A high ranking NATO representative recently stated that cyber attacks are comparable to a conventional attack with a rocket or even to the danger caused by global terrorism. This assumption as well as the establishment of a new center of excellence that works solely in the area of cooperative cyber defence shows the importance that this military organization ascribes to computer based crime. An important aspect of such crimes is the fact that cyber attacks can no longer be conducted only by states or large organizations. Instead individual perpetrators and small financially poorly equipped teams are able to use these new capacities and direct them against even large and technologically adept countries. The question of the degree of dangerousness of terrorist activities in the Internet that has been increasingly brought up during the last years therefore has to be carefully discussed.
What exactly is meant by „cyberterrorism“ is, however, still unclear. Some authors regard all terrorist acitivies that have an – even far related – connection to computers or the Internet as cyberterrorism, e.g. the sending of an e-mail by a terrorist. Others propagate a more narrow view and want to include only terrorist attacks that are committed with the help of the Internet. In addition to the use of the Internet for attacks on critical infrastructure it is, however, necessary to remember that the Internet allows many other uses by terrorists, e.g. the (often encrypted) communication, the preparation of (conventional) attacks, or the spreading of propaganda.
Several research projects as well as publications cover the technical possibilities of a terrorists use of the Internet and (especially international) legal responses to cyber terrorism.