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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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Industrial espionage and theft of information


The difference between espionage in the traditional sense and industrial espionage is marginal. Both are conducted in similar ways and with the same methods, although targets may differ. In principle, this is the world of organised theft of information. Most countries and companies look for information on their opponents and competitors. Even friendly nations and companies can be of interest. Using open source information is legal and in no way controversial. It is part of the game. The problem lies in the transi- tion from what is legally acceptable to criminal behaviour. The dividing line can be related to what methods are used, whether ethical guidelines are broken in order to acquire information and whether the measures violate the laws of a country or not. Different nations have different legal systems; an activity can be viewed as criminal in one country, but be legal in another. Industrial espionage is relatively cheap compared to investments in ad- vanced research and development. According to an estimate by the FBI, in- dustrial espionage in 1992–1993 cost more than 120 billion U.S. dollars in lost contracts and R&D expenses. The number of lost jobs was assessed to be 6 million.144 Later estimates have figures of more than 200 billion U.S. dollars annually, in the United States alone. In Canada the cost of illegal informa- tion collection is estimated at more than 12 billion dollars per year.145 In 2009 the information security company Symantec conducted a survey in order to analyse the amount...

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