Terrorists Groups

The FBI distinguishes a cyberterrorist attack as a type of cybercrime explicitly designed to cause physical harm. However, there is no current consensus between various governments and the information security community on what qualifies as an act of cyberterrorism.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Terrorist Group
  • What's cyberware?

    The use of cyber attacks against a nation-state, causing it significant harm, up to and including physical warfare, disruption of vital computer systems and loss of life.

  • What kinds of Cyber Weapons are used in Warfare?
    Examples of acts that might qualify as cyberwarfare include the following: viruses, phishing, computer worms, and malware that can take down critical infrastructure; distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that prevent legitimate users from accessing targeted computer networks or devices; hacking and theft of critical data from institutions, governments, and businesses; spyware or cyber espionage that results in the theft of information that compromises national security and stability; ransomware that holds control systems or data hostage; and propaganda or disinformation campaigns used to cause serious disruption or chaos.
  • What are the goals of Cyberwarfare?

    According to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the goal of cyberwarfare is to "weaken, disrupt or destroy" another nation. To achieve their goals, cyberwarfare programs target a wide spectrum of objectives that might harm national interests. These threats range from propaganda to espionage and serious disruption with extensive infrastructure disruption and loss of life to the citizens of the nation under attack.

  • What are the types of Cyberwarfare Attacks?

    The threat of cyberwarfare attacks grows as a nation's critical systems are increasingly connected to the internet. Even if these systems can be properly secured, they can still be hacked by perpetrators recruited by nation-states to find weaknesses and exploit them. Major types of cyberwarfare attacks include the following.

    Destabilization

    In recent years, cybercriminals have been attacking governments through critical infrastructure, including such entities as transportation systems, banking systems, power grids, water supplies, dams, and hospitals. The adoption of the internet of things makes the manufacturing industry increasingly susceptible to outside threats.

    From a national security perspective, destabilizing critical digital infrastructure inflicts damage on vital modern services or processes. For example, an attack on the energy grid could have massive consequences for the industrial, commercial, and private sectors.

    Sabotage

    Cyber attacks that sabotage government computer systems can be used to support conventional warfare efforts. Such attacks can block official government communications, contaminate digital systems, enable the theft of vital intelligence and threaten national security.

    State-sponsored or military-sponsored attacks, for example, may target military databases to get information on troop locations, weapons, and equipment being used.

    Data theft

    Cybercriminals hack computer systems to steal data that can be used for intelligence, held for ransom, sold, used to incite scandals and chaos, or even destroyed.

    The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) maintains a timeline record of cyber attacks on government agencies and defense and high-tech companies, as well as economic crimes with losses of more than $1 million. In CSIS timelines dating back to 2006, many of the recorded cyber incidents involve hacking and data theft from nation-states.

  • What's Cyberterrorist Motivation?
    The primary motivation for cyberterrorism attacks is to disrupt or harm the victims, even if the attacks do not result in physical harm or cause extreme financial harm.
  • What types of methods are used for cyberterrorism?

    The intention of cyberterrorist groups is to cause mass chaos, disrupt critical infrastructure, support political activism or hacktivism, and inflict physical damage or even loss of life. Cyberterrorism actors use a variety of attack methods. These include but are not limited to the following:

    Advanced persistent threat (APT) attacks use sophisticated and concentrated penetration methods to gain network access and stay there undetected for a period of time with the intention of stealing data. Typical targets for APT attacks are organizations with high-value information, such as national defense, manufacturing, and the financial industry.

    Computer viruses, worms, and malware target information technology (IT) control systems and can affect utilities, transportation systems, power grids, critical infrastructure, and military systems, creating instability.

    DoS attacks are intended to prevent legitimate users from accessing targeted computer systems, devices, or other computer network resources and can be aimed at critical infrastructure and governments.

    Hacking, or gaining unauthorized access, seeks to steal critical data from institutions, governments, and businesses.

    Ransomware, a type of malware, holds data or information systems hostage until the victim pays the ransom.

    Phishing attacks attempt to collect information through a target's email, using that information to access systems or steal the victim's identity.

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