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: Organizational Analysis: Low, Risk Management: Low

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


The Cyber Threat 
I.  Defining Critical Infrastructures, their Components, and their Threats 
      The Threat’s Viewpoint 
II.  Critical Infrastructures at the National Level
      Agriculture & Food
      Public Health
      Emergency Services
      Defense Industrial Base 
      Information ands Telecommunications
      Banking and Finance
      Chemical Industry ands Hazardous Materials
      Postal and Shipping
      Direct and Indirect Effects of Infrastructure Attacks
      Department of Homeland Security
      The Defense Critical Infrastructure Program (DCIP)
III. Identifying Weaknesses in a Critical Infrastructure
      Five-Step Process
      Defense Critical Infrastructure Program Procedures
IV.  Physical Attacks
      Local Threat
V.   Human Attacks
VI   Cyber Support to Terrorist Operations
VII  Cyber-Terrorism
      Objectives of Cyber Attack
      Tools of Cyber Attacks 
VIII.Cyber Threat to U.S. Critical Infrastructures