Their ability to dominate internet forums with jihadist propaganda aside, terrorist lack sophisticated cyber skills, according to the State Department.
“The cyberthreat is growing, but it is not first and foremost a terrorist threat. It is a state-on-state threat,” said State Department counterterrorism coordinator Daniel Benjamin, as reported by National Defense.
Recent high-level breaches, including attacks on major defense companies, are likely coming from other states, and are not the result of terrorist networks including Al Qaeda. The fact that today’s cyber warfare is of the more traditional state-on-state nature is a key reason why Pentagon officials are categorizing cyber threats in traditional defense terms, and are willing to meet a cyber attack with a more traditional counterattack.
But just because most major attacks today aren’t terrorist related doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future. Terrorists have already been credited with low-level denial of service attacks, according to the State Department, and just as they have adapted in the past, they will likely continue to adapt their online techniques to include the cyber threats so often on the minds of many in the U.S. national security industry, and creating a sharp increase in demand for cybersecurity professionals.