The internet has provided us with a better global communication system. You can now communicate with anyone anywhere in the world, this interconnectedness benefits individuals, businesses and governments alike and gives us an opportunity to exchange cultural beliefs, ideologies and information. This internet age interconnectedness also paved the way for cyber terrorism. Considered an extension of traditional terrorism, Cyber terrorism is defined as an activity executed by computer networks and the internet with the intention to interfere with the political, social, or economic functioning of a group, government, organization, or country. Cyber terrorism is regarded as a new approach used by terrorists to attack cyberspace, threatening information security, business infrastructures, government databases and the privacy of individuals. We now live in a world where a bored computer-literate teenagers bored can easily launch sophisticated attacks on governments, businesses and individuals alike.
Globalization has made winners out of cyber terrorists. Unlike traditional terrorism, cyber terrorism requires fewer inputs, cyber terrorists can easily and conveniently organize themselves behind a connected network and do not need to gather, meet, or show up in the target area. They can do great damage from remote places and still remain anonymous. Because of their anonymity and facelessness, it is very difficult for governments to trace or prosecute them. Cyber terrorism is not confined to individuals and groups, governments have also resorted to use hacking to attack other governments.
Moreover, despite of privacy laws and policy, the internet has no governing body or police force. This becomes a nightmare to deal with because it proves that a state can get away with attacking another state. This causes a total breakdown in international trust and increases suspicion. Countries have already been involved in cyber wars without firing a single shot. Reports from federal agencies of cyber security incidents have sky rocketed to 660% over the past five years alone. Moreover, countries have already begun to develop their cyber defense systems to safeguard their national security and build up their strength in the cyber battlefield.
Anonymous is considered a cyber-terrorist/activist group that consists of hackers from all around the world from different ages and backgrounds. They illustrate how easy it is for cyber terrorists to have great global impact. Although they have a Robin Hood anarchist/heroes kind of ideology, they have as many supporters as they do haters. This post isn’t trying to glamorize Anonymous, but rather highlight the threatening potential and power they have. Anonymous were early supporters of the Arab Spring and the Global Occupy Movement. They carried out attacks against Australia, Syria, Iran, and Israel, to name a few countries. Israel is reported to have lost 3 billion dollars in several days during Anonymous’s OpIsrael. They launch operations such as Operation Darknet, releasing names of pedophiles on child pornography websites and an anti-bullying operation. Anonymous, promoting and being in favor of freedom of speech and freedom of information, has involved itself in the WikiLeaks controversy by mirroring the WikiLeaks website over 1241 times so it can never be removed from the Internet. Many countries and governments businesses and individuals have condemned Anonymous as cyber terrorists and tried arresting those involved without success. Anonymous once operated in the dark but are now gaining increasing power, support and popularity and can no longer be ignored. But it is proving difficult to take any legal action against a faceless group without any official leaders, representatives, or meeting places. This uncertainty is dilemma faced by all states alike.
Balqis Hindash Middlesex University Dubai campus