Terrorists differ from traditional soldiers in that they are not bound by the laws and conventions that society expects a civilized military to follow. Since ideology transcends nationality, members of these militant organizations can hide in the midst of their enemies. Historically, terrorists have been known to exact brutal and ruthless manifestations of their ideology or will on innocent populations and noncombatants. Jihadists are uniquely willing to devoutly adhere to a set of guiding principles while sacrificing as much as necessary to achieve a goal.

Similarly, Cyber terrorists are not bound by the ambiguous code of ethics and practices followed by other digital presences, ranging from hacktivists to law enforcement. Information is a profound equalizer. It allows small groups to compete on the same level as criminal syndicates and governments. Because the internet, when used appropriately, facilitates anonymity, cyber terrorists are able to tailor their operations to their desired amount of exposure. Subtle attacks can be used to gain information and resources, while publically claimed attacks can increase notoriety and fear. Cyber terrorists are willing to attack any target to cause chaos or to realize a gain for their cause. The information and wealth acquired from their attacks may be transformed into weapons in the physical war fought by their organization. Todd Helfrich (Anomali) contributes, “Hackers motivated by ideology can be some of the most dangerous since their timeline and persistence to accomplish their objective can be measured in many months or years and they are not motivated by financial gain so they may take risks others won’t.” In many ways, belief is more powerful than demonstrations of force or strength. After all, that is the reason that nation states imbue a sense of patriotism in their citizens. Cyber Jihadists are willing to go to extreme lengths to serve their beliefs. They do not fear public exposure, unless it compromises an operation, because their real-world activities are already illegal enough to place them in the sights of many militaries and law enforcement entities.

Since the advent of the internet, terrorist groups have been transitioning to Cyber Jihad or Cyber Physical organizations because the world wide web expands their web of influence wide across the world. The rate at which a group adopts new technology is based on their resources and their membership. Groups with greater access to technology and funds and with younger members develop faster than other groups. Even though the Cyber Jihad groups may share some specific goals, such as religious beliefs, the formation of a global United Cyber Caliphate, and opposition to their enemies, each major jihadist group differs in its ideology, structure, and capabilities.

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