Cyber Ethics and Cyber Terrorism
Cyber terrorism refers to the actions undertaken by cyber criminals due to lack of cyber ethics in order to use force and violence against innocent victims within cyberspaces. The Federal Bureau of Investigation defined terrorism as unlawful acts involving criminals striving to intimidate, coerce, force, threaten, and violate people and properties. Thus, if a cyber criminal hacks into a computer system and acquires data illegally, the action ought to be addressed as a cyber threat and act of cyber terrorism. Cyber terrorism therefore poses several dangers prompting security agencies and computing professionals across the world to address weaknesses and issues attributing to lack of cyber ethics. Conlon, Abrahams, and Simmons assert that, cyber terrorism is aided by the presence of documents in electronic and print forms containing intelligence and security details that can be utilized against the owners and holders of the data (Conlon, Abrahams & Simmons, 2015).
Conway denotes cyber terrorism as the perception showing persistently in the modern media involving threatening and violent actions undertaken by cyber criminals. He therefore believes acts involving cyber terrorism often happen to majority of people persuaded by the striking aspects of the threat. For example, it is evident that a cyber attack cannot occur without internet connectivity as it facilitates actions wrecking of havoc across public and private sectors. The persons across the public and private sectors however are often ignorant with regards to the much rate of dependence they have developed with computers. More so, they are hardly informed or aware that the computers put them in a vulnerable position with regards to the skills and levels of expertise applied by cyber criminals such as hackers and phishers (Conway, 2011).
The Central Intelligence Agency developed the Information Warfare Center in order to employ staffs required to respond, address, and resolve cyber terrorist attacks on a twenty four hour basis. Consequently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigates cases involving hacking and phishing among other cyber criminal activities involving computer malware such as spyware, Trojan horses, ramsonware, adware, viruses, scareware, worms, and other malicious programs. The Secret Service on the other hand is tasked in pursuing fraud, banking, and wiretapping cases. The Air Force created a group known as the Electronic Security Engineering Teams (ESETS) comprising of two to three members required to implement and conduct random control measures and inspections respectively across Air Forces sites and computers. This affirms that, the members of public are often protected from cyber terrorism by the major security organizations, departments, and agencies in the country as they lack knowledge of the potential threats they face on a daily basis (Rechtman & Rashbaum, 2015).
The use of computers has increased due to advancing technologies coupled with the expanding internet connectivity. As a result, computer users for personal and professional purposes have developed a social psychological dependence on technologies despite facing cyber terrorism threats. Conversely, they lack cyber ethics ensuring cyber criminals do not penetrate cyberspaces in order to threaten and violate their privacies. For example, at least ninety percent of all residential houses in United States have a computer used by family members and friends. They however do not take precaution in ensuring the computer is not utilized in perpetrating a cyber terror attack. They often rely on anti viruses disregarding the fact that family members and friends can also lack cyber ethics while being involved in cyber terrorism. For example, they can be secret members of terror groups including Al Qaida as they do not have to engage in face to face meetings raising questions due to the occasional travelling. This is because terror groups are currently relying on emails, teleconferences, phone calls, and short messages to communicate, organize and execute a terror attack. Thus, installing an anti virus does not ensure cyber criminals uphold cyber ethics. Instead, it prevents cyber criminals within cyberspaces relying on phishing and hacking in order to violate unsuspecting victims by stealing private and confidential data. Cyber ethics are therefore vital in ensuring cyber terrorism is prevented and addressed (Spaeth, 2015).
Cyber ethics refer to philosophic values and ethics pertaining and encompassing computer use and users’ behaviors to ensure they do not affect other people, communities, and the country at large adversely. For decades, human beings have strived and struggled in ensuring they maintain privacy. For example, they have ensured personal and private documents are not accessed by people without permission and authority. As a result, advancing technologies attributed by internet connectivity have had to ensure the issues due to lack of privacies are prevented or resolved. This has been achieved through installation of programs and software protecting peoples’ data from being hacked, phished, and accessed by other computer users without the owners’ permission. Ensuring maximum privacy is achieved can however be challenging. This is because computer users have also developed advanced skills and levels of expertise being enforced to threaten and violate persons across cyberspaces (Rechtman & Rashbaum, 2015).
