Terrorism Via the Internet

By Laqueur, Walter | The Futurist, March-April 1997 | Go to article overview

Terrorism Via the Internet


Laqueur, Walter, The Futurist


The Internet may become a new target for terrorists, according to an author of several books on terrorism.

"Society has become vulnerable to a new kind of terrorism, in which the destructive power of both the individual terrorist and terrorism as a tactic are infinitely greater," says Walter Laqueur of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the author of Terrorism and Guerrilla.

Writing in Foreign Affairs, Laqueur points out that today's society is becoming more dependent on electronic storage, retrieval, analysis, and transmission of information, giving the new generation of terrorists a very attractive target. With vital national activities such as defense, banking, transportation, scientific research, and trade all being put on-line, "mischief or sabotage by any computer hacker, and concerted sabotage could render a country unable to function," according to Laqueur.

With the potential of these on-line resources being controlled or disrupted by terrorists, governments and law-enforcement authorities are now taking a more serious look at the concepts of infoterrorism and cyberwarfare. Laqueur refers to one unnamed official from the U.S. intelligence community who has boasted that, "with $1 billion and 20 capable hackers, he could shut down America." And what he could achieve, so could a terrorist. …

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