Cyberterrorists: Their Communicative Messages and the Effect on Targets

This qualitative study provides a semiotic perspective on cyberterrorism and its opportunity to cause maximal damage while using terrorist propaganda. The very definition of cyberterrorism refers to Internet use, technology, and computer-based networks against critical infrastructures. The application of Stamper’s Semiotic Ladder– morphological, empirical, syntactical, semantic, pragmatic and social world –to the various methods of propaganda utilized by cyberterrorists will uncover aspects on the transition from traditional to modern methods of attack, cyberterrorist communication, and the recruitment of new members to their cause. Additionally, this research focused on the role of the media in the equation of planning by propaganda to the fruition of an attack. Interviews were collected from ten participants during 30-60 minute segments. Based on the data, five themes emerged: (1) Acknowledgement of the Existence of Cyberterrorism, (2) Postmodern Propaganda and Publicity, (3) Detrimental Effects on Targets, (4) Media Implications, and (5) Communicative Messages. This provides readers with an organized order to the data and provides a way to progressively detail cyberterrorism, with a specific focus on the actual effects of their semiotic intents on targets, on the public, and on the world at large or what is being conveyed. Ultimately, the themes that emerged follow Stamper’s Semiotic Ladder, starting with surface level understanding of cyberterrorism and work up to the global impact of cyberterrorism on various aspects of culture, beliefs, and expectations.

Tags: Cyberterrorism, Qualitative