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ICT Cyber-Desk Review: Report #32

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Executive Summary

The potential of cyberspace has been identified by terror organizations over a decade ago however only in recent years one would have observed a significant increase in the scope and sophistication of use of the internet by terror elements. At first terror organizations only made use of web sites, later they have expanded those to include some interactive elements and to date, via social media networks and various applications, these organizations are fully interactive. Among terror organizations, ISIS is considered a trail blazer and an innovation leader in that respect. The traditional hierarchical structure that typified terror organization has been undergoing dynamic changes in recent years, including the deployment of command and control apparatus. Thus, next to the hierarchical organization structure prevalent in territories under the terror organization’s control, a web-based apparatus has been forming in other territories and is enabled by the growing use and accessibility of the internet globally.


In the period between July and September 2019 terror activity in cyberspace has been identified in three major levels:

Operational – Jihadi organizations keep using cyberspace for a variety of uses. The most prominent are propaganda, recruitment, “lone wolf” activity encouragement and finance campaigns.

Defense – No major shift in the terror organizations’ cyberspace defense concept has been observed. They keep disseminating content on data security and encryption, privacy and anonymity, warnings from imposters and instructions for secure use of mobile phones. Further, terror organizations continue their efforts to improve their offensive capabilities however those have not

yet matured and still revolve around low level hacking of social media accounts and defacing websites.

Response to global counter cyber security efforts – a growing trend of using subcontractors to disrupt the operation of critical infrastructure has been identified. Hence, cyber security experts highly recommend implementing high security standard all along the critical infrastructure supply chain. Operational activity by law enforcement to shutdown web-based criminal and terror activity has kept going on and technology companies and governments promote collaborations to contend with inciting online materials.

 This article is part of the RED-Alert project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon                                 2020 research and innovation Programme under grant agreement No 740688.

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