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Debate Final. Xtrozero v IsaacKoi: Terror in Imagination Land

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posted on Nov, 13 2007 @ 08:13 PM
The topic for this debate is "Cyber-terrorism represents a greater threat to first world nations than nuclear terrorism".

Xtrozero will be arguing the pro position and will open the debate.
IsaacKoi will argue the con position.

Each debater will have one opening statement each. This will be followed by 3 alternating replies each. There will then be one closing statement each and no rebuttal.

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posted on Nov, 14 2007 @ 02:58 PM
Once again thanks to The Vagabond for his great efforts in making this all happen and good luck to Isaackoi on a great debate.

For this debate I will prove the statement "Cyber-terrorism represents a greater threat to first world nations than nuclear terrorism" is true and correct as written. To do this I will show not only the level of threat these two forms of terrorism represent, but also the practicality of using either.

As I dwell into this topic there are a number of issues that will need to be addressed to prove the debate statement is correct. One of those issues is if either of these terrorist acts were used at what level of damage would they inflict to a nation. Since a cyber threat is mostly non-physical and nuclear is physical, I will show how these very different threats actually affect a society on the physical, emotional and psychological level.

At first look the devastating force of a nuclear bomb can not be discounted, and just a quick glance back in history during WWII we can see this utter devastation with bombs that had much lower yield than the bombs available today. Even with all that devastation the big question we would need to ask is did it cripple the whole country? Even with two cities wiped off the map Japan was far from being crippled, but the very real threat of more nukes is what actually brought them to consider unconditional surrender.

Damage will also be a key issue, and both of these threats bring totally different forms when used. When thinking damage we generally think of loss of life and the destruction of brick and mortar for these are concrete things that we can see and feel, but in the first world country there is a completely different world that affects everything we do daily, and that is the cyber world. For a person to understand what they might loose they must first understand what they have, and in this world that is mainly invisible I will shed some light on what is hidden. As we explore this we will see that it is the most critical element to our nation’s health that even with the loss of millions of lives and whole cities could not equal the loss of this.

When we look at the practicality of a threat, as I mentioned in my first paragraph, the ability to actually use it comes into question, and this will be another area where I will address as we debate this subject. With WMDs the world is tightly controlled, and even after fifty years not a single nuclear weapon has slipped into the hands of terrorist, but the US as many other first world nation are under constant attack in the cyber-world this would be equal to stopping a terrorist group who actually had a nuke on a monthly bases. If that was the case it would not be if but when would a nuke be detonated in the US. Well, in the cyber-world it is not if but when will massive damage be caused by a terrorist group.

Anytime a disaster happens the aftereffects are in many cases more important than the initial incident. When dealing with a nuclear disaster the aftereffects remain more localized, and as example, a nuclear hit on a major city doesn’t cripple our entire government, military, economic system and infrastructure that a cyber-attack could and would. The after shock of this total collapse opens up new scenarios that a nuclear weapon just would not provide. One such scenario born from these serious vulnerabilities is the door for war with other nations could be opened as opportunities from a crippled nation become exploitable.

The continuing aftereffects on the psychological side would be much different too. After the initial shock of a nuclear explosion the country would gather together with a single purpose of destroying the culprit that cause it to happen, much like 9/11, but on a much greater scale. With a nation wide cyber attack who do you blame? Instead of a focus purpose we would have fear, doubt, loss of confidence in the government, hopelessness in the future etc that would continue for a very long time compared to terrorist level nuclear attack.

As anyone can see a very capable and massive cyber attack takes on a scale of damage that is almost unimaginable, and even though a nuclear weapon has unimaginable localized devastation it cannot be compared to the devastation that a cyber attack would cause coast to coast, or even globally.

posted on Nov, 15 2007 @ 08:10 AM

In this debate I will be arguing against the proposition that “Cyber-terrorism represents a greater threat to first world nations than nuclear terrorism”.

To help focus this debate, I will very briefly define the two relevant terms:

(1) Cyber-terrorism involves the use of the target’s computers and information technology, particularly via the Internet to cause physical, real-world harm or severe disruption for a political motive.

