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Reality Check: assessing the (un)likelihood of cyberterrorism

Conway, Maura (2014) Reality Check: assessing the (un)likelihood of cyberterrorism. In: Chen, Tom and Jarvis, Lee and Macdonald, Stuart, (eds.) Cyber Terrorism: Understanding, Assessment and Response. Springer, New York, pp. 103-122. ISBN 978-1-4939-0962-9

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This chapter argues that debates around the threat posed by cyberterrorism have been dominated by a focus on issues relating to technological potentialities. To balance this, it focuses on the ‘terrorism’ aspect of cyberterrorism, arguing that it is important to situate cyber attacks within an analysis of terrorist interests and options. Doing so, it argues, leads to a far more optimistic forecast of the likelihood of cyberterrorism than is common, for four reasons. First, the costs of cyber attacks – although difficult to estimate – are vastly higher than those of non-cyber equivalents, such as car bombings. Second, terrorist groups typically lack the mastery to carry out successful cyber attacks which are exponentially more difficult than non-cyber terrorism. Third, the destructive potential of non-cyber attacks can be far more readily materialised than that of cyber attacks. And, fourth, cyberterrorism lacks the theatricality of more conventional attacks and therefore is likely to be less desirable to terrorist groups. Taken together, these four arguments indicate that cyberterrorism remains far less likely than is frequently supposed.

Item Type:Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords:Cyberterrorism; Improvised explosive device
Subjects:Computer Science > Computer networks
Social Sciences > Terrorism
Computer Science > Computer security
Computer Science > World Wide Web
DCU Faculties and Centres:Research Initiatives and Centres > Centre for International Studies (CIS)
DCU Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Science > School of Law and Government
Official URL:
Copyright Information:© 2014 Springer The original publication is available at
Use License:This item is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. View License
ID Code:20060
Deposited On:29 Jul 2014 11:32 by Maura Conway. Last Modified 17 Oct 2017 14:42

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