Cyberterrorism can be considered as the use of tools of a computer networkin shutting down important national infrastructures such asgovernment operations, transportation, and energy among others.Sometimes, it may also be geared towards intimidating or coercing agovernment or a civilian population (Dawson and Omar 86). Much of theliterature on this concept assumes that the vulnerability of computernetworks as well as the vulnerability of critical infrastructures isthe same, and the vulnerabilities put national security at anoteworthy risk. The objective of the paper is to establish cyberterrorism methods and weapons, potential players in the field,ethical concerns and effects, as well as the protection measures fromcyber terrorism. In this research, secondary sources will be usedwhere books, journal articles, and periodicals will be utilized ingetting information.
Cyberterrorism emerges as an impending threat to America, or any othercountry that is advanced technologically. Also, nations havingprimitive technology may be adversely impacted by the ripple effect.With the increasing rise in technology, the threat of cyber terrorismis likely to become worse (Dawson and Omar 90). There are differentcyber terrorism methods and weapons that cyber-terrorists use, whichare discussed below.
Oneof the methods that cyber-terrorists use entails unauthorizedintrusions. This approach results in the loss of crucial andsensitive information that can cause great alarm to governments orbusinesses. Although intrusions were initially limited to organizedcrime and curious hackers, eventually, other groups have becomeinvolved in an attempt to access poorly-protected information forfinancial as well as other gains. For instance, in March 2001, theNIPC issued a caution that organized crime had made intrusions incyberspace. Another example is the series of intrusions referred toas Moonlight Maze in the U.S. government systems.
Theuse of worms constitutes another method that is used bycyber-terrorists in attacking. Worms such as Ramen, Code Red, andLion among others have been used to weaken the security of electronicinformation or even destroy it. The term worm and virus are usedsynonymously in describing malevolent and autonomous computerprograms. The approach of using viruses is viewed as a cost-effectiveway of destroying extensive information infrastructure.
Also,Domain Name Service (DNS) attacks comprise another weapon that thecyber-terrorists use. Computers that are connected to the internetusually communicate with each other through IP address. DNS describethe yellow pages which computers consult so as to obtain the mappingamid the name of a system and the numerical address of a system. Incase the DNS server provides an erroneous numerical address, theuser’s system connects to the incorrect server. The erroneousconnection is likely to be made without the user doubting theaddress. An attacker may distribute fake data with a successfulattack on a selected DNS server. A DNS attack prevents access to theoriginal website (Ching 102).
DistributedDenial of Service (DDoS) attacks is another method that can beutilized by cyber-terrorists. These attacks use armies of zombiemachines that are taken over and ran by a single master to controlthe resources of victims having floods of packets. Through preying ona weak security of home computer users, attackers have come up withways of planting malicious programs.
Incyber terrorism, there are different potential players who areinvolved in the attacks. Terrorist groups comprise one category ofthe players in this form of terrorism. Terrorists are recognized tobe extensively utilizing information technology as well as theinternet in devising plans, spreading information, raising funds, andcommunicating. For instance, Ramzi Yousef, liable for the firstbombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, had information concerningfuture terrorist plots stored on encrypted files on his laptop. Fromthe trend that is there, terrorist groups have been pointed to havethe possibility of using information technology in attackingsignificant infrastructure (Dawson and Omar 94). Another potentialplayer is a thrill seeker. Any conflict which emerges in cyberspaceis likely to attract a vast number of hackers whose main objective isto gain notoriety by engaging in high-profile attacks. Such group ofattackers may not be led by ideological or political zeal, but theymay be driven by the desire to obtain bragging rights concerningexploits. Furthermore, terrorist sympathizers may constitute anothergroup of potential players in cyber terrorism. From history,terrorist sympathizers have been involved in acts of terrorism so asto show their consolation to the terrorist groups. In case this trendcontinues, then this group can be perceived as a potential player incyber terrorism.