(2) Nuclear terrorism involves the use, or threat of use, of nuclear weapons or material for a political motive

I will outline below some of the points that I’ll be making to indicate that cyber-terrorism is NOT a greater threat to first world nations than nuclear terrorism.


In this debate, I will be presenting various reasons for considering cyber-terrorism to be one of the most over-hyped risks in modern society.

It has recently featured in best-selling novels (e.g. Dan Brown’s book “Digital Fortress”) and popular movies (e.g. “Die-Hard 4.0”, starring Bruce Willis).

The precise nature of the threat from “cyber-terrorists” is often presented in vague terms. When hypothetical scenarios are put forward, their realism is often questionable.

One of the primary objectives of terrorists is, as the name implies, to cause terror. The thought of cyber-terrorists causing, say, an interruption to the flow of data over the Internet is unlikely to strike fear into the hearts of many in the first world. It may be irritating, it may even cause significant financial losses, but terror? No.

Most importantly, the more sensational suggestions about the threats from cyber-terrorists often ignore or downplay:

(a) Safeguards already in place to deal with accidental losses and damage.

Most people that have used computers for any length of time know to back-up their data, to prevent loss of data from a wide range of causes (ranging from the latest bug in Windows to earthquakes and fires). Many companies have policies regarding storing back-ups of data from their computer systems, often storing such back-ups at other locations. Similarly, it is now fairly common for larger companies to have contingency plans for prolonged power-cuts etc, so that they can continue to operate from secondary locations (or, indeed, with staff working from home etc).

(b) Safeguards already in place to deal with cyber-attacks by criminals with a financial motive.

Unlike the threat from “cyber-terrorist”, the threat from those wishing to cause damage out of malice or for financial motives (as opposed to hypothetical individuals acting for political motives) is very real and well-recognised. Hackers have been around, and caused enough damage, that most companies (and, indeed, most individuals) have a plethora of software installed on their systems to limit the risks from viruses and worms.

For example, it is already common for owners of computers to install password protection on their networks.

Less exotic, but more real, issues such as spam and protecting our privacy have already made the case for installing protection on computer systems. Thus, for example, most individuals setting up wireless home-networks know they should use at least basic (but powerful) encryption to prevent individuals parking outside their home gaining access to their data.

Most companies (and many individuals) know about, and have taken measures to deal with, such modern irritations as mal-ware and ad-ware.

(c) Safeguards already in place to deal with cyber-terrorists.

As noted above, the risks from cyber-terrorists are already the subject of a considerable amount of hype in the modern world. Following the events of 11 September 2001, few politicians are willing to be seen as complacent about ANY alleged risk from terrorists. So, despite the fact that the risks may have been exaggerated, politicians have already been responding to the alleged risks.

In subsequent rounds in this debate, I’ll give details of some of the steps already taken around the world to fight the perceived risks from cyber-terrorists and the bodies that have been charged with protecting us from those risks.

Nuclear terrorism

During the next few rounds of this debate, I will show that the risks of nuclear terrorism are considerably greater than the more sensationalized risks from “cyber-terrorists”.

The event of 11 September 2001 demonstrated that the risk of terrorists seeking to inflict huge loss of life is not merely a theoretical fear. They have done it. They will seek to do so again. It is merely a matter of time.

The proliferation of nuclear weapons means that more and more countries are producing nuclear bombs.

In some of those countries, controls upon the bombs are far from perfect. For example, during the break-up of the former Soviet Union there are considerable confusion in relation to the nuclear arsenal.

Some of the countries that have nuclear bombs have a considerable number of religious extremists in their military, e.g. Pakistan (which had strong links to the Taliban in Afghanistan, which in turn had strong links with Osama Bin Laden).

But nuclear terrorism does not necessarily involve the use of nuclear bombs.

Unfortunately, there are much easier alternatives for a nuclear terrorist.

Those alternatives include:

(a) Potential attack on nuclear power station
Firstly, for example, it would be possible to launch a terrorist attack on a nuclear power station and attempt to disperse radioactive material by detonating a bomb at, or near, a nuclear power plant.

