightened fear amongst the public. Such attacks, if politically sponsored, will drive people into losing confidence with the ruling government, and in that case, the principals behind the attacks will have achieved their objectives.

Economic impact

Global governments lose a considerable amount of money through cyber terrorism. It is estimated that global governments lose up to $114 billion per annum out of cyber terrorism (Stohl 227). The loss is in the form of damages caused by hackers in the course of their terrorist activities. Cyber terrorism poses a great challenge to global security due to the ability of hackers to access secret information from the computer network infrastructure. For instance, leakage of information regarding military weapons and nuclear reactors may be of great impact to the security of a nation. In addition, hackers may invade the banking industry’s infrastructure, thus resulting in huge financial losses to the affected entities.

Other forms of cyber crimes

Other than cyber terrorism, which is believed to be politically motivated, there exist other forms of cybercrimes (Lachow 436). The most common forms of cybercrimes target data stored in computer systems with the aim of causing disruption to enable hackers to accomplish their mission, viz. data stealing. Contrary to cyber terrorists whose main objective is to destabilize the government, perpetrators of other forms of cybercrimes draw their inspiration from their personal interests.

In most cases, such criminals target business entities with the aim of disrupting operations. Others target financial institutions with the intention of stealing customers’ money (Jones 6). The Australian case of 2000 best illustrates the other categories of cybercrime. The case centered on an employee who was denied a chance to serve in a company in Australia. The employee, with the help of the Internet, managed to discharge approximately a million cubic meters of untreated sewage into the rivers and water bodies in Queensland.

Cyber insecurity leads to great losses to governments and other private organizations. A survey conducted in the US indicates that firms in the country spend 7-10% of their technology budgets in fighting cybercrime (Conway 27). In other countries like Nigeria, withdrawal of money from ATMs is quite risky since hackers may invade at any time, thus leading to loss of money.

Mitigation of cybercrime

Due to the Internet’s convenience and anonymity of the user, it is difficult to arrest the perpetrators of cybercrimes. However, most governments all over the world have formulated strategies aimed at minimizing such incidences. The US government has created the Military Occupational Specialty, which is a special unit within the army, charged with the responsibility of ensuring cyberspace security (Conway 26). The special force ensures that the security of military networks is secured at any cost.

The force is composed of specialists in IT and other experts in the field of crime deterrence. Training on cybersecurity is afforded to all personnel within the army courtesy of the Department of Defense (DoD) (Stohl 223). Other organizations such as the Continental United States Theater Network Operations and Security Center (C-TNOSC) have also joined the war against cyber terrorism in a bid to secure the army’s networks.

In addition, the US government has also implemented the Active Directory and the Common Access Card (CAC), which aims at modernizing the army and assisting in crime deterrence (Lachow 460). The implementation of a Host Based Security System (HBSS) has also boosted the security of cyberspace. The HBSS aims at increasing the security of the networks through behavioral and signature protection, coupled with ensuring timely detection of malicious invasions (Jones 4). The army’s network is further protected courtesy of the Enterprise Mail (Nykodym, Taylor and Vilela 408). The Enterprise Mail ensures that official emails are introduced to the system only through DoD.

Conclusion

The Internet has both positive and negative impacts on the modern world. It creates job opportunities for most young people in society, but it has led to an increase in criminal activities. Research indicates that traditional criminal groups have switched to the Internet due to the anonymity afforded via online platforms. In addition, crime through the Internet is cheap since no traveling is required.

Governments all over the world have adopted strategies aimed at mitigating the vice. However, most governments continue to lose huge amounts due to the vice even though the policies are in place. Though cyber terrorism is motivated by different factors, politics have been cited as the major cause of the crime. Politicians in the opposition tend to fund terrorists in furtherance of their political agendas. In most cases, politicians use crude means to destabilize governments and express their grievances.

Works Cited

Conway, Maura. “Against cyberterrorism.” Communications of the ACM 54.2 (2011): 26-28. Print.

Jones, Andrew. “Cyber terrorism: fact or fiction.” Computer Fraud & Security 5.2 (2005): 4-7. Print.

Lachow, Irving. “Cyber terrorism: Menace or myth.” Cyber power and national security. Ed. Franklin Kramer, Stuart Starr and, Larry Wentz. Dulles: Potomac Books, 2009. 434-467. Print.

Nykodym, Nick, Robert Taylor, and Julia Vilela. “Criminal profiling and insider cybercrime.” Computer Law & Security Review 21.5 (2005): 408-414. Print.

Stohl, Michael. “Cyber terrorism: a clear and present danger, the sum of all fears, breaking point or patriot games.” Crime, law and social change 46.5 (2006): 223-238. Print.