The National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC), within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the United States, defined cyberterrorism as a criminal act conducted with computers and resulting in violence, destruction, or death of targets in an effort to produce terror with the purpose of coercing a government to alter its policies. The Department of Defense operations for information warfare notes that cyberterrorism also includes attacks on computer networks and transmission lines.
At the start of 2005, other countries besides the United States decided to clamp down on cyberterrorists. For example, during the week of February 22, Singapore, one of the world’s most “connected” nations (with almost 60% of its more than four million people living in homes connected to the Internet), said that it was prepared to spend $23 million over three years to stop online crackers from doing damage, including cyberterrorism. Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan said that a newly created Nation Cyber-Threat Monitoring Center would be able to provide 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week detection and analysis of computer virus threats. Besides clamping down on cyberterrorists, Singapore has also placed more armed guards in shopping malls as well as at border entries since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Moreover, in 2003 Singapore passed legislation permitting the monitoring of all computer activities by cyber police.
During the week of March 18, 2005, five European governments—Spain, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy (the G5)—convened to develop a high-tech group to jointly monitor how terrorists and cyberterrorists may use the Internet to accomplish their means of inducing fear or bringing death to their targets. One of the group’s objectives was to close Websites that breach terrorism laws. The participating countries also said that they would create more open communication lines to share information about terrorist suspects, stolen explosives, forged identity papers, DNA files, and money laundering.
Richard Clarke, former cybersecurity chief for the White House, had issues with the term “cyberterrorism” and the way it is used, and he said so to the media during the week of February 11, 2005. Many diverse groups use cyber vulnerabilities to their advantage, he noted, but we are not at the stage at which all cybercriminals can be labeled terrorists. Cybercrime is a very serious issue, he contended, and it costs millions of dollars, but Web defacement and the recruitment of terrorists online is not cyberterrorism. If there have been no deaths, there has been no real cyberterrorism—that was the implied message.
BBC. Web to Have ‘Terror Watch’ Team. [Online, March 18, 2005.] BBC.co.uk Website. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4360727.stm Reuters. Singapore Unveils Plan to Battle ‘Cyber Terror.’ [Online, February 22, 2005]; Ilett, D. Clarke Joins Latest Cyberterror Debate. [Online, February 11, 2005.] CNET Networks, Inc. Website. http:// news.zdnet.co.uk/internet/security/0,39020375,39187582,00.htm; Wilson, C. CRS Report for Congress: Computer Attack and Cyberterrorism: Vulnerabilities and Policy Issues for Congress. [Online, October 17, 2003.] CRS Report Website. http://www.fas.org/irp/crs/RL32114.pdf.