The Nuclear Control Institute has indicated that, although security has improved somewhat during the last decade, it nonetheless remains concerned that “protective measures are inadequate to defend against the larger bombs used by terrorists since the 1993 truck-bomb attack against the World Trade Center”.

(b) “Dirty bombs”

Low grade radioactive material is not difficult to obtain. It is used in medicine or industry for various purposes.

The Nuclear Control Institute has indicated that “the physical protection requirements for radioactive sources widely used in commerce are quite lax”.

While a “dirty bomb” using such nuclear material does not cause an atomic explosion, it can spread radioactive material.


We live in a visual age. If terrorists want to maximize the impact of an attack, the attack must come with great “visuals”.

Take the terrorist attacks of 11 September. Would the events of that day had quite such a significant impact if there had been no footage of the planes hitting the Twin Towers? Can you recall watching the same images playing again and again and again on television that day?

Image the impact of “visuals” of a nuclear attack.

The impact would go far beyond the (considerable) immediate physical damage and loss of life.

A nuclear attack in the USA, coupled with the threat of a further attack, would paralyze America (or, indeed, probably the entire first world).

The fact that the risk of some form of nuclear terrorism has been around for some time has apparently dulled our fear. Instead, the media hype surrounds newer risks – such as cyber-terrorism.

We are in danger of having our priorities distorted as a result of media hype. The dangers resulting from this are considerable.

By forgetting the established danger of nuclear terrorism, we face the risk of a nuclear Pearl Harbour.

posted on Nov, 16 2007 @ 04:28 PM
Xtrozero's 24 hour extention is being applied to prevent forfeiture of his post.

posted on Nov, 17 2007 @ 12:12 AM
My opponent felt it was important to define just what Cyber and Nuclear terrorism is, but I feel it is also important to define terrorism in the general sense to show not only how it is done and who would be considered a terrorist, but also what would be considered an act of terrorism.

Though there is no single definition of terrorism the FBI defines it as,

“Terrorism is the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

Terrorism is further broken down into two subgroups,

• Domestic terrorism involves groups or individuals who are based and operate entirely within the United States and Puerto Rico without foreign direction and whose acts are directed at elements of the U.S. Government or population.

• International terrorism is the unlawful use of force or violence committed by a group or individual, who has some connection to a foreign power or whose activities transcend national boundaries, against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

Also during a Special Oversight Panel on Terrorism to the Committee on Armed Services, U.S. House of Representatives, Dorothy E. Denning of Georgetown University stated,

“To further qualify as cyber-terrorism, an attack should result in violence against persons or property, or at least cause enough harm to generate fear. Attacks that lead to death or bodily injury, explosions, plane crashes, water contamination, or severe economic loss would be examples. Serious attacks against critical infrastructures could be acts of cyber-terrorism, depending on their impact. Attacks that disrupt nonessential services or that are mainly a costly nuisance would not.” Georgetown U

I felt the need to expand on this for my opponent feels that the cyber-terrorist is best left to novels, and the whole concept is vague with questionable realism.

We can now begin understand that these cyber-terrorist attacks can either be caused by groups or individuals, and can be inside a country or transcend national boundaries. They will also be connected to a government or some other power in the furtherance of political or social objectives.

Cyber-terrorism is not some 18 year old script monkey hacking a website as my opponent may want us all to believe.

Furthermore, as what was explained to the Special Oversight Panel on Terrorism, when we now debate cyber-terrorism we should all have images of attacks that lead to death or bodily injury, explosions, plane crashes, water contamination, severe economic loss and even serious attacks against critical infrastructures. This and more is what cyber-terrorism is all about, and as I will explain later, is a much more serious threat in both availability and scale to Nuclear-terrorism.


My opponent felt the need to invest a large portion of his first post on safeguards, and yes there are backups, but daily backup unlikely. Also I really do not know of many contingency plans for power outages or command post type backup locations. He will need to pull out some facts on this otherwise he is just speculating on what might be a good idea though most likely cost prohibitive.

A good example that shows a lack of safeguards that my opponent feels are up and running is the “I Love You" virus. It was written by a college student and was released by accident. It infected thousands of corporate sites at the cost of 1.5 to 2 billion dollars per day in lost revenue.

Hmm one collage student and one mistake...

