As the world has grown increasingly digital, so too have the threats to it. Recently, Garmin paid a $10 million ransom after hackers targeted their system in a cyber-attack. This event is only one of the countless that have happened this year and over the last decade.
Cyber terrorism, and the closely-related cybercrime arena, continues to pose a significant threat to businesses, schools, healthcare systems, and even individual users.
Learn about this threat and the steps you can take to enhance your safety online below.
What is Cyber Terrorism?
Cyber terrorism is an attack against computer systems, networks, app, and data itself. Generally, cyber terrorism incidents are politically motivated and have the support of subnational groups or government agents.
While there is a lot of overlap between cyber terrorism and cybercrime, on the whole, there are a few major differences.
To start, cyber terrorism is often not a response to a specific action, but a planned attack tied to specific political motivations, although economic and other interests can also be wrapped up in them.
Generally, the goal of cyber terrorist attacks, however, is to create panic and fear among civilians. Whereas terrorists in the real world may use physical violence, these cyber terrorists use internet-based attacks.
That doesn’t make the threat any less real. The attacks can shut down healthcare organizations, disrupt the financial system, and cause other types of damage.
Whether it’s cyber terrorist incidents or a more common variety of cybercrime, the threats both of them represent should greatly concern you.
Do I Need to Worry About Cyber Terrorism?
According to the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment, the US intelligence community has acknowledged an increased risk of financially-motivated cybercriminals who may target the US in the next few years. Also, they may also target healthcare facilities and private data that could inspire further attacks.
These days, 81% of Americans perceive cyber terrorism to be s a critical threat. Further, nearly 90% of US service members also believe cyber terrorism to be a significant danger to US national security, with many expressing disapproval for how the government is handling these risks.
Who is Perpetrating Cyber Terrorist Attacks?
Cyber terrorists come in many different forms. North Korean state-sponsored hackers, ISIS members, and individuals who support terrorist causes are just a few potential threats.
There is no clear face of cyber terror. For example, in 2017, British teenager Kane Gamble impersonated a CIA chief to get confidential information about US military and intelligence operations. He managed to get the details of 20,000 FBI employees, which he leaked online for terrorists to access. This is one of the many ways that these risks can manifest themselves.
What Should you do?
Whether it’s a cybercriminal or cyber terrorists, you can follow the same steps to significantly improve your privacy and security in the online world and reduce the harm these threat actors can do to you.
Above all, you need to hide your IP address. “Why should I hide my IP address,” you ask. Your IP address is a unique identifier specifically for your devices. Hackers can use them to not only track your approximate locations but other things that you do online. They can leverage information found on social media and other places to hack into your computer or home network.
Fortunately, you can stop cyber terrorists in their tracks by using a VPN. A VPN or virtual private network masks your IP address and encrypts your internet connection, allowing you to access the internet much more privately.
Now is also an excellent time to review what you’ve shared online. Start with social media. You need to remove your social media profile from search engine results. Likewise, set your account to private and delete any unnecessary personal information about you like your address, phone number, and anything else that can lead hackers directly to you.
While doing all this, enhance your account security by using a password manager. With a password manager, you can create, store, and manage complex and unique passwords for all your accounts. By creating unique passwords and enabling two-factor authentication, it is nearly impossible for any cyber terrorist to hack your account and either steal your personal information or pose as you.
Finally, keep an eye out for suspicious activity and report it to the authorities. Whether it’s ordinary cybercrime or an act of cyber terrorism, they both can be extremely dangerous. Reporting anything unusual may stop an attack before it even happens.
Cybercrime and cyber terrorism are on the rise. But you can prevent the risks to yourself. Start integrating these proven security strategies and tools into your daily internet use now.