Cyber terrorism and the concept of Virtual Identity

The social web has connected the world in all possible ways. We are connected financially, through transfer of media, communications e.g text, IM, voice chat, outside telephony and identities. Thus tying true identities with virtual is a challenge.

Physical person’s attributes are

  • Location
  • Biometrics like finger prints, height, weight etc
  • Financial like Credit Cards, bank accounts and transaction history
  • Social like personality, habits, network
  • Biographies like name, race, age, gender, hobbies etc

Virtual identity attributes are-

  • IP address
  • Visual Representations- Avatars and pictures
  • Financial like credit card, bank account and transaction history
  • Social like personality, reputation and credibility and contacts
  • Biographic like Pseudonym, a type of virtual identity, gender, age and interests.Thus you can see that the physical and the virtual worlds do not necessarily converge.

Virtual identity- A detailed view-

As per definition- A Virtual Identity (VI) is the manifestation of one’s self in the digitalVI comprises of all the identity elements that are tied to an individual. These can be intentional or unintentional. Examples- email addresses, your avatar name, facebook user id, Google+ friend list etc. These helps in identifying who you are and what you do.

Virtual Identity + Alternative Internet Currency + Safe route to transact -> Terrorist Financing-

These days alternative currencies are flourishing all over the world. They are unregulated, uncontrolled, anonymous and record less. These currencies allow anonymous interaction with our financial system even at an international level.

TOR network

These are network of virtual tunnels. They allow people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet. The true identity of the users in this case remains unknown. People use these services for communication and payment. Around 1500 TOR nodes are available worldwide. Users can choose a node by just clicking a button and then he is ghost in the cyber world.

How does TOR work? 

tor 1

tor 2

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Thus cyber terrorism is a low hanging fruit to be used for destruction. Its impact is however devastating, reaching, even beyond international borders. Does your organization has enough checks and controls in place to counter this threat?

 Sankha Chatterjee


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