- April 28, 2020
CYBER TERRORISM 1
Information technology (IT) based systems have proliferated amongmodern economies. Notably, the increased reliance upon such setupshad created new risks and vulnerabilities (Hua & Bapna, 2013). Infact, information security has become one of the foremost globalissues. Terrorists and other criminal organizations have routinelysought to attack their adversaries by exploiting the vulnerabilitiesof the technological systems. Such opportunists aim to destroy theenemy’s physical and moral capacities (Hua & Bapna, 2013). Actsof terrorism are usually instigated against civilians, who may not bethe true targets. However, the assault on civilians is intended toinfluence other parties to act in a certain manner. In manyinstances, terrorists exercise superiority over their victims due totheir fearlessness. Hence, they manifest superiority inresource-intensive warfare (Hua & Bapna, 2013). Cyber terrorismrefers to the use of networking and computing technologies with theintention of causing harm. Attacks are usually instigated tointerfere with the social or political functioning of an importantorganization. The economic setup of a critical group may also comeunder threat. Cyber terrorism may aim to create panic among people inan area or region (Hua & Bapna, 2013). Such attacks also have thepotential to induce widespread physical violence.
TheIncidence of Cyber Terrorists
Common hackers may desire to access and modify resources, files, anddata without exercising proper authorization. They may also seek toprevent bona fide users from using information systems. Commonhackers may be motivated by curiosity, peer recognition, andaddiction to network interference (Hua & Bapna, 2013).Additionally, they may want to reap economic benefits as well as gainpower over their victims. On the other hand, terrorists arereligiously or politically motivated to carry out severe attacks.Hence, they aim to manifest their technological capabilities to theirfinancial and political supporters (Hua & Bapna, 2013).Furthermore, cyber terrorists could desire to demonstrate theirexistence to members of the community. Such criminals exploit thegrowing interdependencies and interconnectedness of criticalinfrastructure sectors to cause adverse harm (Ahmad & Yunos,2012). In many instances, they target government systems to capturethe attention of political leaders. In this respect, such criminalscoerce rulers to participate in negotiations where the latter’sgrievances are discussed (Hua & Bapna, 2013). Some cyberterrorists include groups such as Islamic State, Hamas, andAnonymous. Therefore, cyber terrorists are different from commonhackers and other virus programs in that the former desire to causeextreme financial harm and induce physical violence.
The threat of cyber terrorism is exacerbated by the incredibleability of criminal organizations to raise funds. Notably, theInternet provides various platforms through which individuals cansubscribe to particular ideologies. Terrorists spread theirpropaganda on social media and other networks to radicalize andexploit sympathizers. Plenty of disillusioned people may feel theneed to make financial contributions towards harmful ideologies. Someorganizations and states such as Russia, North Korea, and Iran havealso been accused of sponsoring terrorism (Gross, Canetti, &Vashdi, 2016). Hence, criminal outfits can acquire plenty ofresources within a short time. Cyber terrorists manifest adeep-seated willingness to utilize such funds in their attacks (Hua &Bapna, 2013). Moreover, such criminals can acquire design informationon particular information systems. In this regard, cyber terroristsuse consultants and other experts to identify vulnerabilities intargeted areas (Hua & Bapna, 2013). The unlimited access tocommercial resources also increases the potential for widespreadharm.
Cyber terrorists are emboldened by the positive feedback from theirlocal communities. In fact, such criminals are customarily regardedas heroes. Individuals who join radical groups thrive from theoutpouring of popular support (Hua & Bapna, 2013). They may alsoimagine that their participation constitutes service to the localcommunity. The threat posed by cyber terrorists is accentuated by thefact that they may be highly educated. Unsurprisingly, computerliteracy adds to their capabilities. Terrorist organizations have thepower to recruit and fund educated individuals (Hua & Bapna,2013). Subsequently, these radicalized persons can be trained in thefundamentals of computer security to become more destructive.
