Using violent means to achieve political goals, especially by targeting innocent civilians, is a hallmark of terrorism., Nonetheless, in the last two or three decades, the world has come to realize that terror can be inflicted on countries and organizations, not just through guns and bombs, but also through digital networks and the internet. These attacks can cause incalculable damage, given humanity’s dependence on the internet and information technology. Such attacks are referred to as Cyber terrorism. Instances of Cyber-terror have increased exponentially in the past few decades, and Cybersecurity is forced to adapt for defending information systems, sensitive information, and data from Cyber terrorists. India has the maximum number of internet users, called ‘Netizens’ after the USA and China. The over-dependency on the internet increases the vulnerabilities & transforms their aggressions into the feeling of revenge, which turned them into criminals, Cyber warriors, and hostility to the country. Most Indian citizens are insensitive towards cyber threats of being victimized by the virtual world. Information technology has opened the ocean of opportunities to the world for the development of their financial infrastructures. Cybercrimes are increasing every moment. The netizens are ignorant and in a state of mind that their activities are unnoticed. We generally share our significant & super-sensitive data & information unintentionally on social media. The momentous growth of the Cyberworld posed the threats of Cyber terrorism. Cyber-attacks tend to the depiction of lethal, non-lethal psychological wellbeing, public confidence & political attitudes. Generally, it is considered that Cyber terrorism affects only the national security system. But in fact- it also affects their psyche & cognition. Cyber terrorists have expanded the growth of Cyber-attacks, which has dramatically increased in the past few years. It has caused mass destruction & damage to nuclear facilities & the critical command & control system. The Cyber experts are working to strengthen more and more capacity to restrain Cyber-attacks over Govt. systems, defence websites, financial and banking systems, and most important nuclear facilities.
Meaning of Cyber Terrorism
In simple words, when terrorist organizations use the internet to further their goals and objectives, it is considered to be Cyber terrorism. Information and communication technology, commonly referred to as ICT, has changed the world as we know it but also offers plenty of scopes for terror outfits to expand, recruit, and propagandize on various ICT platforms. The internet can be used by terrorists for financing their operations, training other terrorists, and planning terror attacks. The more mainstream idea of Cyber terrorism also includes the hacking of government or private servers to access sensitive information or even siphon funds for use in terror activities. However, there is no universally accepted definition of Cyber terrorism, to date.
Punishment for Cyberterrorism
In India, the Information Technology Act, 2000 (after this the IT Act) defines and prescribes the punishment for Cyber terrorism. It was in the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks that shook the country that this law was amended in the year 2008 to address the Cyber terrorism threat to national security. Accordingly, Section 66F was inserted into the IT Act, which is the closest thing we have to a Cyber terrorism Act. According to the IT Act, Cyber terrorism is:
- An act that is done with the intent to threaten the unity, integrity, security, or sovereignty of India, or to strike terror in the people of India.
- A show that denies access to computer resources, or attempts to access a computer resource without authorization.
- The introduction of any computer contaminant is likely to cause death or injury to people or destruction of property.
- Disrupting services that are essential to the community’s life, or adversely affecting the critical information infrastructure in the country.
- Attempting to access information or data that is restricted to ensure national security, public health and order, and good foreign relations.
- An act that promotes contempt of Court, defamation, or incites others to commit an offence.
The punishment for an act of Cyber terrorism in India is imprisonment which may extend to imprisonment for life. Even an attempt to commit an act of Cyber terrorism draws the same punishment. In some circumstances, Section 121 of the Indian Penal Code may also be invoked to punish the individual as it covers the waging of a war against the Government of India.
To protect ourselves against such attacks and counter the Cyber terrorism threat to national security, the Government of India will have to ensure that Cybersecurity systems are up to date and fully capable of fending them off. With each passing day, multiple anti-state outfits are moving their operations towards the internet, and it is, therefore, crucial for individuals as well as governments to remain vigilant and improve efforts to make databases more secure and trustworthy.
There needs to be more attention given to the training and encouragement of Cybersecurity professionals to meet the ever-increasing demand in the country and also the world. One factor that could undoubtedly improve the efforts to tackle Cyber terrorism would be a universally accepted definition across the globe. As individuals, we can also play a role by ensuring that we follow the Cyber-safety advisories and recommendations that are usually issued by governments and Information and Communication technology institutions.
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