Looming Threat or Phantom Menace? The Framing of the US Cyber-Threat Debate
Author(s): Myriam Dunn Cavelty
In: Journal of Information Technology & Politics
Publisher(s): Haworth Press
Publication Year: 2007
For some years, experts and government officials have warned of cyber-terrorism as a looming threat to national security. However, if we define cyber-terror as an attack or series of attacks that is carried out by terrorists, that instills fear by effects that are destructive or disruptive, and that has a political, religious, or ideological motivation, then none of the disruptive cyber-incidents of the last years qualify as examples of cyber-terrorism. So why has this fear been so persistent? Instead of trying to answer how long cyber-terror is likely to remain a fictional scenario, this paper analyzes the US cyber-terror discourse from a constructivist security studies angle: It looks at how cyber-threats in general, and cyber-terror in particular are framed, and speculates on characteristics that are responsible for the rapid and considerable political impact of the widespread conceptualization of aspects of information technology as a security problem in the 1990s.