Knowing the relationship of hacktivism and cyber terrorism
The fusion of technology and politics
Hacktivism is the fusion of hacking and activism; politics and technology. In essence, this is the process how hackers use technology as a way to express their political beliefs and ideologies. It is described as hacking for a political cause. Its specific clinical definition is that it is a policy of taking direct and militant action to achieve a political or social goal. In its general sense, Hacktivism is the use of one's collective or individual ingenuity to circumvent limitations, to hack clever solutions to complex problems using computer and Internet technology.
Cyber terrorism, on the other hand, is a computer-based attack or threat of attack intended to intimidate or coerce governments or societies in pursuit of goals that are political, religious, or ideological. Although Hacktivism and cyber terrorism use the Internet as a means to realize their respective goals, they are different from each other.
While Hacktivism is resorted to for a political cause, it is usually done in a peaceful way; but cyber terrorism is grabbing the attention of the public through aggressive ways, specifically instilling fear into the hearts and minds of the general public. But, one of the articles states that there is no such thing as cyber terrorism--no instance of anyone ever having been killed by a terrorist (or anyone else) using a computer. And the real danger is from the criminals and other hackers who did $15 billion in damage to the global economy last year using viruses, worms, and other readily available tools. There lies one difference between the two.
An act, to be considered as Hacktivism, should advocate a political cause or requires a conscious political intent. Otherwise, it would be an act of cyber terrorism.
If the purpose of the simple virus circulation is to create damage to certain computer network, then this would constitute "petty cyber terrorism." However, if the virus-circulation is meant to capture the public's attention and focus it to a political or social issue, then it would be Hacktivism.
One question which relates to the topic was: When the Chinese government introduces Trojans on the computers of its opponents abroad, is this Hacktivism? In essence, China's act is not pure Hacktivism, but that of cyber terrorism. This is because they intend to cause economic harm to their opponents by targeting the Western software giants, not only as a means of acquiring technical know-how, but also as agents for influencing Western governments to their advantage.
Harm results when these software companies crash and causes severe unemployment, damage to technology, and emergence of economic problems. However, if we are to take China's governmental perspective on the issue, its act would constitute Hacktivism because it advocates state censorship by filtering politically or socially-unacceptable ideas in e-mail. And individual privacy rights and community gathering are similarly regulated. Therefore, the answer to this question is relative as to which perspective we are to take, the Chinese government's perspective or that of the party affected by its act of state censorship and targeting Western software giants.
One asks, is cyber terrorism a serious threat, and why do others agree?
One argument states that the tendency to commit cyber terrorism is limited to the capability and motivation of the person to carry out the attack. It is added that while many hackers have the knowledge, skills, and tools to attack computer systems, they generally lack the motivation to cause violence or do economic or social harm. In addition, terrorists who are motivated to cause violence seem to lack the capability to cause that degree of damage in cyberspace. Others agree to these ideas because of their belief that computer systems are complex, so controlling and attack and achieving a desired level of damage may be harder than using physical weapons.
How might it become such a threat, and what are the pros and cons of various countermeasures?
Cyberterrorism will become a serious threat when people adept at hacking will sympathize and align with the terrorists cause. Cyber terrorism has become more appealing because some of the computer programs have features which are easy to exploit and conducive for committing cyber terrorism. However, even if this threat is not considered serious today, certain preventive measures must be implemented so that we will not be caught by surprise. We should learn from the events of September 11. We cannot afford to shrug off threat.