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Cyber Security: Cyber Terrorism

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By samorakubari
Words 1810
Pages 8
Introduction
Cyber security refers to the practices and processes that are used in technologies such as networks, computers, information and programs from damages by unwarranted entities (Ahmad, Yunos & Sahib, 2012). There are different attacks towards technology which may distort information or be used to create tension in an organization. Information stored in computers has some level of privacy and this depends on the level of sensitivity that such information may have towards that organization. Business strategies, political discussions and government documents are some of the documents that require a higher degree of privacy. However, there are individuals who cause deliberate attacks on the information systems of organizations and governments in order to unlawfully access information or distort the meaning of such data. The intention of cyber attacks has led to the classification of these attacks into particular classes. For example, we have cyber bullying and cyber terrorism. Under cyber bullying, the attackers use technology to abuse and intimidate their targets. Cyber bullying has been common through the presence of the social media where an individual will use pseudo-accounts to publish half truths about others with a bid to embarrass them. On the other hand, cyber terrorism involves the use of technology to access vital government sites in order to cause harm and fear in the society through terrorism activities. Brunst (2010) indicates that cyber terrorist activities are in most cases politically motivated and the main of these secret operatives is to cause physical or psychological fear among the members of the public who are not armed.
Problem definition
There have been a lot of arguments concerning the presence of cyber terrorism and if these computer attacks are worth to be considered as terrorist attacks. Weimann (2004) indicates that cyber terrorism is an aspect that has been created by the media and politicians. Weimann (2004) argues that although there is the existence of cyber insecurity but to classify certain attacks on networks as terrorism is a populist move. This research therefore dwells on discerning the existence of cyber terrorism and how it is different from other forms of cyber attacks.
Findings
Cyber terrorism is a major concern with the Information technology sector. The increased synonyms that are associated with this subject are a clear representation of increased concern towards this subject. There are some researches that refer to this subject as either cyber harassment or cyber disruption. These varied synonyms are an indication that there has been more concern from the media and politicians over this subject. Talihärm (2010) indicates that increased activity towards cyber terrorism may lead to a myriad of information but this information could mislead the general public and stakeholders such as the Homeland Security. Weimann (2004) argues that cyber terrorism has been embraced by opportunistic politicians and business people in order to satisfy their own interests. The medium that these opportunists use in order to ensure that they achieve their selfish objectives is through the media. Weimann (2004) uses the 9/11 attack to validate the allegations of opportunists invading the issue of cyber terrorism to fulfill either economic or political interests. Weimann (2004) indicates that after the 9/11, the Bush government created the office of Cyberspace Security. Furthermore, the congress a request of $4.5 billion that was supposed to cater for development of infrastructure that could combat cyber terrorism (Weimann, 2004). However, Brunst (2010) is surprised that America was declared to be a target for cyber terrorism in the early 1990’s (Brunst, 2010). In fact during the presidential campaigns, Bush had indicated that American troops were under-funded in fighting terrorism (Brunst, 2010). During this time, he was not specific about cyber terrorism but came to react after the media had highlighted cyber terrorism as another form of terrorism. Conclusively, Brunst (2010) is on a mission to demystify the public relations that governments and agencies have used in creating confusion in regard to cyber terrorism.
Talihärm (2010) argument is also valid to this research. Talihärm (2010) indicates that most people especially those in the media have confused ‘hacktivism’ with cyber terrorism. Hacktivism is another way through which modern civil rights groups use to demonstrate their frustration with particular operations or conduct of government officials towards societal concerns. These civil right groups use anonymous accounts to disrupt normal operation of government sites. This is meant to create awareness about the issues that they are demonstrating against. For example, the United States was actively involved in the Iraq war and during this time recession was at greater magnitude (Talihärm, 2010). Most Americans could not service their mortgages (Talihärm, 2010). There were certain civil rights groups who were against the involvement of the United States government in an expensive war when there was an economic crisis. Considering that such groups had decided to attack government sites to express their frustration, does it fall within the domain of cyber terrorism? However, the media would be quick to refer to this as cyber terrorism.
The indications from the above argument are that the war against cyber terrorism is heavily funded by the government through agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation. However, there are certain misconceptions that are created by the media, politicians and other opportunities towards cyber terrorism. This situation could derail the war against cyber terrorism this is because institutions that are supposed to fight cyber terrorism will concentrate on simple hacking activities that could be handled with other units within the Homeland Security.
