Threats Posed by Cyberspace Terrorism to the National Security, Businesses, and Individuals

Abstract

In the contemporary world of business, technology is an essential element for enhancing competitive advantage. In addition to technology, globalization is also essential for large corporations in enhancing the expansion of markets for goods and services coupled with sourcing for cheap and competitive labor among other advantages. However, these elements call for the centralization of management and corporate affairs, which then calls for the implementation of modern communication channels together with data and information storage facilities via the Internet. This special requirement poses great risks to business survival due to cyberspace threats from hackers. This paper gives an in depth analysis of the threats posed by cyberspace terrorism to the national security, businesses, individuals and others.

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Introduction

Cyberspace protection is a critical element for the success of businesses in the contemporary technologically developed world of business. Over the recent years, many businesses have suffered the loss of data and important information due to cyberspace attacks from hackers across the word. Internet hackers are capable of accessing confidential business information stored in online databases and sometimes manipulate it by altering or even crushing entire documents (Goldsmith & Wu, 2009).

For instance, the most outstanding case happened in the United States where some hackers managed to interfere with the government privacy, with the infamous wiki leaks hacking incident on the United States’ embassy databases in various countries where secretive information leaked to the public in the name of freedom of speech. This aspect implies that the government of the United States has not been fully protecting itself against cyberspace crime.

Cyberspace Protection

Cyberspace attacks can be defined as acts of unauthorized persons extracting secret and confidential information over the Internet. Cyber terrorists use programs that are capable of cracking the codes that protect the access of other parties’ information and data. Cyber terrorists can access business information for various purposes, which include revealing business policies to competitors, revealing business secrets to the public, and for the sake of manipulating such information (Janczewski & Colarik, 2008).

According to the business laws of a majority of capitalist nations, it is illegal to access confidential information of a business and there are legal consequences for such acts. Hence, cyber terrorists are considered criminals and there are legal consequences whose severities vary according to the motives behind the attack (Clark, 2010). Due to the ever-increasing risks of cyberspace attacks, the relevant authorities have introduced business laws and policies that reduce the impacts of such attacks, though not fully satisfactorily.

The greatest extent to which a business protection against cyberspace attack can reach is the prohibition of competitors to access business policies of a business in an attempt to achieve competitive advantage. In addition, some information companies offer services for information and data hosting, which are not allowed to reveal the information of a client to another party in an attempt to protect privacy and confidentiality of business secrets.

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In the contemporary world, cyberspace terrorism is the greatest threat to globalization because many businesses are afraid of expanding to countries that do not have policies that would protect a business against cyberspace terrorism. A good example is Wal-Mart Chain Stores, which has been reluctant to venture the African market for fear of cyber terrorism among other threats. It has been difficult to implement policies that would offer effective protection to the business against cyberspace attacks due to disparate factors including increased technological and information knowledge, public demand for business information and others (George & Bruce, 2008).

Cyberspace terrorism is a great risk to businesses, individuals, and governments as well. Any confidential information that is stored in online data storage facilities is at a risk of potential cyberspace terrorism. Intellectual properties are also affected by the threat as a majority of cyber terrorists reveal the contents of confidential intellectual property and end up duplicating them for their own advantage (Ventre, 2009). For instance, Microsoft software products are rated the highest victims of cyber terrorism as they have been duplicated or re-modified after being cracked from their storage databases. This aspect has resulted in huge losses to the company due to lose of intellectual properties.

Information technology is very dynamic. This element implies that it has a dynamic growth and development, which call for businesses to keep on upgrading their information infrastructures. Failure to upgrade information infrastructure renders it outdated and vulnerable to cyberspace attacks. Cyberspace terrorists are in most cases technologically updated and hence capable of cracking information sealed by outdated technological mechanisms.

In addition, the rapid growth of information technology profession has compelled youths to pour their energy in the field, thus posing a risk of increase in the population of cyber terrorists across the world, as youths are conventionally energetic and adventurous. This scenario pressurizes governments to ensure cyberspace protection, which demands the constant adoption of the newest protection mechanisms depending on the rate and level of innovations in the field.

On the other hand, public demand for business information acts as a motivation to cyberspace terrorists. Some businesses that do not reveal information to the public create public curiosity, which compels cyberspace terrorists to try to crack the confidential information in order to reveal it to the public. Arguably, this aspect was the motivation behind the wiki leaks cyber terrorism where public considered it a positive move to reveal the government’s information, which had been kept away from the public awareness. For capitalist nations like the United States, it is difficult for the government to punish such cyber terrorist because the majority of them enjoy public support as they are considered heroes whenever they extract confidential but pleasing information to the public (Andress & Winterfeld, 2011).