For example, when facebook was being developed, Mark Zuckerberg aimed at ensuring the cyber platform is utilized in sustaining and expanding users’ social circles. Thus, he had a vision that Facebook would be utilized in assisting family members and friends to keep in touch despite being distant apart. This vision however has been changing as the cyber platform continues to be modified in order to ensure the users maintain their privacy. Several Facebook users have been victims of hacking. For example, several celebrities have claimed that their Facebook accounts have been hacked and the perpetrators taken advantage of unsuspecting users in extorting money. They also utilize such an opportunity in spreading malicious rumors that are often damaging as the victims’ reputations are destroyed. As a result, several security measures have been installed to ensure Facebook users are protected from cyber criminal activities involving unlawful and unethical accessibility to accounts (Elazari, 2015).
Cyber criminals and terrorists however often target other cyberspaces and platforms especially containing financial data. This is because they strive to acquire and amass wealth in order to fund their unethical, illegal, threatening, and violent activities. As a result, they target innocent victims including individuals and organizations on various online platforms in order to access and acquire personal data. An individual’s private data can be utilized in creating a false identity that can be used in perpetrating a cyber terror attack. Thus, identity theft is often as a result of cyber criminals striving to ensure their true identity is protected in order to evade security agencies. Consequently, they target organizations to steal financial information and resources. For example, they target organizations they can acquire phone numbers, social security numbers, and credit card information. This enables them to create a new and false identity representing either an individual or organization empowering them to engage in more illegal and unethical activities such as money laundering. Thus, private data collection is a violation of cyber ethics (Spaeth, 2015).
Violation of cyber ethics involves use of malware applied to access and collect huge amounts of personal and private data as well as consumer transactions. Cyber criminals target data warehouses comprising of corporate and social networking websites while violating ethical measures implemented to protect and preserve the data from gaining access to the public domain. This can be undertaken by terrorists and criminals aiming to violate, harm, and damage the victims’ social, economic, and political reputations. They disregard intellectual property rights enforced to ensure the increasing speed of the internet and compressing technologies does not limit maintenance of privacies among computer users in the cyberspaces. Currently, more than one million computer and telephone users exchange data and media on a daily basis. For example, family members can exchange personal telephone numbers and addresses without suspecting that their privacies are being violated by cyber criminals targeting them (Fuchs, Bichler & Raffl, 2009).
Consequently, organizations can transfer copyrighted media among employees and partnering firms unaware that a cyber criminal has gained access hence controlling how the media will be used. This explains why the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducts regular investigations across various cyberspace platforms to ensure phishers and hackers are not utilizing stolen data to perpetrate a cyber attack against United States. Conlon, Abraham, and Simmons therefore note that, swift, precise, and complete extraction of data through use of illegal programs and software ought to be prevented. Computer users should therefore build secure electronic databases engineered to ensure private and confidential data is neither extracted nor utilized to perpetrate a cyber terror attack. As a result, they propose engineering and employment of CAINES to undertake a syntactic and semantic evaluation of diverse electronic databases to prevent and thwart a possible cyber terror attack (Elazari, 2015).
According to David Danks and Joseph Danks, cyber warfare aggressions, attacks, and arguments can occur at a rapid speed resulting to massive damages being experienced for days, months, and even years. This is because human beings have the ability to react and overreact to a situation coupled with regular discussions and reviews with regards to the incidence. Thus, cyber warfare occurrences are based on the moral tolerability among users in the cyberspace determining their reactions. For example, a person can email a rude message to his/her friends as a joke. Unfortunately, the email can also be sent and received by colleagues and employers at the work environment. Such incidences result to conflicts among employees and employers with the victim either facing social persecution or an official warning from the board of directors at the organization. Although the incidence occurs from the simple act of pressing send without confirming the recipients, the reactions from the mistake last for a long period of time. For example, some colleagues can judge the individual’s moral values especially if the email contents contained information with sexual contexts. As a result, computer users ought to apply ethics and values while surfing in the cyberspaces. They ought to ensure their actions are not centered on reactions and activities progressing directly from reflections of pertinent individual decision makers keen in violating cyber ethics in attempts to engage in a cyber attack. This is because automated actions and reactions among cyber users can be predicted by cyber criminals in order to establish cyber warfare (Danks & Danks, 2013).
