Thus far we have scratched the surface of the ever-perplexing problem of terrorism. As it has evolved those in the position of countering it have also gained some valuable experience. Even with this knowledge it is very difficult, bordering on impossible to prevent terrorist acts from occurring. In the recent past there has been an extra element added to this confusing and dangerous equation, the Internet and other computer capabilities. Cyber-terrorism is a realistic possibility but is it as detrimental as other forms of conventional terrorism such as a car bomb? I will argue that the implications of a cyber attack could be just as harmful.
Traditionally terrorist acts target a specific locale and are executed precisely in this spot. This has been a limit of the damage inflicted upon those the perpetrator hopes to influence and the general public. This playing field has grown enormously to what could be conceived as boundless proportions. "Individuals or groups can now use Cyberspace to threaten International governments, or terrorize the citizens of a country" (cybercrimes.net). The creation of a boundless area of attack makes it that much harder to determine where an act will be taken.
Since it is easy to figure out that for cyber-terrorism to occur computers need to be accessible to the groups or individuals committing acts, why not restrict who can use computers? This has actually been considered but would be rather difficult to do in today's world. "Increasingly, America depends on computers'? (Cyberterrorism~ Fact or Fantasy?). We are not alone in this dependency, more and more of global business and personal activities are conducted via the Internet. This in itself indicates a major difference between conventional terrorism and cyber-terrorism. The former can be regulated to the extent that not everyone easily has access to the necessary resources. On the contrary, the only tools needed for cyber-terror are the proper knowledge and a powerful computer.
One of the key elements of terrorism is the creation of mass fear. This takes little effort with the use of computers. So many people are already intimidated by the efficacies of computers that the simplest cyber act could infuse a massive scare. Take for example the spreading of a virus. As soon as the word is out that a virus has been detected people take all possible actions to ensure that their files and data are protected. Taking this action to a higher level, if someone were to put a virus through a bank mainframe or something even bigger than that, then the general public would be afraid to make transactions over the computer and would return to doing business in person. The concern related to cyber-terrorism is warranted although we have been lucky thus far not to have experienced firsthand anything devastating.
In summary, cyber-terrorism opens opportunities for terrorists by expanding the arena and through the mass dependency on computers. So...