Cyber-terrorism can be defined as a politically or socially motivated attack on computer systems, networks, and information stored therein with an intention of intimidating or coercing the government and its citizen. Cyber- terrorism is carried out by political groups and agents in order to cause violence against citizens or property, or generate fear by causing severe harm. A cyber- terrorist has ability to alter, disrupt or alter the functionality of these computer systems by creating and delivering computer viruses through wireless or cable connection (Clarke & Knake, 2012).
Cyber-space refers to a domain created through interconnection of wireless devices, routers, fiber optic cables, satellites, switches, and other components, which enable fast storage, modification, and exchange of data through computer networks and associated infrastructure. It can, therefore, be thought of as an interconnection of people by use of information technologies disregard of physical geography. Cyberspace is usually man-made and keeps changing. Consequently, cyberspace cannot be thought of as a physical domain, but as a man-made domain comprising of networks, operators, data, and other related systems. People can have anonymous access to cyberspace thereby creating an environment for a wide range of malicious activities (Singer & Friedman, 2014).
Cyber-criminals comprise various categories of actors. The first category is the people who are just after making money. The second category of actors is the competitors who are out for crucial information that may provide them with competitive advantage. The third and most critical category is the state-sponsored attacks. The attacker attempts to weaken the government strategies by attacking crucial infrastructure or apparatus of national economic systems. Therefore, there is a need to initiate development of the policy, safe operation procedures, domestic and international laws to counter the crime (Singer & Friedman, 2014).
The local police do not have jurisdiction over cyber-terrorism. The local police investigate a federal crime and determine the law that has been violated. The complexity with cyber-terrorism relates to the geographical jurisdiction. The laws differ from one state to another. It is, therefore, illegal for a police officer to arrest someone in another state. In addition, a person in one state may be doing something that is not illegal in his or her state. This is despite the activity being a crime in another state. The police may also have challenges in collecting evidence, as well as locating the exact place, where the crime took place. This is because there are numerous ways of hiding identity through masking of IP addresses. Attempts to track the identity may spark serious issues relating to privacy (Clarke & Knake, 2012).
The police can get jurisdiction over the crime and make an arrest in another location. First, the states can come together to adopt consistent laws that clearly define legal procedures relating to cyber-terrorism. The local police will, therefore, be in a position to cooperate with their counterparts in other states in dealing with the menace. The laws can also be extended to involve other countries that are outside the United States. The encouraging thing is that countries are realizing the harm and danger that cybercrime poses to their countries. Hence, countries are willing to adopt consistent laws. Secondly, it can be done by forming inter-jurisdictional task forces among countries and states in order to deal with cybercrime that extends beyond national and state boundaries. These measures are going to ensure effective cybercrime security.
The crime can be investigated and prosecuted by FBI. However, the jurisdiction of their operations is limited to the United States. FBI cannot arrest a person from another country. The FBI has collaborated with forty one different countries to enable it employ sophisticated methods to coordinate and investigate responses relating to cyber incidents throughout the world. It has also set up National Infrastructure Protection Center to coordinate investigations in the United States. The center also maintains a computer forensic laboratory to preserve evidence, as well as conduct sophisticated data recovery. The center is also preserved for research and development. The FBI commences investigations if there is a violation of a federal criminal code, and which lies within the jurisdiction of the FBI. Investigations can also be done if the attorney general finds them worthy and agrees to commence prosecution if the components of the federal violation can be substantiated. However, jurisdictional issues remain a challenge to the U.S. There are countries that have not yet realized the need for collaboration or are ignorant of the harm that cyber-terrorism poses. However, the information is spreading fast enough and countries are awaking to the reality (Singer & Friedman, 2014).
There are no clear laws in specific states relating to cyber-terrorism. Conversely, cyber-terrorism is handled by the FBI, Secret Service, and Homeland Security. An example of cyber-terrorism occurred in 2013, when a hacked Twitter account was used to spread propaganda that there were explosions at White House. The rumor caused a plunge in the stock market, where it experienced $130 billion loss. Another example is the Skywiper and Flamer virus that attacked computer systems in Middle Eastern countries in 2012 for espionage purposes (Clarke & Knake, 2012).
If the crime is not against the law, where the person committing the crime is located, a country may request for extradition. This is where a country or state surrenders an identified terrorist to the other country or state. However, the process is difficult and at times impossible since a country has no obligation to surrender a suspect to the requesting country unless it has signed a treaty, in which it has agreed to do so. However, extradition requires double criminality since the conduct must be a crime in both countries.
In brief conclusion, cyber-terrorism presents a real threat to the security of nations of the world. Local police should be empowered to deal with the menace. FBI should collaborate with other countries to ensure safe world.
Clarke, R. A., & Knake, R. (2012). Cyber War: The next threat to national security and what to do about it. New york: Ecco.
Singer, P., & Friedman, A. (2014). Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What everyone needs to know. Oxford: Oxford University Press.