Terrorists and the Internet: A Solution or a Cause for worry?

There has been an eminent evolution of terrorism in the modern-day society. From the times when terrorism was an act which was perceived as a mere conglomeration of long-bearded people shooting missiles and flying airplanes into buildings, it has now evolved into a much more sinister and inherently elusive movement. This is owing to the fact that terrorists have learned to latch on to the Internet and access portals of communication which in turn, makes them much more dangerous than they previously were.

The Dark Side

Let’s look at it this way: the Internet is like a huge virtual brain in itself, with several centers containing huge amounts of information. If an undetectable virus gets into this huge virtual brain, it could spread in a matter of moments across the various virtual mazes that make up the Internet. The virus can then also gain access to these insurmountable bouts of information within the virtual brain. This would definitely mean that the virus can in turn take control of the virtual brain and use its inherent passageways to reach its desired location and do what it does best; infest!

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The Internet can be used as an inherent way of ensuring the multiplication of radicalization. This is due to the fact that terrorist groups can spread like viruses on this virtual cloud and actually triangulate individuals for their purposes of recruiting and brainwashing. The same tool which large companies and corporations use to spread the word about their products and services can now be used by terrorist organizations to spread their ideals and views across to a much larger potential consumer base. This kind of propaganda, the same as mainstream media, has now taken the form of online promotions, which are inherently used to “market” their own ideals and principles. This can be seen in the inherent ways in which terrorist groups like ISIS are using the online social media to make their own profiles and target gullible individuals who they think would be receptive enough to their cause.

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The Internet has also ensured that the inherent reach of an organization, be it terrorist or pseudo-terrorist (if you know what I mean) expands to a large, almost colossal scale. Terrorist organizations are now able to reach people in potentially unreachable parts of the world where impoverished or depressed youth, who are looking for a way to vent out their frustration on a society, can be approached and molded through their principles. These youth are, in fact, provided with a platform by terrorist organizations like ISIS to make their dreams of anarchy and destruction come true.

Another essential aspect which has been highlighted by several sources on the Internet is that groups like ISIS have now amassed several millions worth of Bitcoin currency. Bitcoin, for the uninitiated, is the virtual currency of the Internet which is used for actions like online shopping. The Bitcoin is extremely powerful in today’s digitized world, with one Bitcoin measuring values up to 230 dollars. But the most intriguing part of this whole scheme is that the Bitcoins can be used to buy items off the Deep Web, which essentially contains social media sites where one can hire hitmen, interact with serial killers and buy huge amounts of ammunition and guns as simple as ordering a bar of chocolate online. Imagine the kind of insanity that would be let loose once the terrorist organizations start using their amassed Bitcoins to become millionaires of the virtual world and raise their own army of destruction through these means.

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The Flip-side

On the other hand, if we could see the virtual brain from an observer point-of-view, by traversing beyond the bounds of just any ordinary user-interface and actually looking at it through all the layers, it would be quite easy for us to locate this bug or virus. But then, who has that sort of power; the ability to strip down the Internet and look at it from the point of a giant map, without all its intricate layers of data? To look right through the matrix into the yawning gray that is the coded world of the Internet? Well, whether we know them or not, they have already started to do what they do best; cure!

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That is where hacker groups such as Anonymous come in. The thing to understand is that this large virtual world that we call the Internet exists within a shroud of illusion, which essentially is the illusion of security or privacy that most users live within. This means that hackers can use this loophole of zero internet security to strike at the heart of terrorist groups who have constructed their online garrisons of recruitment and mass propaganda. These hackers can then continue to raze these virtual organizations and bring them to their knees, either by targeting their social media profiles and pulling them down, or actually infecting the websites of these terrorist organizations and having some fun with them as most hacker groups are known to do.

So today, we find ourselves at the focal point of a war that could go both ways. If left unchecked, the virus that is being spread into the virtual brain of the Internet can use its inherent systems to raise their own virtual army of cyber-terrorists. On the other hand, if the people who can hack the matrix of this virtual brain of the Internet can take control and actually bring these organizations to their knees, the virtual world, as well as the real world of the terrorist organizations which thrives on their virtual roots to survive, could be brought down to their knees.

The situation is up for grabs, what happens now is completely dependent on who learns to use the virtual illusion to their benefit.

Image Sources: [1], [2], [3], [4]

About Ashwin Ramesh

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