Monday, August 21, 2017

Two sides of the same bitter coin

The interview of the week

Last week, the low cost terror factory of the so called Islamic State (ISIS) hit the second most important city of Spain, the country that the CIGTR stands out from.  We have talked about cyberterrorism many times in this page and in fact we have two tags (this and this one) to collect the most important news about the topic. Cyberterrrism and cyber activities with terrorist purposes are two sides of the same bitter coin: a permanent menace with an increasingly path, mo matter how far it seems to be from the coward action a few days ago in Barcelona. 

Although there is no week without news on this subject, and occasionally its high value material.  And our center is doing its bit to spread the words of the the most authoritative voices in all cybersecurity matters, today we want to have a look to a research published in the Black Pool Gazzete the last days of June, with numerous experts such as Tim Owen, director at the Cybercrime Investigation Unit  of the Lancashire Central Univeristy, or Awais Rashid, co-director of the Lancaster Security Institute of the homonyms university.
On this article, Owen exposes that terrorism presents itself as a real menace for society and he believes that the perfect example is the attack performed against the NHS. In addition hi says: "Cyberterrorism is a new way of terrorism. Internet is inherent to the terrorists activities and today, no one works without Internet, because hey have a lot of information hosted on the net".

But Owen continues and explains: "A lot of the things performed by cyberterrorists is in the cyberspace and taht´s why we need a three steps approach. First we need to fight them ideologically, after that, we must to fight them in real life and also in the cyber world. Terrorists feel powerful in Internet because they can attack a high number of people in a single strike, they want to terrorize full civilizations".

If this was not worrying enough, Owen identifies more menaces: "These groups are the most imminent menace, but not the only one. There are the so called Unabombers (a single individual that acts by its own). It has been a rise of this kind of criminals because there are more and more persons discontent with society. Te terrorist now have the potential to take advantage of our infrastructure and to disrupt people´s lives in a lethal way, attacking public services companies or, even worst, to the nuclear industry".

The report also contains the declarations of Awais Rashid, Lancaster Security Institute director and one of the most appreciated teachers of this university. He says there is a risk of attacks against infrastructures: "Because we have seen this kind of attacks every way, it´s not inconceivable that they UK infrastructure becomes a target for evil groups. The problem is that in a high amount of  critical infrastructures, the systems were designed long far ago, when security was not one of the main concerns".

"Previously they were not connected to anything, but now they are connected to Internet. Sometimes it´s not easy to build security characteristics cause of the strict performance requirements focused on a fast system response" Rashid says. "If there is an attack in one of these facilities, the disruption caused to society could be very big and there is a potential risk of losing human lives. We are more and more focused on defending us from such kind of attacks".

Other of the problems we use to face is that terrorism is using Internet to radicalize people advocating them to perform acts of terrorism. This is the thought in Tony Mole´s mind, former chief supervisor at the North West Counter Terrorism Unit. Mole explains that although  any business or organization is vulnerable to cyberattacks, a terrorist can use the same abilities than a cybercriminal with the goal of terrorizing people".  

Mole explains: "from the experience and watching attacks like the one which took place at the Manchester Arena and the London Bridge, we can assure that the objective of terrorism is to instill fear in people, because their physique and methods are focused on that direction. If they are able to frighten people and they don´t go to a  concert performance, if people feels fear of walking on a bridge or going to a football match, they would have fulfilled their goals".

Other problem described by Mole is that you will always find people willing to reinforce your opinion in the Internet: "If you have strong views, you´ll always be able to find people with your same point of view willing to reinforce them. Its one of the attractiveness of Internet (but it´s dangerous too if you are looking for people to reinforce your views). This radicals find furious youngsters suggestible who are easy preys for for their own purposes"    

Nevertheless, while Mole says the terrorist menace in UK has been "serious" for a long time, nobody could predict so many attacks this year: "I don´t think nobody could have predicted this in a so limited period of time. In spite of, security services have been able to obtain a roaring success  stopping this kind of attacks, with more than 300 arrests over the last 12 months".

The scourge of terrorism has also used the net as one of its more powerful tools. Not only because nowadays it makes communication easier for criminals, but because it´s one of their more fruitful recruiting ways. We must remember that if we feel hate or terror, they will be winning the battle. Thus we must be strong, be united ans keep ourselves informed without allowing others to manipulate us, in the cybernetic life or the real one.  


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