Today, the United States faces multiple national security threats emanating from internal and external sources. These threats can be categorized into threats coming from hostile governments such as North Korea or Russia, terrorism, advanced weaponry proliferation, cybercrime, and disease and natural disasters. Of all these threats, cybercrime poses an imminent threat to national security. Cybercrime poses an imminent national security threat because the financial sector is increasingly connected to the internet and digitized meaning that an attack on financial institutions could result in widespread economic instability and even recession (Seissa et al., 2017). In addition, illegal access and tampering with power grids and the exposure of private information collected by companies as a result of successful hacking can have a significant negative impact on the American people.
Cybercrime involves the use of computers or networked devices to gain illegal access to another computer system or network. While some cybercriminals intend to profit from such access, others have more dangerous intentions including but not limited to disrupting national power grids, the financial system, and other systems connected to a network (Seissa et al., 2017). These malicious activities by cybercriminals are rightly referred to as cyberterrorism because they intend to force the US government to change course by terrorizing innocent Americans. The primary source of this threat is a hostile government or an international terrorist organization. These two sources are well funded and have the technical knowledge and ideological motivation to carry out cyberterrorism in the United States. Cyberterrorists and criminals use worms, viruses, trojan horses, and other crafty methods to gain access to a network and launch large-scale attacks with devasting consequences.
While it is virtually impossible to stop all cyberterrorist activities directed at the United States, the government together with international partners has several options it can take to ensure the security of the critical infrastructure. The first and most obvious is the prosecution of all cybercriminals whenever they are identified and also building law enforcement capacity to prosecute all cyberterrorism offenses (Hert & Bouchagiar, 2020). Thanks to friendly relations with most countries, the United States government can extradite any criminal to the US to face cyberterrorism-related charges. The second step is the strengthening of the country’s defenses against cyber intrusion. As one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, the US can effectively guard against cyber intrusions by employing the resources at its disposal. Further, informing all stakeholders about potential threats can avert potential cyberterrorism because it helps potential target organizations and agencies put up defenses.
At the international level, the US can demand that parties to the Budapest Convention on cybercrime live up to the provisions of the convention. The Budapest convention criminalizes several computer attacks, provides a mechanism for collecting electronic evidence, and encourages cooperation between signatories in fighting cybercrime and cyberterrorism (Hakmeh, 2022). It aims to harmonize the fight against cybercrime by reducing incidences of safe havens and facilitating cooperation among global law enforcement agencies. In addition, the US can push for the expansion of the scope of the convention to cover a wide range of activities that constitute cyberterrorism and the adoption of the treaty by more countries. Finally, the US can expand the scope and powers of the Department of Homeland’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to be able to effectively detect and deter cyberterrorism. CISA is a DHS agency concerned with working with international partners to strengthen the US and global capacity to respond to cybercrimes and cyberterrorism against critical infrastructure.
Hakmeh, J. (2022). Can a cybercrime convention for all be achieved? Chatham House – International Affairs Think Tank. Web.
Hert, P., & Bouchagiar, G. (2020). Investigating cybercrime and a comparative study of cybercrime in criminal law: China, US, England, Singapore and the Council of Europe. SCRIPT-Ed, 17(2), 431–440. Web.
Seissa, I., Ibrahim, J., & Yahaya, N.-Z. (2017). Cyberterrorism definition patterns and mitigation strategies: A literature review. International Journal of Science and Research (IJSR), 6(1), 180–186. Web.