My opponent is also confused that hackers are unable to be part of terrorism and only “hypothetical individuals acting for political motives” can do this.

In a world of about 100,000 hackers 10,000 of them are very good and can write their own source codes to hack. 1000 of those are extremely exceptional in their abilities, and will sell their expertise to the highest bidder including terrorist who just happen to have vast resources. This does not even account for state run terrorist programs, and as example China is on the forefront of this.

Safeguards are like locks in they keep the honest person honest and most of the criminals out, but to the truly capable a lock is nothing more than a small delay.

State run terrorism programs and powerful organizations with billions at their finger tips are truly capable and gain advantages every year as more and more of the physical would is under control by computers and the skill of cyber-terrorist become increasingly better and more importantly focused on massive cyber attacks.

One Bang vs. Constant Attack

To talk about how a group can get the most damage out of nuke, or even suggest a dirty bomb that has no nuclear fission can be a nuke is rather a waste of posting space for we still have one major problem since all of it is still just one big bang.

9/11 was basically just one big bang too, and so it disrupted the US for a few days then it actually made us stronger and unified. This was a mistake by terrorist for it did not accomplish what they set out to do.

In essence it was like winning one small battle but losing the war effort. We must all remember that terrorist want to create fear and uncertainly to influence governments and the population, and 9/11 did not do that and in fact it did the opposite.

Death and destruction are just tools to create the desired outcome for terrorist, and cyber-terrorism is also a tool to reach the same desired outcome.

To truly create fear, uncertainly and mistrust in financial institutions and state/federal governments there needs to be a long constant attack of some form. Even with the greatest of efforts and perfect execution the terrorist will only get one nuke at best, but an endless cyber attack to collapse the stock markets around the world, make electronic purchasing, banking, and credit useless with total loss of confidence and credibility in our financial systems, constant infrastructure attacks that wipe large grids of power, disrupt water & sewage and even things as small as stop lights, bring 1000s of corporations to a standstill, disrupt delivery systems to create bare shelves across a country and totally wipeout the military’s C4 (Communications, Command, Control, Computer) is a situation on a scale that would bring a country to its knees in total chaos.

To do this a nuke is not needed, just a million firecrackers of cyber terrorism will get it done. A physicist once said,

"cyber-terrorism can be like a person who just changes the fifth place of Pi in all my calculations. It would be enough to make me think all of the calculations were completely wrong."

All cyber-terrorism needs to do is constantly attack to reach the point that the population no longer trust, and then anarchy sets in.

Why use cyber attacks over traditional one?

Cyber terrorist prefer using the cyber attack methods because of many advantages for it.
It is cheaper than traditional methods.
The action is very difficult to be tracked.
They can hide their personalities and location.
There are no physical barriers or check points to cross.
They can do it remotely from anywhere in the world.
They can use this method to attack a big number of targets.
They can affect a large number of people.

Why use traditional attacks over nuclear?

With traditional attacks you can achieve the same outcome as cyber terrorism in that constant small attacks over a long period will create the desired results that terrorist are looking for. With 12 million illegal aliens in the US, and large numbers in other first world nations, a flood of terrorist that constantly attack such as killing 20 people at a mall, but in 50 different malls around the country and with constant physical attacks on the infrastructure at a national level as we see in Iraq is how terrorist goals are accomplished.


The bottom line is a nuke is a Strategic deterrent only and the biggest part of that deterrent is have many nukes and the capability to deliver them anywhere in the world at any time, and because of this they are a useless weapon to a terrorist.

Nationwide attacks over long periods of time are how terrorist can successfully reach the necessary results to push their agendas and cyber-terrorism will be one of their biggest tools since it can be a 24/7 coast to coast attack.

posted on Nov, 17 2007 @ 06:16 AM
I have some difficulty in responding to my opponent’s submissions.

My difficulty does not arise from the force of those submissions, but because he has so obviously overstated his case that any response appears unnecessary to many of his points.

Let me take just three examples before moving on to develop some of the points made in my opening submissions.

Example 1 : “A useless weapon”

Firstly, my opponent says “nukes … are a useless weapon to a terrorist”.


“A useless weapon”?

