Back in the 1950s, the American government blamed nearly every social, economic, and political problem on communists. Nowadays, every possible social, economic, and political problem is being blamed on terrorists. With the possible threat that terrorists could use the Internet to communicate with each other, many governments want to limit their citizens' privacy, free speech, and access to the Internet. (Of course, terrorists can also communicate using paper and pencil, but so far no government has tried to ban writing instruments or office supplies.)

At the simplest level, terrorist groups can simply post information about themselves and their goals on websites located in other countries, as shown in Figure 4-5. For a peek at what a terrorist's website looks like, visit two of Hizbullah's websites:

Click To expand Figure 4-5: The Hizbullah website, offering information about their goals.

Provides basic information about Hizbullah

Describes Israeli aggression and Hizbullah's attacks against Israeli targets

Even Sri Lanka has their own terrorists, known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ( For more information about terrorist groups around the world (at least according to the United States), visit the Terrorist Groups Profiles site (

The real danger is that cyberterrorism can evolve from the hacktivist denial-of-service and virus attacks to outright destruction of property and loss of lives. Some possible examples of what cyberterrorists could accomplish range from the frightening to the bizarre. One possible cyberterrorist scenario involves hacking into an air traffic control system and redirecting civilian aircraft to collide. A more unusual study warned that hackers could break into the processing control system of a cereal manufacturer and change the level of iron supplement in the cereal, causing children to get sick and die.

A third scenario envisioned cyberterrorists disrupting the computers controlling international financial transactions, causing banks to fail and stock markets to crash (which means that corrupt politicians and CEOs of major corporations could be classified as cyberterrorists if they only used a computer).

While the threat of terrorism is real and cyberterrorism is a possibility, there's still a fine line separating terror from the law. From the British point of view, the Boston Tea Party was an act of terrorism, but from the American point of view, it was an act of valid protest. So the next time you hear about the latest act of terrorism or activism, find out the motives and beliefs of each side of the conflict, and then decide for yourself who is right and who is wrong (if you can).