As a result, the following three considerable hindrances to ethical acceptability among persons in cyberspaces ought to be addressed and resolved. The first considerable hindrance involves ascription. This refers to psychological causes and perceptions attributing to cyber warfare. For example, Sony and PlayStation Network as well as Xbox Live network and Microsoft have suffered economically due to serious cyber attacks. As a result, they have had to utilize funds to ensure more enhanced security measures through use of sophisticated software and programs are installed. For example, when Albert Gonzalez pled guilty for hacking and stealing forty million debit and credit card numbers in 2009 from major retail stores due to internet connectivity, programs and software preventing e-commerce scams and malware attacks should have been installed to infiltrate Hackerville. Ultimately, psychological causes and perceptions should be applied to ensure witnessed cyber terror attacks are prevented in the future to safeguard individual and corporate assets, resources, and infrastructures (Danks & Danks, 2013).
The second challenge attributing to cyber terrorism involves overcoming the chain response. In 2010 and 2011, increased high profile cyber terrorism activities were recorded among various organizations including Google, Stuxnet or VanityFair, and the Western Energy Company. They challenged the organizations’ cyber security policies implemented to protect digital infrastructures and financial networks. The chain response therefore involves activities undertaken by cyber criminals including acts of terrorism, crime, vandalism, protests, and espionage attributing to social, economic, political, cultural, and religious damages. Thus, the chain response is a challenge attributed by cyber criminals with ill motives using computer malware such as botnets and viruses to acquire and gather intelligence from cyberspaces illegally to engineer a cyber terror attack. Financial and technical resources should therefore be protected from being accessed by cyber criminal targeting the assets to compromise highly valued digital realms. As a result, openness and security should be prioritized to ensure offensive cyber attacks are detected and prevented. The government should therefore encourage citizens, private and public corporations to address cyber terrorism as a global issue involving various forms such as fraud, identity theft, money laundering, and cyber stalking and bullying, and petty theft of data through security breaches costing global nations huge financial losses (Danks & Danks, 2013).
The third challenge attributing to cyber terrorism involves projection. Intellectual property such as emails and corporate infrastructures send, receive, and store terabytes of data on a daily basis. Cyber attackers verify this fact before targeting and terrorizing such infrastructures as they are guaranteed of acquiring and gathering a lot of data applicable in ensuring social and economic losses and damages are experienced by the victims. For example, they apply malicious malware targeting a specific industrial control system in order to cause malfunctions resulting to massive financial losses. They also strive to sabotage the enforced systems ensuring functions and operations undertaken especially by large and multinational firms are adversely affected to project losses, damages, and violent threats. Individuals and corporations should therefore project the losses and damages they are likely to suffer from incase a cyber terror attack occurs. This will prompt them to undertake sever cyber defense and security measures preventing cyber criminals from illegally and unethically accessing cyberspaces. For example, establishing a single chain of command while working with partners involves the sharing and exchange of various forms of information. As a result, the established relationship ought to coordinate responses against cyber terror attacks to prevent reputational damages and financial losses (Danks & Danks, 2013).
Citizens across United States are allowed to utilize the freedom and right of information. Thus, they can send and receive information from anyone at any time and place without being persecuted or punished through the legal system. This freedom is sustained through the freedom of speech guarantying citizens are able to seek, obtain, and impart any form of information or data within the jurisdictions of the cyberspaces. As a result, cyberspace users have developed a socio-cultural behavior of utilizing the internet to engage in cyber attacks and warfare. This has often been regarded as cyber bullying. It should however be noted that, data utilized through internet connectivity to harm, damage, and destroy an individual’s or organization’s reputation and resources constitutes to cyber terrorism. This is because it involves use of threats and violence due to lack of cyber ethics to affect peoples and organizational social, economic, and cultural beliefs as well as values (Herley, 2014).
For example, the Justice Department affirmed that a member of the Islamic State known as Junaid Hussain stole information and provided the data to a terror group. The information was utilized in sending threatening emails and messages through social media platforms stating the terror group was watching and tracking United States citizens every move. This claim aimed at threatening and instilling fear among Americans as the group also claimed it possessed names and addresses of particular persons they were interested in extracting personal and private data. They stated they would utilize the stolen data in ensuring the individuals experience pain through strikes on their lands and necks. Such kind of cyber attacks project that, cyber criminals are always present in cyberspaces. Cyberspace users should therefore acknowledge that they ought to enforce measures hindering the cyber terrorists to inflict fear, pain, and suffering. Consequently, users’ private and confidential data can be safeguarded from illegal, unlawful, and unethical accessibilities (Herley, 2014).
