May 24, 2007
As the U.S. military continues to fight insurgents and terrorists in the middle east, another battle is being waged on the internet. Terrorists have become increasingly more sophisticated and organized in cyberspace.
"It is a tremendous weapon on this new battlefield of information" said Greg Saathoff, Executive Director of the Critical Incident Analysis Group at UVa.
Saathoff is one of the main authors of a congressional report showing that extremist Islamic groups consider the keyboard as important as a rifle.
"The impact of the internet more and more is just as much or more impact than some of their other tactics including weapons" said Saathoff.
Propaganda, recruiting, fundraising and even researching potential targets are just some of the ways these groups are utilizing the web.
"Also it's used as a covert communication source for the terrorists to communicate amongst each other or provide plans back and forth between different groups" said FBI special agent Steve Duenas.
Communication that is even done on legitimate websites. By using sub-directories on these websites terrorists can hide training manuals, and because it's cyberspace anyone is vulnerable.
"We in Charlottesville are just as high a probability of being victimized as anybody" said Duenas.
And while the internet has proved a useful tool in everyday life Duenas warns to keep an eye out for anything suspicious.
"Most people don't realize that the internet is a great source of information but it can be very dangerous" said Duenas.