Mobile devices have also emerged as a potential target for cyberterrorists (Dawson & Omar, 2015). Some of the malware programsthat are usually used to hack into smartphones include Trojan,botnet, toolkit, malvertising, and worms. Many users undermine thethreat posed by cyber terrorism and hence avoid installing securitysoftware (Dawson & Omar, 2015). Spam emails are also used toinfiltrate into smartphones. Cyber terrorists take advantage of thelax attitude of many users. The absence of installed software alsoenhances the nature of security threats. Unwittingly, some userssupply personal information to phishing scams designed to infiltratetheir privacy (Dawson & Omar, 2015). Notably, people use varioustypes of devices and operating systems. Moreover, increasing rates ofdata consumption have provided cyber terrorists with additionalvectors to attack (Dawson & Omar, 2015). Legitimate forms of spysoftware have been exploited to steal information from unsuspectingusers. Some of these applications include FlexiSpy, mobile e-commerceapps, and advertisement libraries (Dawson & Omar, 2015).Consequently, the privacy and confidentiality of personal informationhave come under additional threat.
Besides, cyber terrorism has increased due to the lack of eForensicexpertise and skills (Kundi, Nawaz, Akhtar, & MPhil Student,2014). Developing countries lack the sufficient number of skilledmanpower needed to tackle the incidence of such attacks. Thesenations are also impaired by the Pirated software has also been usedto prevent infiltration of computer networks. Developing countriessuch as Pakistan, Malaysia, China, Brazil, and India have manifestedrapid growth of consumer ICT markets (Kundi et al., 2014). Providingcyber security is especially challenging due to the use of piratedsoftware. In some countries, 70% of the programs installed byindividual users are pirated (Kundi et al., 2014). Such forms ofsoftware are more vulnerable to cyber attacks in the form of Trojans,malware, and viruses.
Cyber terrorists can attack several systems to spread theirpropaganda and cause panic. For example, they can interfere with gasand oil production, storage, and transportation. Cyber terrorists canalso attack water supply systems (Hua & Bapna, 2013). Electricalpower grids may also come under severe threat. In addition, cyberterrorists facilitate identity theft and hence sully the reputationof prominent people. They can also hack hospital records and alterpatient blood types to cause immunological reactions. Criminals mayinterfere with flight data to cause collisions among airplanes(Kenney, 2015). Cyber terrorists have hacked banking and financesystems to create uncertainty and destabilize money markets (Hua &Bapna, 2013). Consequently, large corporations and developedeconomies have suffered significant losses.
Cyber terrorists perpetrate organized crime by commercializing stolenintelligence (Kundi et al., 2014). For example, criminals trade bankaccount details for up to $125 while credit card data is sold for $30for every card. Also, email account information is sold for $12.85(Kundi et al., 2014). In many instances, confidential intelligence isused to perform illegal transactions. Online purchases of bannedsubstances may also be financed using stolen credit cards. In somecases, medication formulas in drug manufacturing facilities have beenchanged to place consumers at risk. Cyber terrorists have alsoobtained and used privileged information to cause harm (Al-Garni &Chen, 2015). For example, details concerning the location andmovement of soldiers have been shared with other malicious groups(Hua & Bapna, 2013). Consequently, many troops have becomesubjected to sustained, deadly attacks. Besides, cyber terroristshave manipulated the opinion and perception of people in variouslands. Revelations of hidden scandals have exposed governmentofficials and changed the political direction. Cyber terrorists mayalso threaten socioeconomic ideals fundamental to the functioning ofa particular economy.
TheValue of Anonymity
Anonymity enhances the potential threat due to cyber terrorism.Notably, criminal organizations seldom need to be physically presentin areas where potential attacks are planned. In this regard, cyberterrorists use IP-change methods and proxy servers to conceal theiridentities (Hua & Bapna, 2013). Hence, government officials andother investigative units can neither track nor capture suchcriminals. Notably, relatively fewer individuals are needed toperpetrate cyber terrorism. In many instances, criminals sendvirus-infected e-mails designed to compromise information systems anddestroy data (Hua & Bapna, 2013). Proper function may also behindered when computer worms infiltrate a secure network.
