A Problem of Cyber Terrorism
Since the inception of the internet, our world has become more and more connected than ever before. Many companies have moved from a paper focused system to a virtual world of computers that allows their reach to international customers. The internet has opened the doors by given us the ability to freely share information among millions of people. As good as the internet has been for mankind there is also groups who have used it to spread terrorism across the world also known as Cyber Terrorism. The FBI’s definition of Cyber terrorism is violence or force used on a person or property to intimidate citizens or the government to further their political or social propaganda. (FBI). The term Cyber Terrorism was first brought to light during the 1980’s by Barry Colling where he discussed how terrorism has moved from the physical word to the virtual world. (Citation Terrorist groups use the internet for internal communication and externally by spreading their propaganda world-wide in hopes to recruit fighters. For this reason This is I believe that the internet is one of the greatest weapon a terrorist can have. International terrorist can influence fighters who are already inside their targeted country and recruit them to perform attacks with minimum financial impacts. I believe that the recruitment by internet is how most of the domestic terrorist are created and trained. The risk is even greater for the United States as our most critical infrastructure is attached to the world-wide web.
Terrorist know the powerful weapon they have and how they can use it to hack and shutdown critical systems. Being able to secure the cyberspace is a great challenge in itself. The United States cyberspace composes of many computers that are connected with each other along with many servers, routers switches and fiber optic cables. Our power grid in itself is the core of our systems and has been referred to be the most important system we have in place. If a terrorist organization can achieve a hack that would bring this system down then we can experience what would be the greatest catastrophe in U.S history. Terrorist organizations know that if they can access our critical infrastructure then they can definitely inflict the most damage to the country and achieve their ultimate goal to bring their targeted government down.
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Terrorist’s organizations can use the internet not only to conduct cyber terrorism but to gain support and to spread fear. An example of the psychological aspects of terrorists instilling fear would be the way they use the internet to intimidate the public. Modern terrorism is not solely based on the physical attacks. Physical attacks are only a small percentage of the terrorist organization agenda. It takes years of planning, preparation and financing to conduct an attack like the one on September 11, 2001. It is estimated that 9/11 cost Al Qaeda more than $500,000 to execute. This is why the greatest impact a terrorist organization can do is to take over the human mind. Terrorist know if they can get into our heads then they can create fear, division and uncertainty to their intended target. Thus giving a leverage to the terrorist organization to achieve their goals and purpose.
The mind is a powerful tool and modern terrorist organizations have capitalized on its power. Terrorist organization study the mind of their target population to find weaknesses that can be exploited. Terrorist know their goal will not be achieved solely by attacks but by the manipulation of the mind. This is how they have successfully recruited new fighters that were once part of their targeted population. This is probably the most dangerous tactic they have created. The amount of smaller attacks have increased in the United States just by domestic terrorist that were successfully recruited by the terrorist organization through the internet.
The greatest feeling that can paralyze a population is fear. Fear tactics is used by the terrorist with the intention to pressure the government to give in to their demands. The targeted population fear is based on the possibility of being in a violent death from the result of a terror attack. This results in people isolating themselves by hiding in their homes and staying away from activities that they use to enjoy for the fear of a “terror attack. I live in Orlando and just after the attacks of the Pulse nightclub, I can observe a shift of behavior on people. The clubs that were once full with people were now almost emptied. I then figured that fear had gotten into our city. People were scared that it will happen again. The increase in security at the clubs was massive and it just brought an atmosphere that wasn’t conducing to having a good time.
In the last couple of years we have witness how the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have capitalize on the use of the media. Media tools like the World Wide Web are being used to send their message across the entire world. They have created high quality videos portraying their strengths, abilities and violent acts. This strategy is used to manipulate the minds of their intended targets. Thus producing fear and uncertainty about their own safety and security. ISIS have created their own marketing team to push their agenda forward. They create newsletters and videos to capture the weak minded individuals in hopes that they will turn on their own government
Terrorist love to be known and want you to think of them. If they are in your mind then they have achieve their goal. This is why I feel our media needs to minimize having these terrorist on their headlines. All they are doing is adding credibility and strength to the terrorist organization. In this age of the internet terrorist have adjusted their strategy to capture its strengths. Advertising what they do across the world only portrays fear into their targets lives. If we didn’t have the media, then we wouldn’t know who or what ISIS is. It wouldn’t worry us much. Since it’s in our faces everywhere we go. We are reminded of the sense of fear from past attacks and worry if we would be suddenly killed in a terror attack. Currently on the internet you can find many different types of media on the ISIS group and their terrorist acts of killing Christians. In one case, ISIS posted a video online of the beheading of an American journalist, Steven Sotloff. Isis had threatened to keep killing people in order to get the United States to stop the airstrikes in Iraq (Carter & Fantz, 2014).
For many countries, cyberterrorism has become top priority for national security. To think that a cyberattack can be done from any part of the world and in comparison can lead to more destructive force than just killing a group of people is definitely concerning. By shutting the main power grid of a country like the United States, you would be affecting millions of people, business and government institutions. This is why after September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the U.S government was force to reevaluate how we are to prevent attacks like these in the future. The biggest vulnerability we had was that our agencies were not communicating. Each agency had key information that if they were shared together would have peaced and prevent this attack. The United States needed to create a department that would concentrate on preventing future terrorist attacks. The U.S approach was to create a new department called The Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This department was establish with the goal of protecting our homeland from terrorism. The DHS conducted a risk and vulnerability assessment and concluded that one of the areas of focus was our own cyberspace. The first action the DHS took was to start drafting a document that would begin the conversation of securing the nations cyberspace. The DHS began to draft in February 2003 what is now known as the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace.( Citation) .
The greatest risk the U.S has is its cyberspace. We depend so much on the internet for work and play. Combating cyber terrorism starts by having our agencies like federal and law enforcement sharing information. The Department of Homeland Security conducts investigations and train technical experts in combatting cybercrimes. Some of the agencies have specialized divisions for cybercrime. The U.S. Secret Service, not only is responsible for protecting the president. They also have a task force dedicated to combatting computer crimes, called the Electronic Crimes Task Force (Homeland Security website, 2015). This task force is responsible for detecting cyber intrusions, and locating cyber criminals. Along with working alongside the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI is also a part of the U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC), in which they are the lead of an investigative task force that serves the Presidential Directive on cyber security (FBI website, 2015). It is up to the prosecutors and judges of the courts to bring computer criminals up on charges and to make sure they are punished for their crimes. There are various ways that these agencies, and others are fighting to counteract computer crimes, but with it being so common and technology advances, we need new ways to fight back.
As we can see, Terrorist use the internet as a weapon to spread their propaganda, recruit new fighters, to produce fear and to hack into critical infrastructures. The world we live in has moved from a physical fighting to an actual virtual warfare. The only way we can defeat this type of warfare is by working together, sharing information and helping our government to block sites that promote terrorism. Modern terrorist organizations know that they can effect a large population just buy controlling the mind of their intended target and how the power of fear can cripple a person. Fear can change a behavior in a person making them do things that they normally wouldn’t do. We can look back an witness how fear has affected the lives of people like the aftermath of Pulse night club and how people in Orlando avoided going to the clubs for months just because of the fear that was introduce in them. Cyberterrorism continues to be one of the greatest risk for the United States as we move to an even more connected nation.