Article by: Akshay Sharathchandra
There’s no stopping the internet. Every second, 25,556 gigabytes of internet traffic is transmitted, 2 billion emails are sent and millions of Tweets are posted. Unfortunately, the internet has its dark corners, too; as society depends more and more on being connected, so do terrorists.
“Cyberterrorism” is the term for any act of terrorism committed using technology. Repeatedly seen on the news for their multiple videos and photos showing assassinations, including the most recent Japanese murder, the Islamic extremist group ISIS is one of the many taking advantage of modern day technology. On January 12 2015, the United States Central Command Twitter account (@CENTCOM) and YouTube accounts were hacked, with account photos with accompanying text, “i love you ISIS”. Additional tweets were posted with direct threats to the families of US soldiers. Consequently, the internet erupted in frenzy, wondering if ISIS delivered their first direct attack on the United States. Shortly afterwards however, experts and representatives from the White House and Pentagon claimed that the threat did not mean anything substantial and that a breach of a Twitter account is very different to a breach of a major data network, such as the recent Sony hack.
Although this statement reassured many members of the general public, it still brings forth the questions about internet safety. If a US government-affiliated account can be hacked by a terrorist group, who’s to say anything is safe? Sophomore Shani Samtani believes, “Because so much information is being stored on computers now, this information has a large potential to easily cause conflict”. With a bigger emphasis on ‘Cloud Computing’ within companies and throughout society, one security breach could expose a plethora of information. “This just goes to show how vulnerable these prestigious and seemingly secure organizations are. This time, they were fortunate that no critical information was acquired by ISIS”, Shani continues.
Just recently, an indirect bomb threat was delivered to Hartfield-Atlanta airport in Georgia. A Twitter user contacted Delta and Southwest airlines, claiming to have left a bombs that could detonate on a flight of each airline. The flights were searched upon landing but no bombs was found. The airlines responded to the tweets by claiming to have forwarded the user’s information to the FBI. The user claimed his identity was completely anonymous and that ISIS has plans for the United States.
It seems that even terrorists are trying to keep up with the trends of the general public; perhaps these groups will even spread terror through more contemporary social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram one day. Although physical acts of terror do still cause major news frenzies in the world, having threats and executions delivered online terrorize a larger audience, which is the goal of terrorists, right?