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Ankit asked: What are the different modes and forms of cyberterrorism?

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  • Munish Sharma replies: Terrorist organisations have kept themselves abreast with technological changes, and cyberspace is no exception. They are known to leverage cyberspace for communication, dissemination of propaganda, gaining popularity or attention, radicalisation, recruitment, and even fundraising. Cyberterrorism is an extension of the traditional acts of terror into the cyber domain, and the objective remains the same – to create panic or to cause disruption. It could be the disruption of information systems or the use of cyberspace to instil a sense of fear or terror.

    In January 2015, Cyber Caliphate hacked into the Twitter handle of the United States Central Command (USCENTCOM); in April, the group orchestrated a three-hour blackout of the French channel TV5Monde, taking 11 TV stations off-air, and hijacked its website and Facebook page.

    Although there are no clearly defined or identified modes or forms of cyberterrorism, it could broadly vary from defacement of websites to disinformation campaigns, extending to acts which may cause disruption in the information systems or even severely damage or destroy them. Acts of cyberterrorism may also vary from minor nuisance at the low-level to the extremes having disastrous consequences leading to the loss of operations, financial loss, damage to reputation, or the loss of life.

    Posted on July 22, 2020

    Views expressed are of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Manohar Parrikar IDSA or the Government of India.

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