Is my opponent’s view one that you’d like your government to hold in relation to the threat of nuclear terrorism? Should we tell our police and intelligence services to forget about the risks of nuclear terrorism? Tell them it is nothing to worry about, since all terrorists would view nukes as “useless”?

Is my opponent serious?

The events of 11 September 2001 should have done away with any view that terrorists are only interested in causing as much fear as possible by killing as few people as possible. Some groups (such as Al-Quaeda) now wish to cause as much fear as possible by killing as many people as possible.

Using nuclear weapons, or dispersing nuclear material, would be a dream weapon to these individuals.

This should be self-evident to anyone that bears the death-toll on 11 September 2001 in mind.

However, the facts go far beyond speculation about the desires of terrorists. There is evidence that some terrorist groups have ALREADY taken steps to engage in nuclear terrorism. A Rand report entitled “Aum Shinrikyo, Al Qaeda, and the Kinshasa Reactor” gives detailed information about attempt by Aum Shinrikyo (pages 5-22) and Al Qaeda (pages 22-54) to obtain nuclear capabilities.

So, it appears that the terrorists do not agree with my opponent that nuclear weapons are “useless” to them.

Example 2 : “Just one big bang”

Secondly, my opponent suggests that a nuclear bomb or dirty bomb would be “just one big bang”.

Again, I have to ask: is my opponent serious?

Were the events on 11 September 2001 “just” a few modest size bangs? No. They have changed the shape of domestic and international politics. Just think about the priority now given to the “war on terrorism”, at home and abroad. Think about the legislation introduced to combat terrorism and the debate about the tension between civil liberties and public safety. The impact of the events of that day have been felt for several years already, and will continue to be felt for years to come.

Now imagine the effects of terrorists detonating one nuclear bomb. Imagine the death toll. Imagine the television coverage in the aftermath. Imagine the lingering effects – the radiation sickness and physical devastation. Imagine the consequences for domestic and international politics.

Can this be dismissed as “just one big bang”?

And this is without imaging the (all too realistic) possibility that the terrorists could have a second device – or merely claim to have a second device and use that claim to blackmail Western governments.

Example 3 : Distortions of my submissions

Thirdly,my opponent’s submissions clearly grossly distort my opening remarks.

Since this will be obvious to anyone that has actually read my submissions, I do not labour this point.

However, I will briefly note that my opponent suggests (for example) that I am “confused that hackers are unable to be part of terrorism and only ‘hypothetical individuals acting for political motives’ can do this”. I think that anyone reading my opening remarks can see that my opponent distorts what I said, apparently in an attempt to avoid my point. I did not say that “hackers are unable to be part of terrorism”. I believe my words were quite clear. I indicated that many hackers are not part of terrorism and that law enforcement agencies (not to mention companies and individuals) have taken increasing steps against such hackers in recent years.

Cyber-terrorists are simply hackers. They use the same techniques as other hackers. Protection against (non-terrorist) hackers provides protection against cyber-terrorists.

Moving on

I’ll now move on to make some additional points in support of my opening submissions, trying to ignore the more extreme unreferenced and unsupported claims by my opponent (e.g. his claim that we live “in a world of about 100,000 hackers 10,000 of them are very good”).

Government initiatives in relation to Cyber-terrorism

Protection against cyber-terrorism is NOT limited to the considerable efforts made by companies and individuals.

Governments around the world are ALREADY taking additional steps to protect us against cyber-terrorists (in addition to increasing legislation and law-enforcement efforts to tackle hackers more generally).

For example, in November 2006, the Secretary of the Air Force announced the creation of the Air Force Cyberspace Command, which will be tasked to monitor and defend American interest in cyberspace.

Indeed, as noted below, it seems that Governments have been the source of much of the hype regarding cyber-terrorism.

Thus, cyber-terrotism is not a case in which Governments have been ignoring calls to address a risk. Instead, Governments have tended to be the ones making the calls for action (and spending our tax money on taking such actions).

Cyber-terrorism and hype

As noted in my opening submissions, cyber-terrorism has already been the subject of several popular movies and novels. Any attack by cyber-terrorism would therefore hardly have the surprise and shock value of the events of 11 September 2007. A cyber-attack would not be a new Pearl Harbour.

