Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy

By John Arquilla; David Ronfeldt | Go to book overview

Chapter Eight
ACTIVISM, HACKTIVISM, AND CYBERTERRORISM:
THE INTERNET AS A TOOL FOR INFLUENCING
FOREIGN POLICY
Dorothy E. Denning

Editors' abstract. Netwar is not mainly about technology—but good information technology sure makes a difference. In this chapter, Denning (Georgetown University) examines how activists, hacktivists, and cyberterrorists use the Internet, and what influence they have been able to exert on policymakers. Social activists seem the most effective of these netwar actors. Hacktivists and cyberterrorists have not posed much of a real threat to date—but this could change if they acquire better tools, techniques, and methods of organization, and if cyberdefenses do not keep pace. In this swiftly evolving area, today's tools and techniques are often soon outdated; yet Denning's analytic approach should prove conceptually sound for years to come. The original version of this paper was sponsored by the Nautilus Institute and presented at a conference on “The Internet and International Systems: Information Technology and American Foreign Policy Decision Making,” The World Affairs Council, San Francisco, December 10, 1999 (www.nautilus.org/info-policy/workshop/papers/denning.html). Reprinted by permission.

The conflict over Kosovo has been characterized as the first war on the Internet. Government and nongovernment actors alike used the Net to disseminate information, spread propaganda, demonize opponents, and solicit support for their positions. Hackers used it to voice their objections to both Yugoslav and NATO aggression by disrupting service on government computers and taking over their web sites. Individuals used it to tell their stories of fear and horror inside the con

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