Cyberterrorism – An Overview

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Cyberterrorism – An Overview

The Internet can easily be used for terrorist purposes!

This includes:

  • propaganda (including recruitment, radicalization and incitement to terrorism)
  • terrorist financing (through online scamsScams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. and direct fundraising)
  • terrorist training
  • planning of terrorist attacks (including through secret communication and open-source information)
  • execution of terrorist attacks
  • cyberattacks & cybercrimeCybercrime Cybercrime is a crime related to technology, computers, and the Internet. Typical cybercrime are performed by a computer against a computer, or by a hacker using software to attack computers or networks.

The term cyberterrorism has been applied by some to describe the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes.

Online Terrorism Connection

Information and communication technology (ICT) can be used to facilitate the commission of terrorist-related offenses (a form of cyber-enabled terrorism) or can be the target of terrorists (a form of cyber-dependent terrorism).

Specifically, ICT can be used to promote, support, facilitate, and/or engage in acts of terrorism.

Particularly, the Internet can be used for terrorist purposes such as the spreading of “propaganda (including recruitment, radicalization and incitement to terrorism); [terrorist] financing; [terrorist] training; planning [of terrorist attacks] (including through secret communication and open-source information); execution [of terrorist attacks]; and cyberattacks” (UNODC, 2012, p. 3).

Just as there is no universal consensus on a definition of cybercrime, there is no universally accepted definition of terrorism nor of cyberterrorism.

Conceptions of cyberterrorism have ranged from “more expansive conceptions; including any form of online terrorist activity; and narrower understandings of this concept.”

The narrow understanding of cyberterrorism has been described as “pure cyberterrorism” by some. This narrow definition considers cyberterrorism as a cyber-dependent crime perpetrated for political objectives to provoke fear, intimidate and/or coerce a target government or population, and cause or threaten to cause harm (e.g., sabotage). Examples of this narrow conception of cyberterrorism include “attacks that lead to death or bodily injury, explosions, plane crashes, water contamination, or severe economic loss. Serious attacks against critical infrastructures could be acts of cyberterrorism, depending on their impact. Attacks that disrupt nonessential services or that are mainly a costly nuisance would not” according to some sources. It is important to note that this limitation of cyberterrorism to cybercrimesCybercrimes Cybercrime is a crime related to technology, computers, and the Internet. Typical cybercrime are performed by a computer against a computer, or by a hacker using software to attack computers or networks. committed against critical infrastructure (or pure cyberterrorism) is not widely held.

Some cyberterrorism laws have been criticized for being overly broad and being used by governments to prosecute activists and dissidents. In view of that, more expansive conceptions of cyberterrorism in law lead to disproportionate limitations of human rights.

While certain countries have national cyberterrorism laws (e.g., India, Section 66-F, Information Technology Act of 2000; Pakistan, Section 10, Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act of 2016; and Kenya, Section 33, Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act of 2018), cyberterrorism is not explicitly prohibited under international law up to the present.

Even though there is no universally accepted definition of cyberterrorism and international law does not explicitly criminalize cyberterrorism, “most laws contain offense-creating provisions directly targeting malicious acts aimed at destroying or interfering with the functioning of” critical infrastructure. Specifically, acts of terrorism against critical infrastructure sectors, such as the transportation (e.g., aviation and maritime), nuclear, and government sectors, are prohibited under certain provisions of United Nations international conventions and protocols, such as:

Countries that are parties to these conventions and protocols are obliged to harmonize their domestic legal frameworks with the provisions of these instruments, whereas those “that are not parties to some of the conventions and protocols are encouraged to ratify or accede them” pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001). Countries are further required to comply with UNSC Chapter VII binding resolutions in the fight against terrorism. UNSC Resolution 2370 (2017) “urges the Member States to act cooperatively to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons, including through information and communications technologies, while respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms and in compliance with obligations under international law, and stresses the importance of cooperation with civil society and the private sector in this endeavor, including through establishing public-private partnerships.”

Countries, who are not parties frequently have equivalent, or in some cases stronger laws – such as the United States.

Ultimately, what is considered cyberterrorism depends on the country that is labeling the act. Nonetheless, the mislabeling of acts as cyberterrorism can have detrimental consequences, resulting in disproportionate sentences for those prosecuted for this cybercrime. In this vein, in the United Nation’s view: all counterterrorism laws “must be limited to the countering of offenses within the scope of, and as defined in, the international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism, or the countering of associated conduct called for within resolutions of the Security Council, when combined with the intention and purpose elements identified in Security Council resolution 1566 (2001)” ( E/CN.4/2006/98, para. 39). Conversely, “[c]rimes not having the quality of terrorism, regardless of how serious, should not be the subject of counter-terrorism legislation” ( E/CN.4/2006/98, para. 47).

Reality

Terrorism, wherever it is located, relies on the Internet for communications and functions.

Much of cybercrime serves to fund terrorism in all its forms. Prior to 9/11, Al Qaeda generated billions of dollars by its connection to African, Middle Eastern, and Asian online scams & fraudFraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements. A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim..

When both experiencing cybercrime or combatting it, it is important to remember that still today that much of it is funding groups like Boko Haram, Abu Nidal, and other Al Qaeda or Islamic State affiliates.

This is particularly important for vigilante victims to insist on rushing into territories and situations where they have no business going. While not all scammers are violent, they are all capable of violence when pushed. Some estimates are that dozens (possibly hundreds) of scam victims are killed or disappear each year while trying to track down and get revenge against cybercriminals.

Even if cyber criminals were not connected to terrorism, they remain dangerous in their home territories.

Fortunately, this terrorism connection is considered a major priority for global anti-terrorism and national law enforcement agencies around the world.

TAGS: SCARS, Cyberterrorism, Cyberterrorists, Terrorists, Terrorist funding, scams & terrorism, Information About Scams, Anti-Scam, Scams, Scammers, Fraudsters, Cybercrime, Crybercriminals, Romance Scams, Scam Victims, Online Fraud, Online Crime Is Real Crime, Scam Avoidance

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FAQ: How Do You Properly Report Scammers?

It is essential that law enforcement knows about scams & scammers, even though there is nothing (in most cases) that they can do.

Always report scams involving money lost or where you received money to:

  1. Local Police – ask them to take an “informational” police report – say you need it for your insurance – get a police report number
  2. U.S. State Police (if you live in the U.S.) – they will take the matter more seriously and provide you with more help than local police
  3. Your National Police or FBIFBI FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. A leading U.S. counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative organization, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes, including financial fraud. www.IC3.gov & FTCFTC The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government whose principal mission is the enforcement of civil (non-criminal) U.S. antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection. The FTC can also act as a clearinghouse for criminal reports sent to other agencies for investigation and prosecution. To learn more visit www.FTC.gov or to report fraud visit ReportFraud.FTC.gov www.FTC.gov/complaint
  4. The SCARS|CDN™ Cybercriminal Data Network – Worldwide Reporting Network on www.Anyscam.com

This helps your government understand the problem, and allows law enforcement to add scammers on watch lists worldwide. Your reports are essential even if the police cannot take action!


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