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The term cyberterrorism refers to the convergence of terrorism and cyberspace—the politically motivated sabotage of information systems. Since the 1990s, incidents of hacking, cybercrime, and highly destructive computer viruses have been widespread, but many believe that true cyberterrorism remains more of a threat, albeit a possibly imminent one, than a reality.

Barry Collin, of the Institute for Security and Intelligence in California, coined the term cyber-terrorism in the 1980s. In a 1997 paper, Collin described possible cyberterror scenarios. In one, a cyberterrorist hacks into the computer system of a cereal manufacturer and raises the level of iron in each box, causing innumerable children to get sick and die. In another scenario, cyberterrorists destabilize an entire country by attacking financial institutions and stock exchanges en masse.

Collin's third scenario, in which a cyberterrorist hacks into an air traffic control system, came close to reality when, in 1997, ...

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