Abstract—Cyberterrorism represents the convergence of the
Targeting critical ICT infrastructure and resources as virtual world of cyberspace and the intimidation techniques of
terrorism. To better understand why cyber terrorist acts are
committed, this paper investigates the motivation behind

Cyberterrorism can be examined from two perspectives: the terrorism by looking at traditional terrorist groups and how their
technological attack and the psychological motivation driving objectives can be met by Information and Communication
the threat. In this paper, the latter is examined by discussing Technology (ICT). This paper addresses the reasoning behind
various motivating forces that drive terrorism. In this way, cyberterror by discussing a few incidents and elaborating on
insight can be gained into the objectives that are to be known terrorist groups before providing a classification of
achieved, as well as shedding light into real-life groups and terrorist types and an explanation of some support terrorist
functions with regard to ICT infrastructure. In this way, insight
can be gained into the objectives that are trying to be achieved by

terrorist organizations, as well as shedding light into real-life
cyberterrorism by firstly discussing a few incidents and groups and their operations.
elaborating on known terrorist groups, before providing a classification of terrorist types and an explanation of some Keywords—terrorism,
Communication Technology (ICT)
A few incidents will initially be discussed to show how The potential of terrorism spreading into the virtual world attacks have been executed in the past. Often, perpetrators are of cyberspace and computers is an area of concern to many. trying to cripple critical targets. Attacks are based on political, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is often social or religious objectives and through these attacks, they used as useful tool for communication, recruitment and are able to gain publicity for their organization or demonstrate planning terrorist missions, but malicious targeting of this their cause. Examples from Denning [3], the Thinkquest critical infrastructure could cause widespread damage. organisation [4] and Nagpal [5] are discussed next: Already in 1998, Pollitt explained that cyberterrorism is the premeditated, politically motivated attack against information, computer systems and data which results in violence against In 1996, a computer hacker associated with a White non-combatant targets by sub national groups and clandestine Supremacist group, brought down a Massachusetts Internet agents [1]. This definitions shows, that terrorist groups may Service Provider (ISP) and damaged part of the ISP’s record target innocent members of the community to protest a certain keeping system. The ISP tried to stop the hacker from sending out racist messages under the ISP’s name. In retaliation, the hacker published a message that stated “You have yet seen true Furthermore, one of the most cited definitions of electronic terrorism”, but the hacker did not surface again. This cyberterrorism as presented by Denning before the Special attack used web page defacement, data corruption and a Denial Oversight Panel on Terrorism [2], refers to cyberterrorism as of Service (DoS) attack to promote the racist intentions. unlawful attacks and threats of attack against computers, networks and the information stored therein, to intimidate or coerce a government or its people in furtherance of political and social objectives. As an aspect of terrorism, cyberterrorism In 1998, the citizens of Spain flooded the Institute for addresses the methods and motivations driving the exploitation Global Communications (IGC) with thousands of email of Information Communication Technology (ICT). In messages. The email bombardment blocked the delivery of mail to San Francisco based ISP users, and people could not get access to their mail. The protest stemmed from the dissatisfaction that IGC hosted websites for the Euskal Herria Infliction of harm with the aim of creating fear and Journal, which was a New York-based publication supporting Acknowledgement must be given to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for their financial support. The protestors felt that the IGC supported terrorism because most famously remembered for the 1995 saris gas attack on the the website contained material on the terrorist group Fatherland Tokyo subway [7]. The extent of their cyberterrorism activities and Liberation or ETA, who were believed to be responsible was discovered by Japanese police department in 2000, when it for the assassinations of Spanish political and security officials, was uncovered that one of the computerized vehicle tracking as well as military installation attacks. Pressure mounted programs was created by Aum Shinrikyo. Prior to the through the distribution of spam to top IGC staff and member discovery, Aum Shinrikyo had been using the program to accounts, flooding their web pages with fake credit card orders compile classified data with regard to the locations of marked and threatening to target organizations using IGC services. Due to the dissatisfaction and outrage expressed, IGC were forced The Japanese police also