Cyber terrorism also known as information wars is any act of Internet terrorism including deliberate attacks, disruptions of computer networks using computer viruses, or physical attacks using malware, to attack individuals, government.
Cyber terrorism poses an immediate and disastrous threat to the national security of any state. In the contemporary era when the world has become globalized, Terrorists don’t have to go to the target place but they can now easily recruit, plan, communicate with the perpetrators and execute their plans using internet. After the 9/11 attack the concept of cyber-terrorism gained more importance.
In 2007 Estonia was attacked through cyber warfare and the blame game started. All the blame was put on to the hackers from Russia. According to the authorities of Estonia that certain attack had similar impact as of the Nagasaki attack in 1945. Such concept is termed as Cyber warfare when a state penetrates into another state’s computer networks to cause damage and disruption.
Another cyber-attack of similar nature was carried out by the insurgents in Iraq in 2009. They hacked the US drone communication system which helped them in watching the videos recorded by the US drones.
The internet world is anarchic in nature as said by the realist school of thought. Like the International community there is no supreme authority in the cyber world to maintain check and balance. But we cannot deny the role of non-state actors here. On other hand according to the liberal school of thought the interest groups, different organizations and even individuals are equally capable to cause certain damage.
Considering the situation of Pakistan, after the military operations had been initiated it limited the physical space for the militants which has made hard for the terrorist groups to carry out large scale attacks in the public areas, they would begin to learn more cyber warfare capabilities to destabilize and disrupt the operations.
Social media is the most common platform of cyber warfare. Terrorist are not much skilled to affect the state’s sensitive infrastructure but social media accounts are facilitating the terrorist groups in communicating their handlers or perpetrators and even is facilitating them in psychological warfare. The main aim of some terrorist groups is to convey a certain message to their target audience. The agenda varies and depends on the nature of the terrorist group or organization. As Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is responsible for carrying out most of the attacks on the Shia community in Pakistan. The terrorist groups use unfamiliar languages on their social media accounts to convey coded messages.
The National Action Plan of 2015 established by the government of Pakistan’s main agenda was the crackdown on terrorism. One of the main point of NAP was to shut down the internet network of the terrorists. The 14th point of the National Action Plan stated, “Measures against abuse of internet and social media for terrorism to be adopted.”
Many experts fear that the first cyberwar is already well under way. It’s not exactly a “cold war”, as the previous generation understood the term, because serious damage valued in millions of dollars has been done, and there’s nothing masked about the hostile intent of state-sponsored hackers. What is still covert is the sponsorship. Cybercrime is the one of the biggest emerging threats all over the world. Almost all countries, including developing African countries, are prey to it. These countries are combatting it and have taken some serious legal measures. Pakistan had also passed the cyber-crime bill in 2015 but there seem to be certain flaws in it. Furthermore; the Military, Government and Public sector must come on a table to take several measures for securing its national assets.
In this era of globalization, world is becoming a global village and more inter connected with every passing day which will increase the rate of cyber warfare and our dependence on internet will create more hurdles in overcoming this perceived threat of cyber-terrorism.