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Therefore, it is an expensive venture for businesses and governments to contain the threats posed by cyberspace terrorists. A business has to keep on adopting new information technology mechanisms to ensure maximum protection of confidential information. In addition, it is necessary for the business to hire technological experts who develop protective programs that would endure hacking, and keeping such a workforce is expensive. On the other hand, the government only implements legal measures that could curb the vice, as it is difficult to carry the responsibility of ensuring individual business protection like in the case for communist nations where the government is responsible for overall business protection (Colarik, 2006).

Cyberspace security is also a matter of national security concern in any country. The ever-evolving informational technology field has brought about security communication channels into harmony with disparate types of communication. Before the World War II, the Internet was widely used for military operations unlike today where it incorporates all forms of communication. Hence, cyberspace terrorism is also used to reveal confidential information from the military databases across the world. Some countries like the United States and China have put in place measures to protect military databases from cyber terror attacks.

National Security Threats Posed by Actors in Cyberspace

National security is the first priority for any government across the world. In the past, some countries have switched off the Internet in their air space after detecting national security threats. The growth of information technology and the Internet has allowed people to access improved communication channels, but it has posed a major threat to the national security as some individuals attempt to crack confidential information from government’s information databases (Kramer et al. 2009).

The public is ever demanding to know what the government has in place to ensure the citizen’s safety. This great curiosity compels some individuals with information technological expertise to become cyberspace criminals by cracking confidential government information through the Internet. However, it is not bad for citizens to be informed of their government’s security measures against potential attackers, but the problem with them accessing such information is leakage to the advantage of the enemy (Ching, 2010). Hence, the government of the United States has stiff measures in place that ensures matters of national security are not affected by cyberspace terrorism.

Computer networks are widely used for economic and social activities in the United States. Financial systems are linked with the computer network as well as transport control, military operations, telecommunications, and many other important economic sectors. These sectors are potential targets for cyberspace attacks. According to Betz and Stevens (2012), the United States is a major target for cyberspace terrorists across the entire world, hence the government should always be alert in ensuring that cyberspace operations are controlled and monitored in an effort to maximize national security.

Betz and Stevens (2012) further argue that cyber terrorists target financial, transport, energy, and military networks because they hold the greatest strength to the national security of the United States. Hacking financial system networks and manipulating databases would destabilize the United States’ economy. Energy and transport network holds the economic operations in a steady motion and hence its attack would bring all the economic and transport operations in the major cities to a standstill, hence making the country vulnerable to terrorism and other attacks.

How United States is Currently Addressing Threats in Cyberspace

Currently, the US government has security monitoring system for air force military databases located in a military base in Texas. This base was founded after claims that military databases had been hacked numerous times by local and foreign cyber terrorists. Hence, there was a need to put in place a center for information technological experts in the military base, whose work is to monitor the Internet operations, concerning the activities taking place in the military databases, by using digital security application programs. In addition, cyberspace terrorism occurs when cyber terrorists ask unsuspecting citizens for private information over emails and later send malwares over the same emails (Love, 2011).

This aspect has a substantial threat to individual computers whereby those malwares contain viruses that end up destroying stored documents and information in the computers. The same tactic is used to damage confidential information from business computers, and hence considered a security threat for businesses, governments, and individuals’ confidential information.

The government of the United States, through the security agencies in the Department of Homeland Security, has programs that create public awareness on the mostly used tactics, by cyberspace terrorists, in spreading malwares to individuals over emails. Such programs create public awareness and advise the public on the simplest methods of protection that every individual can adopt to enhance security of confidential information from personal computers. The protective measures include the need to have updated computer programs and antiviruses coupled with ignoring spam emails that contain suspicious attachments and contents (Lowenthal, 2012).

The government also has set policies that require retailers to give their names and contacts attached to emails that they send to their clients for easy verification of their emails’ validity over the telephones in case the client becomes suspicious. In addition, through the same public awareness programs, the government advises the public on the importance of keeping their personal passwords confidential coupled with using complex but memorable passwords especially by avoiding English names that are easy to figure out. English names are easy to guess and crack especially when a person ignorantly discloses personal information to the crackers, hence it is advisable for individuals to use passwords based on memory techniques.

On 10 June 2010, Joe Lieberman, the Senator for Connecticut, presented a bill dubbed, Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010, before the Senate with the main objective of increasing cyberspace security against attacks that would destabilize national infrastructures such as telecommunication, transport, financial, and military operations, and hence disrupting the nation’s economy.

