Cybercrime and Terrorism

Computer technology’s continued development and advancement have created a new class of threats — cyber threats — that societies must confront. These cyber-threats may generally be described as the use of computer technology for activities that can weaken the ability of a society to maintain internal or external peace.

Historically, communities have used a two-pronged strategy to preserve the order they need to survive and prosper: they establish internal order by articulating and implementing a set of proscriptive laws criminal rules that prohibit society members from preying on each other in ways that disrupt order, e.g. by murdering, raping, burning, etc. By relying on military force war, and increasingly international agreements, societies maintain external order. Computer technology destroys the historical facts that this dichotomous approach has created and maintained to preserve internal and external order. The conventional approach outlined above assumes communities inhabit a territorially defined physical environment in which threats are readily recognized as either internal crime or outer war threats.

Terrorism often leads to the infliction of indistinguishable harms from those caused by the crime (e.g., death, personal injury, destruction of property), but the harms are inflicted on very different grounds. For example, a U.S. statute defines terrorism as –

  • committing crimes under another country’s law,
  • threatening or coercing people, manipulating government policy by intimidation or coercion, or affecting government action by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.

Terrorism, as the legislative meaning implies, is typically meant to demoralize a civilian population; this separates terrorism from the violence that is not intended to threaten civilians. In the real world, terrorism generally achieves its aim of demoralizing civilians by damaging properties and harming or killing civilians. The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center are a perfect example of real-world terrorism; they were designed to kill a major icon of capitalism, thus weakening U.S. citizens’ morality and U.S. stability.

Understanding Cyber Terrorism

Cyber terrorism is simply about using digital technology to contribute to terrorism. Since crime and terrorism are in some respects similar, and since the ability of both target societies to maintain internal order, we have to begin by differentiating the two. Crime is simply economic while terrorism is political. Crimes are committed for private, personal purposes, the most important of which is personal gain and the desire (need) to psychologically and/or physically harm others.

Use of Cyberterrorism

To understand what cyber terrorism can be – and will be – we need to look at how terrorists can use digital technology to threaten or coerce a civilian population and thereby weaken the ability of a nation to maintain internal order. Conceptually its use for this purpose falls into three categories:

Weapon of Mass Destruction
This choice is hypothetical but not a practical possibility. The idea that computer technology can be a weapon of mass destruction is based on a fallacious premise: the assumption that computers alone can be used to cause the kind of demoralizing carnage that the world saw on 9/11 or on 11/3 in Madrid. As such, machines cannot inflict physical harm on individuals or property; this is the domain of real-world death and destruction devices.

Computers can be used to set forces in motion which cause physical damage. Cyber terrorists could disable the systems that regulate a nuclear power plant and cause an explosion like the one that occurred at the Chernobyl plant in 1986, instead of breaching a municipal waste management system for revenge. Through claiming blame for the disaster, the cyber terrorists may use the resulting disease, death, and nuclear pollution to weaken the confidence of people in the ability of their government to protect them through keeping order.

Weapons of Mass Diversion
That is both a hypothetical possibility and a concrete one. Here, computer technology plays a key, crucial role in committing a terrorist act: a terrorist act that fundamentally varies from the real-world terrorism we are used to. Computer technology is used to psychologically manipulate a human population; psychological manipulation undermines democratic morality by undermining the confidence of people in their government’s effectiveness. It can also result in the infliction of personal injury, death and property destruction, depending on the type of manipulation involved.

Weapon of Mass Disruption
In using computer technology as a tool of mass disruption, the goal of terrorists is to undermine the confidence of a civilian population in the security and efficiency of components of infrastructure, such as mass transportation, electrical and other power supplies, communications, financial institutions and critical services such as health care. Both the weapons-of-mass disruption and the weapons-of-mass diversion alternatives are targeting the confidence of people in vital aspects of their society. However, they differ in the way computer technology is used to corrode civilian trust in societal infrastructure and institutions.

When computer technology is used as a weapon of mass disruption, the goal of terrorists is to infect one or more target systems with systemic damage. This version of cyber terrorism is closer to the scenarios that appear in popular media at times– Scenarios in which, say, cyber-terrorists shut down electrical grids or networks delivering natural gas or fuel to a specific population.

Cyber Security Awareness

Promoting a community understanding of information security is a crucial factor for Cybercrime prevention. Engagement of staff and sensitivity is the clear first line of defence against cybercrime. It is important that employees receive awareness training so that they are aware of the various ways in which their company can be compromised and of the different types of common methods of fraud and cybercrime.

The starting point is to identify the key vulnerabilities to build a robust information security system. Top factors are incompetence, mobile workers and hacking in most cases, compromises.

Cybersecurity at Risk!

Cybersecurity is at stake, especially when it comes to terrorist link-ups. Terrorist Financing is one such activity which not only results in financial or data loss but can also tarnish the reputation of an individual. Therefore it is essential for institutions and organisations to raise awareness regarding cybersecurity and crime which eventually encourage threat to senior management and board-level. A central element in creating a good governance system is introducing an effective information security programme. Organizations should focus on increasing the coordination among its employees when it comes to web security and notify the administration or law enforcement anytime something comes up.

Reaction, escalation and remediation is an essential component of every cyber cycle Framework for Protection. The financial services industry plays a key role in our war against terrorism and combating financial crime. ?Technology unfolds our means in so many ways and helped us become more organised and protected however still terrorists and criminals are becoming more financially sophisticated. Institutions should be vigilant in the development of systems and Should have timely checks to detect and prevent cybercrime. A Cybersecurity framework within their vulnerabilities and infringements is a must-have. It is necessary, in this rapidly changing dynamic environment. Remember that there are always terrorists and criminals looking for quick and simple ways to raise money.


I would like to conclude by saying that as technology is advancing, the threats are increasing too and, we need to be more aware while using the internet to be safe. It is very difficult to find these offenders, as they are expert in hiding their identity and it is very difficult to catch them. So it is always a better option to be aware. A few tips to be safe online are:

  1. Use an internet security suite.
  2. Use a strong password.
  3. Do not use the same password twice.
  4. Keep your device’s software updated.
  5. Know about internet threats and how to be safe.
  6. Keep track of your internet activity.
  7. Secure your network connection.

By using these small preventions, one can be safe from threats.

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