discovered that Aum Shinrikyo to close the site due to the onslaught of mail bombings. were sub contractors for computer programming firms and had developed software for at least 80 Japanese businesses and 10 government agencies. As they carried out the software In 1998, ethnic Tamil guerrillas bombarded Sri Lankan development, the identification of their Aum Shinrikyo links email accounts with 800 mails a day over a two-week period. The messages read “We are the Internet Black Tigers and we are doing this to disrupt your communications”. Terrorist activity on the web is difficult to control. For example, the Sri Hizbullah has a presence in the United States and Lebanon. Lankan government banned the separatist Liberation Tigers of Hizbullah aims to establish an Islamic theocracy in Lebanon Tamil Eelam, but could not take down their London-based and to eradicate non-Islamic influences in the Middle East [8]. They have claimed responsibility for bombings of the United States Embassy and marine barracks in 1983 and the United Another incident involved an anti-abortionist group, who put up a website terrorizing doctors performing abortions. The Already in February 1998, Hizbullah were operating three names of doctors performing abortions was published and the websites: one for the central press office (www.hizbullah.org), public was invited to contribute to the material by submitting doctors’ home addresses, license plate numbers and even (www.moqawama.org) and the third for news and information names of their children. As a result, doctors were attacked and (www.almana.com.lb) [3]. Hizbullah is known to deface some even killed. The murdered doctors had their names websites, but the extent of their more sophisticated cyber attack This resulted in doctors having to live with constant fear and even resort to disguises, bodyguards and bullet-proof vests. Hamas mainly operates in Israel and Jordon and their The case went to court with the judge eventually ruling that site stance is against the Israeli state and in favor of creating an was equivalent to death sentences for doctors and thus ordered Islamic Palestinian state. In the past, they have used large-scale the removal of the site as well as $100 million in damages to suicide bombers. Like other terrorist groups, Hamas uses the Internet for emailing plans and promulgation of philosophy and recruitment. Hamas has also reportedly used encrypted communications to transmit maps, pictures and other details Now that a few examples of cyberterror have been provided, the discussion turns to known terrorist groups and their practices. The different terrorist groups were chosen to demonstrate the range of different motivating forces behind Hammerskin Nation is a group of white power extremists terrorism, as well as to indicate how different groups operate with members in the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany and England. Their computer sophistication is indicated by the use of the Internet to transmit information to members, recruit members and supply links to white power The international terrorist group Al Qaeeda regularly draws attention in the media. Their main goal has been to re-establish the Muslim state throughout the Persian Gulf. Al Qaeeda has widely adapted ICT infrastructure and uses electronic forums StormFront is a white power extremist group that has like bulletin boards and emails to communicate and prevent supporters in South Africa. They began as an online bulletin detection by counter terrorism agencies. In addition, a report in board system in the early 1990s and had a website established 2004 already shows that Al Qaeeda committed e-frauds and in 1995 by a former Ku Klux Clan leader and white nationalist organized assaults on French financial institutions [6]. activist Don Black. The group received attention in the United States in a CBS/HBO documentary special called Hate.com that dealt with the white supremacist organizations on the The Aum Shinrikyo cult that operated mainly out of Japan internet. They were controversially involved in targeting an has carried out various biological terrorist activities. They are online Fox News poll on racial segregation. One of its members was a candidate for political office Theological beliefs often justify the use of violence and from a major political party. Computer sophistication is also can include the sacrifice of one’s own life. According to shown by StormFront through use of the internet. Their website Nelson [11], in contrast to revolutionary terrorism, religious has numerous boards covering topics like ideology, science, violence may be unfocused and target the wider masses home schooling and self-defense. It also hosts news stories, through advanced structured attacks that offer rewards and content aimed at children and links to various racist comply with ideology and goals of religious terrorism. organizations. StormFront has an internet virtual community for white extremist families and white extremist singles. Ethno-nationalist groups are fighting to establish a new political order based on ethnic dominance/homogeneity [15]. The Boeremag is believed to use the internet to generate Examples of groups seeking political autonomy include