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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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Aggression between hackers

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Hacktivism – or politically, religiously, ethnically or ideologically motivated hacking of opponents’ networks and servers – is a growing problem. Example of antagonistic activities include “defacement” of websites, where informa- tion is changed or removed, and distributed denial of service, DDoS, at- tacks that overload websites making them inaccessible. Hacktivists are by no means a uniform group, but consist of individuals and groups from all corners of the world. Some of them have only rudi- mentary skills in computing, but are driven by an intense belief in their cause. Others are smart, skilled and very experienced people, organised in groups and dedicated to their task. In some cases state players with large resources can be suspected of wanting a third party to act on their behalf, in what is usually called cyber war by proxy. A conflict in cyberspace usually has its origins in the real world, where hacktivism is used as a force multiplier to convey messages and show one’s strength to the adversary. Using the Internet for activism is an option when other means may not be available or appropriate. It is a very useful and cheap tool for conveying messages. The origin of the activism may be a perceived offense against some- thing of great idealistic or religious value. Individuals or groups of people feel wronged for some reason and want to present their view or express their indignation. Hacktivism can also aim at supporting one party in a conflict in progress between nations or ethnic groups. In some...

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