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Jarkko Moilanen:

"The term cyberterrorism was first coined in 1996 by Barry Collin, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security and Intelligence in California. He defined cyberterrorism as the convergence of ‘cybernetics’ and ‘terrorism.’(Collin 1996.). Denning used similar terms defining cyberterrorism to be a mix of ‘cyberspace’ and ‘terrorism’(Denning 1999; Denning 2000b.). Denning determines all unlawful attacks and threats of attack against computers, networks and information stored therein to be included in the realm of cyberterrorism.(Denning 1999; Denning 2000b.) Furthermore the actions must be in order to intimidate or coerce a government or its people. All this is done to pursue some political or social objectives. Denning also emphasizes that such actions should also result violence against persons / property or at least cause enough harm to generate needed amount of fear among people.(Denning 1999; Denning 2000b.) Denning’s definition would then include hacktivism to be cyberterrorism. Nelson et al. have only slightly different yet compact definition for cyberterrorism:

“Cyberterrorism is the calculated use of unlawful violence against digital property to intimidate or coerce governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are political, religious or ideological.”(Nelson et al. 1999, ix.)

There is also reason to separate cyberterror act and activity.(Nelson et al. 1999, 10-11.) The first one refers to the actual act of terror, for example crashing systems. The latter refers to various activities needed to support the operation, for example intelligence collection and communications.(Furnell and Warren1999, 32.) Cybercrime and cyberterrorism differ only on the basis of the motive and intention of the perpetrator. Furnell and Warren make a distinction with classical hackers and cyberterrorists. According to them cyberterrorists’ operate with a specified political or ideological agenda to support their actions.(Furnell and Warrren 1999, 30.)" (


Jarkko Moilanen:

"When is an attack in cyberspace considered to be terrorism? The question can be answered by examining what are the common elements to all terrorism.

According to Vatis (2001.) acts of terrorism are:

  • premeditated and not simply acts born of rage,
  • political and designed to impact political structure,
  • targeted at civilians and civilian installations, and
  • conducted by ad hoc groups as opposed to national armies.

When these elements are applied to cyberterrorism, none of them seems to fail. Firstly, cyberterrorist attacks are premeditated and must be planned since they involve the development or acquisition of software to carry out an attack. Secondly, cyberterrorism acts are intended to corrupt / completely destroy a computer system or systems(Galley 1996.). Cyberterrorists are hackers with a political motivation, their attacks can impact political structure through this corruption and destruction1(Furnell and Warren1999, 30.) Thirdly, cyberterrorist attacks often target civilian interests. Denning qualifies cyberterrorism as an attack that results in violence against persons or property, or at least causes enough harm to generate fear (Denning 2000a.). Fourthly, cyberterrorism is sometimes distinguished from cyberwarfare, which is computer-based attacks orchestrated by agents of a nation-state." (

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Primary research material compiled by Jarkko Moilanen:

  • Arquilla J. and Ronfeldt D. (1993) Cyberwar is coming ! Comparative Strategy Vol 12 No 2 s.141–165. Routledge, London.
  • Arquilla, J., Ronfeldt, D. and Zanini, M. (1999) Networks, Netwar and Information-Age Terrorism. In Lesser Ian (ed.) et al. Countering the New Terrorism. Rand. California.
  • Arquilla J. and Ronfeldt, D. (2001) The Advent of Netwar (Revisited) in Arquilla, J. and Ronfeldt, D. (eds.) Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy. Rand, Santa Monica, pp. 1-25.
  • Blyth, T. (2001) Cyberterrorism and Private Corporations: New Threat Models and Risk Management Implications. Read 24.2.2001.
  • Collin, B. (1996) The Future of Cyberterrorism. Paper presented at the 11th Annual International Symposium on Criminal Justice Issues, University of Illinois at Chicago.
  • Damphousse, K. and Smith, B. (1998) The Internet; A Terrorist Medium for the 21st Century. In Kushner, Harvey(ed.): The Future of Terrorism: Violence in the New Millenium. SAGE Publications Ltd, London.
  • Denning, D. (2000a) Testimony before the Special Oversight Panel on Terrorism, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. House of Representatives. Read 4.2.2009.
  • Denning, D. (2000b) ‘Cyberterrorism.’ Global Dialogue. Read 17.2.2009.
  • Denning, D. (2000c) Activism, Hacktivism, and Cyberterrorism: The Internet as a Tool for Influencing Foreign Policy. Read 3.2.2009.
  • Devost, Matthew (1995) National Security in the Information Age. Read 1.2.2009. Copy of the thesis can be found at:
  • Devost, M., Houghton, B. and Pollard, N. (2001) Organizing for Information Warfare: “The Truth is Out There.” Read 24.2.2001.
  • Furnell, S.M. And Warren M.J. (1999) Computer Hacking and Cyber Terrorism: The Real Threats in the New Millennium? Computers & Security, 18 (1999). Elsevier Science Ltd. London.
  • Manion, M. and A. Goodrum (2000). Terrorism or civil disobedience: Toward a Hacktivist Ethic.ACM SIGCAS Computers and Society 30(2): 14-19.
  • Moore, D., Shannon, C. and Brown J. (2002) Code-Red: a case study on the spread and victims of an Internet worm. Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis – CAIDA, San Diego Supercomputer Center, University of California, San Diego.
  • Post, J., Ruby, K. and Shaw, E. (2000) From car bombs to logic bombs: The growing threat from information terrorism. Terrorism and Political Violence,12:2,97 — 122.
  • Ronfeld, D. and Martinez, A. (1997) A Comment on the Zapatista “Netwar” in Arquilla, John, and Ronfeldt David (eds.), In Athena’s Camp: Preparing for Conflict in the Information Age, Rand, Santa Monica. pp. 369-391.
  • Rosteck, T. (1994) Computer Hackers: Rebels With a Cause. Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec. Read 25.6.2009.
  • Red Hat Linux Security Guide (2002) Chapter 2. Attackers and Vulnerabilities.

  • Still, V. (1997) Informaatiosota. In Saarenpää Ahti and Pöysti Tuomas (eds.): Tietoturvallisuus ja laki, näkökohtia tietoturvallisuuden oikeudellisessa sääntelyssä. Edita Oy, Helsinki.
  • Tucker, D. (2001) What is New about the New Terrorism and How Dangerous is It? Terrorism and Political Violence,13:3,1 — 14.
  • Valeri, L. and Knights, M. (2000) Affecting trust: Terrorism, internet and offensive information warfare. Terrorism and Political Violence,12:1,15 — 36.
  • Vatis, M. (2001) Cyber attacks during the war on terrorism: A predictive analysis. Read 5.2.2009.
  • Wray, S. (1998a) The Electronic Disturbance Theater and Electronic Civil Disobedience. Read 14.4.2009. Http://
  • Wray, S. (1998b) On Electronic Civil Disobedience. Read 14.4.2009.