support in South Africa. The group communicates via Provisional Irish Publican Army (PIRA), various Sikh newsgroups, email and Small Message Service (SMS). movements in India, Palestinian Liberation Army, Kurdish Supporters use Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to plan and Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey, Basque ETA in Spain and execute activities. GPS co-ordinates and recently visited the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka. locations become evidence in trials [8]. Ethno-nationalists want to achieve publicity and international recognition for their cause and have been shown to demonstrate violent tendencies. In contrast to religious extremists, ethno-nationalists tend to have specific targets and In 2001 and 2002, this hacking group was considered the would typically include symbols of the state like public most active hacking organization on the internet. Their officials, public facilities or utilities, and members of other objective is to liberate Kashmir. As part of hacking activities, members have defaced websites and left profane and insulting messages [9]. The target was the Indian community. If the terrorist is in close proximity of the target (with a local operating base), conventional physical attacks are more likely as they are simpler to execute. If the target has a different geographical location, cyberterror attacks could be After having introduced various examples and types of advantageous, as networked resources can be used to achieve groups, the types of terrorists can be classified. To explain traditional terrorism, some psychological theory will be given. This helps to explain the motivation of a terrorist in response to Ethno-national separatists rely on the support of local emotional, political and social factors. Armistead [10], Nelson members, as well as the sympathy of the international et al. [11] and Weimann [12] discuss the following types of community. Thus, it is imperative that any violent action is portrayed as purposeful and deliberate. Cyberterror attacks that cause a disruption in service can be beneficial in Religious: have strong theological beliefs. promoting a cause. This also eliminates casualties and injuries Ethno-national separatist: establish new political order, that occur as a result of violent or biological protests. Accordingly, cyberterror attacks that interrupt services are Revolutionary (Terrorism to the left): aim to seize an attractive option as damages are limited and such activity can generate support and interest in a cause. However, basic attacks can have the opposite effect than its original intention. Far-right extremist (Right wing): believe certain For example, a planned DoS attack could show up as increased levels of spam or as an unusual amount of requests and go unreported. Like other terrorist groups, ethno- New Age: usually focus on one issue (for example nationalists can use ICT to promote their cause through propaganda and gathering international support. Hackers: technically competent group with various motivations including activism, financial or challenge- C. Social revolutionary (Terrorist of the Left) Social revolutionists seek to overthrow the capitalist Another type of terrorism, discussed by Whelpton [13], is economic and social order [13, 15]. Targ [16] also states that Retributional. The next few sections discuss each of the types revolutionary terrorism consists of a strategy to seize political power. Such a movement would form part of a radical social and political transformation characteristic of a terrorist group. Examples of left-wing terrorist groups include the Red Army Faction (who have kidnapped and assassinated people they Laqueur [14] states that many terrorist groups traditionally blamed for economic and political repression) and the Italian contain strong quasi-religious fanatical elements, for only total Brigades (who have carried out computer attacks). certainty of belief (or total moral relativism) provides justification for taking lives. Al Qaeeda is a typical example. Social revolutionists do not wish to maintain current structure and rules. Part of the social revolt is a plan to build a new and just society [13]. The usefulness of cyberterror (use pseudonyms). Targets can include web and mail servers, attacks is dependant on the information infrastructure of the financial systems, banks, e-commerce and various other critical region (whether it is more rural or urban). Previously, ICT was mainly used by the government and state purposes. However, Hackers are technical experts that can use infrastructure to due to the advent of globalization and technological make political statements and exploit vulnerabilities. Hackers advancement, ICT is accessible to the wider population. ICT demonstrate their own technological prowess and the target’s therefore provides a useful medium through which technological weakness. Their activities can be linked to communications can be distributed to the public. Unfocused criminal acts. Criminal implications include: disturbances of this medium may therefore be counter-productive. Focused attacks on the government and Financial: theft of funds, credit card numbers, corporations may be useful