28 May 2017

The technological evolution of the 20th century has brought about advancements that have forever changed society. The creation of the online world and the ability of people to live virtually has become a growing trend, repositioning civilization from reality into the online form. However, no technology is perfect and no civilization is without flaws, therefore some issues have translated from real world to virtual reality and are even more difficult to detect, defend against and defeat.

The most pressing challenge of the online world is cyberterrorism and the security threat. Whether it be an expert hacker into a city’s power grid, or the funding of terror activity through an online monetary system – cyberterrorism is a method with no clear ending, and requires equally advanced technological defenses to claim victory. Some argue that minor cyber threats, such as hacking or planting a virus are miniscule and outside of the range of cyberterror. Instead, they replace those activities with threats that cause physical violence or financial damage. However, regardless of the extremity, cyber threats exist and are taking the mainstage away from real, tangible threats as the online world becomes more relevant and preferable to society as a whole.

While hacking might be considered minor, it really depends on the damage that is possible. On the individual level, hacking someone’s Facebook account might interfere with their social life, while hacking their bank account might put a hole in their wallet. On a societal level, one can potentially hack an entire bank’s system and wipe the vault clean or a plane’s flight plans to crash it into the ground, causing real physical damage and loss of life.

Viruses are a method of cyberterror that has almost become obsolete in the modern world, but are still very alive and ready to cause damage. One might use a virus to gain information about an individual to gain access to their private life, while someone else might use a virus to break through a firewall and hack an entire system.

In both cases, hacking and viruses, among other cyber threats, are potential for physical violence or financial damage. By disturbing the norm through a cyberattack, an individual or group holds the power to attain information, create unwanted change, influence the real world and more. And with this power, comes great fear and damage from everybody else.

So, how do we battle in the online world? Well, shields and swords won’t be any use here. Instead, we must use cyber skills, albeit firewalls and other defense systems, which will fight and deter online terror. The modern day world has been catapulted into an online system that foregoes the physical but succumbs to the power of a cyber threat. But, because of its relevance in today’s society, it is imperative that we adapt our systems and create methods of identifying and defending  against cyberterrorists who wish to cause damage and create harm in any way. May the force be with you.