Cyberspace has emerged as a fertile ground for aspiring terroristsdue to the lack of proper boundaries (Moslemzadeh Tehrani, AbdulManap, & Taji, 2013). Government agencies face tremendouschallenges while tracing the origin of these transactions (Kundi etal., 2014). Consequently, it is quite impossible to determine thecountries that fail to suppress cyber terrorists. Nations mustcollaborate with each other and share information to identifycriminals (Moslemzadeh Tehrani et al., 2013). Physical barriers andcountry borders do not deter cyber terrorists from launching attacks.
Viable Solutions to
Organizations can modify their breach function sensitivity to wardoff against the threat of cyber terrorism. In this regard, entitiescan improve the quality of their security configuration andadministration (Hua & Bapna, 2013). Enhancing the breach functionsensitivity can also decrease the likelihood of suffering networkbreaches. Organizations can also adopt a holistic approach tosecurity and hence safeguard sensitive data (Dawson & Omar,2015). Service providers must be pushed to protect the informationcontained in all types of devices and operating systems. Smartphoneusers can also purchase software programs such as Lookout Premium,ESET Mobile Security, Kaspersky Mobile Security, and BullGuard MobileSecurity to protect their data (Dawson & Omar, 2015). On theother hand, national governments can focus on the deterrence.
Admittedly, it is impossible to influence the preference of cyberterrorists. This is because the role played by an organization inensuring national security determines the nature of its adversaries(Hua & Bapna, 2013). Legal frameworks could be implemented toincrease the deterrence level. Consequently, cyber terrorists willreap fewer rewards and incur higher costs if they desire toinfiltrate a particular system. Stakeholders from various fields mustcombine their efforts to establish a viable policy of cyber security(Dawson & Omar, 2015). In many instances, criminals manifest awillingness to lose their lives to cause more harm to innocentcivilians (Hua & Bapna, 2013). Therefore, more strategies shouldbe implemented to thwart the efforts of cyber terrorists.
Additionally, improving the detective and preventive controlmechanisms of computer systems can enhance information security. Suchinitiatives serve to increase the breach function sensitivity (Hua &Bapna, 2013). In particular, detective control measures focus on thestrength of intrusion detection systems. On the other hand,preventive control factors comprise of cryptography, socialengineering management policies, and access control. Antiviruses canalso be installed to bolster the computer’s firewall (Hua &Bapna, 2013). Notably, these actions can reduce the probability ofsuffering intrusions.
Moreover, organizations must reduce their administrative andtechnical vulnerabilities to enhance the sensitivity of the breachfunction. In this regard, entities must ensure that their softwareand hardware are configured using the appropriate settings (Hua &Bapna, 2013). The computer systems must also be advanced to tacklethe emergence of new threats. Vulnerable hardware makes it easier forcyber terrorists to hack and steal information (Kenney, 2015).Organizations should hire qualified personnel with extensiveexperience in providing network security (Hua & Bapna, 2013).Regular system checks can help to diagnose potential breaches andhence prevent further intrusion. Consequently, an organization canensure that its network is fortified against the threat of cyberterrorism.
Employees must also be educated on how to protect their data againstunauthorized access. In this regard, individual users can implementparticular strategies to avoid falling victim to cyber terrorism. Forexample, individuals can create strong passwords using a combinationof different characters (Ezeano, Ezeano, Peter, & Ezeano, 2016).Such details have to be changed regularly to avoid falling prey tocyber terrorists. Software such as Adobe readers, operating systems,and web browsers must be updated periodically (Ezeano et al., 2016).Users should also install anti-malware software to protect againstharmful programs. Ads and links on pop-up windows should be blockedand ignored, respectively. Individual users can avoid downloadingtools, applications, programs, and files from malicious websites(Ezeano et al., 2016). Employees should also remove any unknownapplication from their computer. Performing such actions will protectthe organization from cyber terrorists.
Governments should ensure that their societies are vibrant, peaceful,tolerant, and open (Heickerö, 2014) Citizens must live under theconditions that will allow them to flourish emotionally, physically,intellectually, and economically. Furthermore, authorities mustencourage social discourse and tolerance (Gross et al., 2016).Consequently, disillusioned individuals will feel less inclined tojoin terrorist groups. Similarly, the propaganda spread by terroristswill have little appeal. It may be necessary for governments todevelop probable perceptions of threat (Gross et al., 2016). In thismanner, authorities will protect communities and individuals fromsurprise attacks.