in protesting against commercial and capitalist regimes and demonstrating an opposed standpoint to state. Loss of availability: take down critical servers, crash websites. D. Far-right extremism (Right-wing) Loss of integrity: malicious data modification, According to the Israeli political scientist, Ehud Sprinzak, right-wing terrorism is characterized by the process of “split- deligitimation” in which not only the “outsider” ( Hacking skills to a large extent can be used to carry out terrorism stemming from the other types. Political, social or foreigners, ethnic and religious minorities) is targeted, but religious reasoning needs to be a core motivating factor. contemporaneously the state itself, as they are seen as When Janczewski & Colarik [19] talk of the distinction ineffective or worse under the sway of the outsiders [17]. Far- between cyber terror and cyber crime, they say the answer right extremists can be racist organizations that are willing to does not lie in the mechanics of the event, but rather in the use terrorism to repress other racial and ethnic groups who are intent that drove the person’s actions. perceived as the enemy [13]. Examples include Nazis and Italian neo-fascists. Cyberterror is an unattractive option as unfocused attacks could cause harm to the group’s own The Retributional terrorist has a strong belief that a penalty needs to be inflicted in order to rectify a past wrongdoing. Group members could mainly use ICT infrastructure for Thus, the act of revenge is justified. According to Whelpton propaganda, selling of survivalist gear and distribution of hate [13], the mental status of such individuals might appear material. Far-right extremism is characterized by the strong normal, without any sign of psychosis, but when discussing the belief in superiority that justifies the cleansing of the inferior incident, signs of anger and resentment may surface. Behavior that may include violence. Far-right extremists mainly use ICT could also be attributed to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. for communication, as disruptive attacks interfere with operations and do not meet psychological goals. The previous sections discussed various types of terrorist Gearson [18] discusses the vulnerability of modern groups and indicate that cyberterrorism can have the same societies to unconventional attacks. New Age terrorism has motives as traditional terrorist, but use computer and network developed from the shift towards violence, as a form of mediums for attacks. In this way, cyberterrorism may span protestation when traditional method of campaigning do not aspects of traditional terrorism and computer crime. yield results sufficiently fast enough. Examples are animal Cyberterrorism acts can form part of cybercrime with the rights groups like the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) who have use of security and hacking knowledge to electronically leave targeted research on animals by pharmaceutical companies. an impact through a threat, disturbance or infliction of violence [20]. This seeks to cause fear and influence the opinion of the Other examples are anti-abortion or environmental groups. government and public. ICT infrastructure can also provide New Age groups mainly have one targeted goal and not a many supportive functions. Jenkins [21] talks of functionally broad range spectrum of issues like social-revolutionary specialization tasks like recruiting, propaganda planning, activists. Cyberterror activities can be used to disrupt e- logistics, finance. Whelpton [13] also discusses the hype that commerce and web-based advertising (dependant of ICT is created through media attention and the potential moral vulnerabilities). Unstructured attacks on low-level targets could disengagement from society. These issues are elaborated on Hackers possess advanced technical skills and are thus able Terrorism is often referred to as theatrical in nature. Acts to attack systems. Hackers can operate in isolation or as part of are comparable to the staging of a performance that seeks to a group (typically not a hierarchical structure). Hackers prefer have a wide-spread response. By using the media, attacks can to remain anonymous and build reputation in the underground be widely publicized. A spotlight is placed on the group and hacking world where they gain notoriety for their successes their message is more widely distributed. Brutal images from suicide bombings and explosions bombard news reports. ensure activity and the rest of the money is safely Accordingly, the virtual battle space has introduced various Members may feel that their actions are justified as they Fake internet drugs - harmful ingredients are used. need retribution. Since there is no governing body that These include arsenic, boric acid, leaded road paint, controls the Internet, disgruntled individuals are able to voice floor and shoe polish, talcum powder, chalk and brick their opinions and even establish hate/racist websites. False dust, and nickel. In one elaborate scheme, Americans information can also be published. Terrorist websites are able believed they were buying Viagra but the drugs are to promote their causes by rationalizing and justifying their fake