The bill was initially designed in such a way that it gave the US president the power to shut down the Internet in an event of massive cyber terrorism in the country. However, critics argued that centralizing power to control the Internet was harmful to the citizens of the United States and they gave the case of communist countries like China, which have the same framework to the detriment of the citizens. The bill was later amended and the power to control the Internet by the president was reduced to 120 days after switching off, unless the Congress passes a motion on the need for extension (Reich & Gelbstein, 2012).

Unfortunately, the bill is yet to be fully adopted because critics argue that such authority to the president would deny the US citizens the freedom of speech and the Internet activities. Arguably, the bill is important for enhancing national security of the United States because large-scale cyber terrorism would bring to a halt all economic activities that rely on the Internet for their computer networking. The power to switch off the Internet would destabilize the economic activities, but at the same time, it would also counter the harmful intentions of the cyber terrorists (Taylor et al. 2010).

According to the U.S. Constitution, the first amendment was made to enhance communication protection rights among other rights. The amendment was made to enhance the freedom of communication over the Internet and the amendment has become a challenge to the government in its effort to enhance cyberspace protection. Ruling by the same amendment, the Supreme Court allowed pornographic communication amongst individuals and companies and at the same time the Child Pornography Prevention Act, which was enacted to prohibit pornography over the Internet, was declared unconstitutional.

This amendment allows for the freedom of speech over the Internet and consequently allows cyber terrorists to carry out their activities with confidence of having constitutional protection against the government’s effort to terminate their operations (Brenner, 2011). The fourth amendment on U.S. Constitution applied to computer searches. It is directly related to the due process issues in cyberspace, which require the party being sued to have a direct connection with the state for the case to be heard in the state. This amendment seems to have limited the government’s power to curb the cyber terrorism as it gives the suspect the constitutional right to human protection before being arrested.

However, if the suspect is found to belong to another state, the case is referred to the federal court. Critics argue that cyber terrorism cases could be heard by the state courts whereby the suspect belonging to another state is arrested and transferred to the state where the case is taking place. Although this process is tedious, it would serve a long way in ensuring cyber terrorists are contained in the United States.

According to the American Cyber Law, it is unlawful for any person to communicate falsely over the Internet for the sake of leading investors to sell or buy stocks of a certain company. This rule protects businesses and corporations against the abnormal variations of their stocks, which may be caused by false information that would be made to the investors (Bellia et al. 2011). This law also prohibits any party or person against giving false or confidential information to third parties without a permit over the Internet. However, people take advantage of giving speculations about the progress of businesses, which is also dangerous as it could mislead investors. Hence, Janczewski and Colarik (2008) are worried that the businesses’ Internet protection from cyber terrorism is not a fully guaranteed.

Organizational Framework Needed For a Coherent Cyber Strategy

Entrepreneurs and business managers who rely on the Internet for their business operations face the great challenge of cyberspace terrorism. However, it is difficult for the government of the United States to ensure full protection against cyberspace terrorism to the citizens because the constitution extends freedom of speech and Internet operations to the cyber terrorists until when they are found guilty. This aspect implies that cyberspace terrorism and hackers would continue to exist as long as constitutional amendments are made to strengthen the government’s power of containing the hackers and cyberspace terrorists.

Hence, entrepreneurs and businesses have to adopt business frameworks that would guarantee low risks on cyber terrorism (Simon, 2013). The majority of the world’s global businesses rely heavily on the Internet as the central channel of communication and information transfer because they have centralized management systems. In such a case, the network could be hacked and confidential information leaked to the wrong parties, which then could result in adverse effects to a corporation (Dunham & Melnick, 2009). Therefore, entrepreneurs and businesses managers should put in place communication systems that guarantee individual business protection against the threats of cyberspace terrorism.

The most convenient business framework that would guarantee maximum protection against cyberspace terrorism is the one whereby the communication network is broken down according to different managerial levels of the corporation. This form of framework illustrates that managers should communicate with their subordinates through a communication network that is different from the one that the senior most officials use when communicating to the managers and amongst themselves (Gable, 2010).

This aspect calls for communication network breakdown into different horizontal and vertical channels, which would protect business information from leaking to the hackers because it is divided into many sections with accordance to the channel of communication under use. In addition, business organizations should hire competitive information technology experts to monitor and control the business communication network as well as ensuring security around the clock.

The security mandate falls under the authority of trusted individuals who in most cases have a close relationship with the business owners in a bid to enhance trust and security of the confidential information (Carr, 2010). This form of network is effective even for the case of globalized corporations who have centralized managerial functions.