Nevertheless, governments should avoid fostering insecurity since itcreates an endless cycle of violence (Gross et al., 2016). Sincecyber terrorism targets civilians, many people support the use ofmilitary retaliation. Civilians subjected to the effects of an armedconflict may require authorities to apply lethal methods.Nonetheless, pacifism does not suffice to reduce the incidence ofcyber terrorism (Gross et al., 2016). In fact, deadly force does notguarantee the end of such attacks. Moreover, military action createsthe likelihood of escalation. The United Nations and other developedcountries are usually keen to avoid extended battles due to thethreats posed to civilians (Gross et al., 2016). Consequently,governments must exercise caution while determining how to respond tohostile cyber terrorism.
Surveillance has been touted as a probable method of identifying andtracking cyber terrorists. Admittedly, privacy allows people topreserve confidential details, communicate without duress, and buildpersonal profiles (Gross et al., 2016). Hence, implementingsurveillance programs threatens to inhibit the occurrence of freespeech. It may also discourage civilians from stating their fears andconcerns (Gross et al., 2016). In this manner, political oppositionis suppressed while dissenters refrain from organizing eventsanonymously. Information flow is also essential to ensure thecreation of a well-functioning society. On the other hand,surveillance can enhance the population’s safety (Gross et al.,2016). Intelligence agencies and law enforcement authorities couldimpair cyber terrorists if they had full access to the content ofsocial media and emails.
Governments can consider a range of actions to deal with the threatof cyber terrorism. For example, criminal prosecution can be used tosafeguard human and national security (Gross et al., 2016). Capturedterrorists can be arraigned in court and prosecuted using liveproceedings. Such public trials will deter other criminals fromperpetrating cyber-related attacks. Counter-espionage can also beused to acquire background information on these terrorists (Gross etal., 2016). Hacking into the personal files of a criminal can help toreveal his identity. Consequently, it would be easier to plan forhow to exploit any weaknesses and hence encourage a change ofbehavior. Cyber terrorists are usually complacent since they assumethat their systems are foolproof. Multilateral cooperation amongvarious countries can help to combat transnational incidents of crime(Moslemzadeh Tehrani et al., 2013). Therefore, government agenciescan achieve some measure of success if they attempted to hack cyberterrorists.
Indeed, cyber terrorism has the potential to cause panic andinstigate violence. Criminal organizations target innocent civiliansdue to their increased vulnerability. Cyber terrorism intends tocause widespread harm to national governments and large institutions.The lax attitude of smartphone users also exposes them to securitybreaches. Such criminals exploit the weaknesses in computer systemsto steal data, alter information, and breed discord. In this regard,cyber terrorists hack into patient records, military databases, andbanking systems. Oil production and transportation operations alsohave a high likelihood of suffering breaches. Cyber terroristscustomarily use social media and other platforms to spread theirpropaganda and recruit sympathizers. The threat posed by criminalorganizations is manifested in their ability to raise funds andacquire technological resources. They also exploit the platform ofanonymity to conceal their identities and launch remote attacks.
Cyber terrorists also have political and religious motivations.Hence, the nature of their attacks reflects their purpose ofattracting attention. In some cases, cyber terrorists desire tocoerce the government into negotiations. Nevertheless, variousmeasures can be used to combat the threat of cyber terrorism. Forexample, organizations can use antivirus programs to buttress theirfirewalls. Staff members can also be taught on how to protect theirdata from intrusion. The computer network should undergo frequentreviews to highlight any loopholes that may be exploited byunscrupulous individuals. Regular updates should also be implementedto minimize the danger posed by new viruses. National governmentsmust utilize measures such as criminal prosecution andcounter-espionage to combat the threat posed by cyber terrorists.Notwithstanding, military retaliation can escalate the hostilitiesand place civilians in more danger. Stakeholders from various fieldsmust collaborate to create an international policy sufficient tocombat the incidence of cyber terrorism.
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