Cyberterrorism refers to acts committed with the intention of threatening the unity, integrity, security, or sovereignty of India or instilling fear among the public. These acts include denying authorized individuals access to computer resources, attempting unauthorized penetration or access, introducing computer contaminants, and causing harm such as death, injuries, property damage, disruption of essential services, or adverse effects on critical information infrastructure.
Another form of cyberterrorism occurs when someone knowingly or intentionally penetrates or accesses a computer resource without authorization and obtains restricted information or data. The purpose of this act is to cause injury to the interests of India’s sovereignty and integrity, security of the state, friendly relations with other countries, public order, decency, morality, contempt of court, defamation, incitement to an offense, or to benefit a foreign nation or group.
The concept of cyberterrorism also encompasses the notion that terrorists could potentially cause significant loss of life, worldwide economic chaos, and environmental damage by hacking into critical infrastructure systems. This form of cyberterrorism involves conduct utilizing computer or Internet technology that is politically, religiously, or ideologically motivated and aims to intimidate a government or a section of the public. It involves serious interference with infrastructure.
There are different types of cyberterror capabilities:
- Simple-Unstructured: This capability involves basic hacks against individual systems using tools created by others. The organization lacks advanced target analysis, command-and-control structures, and learning capabilities.
- Advanced-Structured: This capability allows for more sophisticated attacks against multiple systems or networks. The organization may modify or create basic hacking tools and possesses an elementary level of target analysis, command-and-control structures, and learning capabilities.
- Complex-Coordinated: This capability enables coordinated attacks capable of causing mass disruption against well-defended systems, including cryptography. Organizations with complex-coordinated capabilities can create sophisticated hacking tools and have highly capable target analysis, command-and-control structures, and organizational learning capabilities.
Understanding cyberterrorism requires addressing its motivations, techniques, and capabilities. Combating cyberterrorism involves the efforts of governments, security agencies, and cybersecurity experts to prevent and respond to threats, ensuring the security and stability of nations and their critical infrastructure.
In an effort to counter cyber terrorists, also known as “white-collar jihadis,” the police in India have taken proactive measures by registering private citizens as volunteers to patrol the internet and report suspected cyber terrorists to the government. These volunteers are organized into three categories: “Unlawful Content Flaggers,” “Cyber Awareness Promoters,” and “Cyber Experts.” Their collective goal is to identify and report individuals engaged in activities related to cyber terrorism.
In August 2021, the police made significant progress in their efforts when they arrested five suspected white-collar jihadis. These individuals were found to be preparing a hit list that included officers, journalists, social activists, lawyers, and political functionaries. Their intent was to create fear and unrest among the general public. White-collar jihadis are considered a particularly dangerous form of terrorists as they operate anonymously and find safe havens in other nations, while inflicting significant damage and engaging in brainwashing activities.
The actions taken by the police to enlist the support of private citizens reflect the seriousness of the threat posed by cyber terrorism. By mobilizing volunteers and encouraging public participation, law enforcement aims to enhance their ability to identify and apprehend individuals involved in such activities. These efforts serve to safeguard the integrity of the internet and protect individuals and communities from the harmful consequences of cyber terrorism.