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Bangs for the Buck: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Cyberterrorism

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Just like "the Internet," the word "terrorism" has become an icon of the times. If the two terms are combined "cyberterrorism" emerges, along with an endless list of gloomy scenarios. Is this outcome really unavoidable? Would cyberterrorism be a viable option for terrorists? This article addresses these questions assuming that a hypothetical terrorist group, interested in adding cyberterrorism to its arsenal, decides to engage in a cost-benefit analysis to assess the payoffs and investment required by such a new endeavor. The conclusions are that cyberterrorism is not a very efficient substitute for more traditional tools like bombs. It is more effective for the terrorists to exploit information infrastructures to fight a "war of ideas," spreading their beliefs and points of view.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Politics and History, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy; and Peace Studies Program, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Publication date: 2004-09-01

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