“The NHS is a vital artery in society, but there are many others.”
Dr Tim Owen, director of the University of Central Lancashire’s Cybercrime Research Unit, says terrorism through the internet presents a real threat to society and believes the recent cyber attack on the NHS shows nothing is safe.
He says: “Cyber terrorism is a new form of terrorism. The internet is intrinsic to what terrorists do and nowadays, no terrorist would operate without the internet.
“A lot of what terrorists do is on cyberspace so a three-pronged approach is needed as we need to fight them ideologically, fight them with boots on the ground and fight them in the cyber world.
READ MORE: Cyber criminals preying on human error
“Terrorists feel empowered by the internet as they can target a lot of people at once.
“They want to terrify entire civilisations.
“Organisations like ISIS are demonising the religion and perverting the holy book.
“The most pressing threat at the moment is because of the so-called Islamist groups, but it is by no means the only threat.
“One particular danger is the phenomenon of the ‘Unabomber’ – a single person operating on their own.
“There has been an increase in Unabombers as there are more and more disaffected individuals in society.
“Cybercrime and terrorism presents a massive risk to society.”
Prof Awais Rashid, Lancaster University’s top academic on cyber security and co-director of the Security Lancaster Institute, agrees there is a risk of infrastructure being targeted.
He says: “Given that we have seen these attacks elsewhere, it is not inconceivable that our infrastructure in the UK could be targeted by malicious parties.
“The problem is that with a lot of critical infrastructure, the systems were designed a long time ago when security was not a main consideration.
“They were not connected to anything, but now they are connected to the Internet.Sometimes it is not easy to build security features in because of the strict performance requirements as you want the system to respond very quickly.
“If there are a cyber attack on one of these facilities, the disruption to society would be huge and there is the potential for serious loss of life.”