Cyberterrorism results in different effects and attracts ethical concerns.The effects of cyber terrorism include psychological, economical,sociological and emotional impacts. In any form of terrorism, peopleare left with fear since they tend to experience things that had notexpected. Researchers have argued that cyber terrorism makesindividuals suffer from anger and stress, which may contribute toshocks. For instance, when individuals discover that their privateinformation has been accessed by a third party, they become bitterand worried due to the nature of the information that may endangertheir lives (Maggio 48). Also, consider a scenario wherecyber-terrorists access crucial information and they ask for a fee inprotecting other parties from knowing the information. In suchinstances, people may suffer from stress and shocks that may evenresult in hospitalization of some individuals whose blood pressuremay worsen.
Economically,individuals, institutions, and a country become affected by cyberterrorism. Individuals and institutions may be required to paymillions of dollars to the cyber-terrorists as a ransom so as tocover threats that are made against them. In such a situation,individuals and institutions suffer losses that may not be recovered.Sometimes, such individuals may end up being poor because of thelarge amounts that they pay. Alternatively, institutions may incurhuge losses that contribute to the closure of operations. On theother hand, a country may also become impacted economically when itsinfrastructure system becomes affected. For instance, consider asituation where cyber-terrorists attack the transportation system ofa country. In such a scenario, the resources that a country obtainsthrough the transport system will not be earned. Thus, a country islikely to suffer economically as a result of cyber terrorism (Ching74).
Furthermore,cyber terrorism leads to unexpected social costs that are directed tothe public. When the infrastructure of an institution or a countrybecomes affected, institutions and the government have to incur costsas they try to replace the lost funds, lost revenue and implementinga more secure environment. The public is forced to pay higher fees inaccessing services and obtaining commodities so as to enable theinstitutions and the government put up a more secure security system(Colarik 84).
Theethical concerns that are involved in cyber terrorism are varied.Since cyber terrorism may affect different infrastructures, there aredifferent forms of ethical violations. One such ethical concern mayinclude access to private data. Each person has the right of keepingpersonal information private. However, cyber-terrorists infringe thisright since they access private data that they are not supposed topossess. For instance, cyber-terrorists may access confidentialhealth data of a person and distribute it to other parties, which canbe considered unethical. In another instance, institutions that areentrusted with keeping data of its users safe may violate the trustdue to the actions of cyber-terrorists. For example, banks areentrusted with keeping customer data safe, but cyber terrorism mayresult in accessing the private information of the customers (Akhgaret al. 96). In such a case, the institution may breach the duty ofkeeping the customers’ information secure, which is unethical.
Thereare varied measures that can be used in protecting individualsagainst cyber terrorism. It is important for people to acknowledgethat this kind of terrorism is not meant only to large corporationsand the government, but it can also be geared towards individuals.Through this initiative, individuals will learn to be proactive inprotecting their sites. One of the protection measures includeshaving a security model that can separate information into sensitive,critical, and public domain these categories should have appropriatesoftware/hardware security. Another measure entails having strongpasswords and firewalls between networks. Moreover, having anexcellent security policy and training employees how to applyeffectively it is an important measure (Akhgar et al. 98).
Inconclusion, cyber terrorism is real and is likely to increase in thefuture due to developments in technology. It may take the form ofmethods such as worms attack, Domain Name Service (DNS) attacks, andDistributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Cyber terrorism resultsin different effects and attracts ethical concerns. The effects ofcyber terrorism include psychological, economical, sociological andemotional impacts. Cyber-terrorists may access confidential data of aperson and distribute it to other parties, which can be consideredunethical.
Akhgar,Babak, Andrew Staniforth, Francesca M. Bosco, Steve Elliot, BenjaminRearick, Priya Kumaraguruparan, and Mark Rogers. CyberCrime and Cyber Terrorism Investigator`s Handbook., 2014. Print.
Ching,Jacqueline. Cyberterrorism.New York, NY: Rosen Central, 2010. Print.
Colarik,Andrew M. CyberTerrorism: Political and Economic Implications.Norwood Mass: Books24x7.com, 2006. Print.
Dawson,Maurice, and Marwan Omar. NewThreats and Countermeasures in Digital Crime and Cyber Terrorism., 2015. Print.
Maggio,Edward J. PrivateSecurity in the 21st Century: Concepts and Applications.Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2009. Print.