OSNs as Cyberterrorist Weapons against the General Public

OSNs as Cyberterrorist Weapons against the General Public

Nicholas Ayres (De Montfort University, UK), Leandros Maglaras (De Montfort University, UK) and Helge Janicke (De Montfort University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1938-6.ch008
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Abstract

Conventional terrorism has been around for hundreds of years and even though its tactics and the weapons of choice have evolved over time as well as the use and deployment of weapons may have changed the root definition of terrorism has remained relatively untouched. With the advent of mass computing, cybercrime has increased year on year. This chapter will look at three differing viewpoints of cyberterrorism and its ultimate effects on society. Many industry and academic experts warn that it is only a matter of time before conventional terrorist acts will migrate to the digital arena in the form of cyberterrorism. Current literature suggests that a countries critical national infrastructure will be the main focus of attack for the cyberterrorist but this chapter will address another possible target for the cyberterrorist using a different type of cyber weapon: a mimetic virus. This chapter also looks at how a mimetic virus could use social media to spread throughout the target audience using what is known as Internet memes.
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Introduction

In 1990 the National Security Council envisaged that computers could in the future be used to not only facilitate crime but as the main tool for criminal acts; ‘The modern thief can steal more with a computer than with a gun. Tomorrow's terrorist may be able to do more damage with a keyboard than with a bomb’ (National Research Council, 1990). With the rise in global terrorism and the mass use of computers a new and potentially more destructive form of terrorism has come to the fore: cyberterrorism. Conventional terrorism has proved over time to be a controversial subject due to the lack of a unified global definition of what constitutes an actual terrorist act. Controversy also surrounds cyberterrorism but these centre around whether a cyberterrorist attack using digital weapons can in fact have the same profound impact as conventional terrorism using traditional kinetic weapons. This chapter looks at three different viewpoints when it comes to what is a cyberterrorist and what constitutes as a cyberterrorist attack. Current literature states that if there was a cyberterrorist attack the most likely target would be against a countries critical infrastructure (CI) or critical national infrastructure (CNI) as these systems underpin a countries society and if attacked could have nationwide effects not just on services but the population as a whole. This chapter will also look at why CI /CNI may indeed not necessarily be the main focus of an attack but will show how the public could be directly attacked using a much more focused and specific kind of digital weapon.

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