Cyberspaces constitute of sexual and pornographic contexts. These forms of information have often been applied in stirring ethical controversies among social, cultural, and religious. Media academics have conducted various researches in attempts to determine how online contexts can be applied to violate cyber ethics. This has resulted to the eruption of a cyber ethical debate with regards to the regulation, distribution, and accessibility of online contexts regarded as immoral and unethical. Thus, pornographic and sexual online contexts ought to be controlled ensuring cyber terrorists do not utilize the information in violating cyber ethics. As a result, the government ought to enforce the established laws aimed at ensuring online contexts of sexual nature are used within the legal jurisdictions. According to Fuch, Bichler, and Raffl, developed contemporary societies have attributed towards the changes witnessed on industrial and informational capitalism levels. They apply moral values and ethics to modify multidimensional cyberspaces to influence growth and development in the society (Fuchs, Bichler & Raffl, 2009).
For example, they ensure moral, religious, and cultural beliefs are upheld across the civilized, social, and technical societies while striving to achieve socioeconomic growth. As a result, upholding cyber ethics should be a crucial regulation to be observed by cyberspace users to achieve sustainability and collaboration. The following cyber ethics should therefore be upheld. Foremost, cyberspace users should ensure their computers are not used in harming people. For example, every citizen should ensure his/her computer is not used in cyber terror attacks involving hacking and phishing. As a result, cyberspace users should never interfere with other peoples’ computer work. Thus, they should never rely on worms, viruses, and other forms of malware to spy on another computer user. They should never steal or access private data illegally in attempts to utilize it resulting to losses and damages on social and economic levels (Fuchs, Bichler & Raffl, 2009).
Consequently, they should avoid snooping on other people’s computer files including pictures, videos, and documents. This will ensure the cyber ethic advocating users to never bear false witness perpetrated by online identity thieves is upheld. More so, cyberspace users should avoid using proprietary software they have not paid for as this constitutes to theft of intellectual property. For example, a computer user should never rely on antivirus software he/she has not paid for. The antivirus could also be a program utilized by cyber terrorists to hack, spy, steal, and gather private information. As a result, the use of other peoples’ computer resources without permission should neither be encouraged nor allowed unless proper compensation is guaranteed. Consequently, cyberspace users ought to think about the social, cultural, economic, and religious consequences when designing and using a particular program. Thus, website developers and programmers should ensure they consider and respect other peoples’ beliefs, needs, and desires without violating cyber ethics, morals, and values (Hill & Acohido, 2014).
According to Herley, cyber terrorism involves the attacker and the victim. The two are often familiar to each other as cyber criminals target a victim they acknowledge and understand his/her online history. Cyberspace users should therefore neutralize planned attacks by defending their data and computer systems. Ignoring cyber terrorists should neither be allowed nor encouraged as this strategy indicates that cyber criminals can be tolerated. Ensuring cyber terrorists are identified, persecuted, and punished is therefore vital as it asserts that cyber ethics ought to be respected and upheld to safeguard nation’s social, political, economic, and cultural resources as well as infrastructures (Herley, 2014).
Cyber terrorism is therefore perpetrated by individuals without cyber ethics and values. This is because cyber criminals vandalize web pages and cyberspaces in order to inflict emotional, social, economic, and cultural pain to the victims. More so, they amass wealth and financial assets acquired illegally to fund unlawful activities involving violence and threats. For example, cyber criminals can apply computer viruses and worms with the aim of accessing websites such as eBay and Amazon to access and collect information toe utilized in damaging their reputations while unethically gathering and collecting their financial assets and resources. This is a form of cyber terrorism perpetrated by cyber criminals striving to violate cyber ethics and cyberspaces. Persons involving in stealing and pirating of music should therefore be considered as cyber terrorists as they violate cyber ethics resulting to musicians experiencing economic losses (Dipert, 2013).
Cyber terrorism should encompass activities affecting cyberspace users across social, economic, political, religious, cultural, and personal beliefs sustaining an individual’s mental and psychological stability. Cyber terrorism should also encompass attacks against organizations resulting to loss of financial assets, resources, and reputational damages. Security agencies including Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, and Secret Service should therefore continue in ensuring cyber criminals and terrorists are identified and persecuted. More importantly, the security organizations ought to predict and prevent potential and actual cyber attacks from happening across national and international levels.
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