Increasing Threat of Cyber Terrorism Research Paper

Pages: 20 (5903 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 35  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Terrorism  ·  Written: December 31, 2018

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Data Mining

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The World Wide Web can be considered to be a colossal digital library, singly offering billions of pages of largely- free data, a large portion of which greatly interests terrorist groups. Using the internet, terror outfits can acquire various details concerning counterterrorism measures and terror targets (e.g., transport facilities, public places, seaports, nuclear power stations, and airports). Dan Verton’s Black Ice: The Invisible Threat of Cyberterrorism (2003) cites that the al- Qaeda functions with the aid of huge data pools loaded with information on likely American targets. They utilize the Internet for collecting intelligence on targets, particularly crucial economic nodes. Further, contemporary software facilitates their analysis of the structural deficits in any facility and prediction of the cascading effect of launching an attack on a given system. Donald Rumsfeld, Defense Secretary, stated that a training manual issued by al- Qaeda acquired in Afghanistan informs readers that legal, open use of public sources can help amass no less than an alarming eighty percent of overall information needed about an adversary (UNODC 2012).

Research Paper on Increasing Threat of Cyber Terrorism Assignment

A Muslim Hackers Club (which, according to American security organizations, attempts at developing software for launching cyber- attacks) website features links to American websites purportedly disclosing sensitive data (e.g., American Secret Service radio frequencies and code names). This very website also provides tutorials to create and spread computer viruses, formulate hacking strategies, develop codes, and sabotage networks, besides providing links to terrorist and militant Islamic website addresses. Key targets discussed on al Qaeda–connected websites are: the Atlanta Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); organizations controlling online data flow; and FedWire (a Federal Reserve Board- maintained money- movement clearing system) (Archetti 2015; McGilloway, Ghosh and Bhui 2015). Akin to several other web users, terrorist organizations can also access target diagrams and maps, in addition to imaging information on networks and facilities possibly revealing counterterrorist measures at target spots. For instance, a computer seized from an al Qaeda base stored a dam’s structural and engineering features, downloaded online, that would help al Qaeda strategists and engineers simulate calamitous failures. Other seized computers reveal proofs of al Qaeda members spending time on websites providing programming instructions and software pertaining to digital switches running communication, transport, water, and power grids.

A large number of tools help acquire such information (e.g., search engines, chat rooms, discussion groups, and email distribution lists). Several websites have their personal search tools to extract data from databases (Denning 2010; Bertram 2016). Similarly, word- based searches of e- journals and newspapers may generate useful information for terrorists. While a part of this data can be found in conventional media, web- based search capabilities help terrorists acquire it effortlessly, inexpensively, and anonymously.

Fundraising

Akin to several political organizations, terror outfits employ the World Wide Web for raising funds. For example, the Al Qaeda, invariably, relies greatly on donations with its international fundraising platform comprising of NGOs (non- government organizations), web- based forums, chat rooms, charities, and financial institutions which make use of websites. Hizb al- Tahrir, an extremist group, employs an integrated website network that stretches between the African and European continents and petitions its supporters to provide assistance through funding its cause (i.e., jihad) and also urging other people to do so (Von Behr et al. 2013). A Germany- based website offers banking details (e.g., the account numbers to deposit donations into). Similarly, Chechen fighters bank on the Internet for publicizing bank account numbers (one of which is California- based) to deposits donations into. The IRA website also provides a page for visitors to make donations via credit card (UNODC 2012).

Web user demographics (filtered, for example, using personal information gleaned from e- order forms and questionnaires) enable terrorist groups to isolate those sympathizing with a given cause or problem. Subsequently, isolated persons are approached for donations, normally via e- mail forwarded by front groups (or in other words, organizations which broadly support terrorist goals, though operate lawfully and publicly, and generally lack direct links with terror outfits). For example, Hamas funds are amassed using a Texan charity, HLF (Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development) (UNODC 2012, Koehler 2014). The American government confiscated HLF assets in December of 2001 owing to its connections to Hamas. Furthermore, the American government has frozen the following ostensibly legitimate charitable foundations’ assets — Al- Haramain Foundation, Benevolence International Foundation, and Global Relief Foundation — owing to proofs of their proceeds being directed to the al Qaeda.

Another example, from January 2004, is of an Idaho federal- level grand jury which accused a Saudi college- goer of conspiring to aid terror outfits wage jihad through utilizing the web for fundraising, fielding recruits, and locating potential American civilian and military targets within the Middle Eastern region. The doctorate student of computer science at Idaho University (ironically enrolled in an NSA (National Security Agency) - sponsored course), Sami Omar Hussayen, was indicted for developing sites and email groups disseminating messages between himself and a couple of extremist Saudi Arabian clerics (UNODC 2012; Gill et al. 2017).

Recruitment and Mobilization

Besides seeking contributions to their cause, the web can help terrorist organizations enlist and rally supporters for ensuring they carry out terror activities more actively. Terrorist outfits employ the complete array of web technologies (video, audio, and so forth) for enhancing their message’s presentation as well as capture data on users visiting their sites, for identifying potential converts (Torok 2013). Users appearing to be highly interested in their cause or suitable when it comes to performing tasks for the organization are subsequently approached. Additionally, recruiters can employ more interactive web technology for moving across cyber- cafes and chat rooms, seeking amenable people, especially youngsters (Tehrani, Manap and Taji 2013). User nets (bulletin boards and chat rooms focusing on a specific problem) and e- bulletin boards may function as means to get in touch with prospective recruits as well.

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