Computer Crime Research Center


Internet terrorism: a new menace of the 21 century

Date: April 21, 2004
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: Dmitri Kramarenko

As countries develop they become dependent on high technologies, including computers that are more and more involved in control of critical national infrastructure elements. Due to their complicacy and interrelation, critical systems are a unique target for technological attacks. Complex national systems pose potential danger as they operate with vitally important sites, attacks on which may lead to destructive consequenses. Such attack may be conducted using computer or explosives or by hindering communication cables with the purpose to cause a circuit of breakdowns with final collapse of all control systems of this critical system, like pipeline or airport.

Large-scale disconnections of power supply paralyzing significant parts of the country, problems with flights management systems, wrecks in gas and oil pipelines are broadly discussed in the press, special media and over the Internet. Terrorists, while being a part of public that observes this wide coverage, more and more comprehend that national infrastructures are an alluring and vulnerable target. Technical progress may have unexpected after-effects in the form of increasing vulnerability of such systems. For example, optical cables allow telephone companies to serve tens of thousands of conversations using only one line. A decade ago they would have needed to install thousands of separate cables.

As a result we have more efficiency, better service and low costs. At the same time we have a dark side of these processes. Break of a usual cable was an annoying incident. Break of an optical cable may cause a disastrous circuit of accidents. Progress may head to significant infrastructure effect, but it also makes the infrastructure to be an alluring target for terrorism.

A terrorist wishing to influence on world-scale events may choose an international bank network or a leading exchange as a target of his attack. Successful strike will certainly have direct impact, but the most significant effects will cause not only monetary losses, but damage to people's trust and corresponding, lasting a long time, political and economic consequences.

Today, many terrorist groups and movements have their own websites on the Internet. They apply the Internet to teach their thoughts, views, to gather support and to recruit new members, to communicate online while holding operations. Such organizations consider capabilities of the Web as an offensive weapon, as "mass weapon of undermining actions". They also teach their members to prepare worms, trojans, sniffers and other malicious programs that multiply brought damage.

Taking into account cyber terrorism trends, we may surmise that the day will come when some terrorist groups will exist only in a virtual space, face-to-face contacts will be excluded and terrorists will associate through the Internet to prepare attacks against countries with developed computer networks. Strikes will be aimed at banking and commercial systems, electronic services systems, infrastructures controlled by computers, e.g. gas and oil pipes, electric power supply systems, air and land traffic control systems, telephone systems, the sphere of public health, defence communications and supply systems. More or less, all these systems are vulnerable to electronic attacks and undermining actions.
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2009-09-10 18:32:13 - I think there is only one sensible and... Dave
2006-11-07 07:09:46 - Let every individual strive to figting... AOKO SALMON ODHIAMBO
2006-04-21 00:43:10 - I would like to have more information on... patrick
2005-09-02 21:59:25 - nice to be seen Sofia
2005-04-06 11:15:01 - Scared of? The article is useful in... Lars
2004-04-21 07:48:09 - OH MY GOD! INTERNET TERRORISTS ON THE... Kate Poulsen
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