This module can be studied on a standalone basis or as part of the Certificate in Terrorism Studies
During your studies you will gain an understanding of:
Download the full Certificate in Terrorism Studies prospectus here
The word ‘cyberterrorism’ brings to mind science-fiction villains with awesome but ill-understood powers. In reality, terrorist hackers of the sort seen in Hollywood films don’t exist – at least, not yet. What does exist today is a complicated set of overlapping issues: computer crime, cyber-activism, the use of the Internet by terrorist groups and, increasingly, sophisticated forms of what looks like state-backed ‘cyberwar’. Whether or not any of this counts as real ‘cyberterrorism’ is a matter of debate.
The word ‘cyberterrorism’ does not so much refer to an actually existing type of terrorism. Rather, it is a way of thinking about the coming together of two different types of issue: terrorism on the one hand, and threats emanating from cyberspace on the other. As such, there has always been a speculative quality to the term. Over the course of this module, students will be able to make up their mind on whether any of the cyberthreats which exist today count as cyberterrorism, and how likely it is that we will see genuine cyberterrorism in the near future.
While the word ‘cyberterrorism’ may not have been invented until the mid 1980s, it relates closely to a somewhat older concept: ‘information war’, a term which seems to have been coined by another security analyst, Thomas P. Rona, in a report for Boeing in 1976 entitled “Weapon Systems and Information War”. Although Rona’s report was primarily concerned with the development of military weapons systems up to his own time, many of his more general observations seem extremely prescient. In particular, his observations included that:
The module is designed to be studied over four weeks:
Week 1: Understand the main definitional and conceptual issues needed to assess why the idea of ‘cyberterrorism’ may be relevant, and how it may be distinguished from other phenomena. Understand the culture and practice of computer hacking.
Week 2: Gain a basic technical understanding of how the Internet works, and how it can be illegally exploited.
Week 3: Understand how the Internet is used as a weapon and a resource by activists, terrorists and governments.
Week 4: Understand the general principles of cybersecurity, and especially the political and legal issues at stake in developing regimes against cybercrime and, potentially, cyberterrorism.
Study modules individually or as part of the Certificate in Terrorism Studies.
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