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The Dark Sides of the Internet

On Cyber Threats and Information Warfare

Roland Heickerö

The rapid development in information technology during the last few decades has not only given us greater opportunities to freely search for information and contacts. The growth of the Internet has also created new opportunities for criminal organisations, political activists and terrorists to threaten individuals, companies and countries. Individuals and organisations are also increasingly the targets of attacks and espionage via the web. There are various kinds of illegitimate and criminal activities. Every modern state thus has to create strategies and courses of action in order to protect information, networks and computers that are vital to society from malicious cyber activities. Creating secure systems and minimising risks of information being leaked or tampered with should be a prioritised task. It is also important to understand what threats arise from the information technological revolution. The purpose of this book is to give a broad background to the development of the dark side of the internet and its consequences. It is not about scaremongering, but about creating understanding and knowledge and thus preparedness in order to handle detrimental activities. It describes the changes in progress and what they may mean to society, companies and individuals as well as to the military and police.

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Players, means and methods

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Just as in the physical world, most of us behave well and legally in cyber- space, but some people – quite a few looking at the great number of users connected to the Internet – act as criminals from a judicial point of view. They conduct felonious and/or unethical acts in one sense or another. According to the Internet security firm Symantec, crimes on the net oc- cur as often as every third second. This involves everything from informa- tion theft, fraud and blackmail to hacker attacks. Cyberspace also makes up an area of conflict between individuals, groups and nations, with true digi- tal battles. There is a wide range of malicious players; from states and se- curity services to cybercrime organisations, terrorists and individuals that act on behalf of their own intentions and interests – or that of a client. These activities can be determined by economic, political and ideological causes. New kinds of infological weapons, such as malicious code, are con- stantly being developed. This also applies to methods for non-legitimate activities such as intrusions into computer networks or the dissemination and planting of viruses. Generally speaking, the means used are similar irrespective of the player category, while there are differences in the level of sophistication and complexity in the realisation as well as what kind of targets that are in focus for an assault. Players and antagonists There is a difference in definition of a player and an antagonist.5 Players are individuals, groups and organisations that have the capacity to...

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