Cyber-terrorism: The Threat of the Future?

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.

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

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