An Explorative Study into the Importance of Defining and Classifying Cyber Terrorism in the United Kingdom

Terrorism, crime, and war are all familiar notions; however, the way in which these have been altered through cyberspace is not yet fully, nor unanimously, understood through definitions, theories, and approaches. Although the threat level of terrorism in the UK has lowered to moderate, the threat posed by cyber terrorism has nonetheless heightened throughout the COVID pandemic due to the greater necessity and presence of technology in our lives. This research aimed to highlight the necessity for a unanimous cyber terrorism definition and framework and further aimed to determine what perceptions are held by the general public regarding cyber terrorism through a mixed methods approach. The literature review confirms that there is an absence of a unanimously agreed upon definition of cyber terrorism, and furthermore that the existing academic definitions are not compatible with UK legislation. In addition, the literature review highlights an absence of a cyber terrorism framework that classifies what kind of terrorist activity is cyber enabled or cyber dependent. Quantitative data from the online survey find a couple of significant effects implying the necessity for greater diversity amongst stakeholders which could potentially enhance the detection and prevention of terrorism in the UK. The qualitative data find that although there is some agreement amongst the sample population in views held towards cyber terrorism, some misconceptions are nonetheless present which could have implications on the general public’s ability to identify and report cyber terrorist activity. Overall, the findings from the literature review and the primary data collection aid in developing a cyber terrorism definition that is compatible with UK legislative definitions, and further aids in developing a terrorist activity framework that succinctly highlights the inextricable links between traditional, cyber enabled, and cyber-dependent terrorism.

Tags: Cyber Terrorism