The New Frontline of Warfare: Internet Terrorism

The Internet has begun long before an idea of an individual to own a personal computer. Through the ages, wars have engendered a forcible advancement of technology. This has brought out the best in inventors and scientists. These include aircraft, weapons (most notably the nuclear technology), radio communication, medicine and the Internet. The need for communication and integration of information was a priority for the US to ensure a proper appraisal of its strength. The American military was standing by the efforts by numerous scholars to connect the computers on a global scale to boost its flow of information. This was a primary purpose of the Internet to boost the national security and increase the military finesse. The scientists that had some promising ideas about the advancement of networking of computers were assimilated into the Defense Advance Projects Research Agency (DARPA) as from the 1960s. The success in the creation of the network in 1969 led to the innovation of the ARPANET, later referred to as the Internet. Ray Tolimson sent the first email message in 1971 with the incorporation of the “@” symbol to separate the name of a sender and the name of a machine. Email applications grossed a lot of revenues as subscribers to the ARPANET heavily relied on this service. (Howe, 2012)

Internet protocol numbers were developed in the 1970s. As a result, they have revolutionized the Internet. It formed a network where the information could be integrated universally. The formation of a smart grid and some cloud computing networks owed the development of internet protocol (IP) numbers. These numbers routed the traffic from and to the devices accessing the Internet. Different regions created their own IP addresses and they aided in identifying users.

Since the commercializing of the Internet, it assumed a variety of other functions. This brought an element of competition to the advancement of the Internet. Currently, it has advanced to the levels where it is being simple and available to everyone with a computer or a smart phone. The access of the internet can be done through cable, wireless networks, modems and optic cables. Since then, the Internet has served as a means of entertainment with the numerous media for this purpose. Email services and social sites made the communication more efficient. The Internet also has become a store of information in which people could access a horde of detailed information on limitless subjects. The business arena has taken to the Internet rapidly turning it into a lucrative tool. Online jobs, advertisements, sales and purchases of goods through some online means and services have made use of the Internet. (Chapman, 2013)

The fact that the confidential and privileged information is up on the Internet put it at risk of exposure or misuse by a faction of people specializing in breeching the protected information. Such people are called hackers. The infrastructure, social information, military, political secrets as well as financial procedures are all provided within the Internet. Software that private and public companies use to operate their organizations that use the Internet is prone to the attacks by hackers. Hackers go past the firewalls setting up to prevent the access to information by some unauthorized persons. For example, the subway system, airports and road traffic are all managed by use of networking. If hackers attack these systems, several lives will be vulnerable not to mention the financial implications of such a breech. The control of the flow of information stored within the Internet is also prone to such attacks making the government inefficient in avoiding the national panic or even a difficulty in implementing decisions for a greater good. Such hackers blackmail the government or persons to extort anything of value the hacker might fancy. Internet terrorism involves the disruption of computer networks by a person or an organization with the use of some computer viruses or hackers. Information systems for both the public and military use are prone to internet terrorism. Such criminals participate in such activities for some political or ideological reasons.

The US is prone to the information warfare as it increasingly adopts computers and Internet into the daily operations of most fields of life. Therefore, these systems are vulnerable to the disruption or destruction from a hacker. Stealing the information after penetration of firewalls can also be costly to the US. The Department of Defense (DoD) offers a great threat if a hacker were to access its databases or controls. This has occurred several times before proving that the US was indeed prone to cyber attacks. The banking systems, traffic control, military logistics, telephone networks, the subways’ train movement control and the stock exchange are bound to the information systems. The magnitude of the information system is extremely vast making its safety a difficult task. This makes breeching the system an easy task for hackers that can access the data and systems in remote locations. The detection of such attacks is also difficult with only 5%  of these being detected and the anxious number of 5% of them being reported. This makes the US one of the most likely targets for the information terrorism, as there are several systems to attack with a minimal risk of being detected and even lower risks of being found (“Information Warfare and Deterrence”, 2007).

Satellite communications are crucial for the Department of Defense in weapons guidance, navigation, weather prediction, surveillance and certain functions in the electronic warfare. Other countries have developed some systems that interfere with these functions of satellites communications. Notably, Russia has a capability of disrupting the weapons guiding the system of the US satellites making compromising their efficiency. Ground weapons that use lasers to destroy satellites or blind them are in use in China. These are a threat to the US satellites. China also has the systems that identify a space situation limiting the surveillance capabilities of satellites. This paralyzes the edge of the defense system had before other countries by owning several satellites in orbit (Polmar, 2007).

The hackers are doing so in a bid to gain in various ways. There are those that do so for fun while others are carrying out white-collar crimes with such capabilities. These include the alteration of the stock exchange. These have a discrete impact on the country. Strategic attacks that hackers carry out to interfere with the information systems of basic activities paralyze the operations and cost the US a lot in terms of money and lives.

The personnel of various systems that are prone to attack by internet terrorists undergo a heavy scrutiny to ensure that they have matched or outdone the hackers. The advanced training of such people will enable them to detect a bug in the software and systems that are currently in play. Vetting of these people to ensure that they do not compromise the confidential information is also necessary.

The National Infrastructure Protection (NIPC) is a government institution charged with the role of protecting the infrastructure networks of the US from cyber attacks by hackers and viruses. It has three divisions; computer investigations and operations; administration and outreach; the analysis and warning. Since its founding in 1998, the NIPC has fought several virus attacks and aimed to find those responsible hacking information systems. The fact that it has an access to several agencies details to the core has raised several complaints that tend to hinder its operations. However, it still works under the same privileges it was having on its conception.

The International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists (IACIS) centers on the computer forensics. It provides a strong investigative force to internet crimes. It also trains specialists that can protect or correct internet security measures. It collects, authenticates, reconstructs, examines and analyzes the data stored within the electronic media to aid investigations of cybercrimes (National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) means Computer, Systems, Investigations, and Government.)

The National Security Agency (NSA) has received the right to screen the flow of traffic from and to government systems from Obama’s administration. The agency defends the networks of the military by the system called Tutelage that is detecting and/or investigating some attacks.

The US has some plans on beefing up the security of its information systems to reduce its vulnerability to cyber attacks. Different institutions at different levels carry out the protection of networks within the US. Satellite protection systems are in the process of development to prevent the alteration of communications and the control of satellites. The convenience of digitalizing every aspect of the activities in the US has an overall positive effect on the country’s management. However, the risk of that it poses on citizens cannot be underestimated. Therefore, the advancement of such systems should go hand in hand with the formulation of efficient measures to protect them.

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