The Coming Age of Cyberterrorism

Hawaii Intelligence Digest, 29 November 2016, 04:30 hrs, UTC, Post #40.

Author:  Scott Stewart, geopolitical analyst for Stratfor Strategic Intelligence.

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The pace of online intrusions by radical groups is increasing, with the year 2015 being a banner year for extremists following the ISIS/ISIL ideology. Continuing attacks against our economic, social, and military sectors by groups ranging from radical neo-nazis to anarchist “hactivists” will intensify as the years roll on.

This report from Stratfor analyst Scott Stewart is a sobering dose of reality for many of us:

“But the Holy Grail for cyber terrorists is the ability to conduct attacks that result in death or significant destruction — attacks that provoke terror — with just the stroke of a keyboard. To date, the very few seriously destructive hacks we have seen have been conducted by state sponsors such as the authors of the Stuxnet malware. Indeed, most private hackers seek money, thrills or merely “lulz” (i.e., laughs), and so they have not really focused on cyberwarfare — or more accurately, asymmetrical cyberterrorism — as much as they have cyber theft and cyber vandalism.

Cyberwarfare has largely been the province of nation states, and it is generally believed by cyber security experts that wide-scale cyberwarfare can be conducted only by national actors. Perhaps this is true, but what about cyberterrorism? Can an enemy employ asymmetrical warfare in the cyber realm? As noted by John Riggi, a terrorist group doesn’t need to develop the malware for a hack itself. It can buy malware from a commercial hacking crew and then repurpose it for a more malicious purpose than simply stealing. State sponsorship is also a potential way for terrorist actors to gain access to malware tools for asymmetrical cyberterrorist attacks.”

Add to this mix state supported cyberwarfare units maintained by the Russian Federation, China, North Korea, Israel, and the United States and you have the death knell of private data and the compromising of a nation’s economic and military posture.

Stewart spells out what rogue states, hactivists, and fanatics of every political and religious stripe are doing to our personal and business lives. The picture isn’t pretty.

Much of the blame for this state of affairs can be traced to the average citizen who cares little for security and the protection of  his/her data.  We’ve grown lazy and ignorant, hoping that government will protect us. Governments are just as vulnerable as you or I. In fact, ISIS/ISIL computer experts have penetrated many U.S. agencies and commercial concerns.  This is one of the reasons why the U.S. military has formed a cyberwarfare unit to mitigate these threats.

The only real protection we have is to take responsibility for our own online security.  Be sure to use strong passwords; install anti-malware software; use anti-virus programs, and update all of your browsers.  Be careful what you share online.  Your family and business data can be used to blackmail you. If you want an interesting revelation, just “google” your name and see what turns up.  If this information is available to the public, just imagine what dedicated cyberwarfare specialists can find out about you and your business.

As a former victim of identity theft, I can tell you that reconstructing your credit history and re-establishing your bank accounts can be a long, involved process.

And as an additional reminder, never open unsolicited e-mail or attachments.  This stuff is loaded with malware and phishing programs.

We’ve entered a new kind of warfare with you as a potential victim.

For the latest developments in geopolitical intelligence, strategic forecasting, intelligence, terrorism, and cybersecurity, please check out the blog sidebars.  These news feeds are updated daily.

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Opinions expressed in this blog are mine unless otherwise stated.

Thanks for joining us today!

Until next time,

Russell Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest


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