Critical Infrastructure Threats and Terrorism

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Full Title of Reference

Critical Infrastructure Threats and Terrorism: Handbook No. 1.02

Full Citation

Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Critical Infrastructure Threats and Terrorism: Handbook No. 1.02, (2006). Web AltWeb



Key Words

Computer Network Attack, Cyber Terrorism, Cyber Warfare, DDoS Attack, Hacker, Intelligence Infrastructure/Information Infrastructure, Interdependencies, Keylogger, Malware, National Security, Phishing, Virtual Military Technologies, Virtual Warfare,


This report is part of a supplement to a larger terrorism primer, A Military Guide to Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century. This report offers highly detailed analysis of issues surrounding the proliferation of cyber terrorism, its history, the tactics used to recruit via the web, and the motivations behind the use of cyberterrorism. With the transition of information technology from tools of convenience to ones of necessity, theses systems have become high value targets for terrorists, and even nation states, seeking to affect or economic and national security. This report highlights the significance of information technologies in two ways. First, it reiterates the CIA’s position that the “IT revolution represents the most significant global transformation since the Industrial Revolution.” Second, the report offers a glimpse simply at the Department of Defense’s reliance on network systems, exhibited by the more than three million individual computers on 12,000 local area networks (LANs). Referring to the global networks of net works as the Global Information Grid (GIG), the report concludes that more than 40 nations have openly expressed interest in the development of sophisticated cyber warfare capabilities. This alone presents a real danger to our national security; however, this threat is further compounded by the inclusion of “transnational and domestic criminal organizations, hacker groups who sympathize with our enemies, terrorist organizations (evidenced by forensic analysis of captured computers) and ‘insiders’ who support our enemies.” The report offers that there is a growing danger among these groups as the convergence between terrorists and criminal continues and as the groups recognize the potential asymmetrical power cyber warfare offers.

Divided into sections, this report examines:

  • Cyber Support to Terrorist Operations – the use of the Internet Technologies as a force multiplier; realized through planning, recruiting, propaganda, and operational research
  • Cyber-Terrorism – utilizing the internet technologies as medium for attack, rather than a force multiplier
  • Cyber Threat to U.S. Critical Infrastructures - it is feared that performance enhancing, online control systems may have made these proven terrorism targets more vulnerable to both physical and cyber disruption
  • Cyber Threat to the Military – given the intensive use of IT by the military not only in war fighting, but also in its day-to-day function, the cyber threat to the military will only increase.

Ultimately, the report concludes that while Jihadi currently prefer conventional attacks, our reliance on IT infrastructure creates a target that must be protected.

Synopsis by Kevin Cannon, Texas A&M University.

Additional Notes and Highlights

Expertise Required: None

There is a useful glossary of cyber terrorism and cyber crime terms at the end of this reference.