Chapter 4 – Hacktivism, Cyberterror, Cyberwar, or War?

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Chapter 4 looks at the concept of “hacking” from a different point of view. While Chapter 3 considered the harm and motivation for illegal forms of hacking, Chapter 4 looks at a range of activities – starting with the well-intentioned but potentially illegal “hacktivism” on up to acts of “cyberterror” that serve the same objectives as other forms of terror – to achieve political, societal, or quasi-military objectives by placing groups of people in fear of harm from attack on computers or networks. When conducted by nation-states, such acts are considered cyberwarfare.

The text describes a range of tools used by “hacktivists” to include virtual sit-ins, DDOS (distributed denial of service) attacks, email bombs (similar to a DDOS but only for email systems), and website defacements, among other forms of attack. The key is that these efforts are designed to get societies or organizations to respond to broad calls for social responsibility, environmental action, or similar. Cyberterror uses these tools and much more harmful methods to force these same societies or organizations to comply with the demands of terrorists. The key difference is the level of harm that hacktivists are willing to inflict compared to cyberterrorists. Various nations have stated that acts of cyberwarfare – offensive hacking, infrastructure attacks – may cause real-world military actions up to and including war.

For the Chapter 4 assignment consider the following resources in the context of the powerpoint and text materials:
1) the definitions at this site for the activities we’re discussing: (Links to an external site.)
2) the issues and observations described in this article: (Links to an external site.)
3) a practical examination of the reality of cyberterror and internet-based threats: (Links to an external site.), and
4) a view of a potential cyberwar: (Links to an external site.)

The ASSIGNMENT: having considered these resources, in addition to the text, submit an analysis in APA format that answers the following questions:

  • Is hacktivism a legitimate form of political protest or criminal activity that should be prosecuted?
  • How comfortable are YOU with society’s increasing dependence upon information technology for national security and social and economic stability? (Consider the many ways that society depends on internet-based information and communications.)
  • Is cyberterrorism a significant danger that requires preparation and responsive measures or an overblown concern that has no real threat? (Consider how cut off from the world you felt when the last hurricane came through and you lost power and/or internet communications.)
  • Will nation-state cyberwarfare capabilities increase or reduce the violence associated with conventional forms of warfare? Will nation-state cyberwarfare actions lead to an actual “shooting war” in the future?

Your submission should be seven or more pages (1 page of cover, 1 page of references, five pages of text with citations to your sources).

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