Cyber Terrorism: Meaning and Its Nature

Meaning of Cyber Terrorism

Cyber terrorism refers to attacking computers, networks, and other electronic technological capabilities to either damage the cyberspace infrastructure itself or to damage some other target, motivated by terrorism. Such attacks may undermine faith in government and in the security of the critical infrastructures of the country. It is well known that many terrorist groups such as Osama Bin Laden organization and the Islamic militant group Hamas have adopted new information technology as a means to conduct operations without being detected by counter terrorist officials.

Currently, the term cyber terrorism more often refers to the act of attempting to damage or exploit cyber networks and their connected computers or the act of attempting to use cyber networks (especially the internet) to wreak havoc and destruction on other targets, which they access through cyber networks.

The expression “cyber terrorism” includes an intentional negative and harmful use of the information technology for producing destructive and harmful effects to the property, whether tangible or intangible, of others. For instance, hacking of a computer system and then deleting the useful and valuable business information of the rival competitor is a part and parcel of cyber terrorism.

Nature of Cyber Terrorism Attacks

Cyber terrorism is the employment of computing resources to intimidate or coerce another (government) to achieve some political goals. Cyber attacks involve activities that can disrupt, corrupt, deny, or destroy information stored in computers or computer networks. Cyber terrorism attacks can be cyber attacks or physical attacks both affecting the informational infrastructure.

Information technology offers new opportunities to terrorists. A terrorist organization can reap-low-risk, highly visible payoffs by attacking information systems. By using cyberspace as the new conflict medium, terrorists can obviate the distance between themselves and their targets. They no longer need to be physically present at the location to execute acts of violence. Terrorists could target digital information systems in pursuit of political goals and in order to attract the attention of the public they could perpetrate their acts with the media at the forefront of their strategy.

By using the Internet, the terrorist can affect much wider damage or change to a country than one could by killing some people. It could range from disabling a country’s military defences to shutting off the power in a large area or disrupting the financial networks. The terrorist can thus affect more people at less risk to him or herself, than through other means. A terrorist organization intending to carry out an electronic attack needs to build up the necessary technical expertise and buy the equipment to disrupt, damage or destroy target information systems. Alternatively, it could always hire people proficient in network attacks.


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