Indeed, the publicity regarding (and Governmental response to) the threat from cyber-terrorists has probably been excessive. There is a lot of hype regarding cyber-terrorism.

This was the view expressed by a panel of security and technology experts brought together at the CeBIT technology fair in 2003. Respected security expert Bruce Schneier said "The hype is coming from the US Government and I don't know why".


Cyber-terrorism is not an over-looked threat.

Governments (particularly of the USA) have been among the most alarmist about the threat, and taken steps to address it.

Independent experts have expressed the view that the US Government has been the source of much of the hype regarding cyber-terrorism.

On the other hand, there is evidence that terrorist groups have ALREADY sought to obtain nuclear capability. This is a very real threat with potentially huge consequences.

Cyber-terrorism does NOT represents a greater threat to first world nations than nuclear terrorism.

[edit on 19-11-2007 by The Vagabond]

posted on Nov, 17 2007 @ 09:41 PM
As we head into the third set of posts my opponent does not seem to comprehend that just because a nuclear weapon is the big daddy of all weapons it doesn’t automatically make it the number one choice with terrorist.

He feels by posting and boldfacing something I didn’t even say “causing as much fear as possible by killing as few people as possible” somehow represents my point when my point is actually long term nationwide attacks are what terrorist want to use to meet their objectives.

With cyber and conventional Asymmetric Warfare this can be done, and whether there are 100,000s of people dead or it causes the collapse of our financial system with few deaths this means little to terrorist since their objectives are what is important, and long term Asymmetric Warfare with a nuclear weapon cannot be done for once you set it off it is over with.

Are Terrorist psychopaths or are they on a mission?

My opponent wants us to imagine a nuclear explosion so let’s do just that but also look beyond the death and destruction it causes.

A nuke goes off in LA and 500,000 die with a trillion dollars in damage. Just like 9/11 the nation would be in shock and the news would show the vast destruction 24/7. After a few days the stories would continue to run a body count, but we would start to see stories about survivors and heroes. The president would have many news briefs and would vow to hunt down and kill anyone or group involved. Within a few weeks all Americans would unite into one cause to wipe those responsible off the face of the earth.

Would there be much death and destruction on a scale never seen before? Yes. Would America shut down into a state of chaos? No.

As I have already stated, no matter how bad it would be, it would still be an isolated situation. 300 million Americans untouched by it would be sitting in front of their TVs watching the situation unfold with very little of it personally affecting them.

Terrorist are not psychopaths for they have goals and agendas. These goals are to influence a government to do what they want them to do. Does anyone really see America actually bending to their desires in the event of a nuclear explosion?

This is not to say that if they could they would, and terrorist would love to fire off a few nukes, AND invade the US in Asymmetric Warfare, AND do massive cyber attacks all at the same time, and why not? All of these combine would allow them to reach their goals just that much faster.

The problem with this is they can’t do all of it, and so they need to do what is within their powers. A nuclear bomb would be nothing more than icing on the cake if they had the ability to pull it off, but it would not be their main plan.

What is the difference?

Let’s take another scenario of a long term cyber attack. Massive attacks on our financial system and infrastructures controlled by computers would see 300 million people personally affected and not trusting electronic funds anymore they would try and cash out everything they could. Since all these cyber attacks would affect EVERY American, everyone of us would start and horde everything from food/water to medicine to guns and ammo etc. Just think of a nationwide Katrina without the physical storm. Marshall Law would be enforced and America would become a country of anarchy.

Instead of 300 million watching the news on TV about a nuclear explosion in the comfort of their homes we all would not know what was happening since our cable would be out and we would be huddling in the dark around a radio in fear, misery, and despair with no hope or confidence in our government at any level to help us, and at this point the terrorist would have us right where they wanted us.

My opponent is very convinced that cyber security is totally secured, or at least that is what he is preaching for the debate, so let’s look as some rather worrisome issues.

Zombie Computers

Let’s ask Microsoft, the leader in the computer world, what they think of these since our cyber security is so secured.

