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This research paper will discuss cyber terrorism, how it is created, the threats it poses in the society, and the best ways internet users can avoid it. This paper will also include some of the most famous cyber terrorism attacks. Terrorism refers to the calculated use of violence against civilians in order to attain goals of political, religious, social, or ideological nature (Gustin, 2010).
The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines cyber terrorism as the use of technological gadgets such as computers and phones to conduct terrorist acts through the internet. Cyber terrorism involves attackers who intimidate or instill fear in internet users as a way to achieve their goals. Terrorism on the cyberspace is one of the biggest challenges that came with the invention of the internet (Alex, 2012). Cyber terrorism started when people begun using the internet to communicate and socialize with people in various locations.
The nature of the environment used in internet communication and socialization makes it hard for people to know the identity of other users. This gives the terrorists a chance to attack unsuspecting civilians. Cyber terrorism has created a major concern for governments across the world because of the increasing number of internet users. There is an urgent need for governments to develop effective strategies for identifying and dealing with the driving forces behind this global challenge of internet attacks (Gustin, 2010).
Creation of cyber terrorism
Cyber terrorism commenced as early as the year 1986. This global challenge started after the invention of the internet. Since then, the online community has been growing at a high rate. This has provided numerous economic, social, as well as terrorism opportunities (Rhodes, 2011).
Terrorist groups saw an opportunity on the internet to execute their plans without the worry of people knowing their identity. This is a problem created and executed over the internet, as it targets the cyberspace community. Cyber terrorists use the internet to organize their work in terms of identifying their targets and accomplishing their plans. Cyber terrorists use online tools such as emails, social networking sites, and viral software to carry out their actions (Rhodes, 2011).
Whenever cyber terrorist groups want to commit a crime, they simply create a virus that they use to hack into their target websites. Unsuspecting users click on pop ups that appear on their browsers. This allows the terrorists to access those sites and finish their plans (Alex, 2012).
Apart from using pop ups, cyber terrorists also use other tricks to hack into online accounts on social networking sites, and send hate messages that can threaten the security of a country. The commonly hacked social networking sites are Facebook and Twitter. The two sites have many users because people prefer them for online communication (Alex, 2012).
Threats of cyber terrorism
Cyber terrorism is a global concern because of the potential threats it poses to the economy, social welfare, and political stability of various countries. The threat of cyber terrorism is likely to escalate in the next couple of years. Experts argue that more people are using the internet for various purposes everyday, and this could encourage more terrorists to consider using this method (Nick, 2008). The global dependency rate on the internet is getting bigger every year.
This gives cyber terrorists a greater platform to organize and accomplish their objectives. Cyber terrorism has numerous advantages over traditional methods of terrorism such as physical attacks. This is also likely to increase the threat of the cyberspace attacks in the next few years. Cyber terrorism is economical, as it does not require the use of weapons. It also allows for hidden identity because it is executable from remote locations (Nick, 2008).
Everyone is equally susceptible to the threat of cyber terrorism. Hate messages passed through the cyberspace can either have primary or secondary effects on people who access it. Families and friends of cyber terrorism victims also suffer the effects of this global challenge. They are usually part of the pain and torture experienced by victims. The current rate of technological development is very high, and cyber terrorism is likely to rank higher in the list of events that cause the greatest threat to humanity (Blaine, 2003).
Protection against cyber terrorism
There is a need for the global cyberspace community to learn a few ways that they can avoid this phenomenon and stay safe. Although there are no fully protected internet systems available in the current market, people can use the available ones to avoid cyber terrorism (Brown, 2006). It is important for people to understand that cyber terrorists target unsecured network, websites, and internet protocol addresses.
For safety purposes, internet users need to ensure they secure these three elements of the cyberspace. The things that internet users ought to do in order to avoid cyber terrorism are easy to follow. First, they ought to ensure that all their online accounts have passwords that are hard to predict. These passwords can include a mix of numbers, letters, and symbols. It is advisable to avoid using dictionary words for passwords (Brown, 2006).
Secondly, internet users should acquire new network configurations whenever they notice a defect of any kind on their current ones. Thirdly, it is advisable for users to keep up to date with the latest versions of their internet databases through regular updates. This helps them to improve their efficiency and safety, thus staying ahead of hackers.
The fourth thing is conducting a system audit. This helps users in detecting any form of intrusion into their computer and internet systems (Blaine, 2003). The final thing that internet users need to do is to stay away from accessing any suspicious websites that do not have a clear address, or send emails to addresses not registered with them.
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Famous cyber terrorism attacks
Numerous cases of cyber terrorism have occurred over the years, but a few captured the global attention. The first one is the February 2011 hacking of the Canadian government’s website (Porterfield, 2011). The foreign attackers used internet protocol addresses from a location in China.
They penetrated three government departments and transferred a substantial amount of information. The second most famous case is the 2011 attack on Citigroup. Citigroup is a global financial powerhouse that has a system, which attracted the attention of hackers (Porterfield, 2011).
The attack resulted in numerous alterations on the particulars of various customer accounts. The result was a loss estimated to be around $2.7 million. The 2011 cyber attack on Sony left the world wondering the extent to which this phenomenon had grown. Numerous accounts belonging to Play Station networks and Sony online entertainers were hacked by attackers who stole sensitive information. The attack lasted for over three weeks, and resulted in a damage estimated at over $1 billion (Porterfield, 2011).
The cyberspace is among the most dangerous places in the world, in terms of vulnerability to terror attack. Information generated, transferred and stored on websites and other internet-based stores is under high risk. There is a need for the development of a proactive approach to protect the fast growing cyberspace community, as well as the information they share with others. As technology grows, there is a need to ensure that cyberspace security also gets to grow.
Alex, G. (2012). What You Need to Know About Cyber Terrorism. Cambridge: Cambridge university press.
Blaine, J. (2003). Cyber Crime and Cyber Terrorism: Current Issues. California: Nova Publishers.
Brown, L. (2006). Cyber Terrorism and Computer Attacks. London: Oxford University Press.
Gustin, J. (2010). Cyber Terrorism. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group.
Nick, D. (2008). Cyber Warfare and Cyber Terrorism. California: Idea Group Inc.
Porterfield, J. (2011). Careers as a Cyber Terrorism Expert. New York: Cengage Learning.
Rhodes, R. (2011). Cyber Meltdown: Bible Prophecy and the Imminent Threat of Cyber Terrorism. New Jersey: Harvest House Publishers.