The Future of Cyberspace

The future of cyberspace seems unpredictable and a two-folded issue according to the modern policies that govern the cyberspace activities and the dynamism of technological development across the world. The first issue looks into the current protection mechanism provided for by the American government, and finds worse future experiences than what is being experienced today if no changes are made. The government of the United States seems incapable of ensuing individual protection against cyber terrorisms. On the other hand, the government puts more efforts in protecting military network than in other sectors (Day-MacLeod, 2008).

The Department of Homeland Security currently does not have the mechanism to locate and arrest cyberspace hackers and terrorists who send malwares and viruses over the Internet by using personalized emails. This aspect is arguably the cause of the widespread cyberspace terrorism because those viruses tamper with computer operations and hence confidential information for businesses and individuals (Kramer et al., 2009). It would be prudent for the government of the United States to make use of the Internet protocol location mechanisms to locate such terrorists, as is the case for other criminals who pose a threat to the national security.

Cyber terrorists also pose a threat to the national security and hence it is advisable to make constitutional amendment and give the government more power in a bid to counter cyberspace terrorists effectively. Hence, going by the current powers that the government has and the issue of giving constitutional freedom to terrorists, the future of cyberspace seems worse than it is today. This assertion implies that the problem lies in the constitutional rights of recognizing the freedom of communication and human rights, which both protect cyber terrorists against quick arrests by the government agencies (Wall, 2007).

The second issue is the dynamism of technological development and increased computer knowledge across the world. The Internet is very essential for communication across the world, but also a major threat to the national security because computer attacks can be made from anywhere across the world.

Brenner (2011) notes, “A small country may lack military power for launching an attack against a superpower, but it can be despised as not having computer technology that would destabilize the economy of a superpower” (p.145). This remark sends a strong warning to the government and citizens of developed countries and more so the United States because computer knowledge has gone far beyond the boundaries of the U.S. unlike in few decades ago where IT knowledge was limited. This assertion implies that the government should adopt new measures of containing cases of cyberspace attacks that are capable of detecting threats before they attack the nation’s welfare (Clarke & Knake, 2010).

This speculation demands the adoption of the senate bill of 10 June 2010 that gave the president the power to switch off the Internet in case of a large-scale cyber terrorist attack as chances of risk of computer terrorism is higher today than it was during the time of its presentation. In addition, new technological developments have rendered vulnerable the old security mechanisms and policies as they are outdated.

Merits for Success

For a successful battle against cyberspace terrorism, world nations should rise against the vice by introducing laws and policies that would lead to uniformity of the battle. This proposal implies that countries should allow one another to investigate cyberspace terrorists and ask for an arrest for a suspected cyber criminal. Concerning contemporary business and corporate globalization, which is universally adopted across the whole world, the cases of cyber terrorism are also a matter of concern as they hinder effective business globalization among other business operations.

Hence, nations ought to combine their effort in the battle against cyberspace terrorism, as this move would ensure security to confidential business information and policies, and thus elevate investors’ confidence (Carvalho & Silva, 2006). In addition, the government of the United States should serve as a good example to other nations by leading in the battle against cyber terrorisms.

Businesses have lost intellectual properties over the Internet through hacking and cracking, but the government seems to have limited power of containing the problem by failing to ban the spreading of the problem, which seems persistent in the face of the ever-evolving information technology. The ability of the government to implement stiff measures that would protect individuals and businesses would serve as a merit, for successful battle against cyberspace terrorism in the United States.

However, Weimann (2006) laments that the constitution seems to limit the government’s ability to handle the situation before it becomes acute to the nation by recognizing cyber terrorists as suspects who have the right to enjoy freedom until when found guilty and thus they cannot be arrested or stopped from their operations without clear evidence of their malpractice.

Conclusion

Cyberspace terrorism is a global issue that poses a significant threat to the world economy, but the major threat seems to be against the United States due to its constitution with regard to the fourth and the first amendments. These two amendments opened the door for cyberspace terrorists as they enjoy the freedom to communicate through the Internet for they are protected against direct pursuance by state governments. This aspect also seems to have enabled these criminals to hone skills that would enable them to hack into computer systems with confidence of going after information that is relevant for the public good within the limits of the constitution.

In most cases, hackers receive public applause for hacking the government databases, which motivates them to further their acts, while in essence they are creating security vulnerability to the entire country. Hence, the public also should cease from tolerating the activities of hackers. In addition, the future of cyberspace terrorism is uncertain with the ever-evolving field of information technology and thus the US government should become proactive in its quest to counter such threats.

Reference List

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