Abstract chaos and concerns that it raisesAbstract chaos and concerns that it raises


            This research paper strives to determine whether exposure to cyberterrorism within the public leads to affecting their psychological well-being, and/or their political attitudes. Cyberterrorism most defiantly is known for the chaos and concerns that it raises about cyber security, but often the individual level that it affects people is forgotten about or overlooked. This research essay will examine three different studies that relate to personal effects that it had on people. Cyberterrorism is not that different from normal physical terrorism and can leave similar traces of stress and insecurity within the minds of the public. In addition, cyberterrorism is also being countered by government policies using surveillance and spying which infringes the public’s privacy for the “greater good”.

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Cyberterrorism Michael L. Gross


            The main goal the terrorists have when they carry out acts of terrorism is to crush the civilians trust in the government and leave them feeling fearful, and vulnerable. How is Cyberterrorism different from conventional terrorism? Are the same psychological effects of cyberterrorism and conventional acts of terror similar? Do cyber related terrorism attacks affect the people’s confidence of the government in the same way as conventional attacks? In order to answer these questions we will be looking at two different studies. These research studies were to test to see how the public experiences cyberterrorism in comparison to similar attacks (in relation of the magnitude) in a conventional terrorism attack.

            The research of the studies was conducted from 2013-2016 and they point towards proof that cyberterrorism creates stress and anxiety, as well as increased feeling of vulnerability. By identifying those characteristics, we can help show that responses to cyberterrorism are extremely similar to responses received from conventional attacks. This correlation is important and will increasingly be deemed as useful; because as the amount of cyberterrorism attacks increases, the government will have to turn their attention to dealing with the emotional distress that citizens are going through due to the cyber-attacks.  

Conventional terror attacks use physical means to create their chaos. These large scale attacks are often followed by death, injury, and in some cases property destruction. Because these attacks can demoralize a countries population it can lead to increased pressure on the government officials to refrain from passing certain policies. In contrast to conventional attacks, cyberterrorism attacks use malicious technology. Although the two are very similar because “Cyberterrorism aims to further political, religious, or ideological goals by harming civilians psychologically.” (Michael L. Gross Journal of Cyber Security). The threat of Cyberterrorism can come in many different forms though.

There are two primary branches of Cyberterrorism, the first of them being Cyberwar, and the other being Cybercrime. The main goal behind ‘Cybercrime’ is mostly for individual monetary gain or fame, in addition it might also be used to bully and get revenge on the designated target.  Cyberwar differs from this though because its primary goal is to use a variety of malware and viruses to disable or harass different military related targets. The effects of these different attacks are often overlooked though because they often do not cause any civilians physical or life threatening harm. Although seen in the two studies it is identified that they affect the public in other ways.

The first study was based online as a survey. In this survey a variety of adults were randomly selected to be in one of three different groups. The first group was the control group in which they received no video to stimulate their thoughts. The second group was given a short clip that showed both military deaths as well as civilian deaths that occurred after a cyberattack on missile systems. In the final group, they were shown a non-deadly cyberattack that damaged hardware and caused the loss of money and data. Each group was asked to answer a short survey following the clip on their confidence in government.

The second study was also an online based survey. Participants in this survey were given a random news story. The stories depicted a cyberattack on a Water purification plant by cyberterrorists. Both stories were the same except that the first one two civilians died and others were hurt after the cyberterrorists released an unhealthy amount of chlorine into the water, and in the second one the cybercriminals stole the financial data and safely secured it overseas. Lastly there was a group that viewed a physical attack on the water treatment facility leaving the same amount of casualties as the first one.  

In both of these studies after viewing the clips, or reading the articles, they were surveyed on what they viewed the risk perception of the attack was, their confidence in the government, and then were asked to view and rate different anti cybercrime policies. The results from these questions was conclusive upon the fact that the trends of both deadly and non-deadly cyberterrorism follows closely with the trends of conventional terrorism.

The overall results from the studies shows that cyberterrorism defiantly influences the civilians of a country in many ways. First off both of the deadly and non-deadly cyberterrorism, attacks left civilians with a personal insecurity in relation to their safety. Secondly, the trends show that both of the cyberterrorism attacks leave the civilians with increased anxiety and fear. Lastly it was displayed that one thing cyberterrorism does not alter is the confidence in the national government when compared to the rates of conventional terrorism. Cyberterrorism though is a fast-paced changing war, and new policies will have to be created regularly to help protect civilians and keep confidence in the government.