Cybersecurity and Cyberterrorism

free essayThe Internet is constantly being improved: there are new services and huge amount of information that a user can find helpful. This provides not only additional possibilities for the development of the world community, but also presupposes the appearance of a number of new global threats. Cyber-terrorism is one of the new phenomena in the modern world. Today, people all over the globe use computers and Internet in almost every sphere of life activities, and, due to this, there is one issue that becomes more pressing – cyber security.

The rapid development of informatization led to the emergence of new types of crime, such as computer crime and computer terrorism. As a new and poorly studied criminal phenomenon, cyber-terrorism deserves special attention and requires a special approach to solving this problem dangerous to human. Particular attention to the law enforcement agencies causes terrorist acts associated with the use of the global Internet in order to obtain information on manufacturing technology of biological, chemical and even nuclear weapons. Hacking sites, cyber-terrorists gain access to all sorts of information, including confidential.

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Cyber-terrorism means the totality of illegal actions related to threats to the security of an individual, society and the state, destructive actions in relation to material objects, distortion of objective information or other actions taken in order to obtain advantages in an effort to attain political, economic or social objectives (Vacca, 2013, p. 23). To achieve their objectives cyber-terrorists use special software intended for unauthorized access, entering the computer systems and organizing remote attacks on information resources of interest of an object (victim). It may be computer programs, bookmarks and viruses, including the network used for removal, modification or destruction of information, the so-called “logic bombs”, Trojan programs and other types of information weapons.

The analysis of the phenomenon of cyber-terrorism shows that it has the following features:

  1. It is an information weapon because it uses computer systems and networks, specialized software and information technology.
  2. It has an international character because criminals are in one state, but their victims can be abroad.
  3. Criminals may be guided by the variety of purposes.
  4. It is characterized by a high level of latency and low levels of detection.
  5. It requires a relatively small financial outlay and causes huge material damage.

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Analysis of the Cyber-Terrorism Problem

A careful analysis of this problem shows that the creation of high-tech devices by most of the terrorists (of course, without governmental support) is hardly likely, and conducting the cyber-attacks in open information infrastructure segments is inefficient and mainly plays the role of a cover operation, or is used to provide a propaganda effect. However, the recent largest terrorist attacks were often made by using complex technical systems (aircraft navigation systems), biological agents, and the information and communication devices (including percussion means as the components). Thus, today, the likelihood of the use of sophisticated technologies in terrorist attacks, including information systems, does not really depend on the terrorists gaining access to technologies for the production of such funds, and the availability of ready-made devices and the information on their application and their weak protection from criminal acts. Apparently, now, the use of commercial (or military) products, as well as improving the efficiency of acts of terrorism by introducing new methods, changes in the organizational structure and the establishment of information exchange represent the greatest danger.

Actions of States

The threat of cyber-terrorism forces different states to cooperate in order to combate it. This involves such international bodies and organizations as the UN, Council of Europe, International Organization of Experts, and Interpol. A central role in the coordination of efforts in this area is played by the UN, especially its principal organs, the General Assembly (GA), the Security Council, as well as various multilateral informal partnerships.

Recently, within the framework of the UN and its institutions, there were adopted a number of international legal documents on various aspects of prevention of cyber-terrorism. The Council of Europe in 2001 adopted the “Cybercrime” Convention, which was also signed by the US and Japan. The convention defines the list of crimes committed in the sphere of information against information resources or with the help of information resources and recognizes them as cybercrimes. In particular, these include illegal access, illegal interception, data interference in the system, forgery and fraud with the use of information technologies, attempt, aiding or abetting in the commission of a crime. According to the convention, each state party is required to create the necessary legal conditions for granting the following rights and duties to the competent authorities in the fight against cyber-terrorism: a computer system recess parts or carriers, manufacturing and confiscation of copies of the data, ensuring the integrity and security of data relating to the case, destruction or blocking of data stored in the computer system (Akhgar, Bosco, & Staniforth, 2014, p. 120). The convention also requires creating the necessary legal conditions in order to oblige Internet providers to collect or intercept the necessary information with the help of available technology, and help the law enforcement agencies.

However, now, the provisions of the Council of Europe Conventions of 2001 and 2005 are no longer sufficient to effectively counteract terrorism. According to Yar (2013),

At the moment there is an objective need to develop legislations and measures to combat cyber-terrorism in different countries. It should also be noted that the elaboration of common approaches for all the countries to this problem will require a great effort and a sustained effort. (p. 57)

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In 2006, the countries of the Big Eight initiated the development of updated international legal instruments to combat cyber-terrorism, which gave an important signal to the entire international community and led to the creation of national and inter-state units to combat cyber-terrorism. Thus, on January 18, 2013, in The Hague, there was officially opened the European Centre for the fight against cybercrime. It will collect and process data on cybercrimes, producing peer-reviewed online threats, as well as develop and implement innovative methods of prevention and investigation of cybercrimes.

