Cyberterrorism: governments, not tech companies, must lead the defense

15.03.2022

Along with deadly Russian military operations, Ukraine continues to experience cyberattacks, which officials warn could spread to U.S. and European targets as well. So far, private tech companies have played a key role in revealing suspected Russian-backed threats, most notably with Microsoft informing the White House and Ukrainian officials about new Russian malware just hours before Russian military units entered the country. While private companies’ sharing this information is necessary and should indeed continue, it is the public sector that needs to take the lead here. This is especially important as national security and the safety of civilians could be at stake.

In addition to government- and military-related targets, the alleged Russian attacks have also targeted the websites of banks, which clearly affect civilians and cause fear, panic and disruption. In fact, this is cyberterrorism, an emerging phenomenon that will continue to grow as life becomes increasingly digitized and technology — and technological weapons — continue to advance. Cyberterrorism is no less dangerous than traditional physical terrorism and requires just as much effort and investment from the government to fight.

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