Author: Vydurya Selvi
Cyber space is the most happening place today and most of the human activities are touched by the buzzword. Even though cyberspace has bestowed many gifts to mankind, they come with unexpected pitfalls. This arena has become a place for activities that are prohibited by law. Cyber-terrorism is one of the recent happening cyber-attacks. It involves a violent act resulting in injury or loss of life using the internet as a weapon. Technological sophistication is the major reason for these cyber-attacks. The advancement of technology cannot be reduced, but there should be ways to protect the citizens. This paper explains what cyber-terrorism is and the related information.
Cyberspace is wide open for cyber criminals in doing cyber-crimes. The convergence of cyberspace and terrorism is called cyber-terrorism. Violent acts are done by electronic intruders to cause harm or injury or even loss of life is called cyber terrorism. Simply, cyber-terrorism is unlawful attacks and threats of attack against computers, networks, and the information stored therein when done to intimidate or coerce a government or its people with social or political objectives. The essentials of cyber terrorism include criminal motive or intimidation, cause of harm or injury or even loss of life, against the government or its people.The acts of terrorism directly or indirectly affect society.
Some of the tools used for attacking computers include the computer virus, computer worms, phishing, installation of malicious software, programming scripts, trojan horse, etc., These cyber weapons have the power to destroy a country in the interconnected world. They are equally efficient as a biological weapon.
Cyber terrorist attacks are done with some motives. It can be cultural or psychological motivation. They are generally to intimidate the government or a section of the public, destruction of a particular religion or ideology, and even destruction of infrastructure.
Concept of Cyber Terrorism
The term ‘cyber-terrorism’ is not defined in the Information Technology Act, the act enacted to regulate cyberspace. Cyber-terrorism happens in superhighway or cyberspace. These activities are crimes because they are prohibited by criminal laws and the State imposes punishments for these activities through criminal law. There are two concepts in cyber-terrorism one being, the use of new technology by terrorists to attack audience through hacking of websites and other existing platforms, the other one is using entirely using new technology as a tool and target, i.e., cyber pornography, cyber theft, cyber spamming, etc.,
Examples include flowing of ‘I love you’ virus in the year 2000, 2001 terrorist attack on World Trade Centre, 2001 terrorist attack on Indian Parliament, defacement of Indian Military sites by Pakistani hackers, etc.,
Evolution of Cyber Terrorism
Cyber terrorism can be traced back to the last century. The first being the 1944 June attack on the communication system and logistic support of Germany. Thereafter during the Second World War in 1945 to 1991 fall of the Soviet Union and the Cold War in the 1960s, the USA Defense Department started internet and computer network which led to the creation of cyberspace during warfare. Protocols and regulations through the ICANN system were implemented to regulate cyberspace.
From the 1960s to the 1980s, the evolutions of hackers took shape. In 1988 Osama Bin Laden established the ‘Al-quida’ based on Jihad. In 1986, West German hackers accessed the Department of Defense Systems of the USA. The 1991 ‘Gulf War’ is the first information war or i-war through Information War or I-way. The USA passed the Nation Infrastructure Protection Act, 1990 to control cyber-terrorism. In Europe, the I-way became popular in the year, 1998. The Defense Evaluation and Research Agency were established by the United Kingdom in the same year. Then Norway, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, and France also came forward to combat cyberwar.
Later, the World Wide Web (WWW) became popular in India in the last decade of the previous century. Even before 1995, the LTTE group's work was dependent on various websites and the internet.
Cyber Terrorism in India
Ethnic Tamil guerillas attacked the Sri Lankan embassies with thousands of e-mail reading ‘we are the internet black tigers and we are doing this to disrupt your communications. This is an off-shoot of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)’.
Hacking of the Indian Department sites by the Pakistani hackers and terrorist groups. In 2000, nearly 132 websites were defaced and the number was increased to 162 in 2001. Hacker groups include G-Force Pakistan, Harkut-ul-mos, etc., These groups have also hacked during the Pokhran II tests.
Hackers group called the ‘Silver Lords’ hacked about 23 Indian websites demanding the independence of Kashmir.
Several attacks were made on the Indian Parliament. Gate pass was forged by Md. Afzal and S. Hussein Guru. They have also controlled the identity and e-mail system of the Indian Army.
Ayodhya incident – mobile phones linked with terrorists were found. SMS conservations were found.
India’s first cyberlaw, Information Technology Act came into effect on the 17th day of October 2000. Any person who intervenes in a computer source or server or network without authorization for illegal purposes can be punished under Section 66-F of the Information Technology Act. The accused is seen to disrupt the harmony of the nation. He shall be punished with imprisonment for life. Similarly, Section 121 of the Indian Penal Code, which partially includes cyber-terrorism, also provides punishment for those waging war or abetment of waging war against the country. Section 503 of the Indian Penal Code defines criminal intimidation which is essential for cyber-terrorism, hence an accused can be booked under Section 506 of the Code for committing cyberstalking.
Cyberspace has no specific and defined jurisdiction.Terrorists can enter any place without an entry pass, the identity of the person is not identified or revealed easily.International and national organizations, along with government agencies of various countries and other bodies are working very hard towards the eradication of cyber-terrorism. Nevertheless, there are existing laws, there is a need for specific provisions with a clear definition of ‘cyber-terrorism’. A standard measure across the globe should be introduced for national security and to protect international communication.
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