Computer Crime Research Center


Cyber Terrorism : The new kind of Terrorism

Date: April 12, 2004
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: Dr. Mudawi Mukhtar Elmusharaf

Cyber Terrorism:

Computers and the internet are becoming an essential part of our daily life. They are being used by individuals and societies to make their life easier. They use them for storing information, processing data, sending and receiving messages, communications, controlling machines, typing, editing, designing, drawing, and almost all aspects of life.

The tremendous role of computers stimulated criminals and terrorists to make it their prefered tool for attacking their targets. The internet has provided a virtual battlefield for countries having problems with each other such as Taiwan against China, Israel against Palestine, India against Pakistan, China against the US, and many other countries.
This transformation in the methods of terrorism from traditional methods to electronic methods is becoming one of the biggest chalenges to modern societies.

In order to combat this type of terrorism a lot of effort should be done at the personal level, the country level, the regional level, as well as the international level to fight against this transnational type of crime.

Who are cyber terrorists?

From American point of view the most dangerous terrorist group is Al-Qaeda which is considered the first enemy for the US. According to US officials data from computers seized in Afganistan indicate that the group has scouted systems that control American energy facilities, water distribution, communication systems, and other critical infrastructure.
After April 2001 collision of US navy spy plane and Chinese fighter jet, Chinese hackers launched Denial os Service (DoS) attacks against American web sites.

A study that covered the second half of the year 2002 showed that the most dangerous nation for originating malicious cyber attacks is the United States with 35.4% of the cases down from 40% for the first half of the same year. South Korea came next with 12.8% , followed by China 6.2% then Germany 6.7% then France 4% . The UK came number 9 with 2.2%.
According to the same study, Israel was the most active country in terms of number of cyber attacks related to the number of internet users.
There are so many groups who are very active in attacking their targets through the computers. The Unix Security Guards (USG) a pro Islamic group launched a lot of digital attacks in May 2002.

Another group called World's Fantabulas Defacers (WFD) attacked many Indian sites. Also there is another pro Pakistan group called Anti India Crew (AIC) who launched many cyber attacks against India.
There are so many Palestinian and Israeli groups fighting against each other through the means of digital attacks.

Efforts of combating cyber terrorism

The Interpol, with its 178 member countries, is doing a great job in fighting against cyber terrorism. They are helping all the member countries and training their personnel.
The Council of Europe Convention on Cyber Crime, which is the first international treaty for fighting against computer crime, is the result of 4 years work by experts from the 45 member and non-member countries including Japan, USA, and Canada. This treaty has already enforced after its ratification by Lithuania on 21st of March 2004.
The Association of South East Asia Nations (ASEAN) has set plans for sharing information on computer security. They are going to create a regional cyber-crime unit by the year 2005.

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