Cover: Cyber-terrorism: The Threat of the Future?

Cyber-terrorism: The Threat of the Future?

Published 2003

by Andrew Rathmell

Is cyber-terrorism the threat of the future? The convergence of technological and socio-political trends indeed suggests that cyber-terrorism may be the wave of the future. If warfare is going to be conducted in cyber-space and if the combatants of the future are going to be irregulars, then cyber-terrorism is the logical paradigm of future conflict. However, assessing the real extent of the future threat from cyber-terrorism requires conceptually clear strategic analysis and detailed case studies. This article undertakes this task by, first, identifying what we mean by Information Warfare (IW) and then discussing which aspects of IW may be of use to sub-state groups. The article then turns to an assessment of the extent of use of IW techniques today before analysing how one specific group, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), may use IW.

Research conducted by

Originally published in: RUSI journal, v. 142, no. 5, October 1997, pp. 40-45.

This report is part of the RAND reprint series. The Reprint was a product of RAND from 1992 to 2011 that represented previously published journal articles, book chapters, and reports with the permission of the publisher. RAND reprints were formally reviewed in accordance with the publisher's editorial policy and compliant with RAND's rigorous quality assurance standards for quality and objectivity. For select current RAND journal articles, see External Publications.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.