Virtual Terrorism: Data as a Target

Cybersecurity: Mapping the Ethical Terrain

Author/s (editor/s):

Levi J. West

Publication year:


Publication type:

Research paper

Find this publication at:
National Security College, ANU

Levi J. West, ‘Virtual Terrorism: Data as a Target’, in Nicholas G. Evans, S. Brandt Ford, Adam C. Gastineau, Adam Henschke, Michael Keelty, and Levi J. West, Cybersecurity: Mapping the Ethical Terrain, National Security College Occasional Paper, Canberra: National Security College, The Australian National University, 6 June 2014, pp. 28-33.

The conceptualisation of cyberterrorism is by its inherent nature contested, opaque and, at times, wilfully inaccurate. Engaging in a structured analytical process that seeks to establish some degree of conceptual clarity in regard to this concept is essential so as to ensure that public policy responses and broader security discourse in relation to cyberterrorism remain proportionate, necessary, and, crucially, effective. This paper identifies the dominant approaches to the concept of cyberterrorism and highlights some of their key shortcomings. Further to this, the paper hypothesises actions and behaviours that could accurately be described as cyberterrorism, and through use of alternatively proposed language suitably depict malicious behaviour occurring in or through cyberspace. By drawing on central works in relation to the definition of both ‘cyber’ and ‘terrorism’, this paper seeks to identify potential new sites for ideologically motivated activity that targets and/or leverages cyberspace. In doing so, it is hoped that emergent activities and possible future incidents may be conceptualised in a more accurate, moderate and informed manner, ensuring appropriate responses.

Updated:  17 May 2022/Responsible Officer:  Bell School Marketing Team/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team