Cyber terrorism and international relations: new patterns and future challenges
People have become increasingly dependent on cyberspace in all aspects of their daily lives, and terrorism has not been far behind. Terrorist organizations use websites and online forums to recruit new fighters and spread their ideas among the youth.
The absolute freedom and the possibility of broadcasting and publishing without censorship that the internet provides to users have been exploited by these organizations. This has led to the emergence of cyber terrorism, prompting countries and international organizations to seek to address this crisis through "e-conflict studies".
One such study is found in the book "Cyber Terrorism: Power in International Relations - New Patterns and Different Challenges" by researcher Adel Abdel Sadek.
The first chapter of the book discusses the implications of cyberspace on societies in the global system, showing the positive aspects and the developments it has caused in the political, cultural, social and economic spheres.
This technological revolution also contributed to the emergence of economies based on technological factors, represented in the production and distribution of information and considered a more important element than financial capital, natural resources and raw materials, leading to the entanglement and integration of the global economy.
Despite the positive aspects the world has witnessed as a result of the internet, it has also contributed to the emergence of new threats on the international scene, such as environmental risks, international economic crises and terrorist networks. This has increased the need for international cooperation, especially as many of these risks transcend borders in their occurrence and impact.
These risks have led to an increased relationship between technology and security, especially with terrorist organizations adopting sophisticated information and communications systems to obtain information and spy on security organizations in order to carry out attacks, psychologically impact the public, and infect strategic websites and vital facilities.
The author believes that the realm of terrorism transferring from reality to cyberspace has contributed to changing the nature of the conflict and the mechanisms for exercising force. The author also pointed to pre-emptive strikes and security operations carried out by the security services against terrorist attacks, which differ completely from conventional warfare.
The second chapter deals with the definition of terrorism. It also highlights the main problems that occur during discussions on this issue, which contributes to preventing international consensus and in turn affects the process of international cooperation to confront the phenomenon of terrorism.
Abdel Sadek considers cyberspace to be the fifth dimension of war and countering terrorist organizations, adding to the traditional dimensions of land, sea, air and outer space. This has led to the need for a clear understanding of cyber terrorism that transcends the problems of the conventional definition of terrorism.
The author points out that there is a difference between cyber crime, which takes a criminal form such as websites inciting against religious beliefs or using the internet for theft, and cyber terrorism, which is often political in nature, including cyber espionage and piracy, in addition to hacking official state websites.
He also distinguishes between cyber terrorism and information warfare. Information warfare seeks to destroy the adversary’s information by destroying its information systems and computer networks, as well as protecting against a pre-emptive attack. The aim is to achieve military and economic precedence.
Information warfare can be included in cyber terrorism, where terrorist groups can resort to war against states. Any act of information war can be considered a terrorist act it utilizes terrorist tactics and mechanisms.
In the third chapter, the author highlights the transition from conventional warfare to cyber warfare, which has led to the use of new methods of force, defense, attack and prevention, all of which were not available in conventional wars.
Abdel Sadek points out that there are two types of conflict: high-intensity and low-intensity. Cyber warfare is able to exist side by side with conventional warfare, as was the case in the Georgian-Russian war in August 2008.
The fourth chapter deals with the position of international law on cyber terrorism. The author points out that it is incorrect to apply the rules governing international law to cyberspace, and therefore a new law must be introduced to counter international terrorism.
In the fifth chapter, the author mentions several types of efforts taken by states to combat cyber terrorism, including enacting legislation to combat the phenomenon, seeking to form regional counterterrorism blocs on the internet, and urging the United Nations to adopt universal cyber security measures.
Abdel Sadek focuses on the role that the United Nations and its various arms can play in spreading methods for the proper use of the internet. He also highlights civil society and institutions in the face of electronic threats, especially since all areas of life are now online, making cyber terrorism capable of infecting anyone, which underscores the importance of international cooperation in this field.
The author recommends highlighting a global culture of cyber security to promote cyberspace in support of international peace, as well as establish international rules for wars and armed conflict that may occur in cyberspace in the future. States and UN organizations also need to adopt cyber security as part of their national and global security strategies.