Online criminals can use a virus to take control of large numbers of computers at a time, and turn them into "zombies" that can work together as a powerful "botnet" to perform malicious tasks.
Botnets, which can include as many as 100,000 individual "zombie" computers, can distribute spam e-mail, spread viruses, attack other computers and servers, and commit other kinds of crime and fraud.
Botnets are highly valued by online criminals, and have become a serious problem on the Internet.

With China reaching 300 million computers by the end of this year think of the computing power available around the world that is just not in America, plus also future computing power as the world continues on a very steep increase of computers in the household.

Social Engineering

No matter how good a computer security system is Social Engineering will find ways around it. This is an extremely effective method that terrorist will use to get through computer security. To launch a social engineering attack, an attacker uses human interaction (social skills) to obtain or compromise information about an organization or its computer systems.

A form of this is what the 9/11 attackers used to gain all they needed to complete their mission. With years available terrorists could gain physical access to become human Trojan Horses in a massive cyber attack.

The annual RSA Conference is noted for being the largest data security and cryptography conference in the world and the computer security expert Kevin Mitnick noted,

“You could spend a fortune purchasing technology and services from every exhibitor, speaker and sponsor at the RSA Conference, and your network infrastructure could still remain vulnerable to old-fashioned manipulation.”

The threat is real and more importantly it is growing every year as more and more of every first world nation's physical world becomes increasingly dependant on computers.

Nuclear Security

How easy is it to get a bomb and then into a first world nation? One of the best places to look to for answers would be the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) which has doubled its spending on nuclear nonproliferation programs, and works with over with over 100 countries to fight against nuclear proliferation and terrorism.

Prevented Nuclear Smuggling and Transfer of Nuclear Expertise

• Emphasized long-term research efforts to develop improved technologies to detect weapons of mass destruction and nuclear proliferation around the world.
• Installed radiation detection equipment in international seaports in 12 countries and working on various stages of implementation in the ports of 11 other countries, plus Taiwan.
• Equipped 150 sites with radiation detection equipment at international borders, airports and seaports in Russia, Greece, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Slovenia, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Turkmenistan and Ukraine.
• Reached agreement with Russia to complete the installation of radiation detection equipment at all Russian border crossings by 2011 (6 years ahead of schedule), building on the 117 crossings already equipped.
• Facilitated nearly 5,000 jobs and engaged at least 16,000 former weapons of mass destruction scientists and engineers at 180 institutes across the former Soviet Union, and in Libya and Iraq.
• Completed over 7,300 reviews of export license applications/requests related to material, technology and equipment of weapons of mass destruction concern in 2006 alone, recommending the denial of 97.

See the full factsheet at NSA


As cyber-terrorism becomes the de facto weapon of choice for terrorist the ability to gain a nuclear bomb and then get it into a first world nation becomes less and less of an option. The nuclear option is a lesson of diminishing returns as it reaches the point of a near impossible event without ever actually accomplishing the overall objectives of the terrorist.

posted on Nov, 18 2007 @ 01:26 PM
Learning from the past

One of the best grounds for thinking about the future is to carefully consider the past.

Many relevant lessons can be learnt from the events of 11 September 2001.

Most terrorists really are not very bright.

They aren’t the most original of thinkers.

Once one comes up with a good plan or weapon, others tend to recycle that work.

This is one of the reasons why the use of aircraft on 9/11 to crash into the WTC and the Pentagon should not have come as such a big shock – other terrorists were already known to have planned similar attacks.

For example, there had already been a large scale plan ( “The Bojinka Plot” involving several terrorists financed by Al-Qaeda (including Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed) to blow up a number of airliners and crash a plane into the headquarters of the CIA.

That plan occurred in 1995 – some six years before the terrible events of 9/11. It is fairly clear that lessons were not learnt by officials from KNOWN plans of terrorists. Steps were not taken to counter those plans.

Consider this fact - other terrorists are ALREADY known to have attempted to obtain nuclear material.

Nuclear terrorism is not some pipe-dream.

Nuclear terrorism, unlike cyber-terrorism, has not merely been the subject of the fevered imagination of novelists and movie directors.