and the money paid is actually used to fund Middle Eastern terrorism. The UK Medicine and Healthcare Regulatory Agency reports that up to 62% of the prescription medicine on sale on the internet, The internet can be used to collect background information without requiring a prescription, are fake. in preparation for an attack, e.g. websites showing detailed instructions on making bombs, rocker flamethrowers, other Stealing money and money laundering, keep to low lethal weapons and poisons. Examples include the “Anarchist Cookbook ” from David Copland (recipes and instructions for various weapons) as well as works by Volker van der Graaf. Computers and networks can thus serve as useful tools to This work provides a high-level summary of the types of facilitate other terrorist attacks – for example the co-ordination terrorist groups and motivating forces. Future work entails of a kinetic attack by using email, web sites and discussion investigating the technical means that groups use ICT forums to provide instructions (location and guidance to infrastructure to support terrorist activities. This involves examining topics like anti-forensics techniques, social networking tools and electronic propaganda. In addition, countermeasure strategies in the combat of cyberterrorism will Due to the wide and diverse spectrum of the internet, terrorist groups have been able to reach a number of users identified as potential members. The skills and personality of ICT users may suit the terrorist organization (young, middle- This paper addressed the motivation behind cyberterror by initially discussing a few incidents of cyberterror, as well as activities of known terrorism groups. The paper also presents a classification of various terrorist groups, as well as a Direct communication with potential members description of ICT support functions of terrorism in general. Thus, insight can be gained into the psychological forces driving cyberterrorism today. Music - examples include white power music from supremacy and hip-hop Islamic music Honeypots - linked to other websites and message 1] M. M. Pollitt. “Cyberterrorism - fact or fancy ?”, Computer Fraud & Security, vol 1998 (2), pp. 8-10, 1998. Gaming - encouragement of violent tendencies with [2] S. Gordon and R. Ford.,” Cyberterrorism? Comput. Secur.”, vol 21(7), pp. 636-647, 2002. [3] D. Denning, “Cyberterrorism”, Testimony before Special Oversight Panel on Cyberterrorism, Georgetown University, 2000. [4] Thinkquest.org October 2004 web site contest. “Cyberterrorism”, Terrorist use various practices to generate funds to support http://library.thinkquest.org/04oct/00460/cyberterrorism.html [5] R. Nagpal, Defining cyber terrorism. WebmasterDigest, 2005 . Online auctioneering - two partners, also known as [6] D. Kramarenko, "Terrorism and high technologies,"Computer Crime smurfs, arrange a fake transaction to move money. One Research Cenrre, Accessed 20040414, Available online at partner bids on an item and pays the auction amount to http://www.crime-research.org/news/04.14.2004/211. [7] K. B. Olson, Aum shinrikyo: Once and future threat? Emerging Infectious the auction house. The other partner receives payment for the fake auction item. Scams also involve bidding [8] B. Grobler, "What is cyber terrorism and what is at risk?" in Cyber Terrorism 2009 Seminar, South Africa: Ekwinox, 2009, . [9] M. M. Elmusharaf, Cyber terrorism:The new kind of terrorism. Accessed Online casinos - when dealing with large sums of money, a helpful technique is to place it in on an online gambling site. Thereafter, small bids are made to [10] L. Armistead, Information Operations: Warfare and the Hard Reality of [17] G. Michael, Confronting Right Wing Extremism and Terrorism in the Soft Power, Pontomac Books, Dulles VA United States, 2004 . USA, Routledge, New York and London, 2003 . [11] B. Nelson, R. Choi, M. Iacobucci, M. Mitchell and F. Gagnon. [18] J. Gearson, “The nature of modern terrorism. The Political Quarterly”, Cyberterror prospects and implications. Centre for the Study of Terrorism and [19] L. Janczewski and A. M. Colarik., Cyber Warfare and Cyber Terrorism, [12] G. Weimann, Cyberterrorism: How real is the threat? United States Institute of Peace. Washington, United States, 2004. [20] N. Veerasamy, "Towards a conceptual framework for cyberterrorism," in [13] J. Whelpton, "Psychology of cyber terrorism," in Cyberterrorism 2009 Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Information Warfare and Security, Cape Town, South Africa, 2009, pp. 129-137. [14] W. Laqueur, “Postmodern terrorism”, Foreign Affairs 75, pp. 24, 1996. [21] B. M. Jenkins. 2006, The new age of terrorism , Mcgraw-Hill, New York [15] J. M. Post, "The New Face of Terrorism: Socio-Cultural Foundations of Contemporary Terrorism," Behav. Sci. Law, vol. 23, pp. 451-465, 2005. [22] N. Veerasamy, "A high-level conceptual framework of cyberterrorism," [16] H. R. Targ, Societal structure and revolutionary terrorism: A preliminary Journal of Information Warfare, vol. 8, pp. 42-54, 2009. investigation. The Politics of Terrorism pp. 127-152, 1988.

Source: http://researchspace.csir.co.za/dspace/bitstream/10204/4337/1/Veerasamy_2010.pdf


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