Recommendations
This research therefore notes that there are certain misconceptions that might derail the fight towards fighting actual events that define cyber terrorism. This research therefore recommends that institutions that are involved in cyber terrorism should understand some of the aspects that could classify a cyber attack to be an act of cyber terrorism. One of the common characteristic of cyber terrorism is that it is aimed at causing bodily harm or psychological fear to a greater extent. Therefore, authorities should consider the outcome of the cyber attack towards a network rather than the intention of the attack. Cyber attacks that could lead to the death of people could be classified as a cyber attack. For example, in case there is an attack on the network that controls air transport of a particular airline by unwarranted individuals, this is a form of cyber terrorism. This is because the outcome of this activity could lead to death and psychological fear of the people aboard one of the aircrafts. This is because it could lead to air accidents since these attackers could not have all the details that regard the routes hence leading to collisions between aircrafts. Therefore, authorities should concentrate on classifying acts of cyber attacks on the basis of an outcome from a possible cyber attack.
Consideration of cyber attacks as acts of cyber terrorism results in more work for the relevant authorities. It is not easy to contain both external and internal attack on network of the United States. Internally, there are a lot of hacking activities that could be regarded as simple acts of hacktivism. However, one of the exceptions that seem to differ with the arguments in the finding section is that there are cases when someone could hack into important government services and this could affect that country’s vital departments. For example, unwarranted hacking into secretive military information amounts to terrorism. This is because such information is in a position to cause great security harm to the citizens of the said company. this explanation coincides with Talihärm (2010) argument on the need to evaluate an act of cyber attack on the basis of the outcome that such an action could cause to the country and citizens.
The indication here is that there should be division of roles within security agencies in order to reduce the confusion between hacktivism and cyber terrorism. This will allow involved authorities to fight cyber terrorism with some level of customization. Currently, the software for preventing cyber attacks are general and this reduces their effectiveness towards fighting cyber terrorism. It is important to note that cyber terrorism is a more serious form of cyber attack. This is because it is in a position to create immense physical and psychological damage. This therefore indicates that the perpetrators of cyber terrorism are more sophisticated as compared to hacktivism agents. Separation of the authorities in order to create special security authorities to fight cyber terrorism will be vital. Such a situation will make it is easier for anti-cyber terrorism authorities to develop effective applications that could detect cyber terrorism. For example, the decision to set up a cyber space security apparatus by former president Bush was ambiguous. This is because such an office could not be effective towards cyber terrorism because it had other duties such as fighting other forms of cyber crime. The indication here is that there is need to make cyber terrorism to have a distinct security authority.
Another concern for authorities is the need to discern the intention of cyber terrorism. The reason why cyber terrorism is on the rise is because it is safer to the perpetrators as compared to the use of physical means such as bombs and explosives. It is irrelevant for the authorities to concentrate on cyber attacks and forget to set certain laws that should govern the use of technology. The fight towards cyber terrorism has been localized in most countries. There is limited cooperation at the global level towards reducing the rise of cyber terrorism. Although the United States has tried to create partnerships with friendly countries in fighting cyber terrorism, there are little efforts in ensuring that there are international laws that could curb this act. Global partners should come up and create relationship with manufacturers of technological devices including internet service providers such as Google. This is meant to create proactive measures that will ensure that cyber terrorists do not get a platform to propagate their activities. In most cases, terrorist have always used the online platforms to claim responsibility for certain terrorist activities. Service providers react later by deactivating such accounts. This happens after these individuals have already created fear because by claiming responsibility they instill fear among the public since the public develops reduced trust to a country’s security agencies.

References
Ahmad, R., Yunos, Z., & Sahib, S. (2012, June). Understanding cyber terrorism: The grounded theory method applied. In Cyber Security, Cyber Warfare and Digital Forensic (CyberSec), 2012 International Conference on (pp. 323-328). IEEE.
Brunst, P. W. (2010). Terrorism and the internet: New threats posed by cyberterrorism and terrorist use of the internet. In A War on Terror? (pp. 51-78). Springer New York.
Talihärm, A. M. (2010). Cyberterrorism: in Theory or in Practice?. Defence Against Terrorism Review, 3(2), 59-74.
Weimann, G. (2004). Cyberterrorism. Retrieved from http://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/sr119.pdf on 5 August 2015

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