Should we be afraid of cyber-terrorism?

Julian Droogan*, Lise Waldek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores the extent to which we should fear cyber-terrorism through providing a review of scholarship and debates over the nature of cyber-terrorism, in particular speculation about its future affordances. It questions whether terrorists have ever really been able to weaponise the internet much beyond using it as an effective communication tool, thus greatly reducing the likelihood of direct internet facilitated terrorism. First, the history of warnings regarding the imminent threat posed by the internet of becoming weaponised is presented, even though these warnings have tended to fail to materialise into reality. It is argued that speculations by individuals within the academic and policy community have failed to be born out in practice largely because the internet has instead been used less as a weapon by terrorists and more as a sophisticated communication tool. It continues by posing a series of questions regarding online audiences that are in need of future research if we are to better understand the role of the internet in spreading and supporting violent extremist discourse and cultivating terrorism. The most important question involves a better understanding of the role of audiences as autonomous agents in navigating, reacting and responding to online violent extremist materials.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-254
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • cyber-terrorism
  • online radicalisation
  • audience reception theory
  • Cyber-terrorism
  • Audience reception theory
  • Online radicalisation

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