In order to successfully counter cyber–terrorism, every government should take the following actions:

  1. Adopt comprehensive laws on electronic security in accordance with applicable international standards and conventions of the Council of Europe “On the Fight against Cybercrime” and “Prevention of Terrorism”.
  2. Organize an effective cooperation with the foreign states, their law enforcement agencies and special services, as well as with international organizations.
  3. Establish national units aimed at combating cybercrime and the international contact point to assist in responding to transnational computer incidents.

Problems of Struggle against Cyber-Terrorism in Modern Conditions

The everyday activity of any person today more or less depends on the telecommunication technologies that are used in almost all spheres of public life. The world has entered a new era, the era of the information society. In his book, Dhillon (2014) mentions that “The number of Internet users is constantly increasing. There are 158 million of them in the United States, in Europe – 95, 90 – in Asia, in Latin America – 14, and in Africa – 3. In Russia, according to various estimates, the number of Internet users is about 18 million.” (p. 108). Therefore, connection to the Internet is possible from any place of the globe. If to talk about the developed infrastructure, the Internet today encompasses more than 150 countries.

The Problem of Preventing

Andrew Colarik (2006) proves that “The growing popularity of cyber-terrorism can be explained by the fact that cyber terrorist attack carried out much cheaper than to buy for the same purpose weapon”. Thus, terrorist attacks in cyberspace can be launched not only by individuals or terrorist groups, but also by one state against another. In this case, cyber-terrorism is no different from any other form of terrorism. Extremist groups, separatist forces, preachers of the ideas that are contrary to human values extensively use modern technologies to promote their ideology and information wars.

Information weapons can be an ideal tool for computer terrorists, making the issue of information security an important aspect on both national and international level. Computer terrorism more rapidly and “effectively” becomes the international, global evil, and in accordance with a number of international laws, cyber-terrorism is among international crimes.

Taking into account the above information, and features of computer terrorism, one should admit that there is a whole range of legal and technical problems associated with the lack of:

  1. Legislative acts regulating the criminal proceedings.
  2. Specially trained staff (operational and investigative unit specializing in identifying and solving crimes in the information and telecommunications sector).
  3. Necessary technical means to counter cyber-attacks.
  4. Reliable systems of interaction between the law enforcement bodies of foreign countries.

Recommendations and Main Tactics of Solving Cyber-Terrorism Problems

The experience of the international antiterrorist activity allows formulating priorities for the protection of the critical infrastructure in the allied countries from cyber-terrorism:

  • Develop scientific and methodological support for the suppression of transnational (cross-border) terrorist attacks with the use of global information networks, and to develop a common conceptual framework, the scale of assessment of cyber threats and their consequences.
  • Develop mechanisms for sharing information about large-scale cyber-attacks and major incidents in cyberspace.
  • Develop the ways of joint response to the threat of cyber-terrorism.
  • Unify national legislation in the field of protection of critical infrastructure against cyber-terrorism.

Competent and scientific approach, professional organization of prediction, early and timely diagnosis, research and technological expertise, the identification of new risk factors, and neutralization of spheres and areas of terrorist activity can significantly reduce the likelihood of deploying information-based terrorism and reduce the threat to human life. Informational counterterrorist war is an objective reality. Therefore, it is necessary to be ready not only to modernize methods of information warfare, but also to create and use advanced technologies.

My Opinion

In my opinion, cyber-terrorism includes the unauthorized interference in the telecommunication network components, operating in their software environment, removal or modification of computer data, causing the disruption of critical elements of the infrastructure of the state and endangering people’s lives, causing significant property damage or other socially dangerous consequences. Thus, the “cyber-terrorism” or “computer terrorism” shall mean the deliberate, motivated attack on the information, computer processing, the computer system and network that poses a danger to the life or health of people, or involves the onset of other serious consequences if these actions were the purpose of their violating public security, intimidating the population, provoking a military conflict.

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Addressing the abovementioned priorities, in particular at the international level, will enable law enforcement agencies of all participating countries to direct in a coordinated manner their efforts to counteract such dangerous conditions in the global informatization process as cyber-terrorism. Countering this new and dangerous form of terrorism cannot be effective without serious reforms of law enforcement bodies and special services. Thus, the problem of the fight against cyber-terrorism today must be put on a par with terrorism and organized crime. It is necessary to adopt a comprehensive approach to solving this problem at the international level.

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