My opponent has argued at considerable length that terrorists would prefer cyber-terrorism over nuclear terrorism. But this is not merely an academic question. We can consider the evidence as to the methods that terrorists have sought to use.

Terrorists have ALREADY sought to put plans relating to nuclear material into effect.

It gets even more frightening when we have a closer look at some of those attempts to obtain nuclear bombs and nuclear material.

I’ve already briefly mentioned a Rand report entitled “Aum Shinrikyo, Al Qaeda, and the Kinshasa Reactor” which deals with attempts by Aum Shrinrikyo and Al Qaeda to obtain nuclear material.

Let’s have a more detailed look at Al Qaeda’s attempts.

Given the seriousness of the relevant information, it is surprising that the following facts are not better known:

(1) In the Sudan during the mid-1990s, Al Qaeda tried to obtain nuclear materials that could be used to make a nuclear bomb (pages viii and 29-32).

(2) In Afghanistan, under the protection of the Taliban, Al Qaeda began a more ambitious acquisition effort that included consultations with Pakistani civilian nuclear scientists. A group of “pious scientists”—also described as the “long beards”—long existed within Pakistan’s nuclear establishment. Bin Laden may have managed to recruit the ”long beards” as a team to help develop nuclear weapons (pages vii and 34-36).

(3) Various Al-Qaeda documents and manuals have been retrieved which relate to the construction and use of nuclear weapons and dirty-bombs (pages 37-39).

(4) There have been reports of several attempts by Al Qaeda to purchase nuclear material. Indeed, various reports have also indicated that Al Qaeda may indeed already have purchased nuclear bombs (pages 40-41) and that Al Qaeda “briefcase” weapons may already have reached American shores (page 42).

(5) Bin Laden has asserted that the group already has nuclear weapons. Similarly, one of Bin Laden’s colleagues (Ayman al-Zawahiri) has also claimed that the group already has nuclear weapons. In an interview for Australian Broadcasting Corporation television, he stated that “we sent our people to Moscow, to Tashkent, to other central Asian states and they negotiated, and we purchased some suitcase bombs” (page 26).

The RAND report itself is sceptical about some of the more extreme claims made by (or about) Al-Qaeda, but it does accept that there is “widespread agreement in the U.S. intelligence community that al Qaeda has had a strong interest in, and has attempted to acquire, nuclear weapons” (page 24).

Scary, huh?

Now, can my opponent find evidence of a similar desire by Al Qaeda (or, indeed, any other significant terrorist) organisation to utilise “cyber-terrorism”?

I challenge my opponent to produce such evidence in relation to cyber-terrorism.

My opponent seeks to tell us what terrorists want to do, or should do, to achieve their objectives but ignores the evidence about what terrorists have tried to do and said they want to do.

Quite literally, the terrorists want to blow us away.

They haven’t shown any interest in giving us computer viruses.

Views of Government “experts”

My opponent seeks to rely upon a factsheet on nuclear security on the website of the NNSA (which he mistakenly refers to as a factsheet “at NSA”, i.e. the National Security Agency). He summarizes the assertions made in that factsheet in considerable detail.

The NNSA is the “National Nuclear Security Administration” is part of the US Government’s Department of Energy.

I’d suggest that it is rather worrying when the relevant Government authorities issue what is, frankly, a rather smug and self-satisfied statement about its own successes.

The fact-sheet smacks of complacency, particularly when compared with statements made on the same subject by independent experts.

Far from claiming that the risks have been basically eliminated, independent experts suggest that the risks are greater than ever.

For example:

(1) The Nuclear Control Institute was established in 1981 and since then has issued several reports on the increasing level of risk. It now calls for “emergency measures”, stating that current “security regulations do not address the magnitude of threat demonstrated by the September 11 attacks”. The Institute’s website outlines various risks and indicates that some protections are “lax”.

(2) the" target="_blank" class="postlink" rel="nofollow"> report I discussed above by the independent RAND think-tank states that “Potential terrorist acquisition of a nuclear or radiological weapons capability poses a grave danger to U.S. national security and to the security of the international system of nation-states”.

I submit that it is extremely worrying that the Government appears to be to busy congratulating itself on the steps it has taken to address the “grave danger” that RAND has pointed out and introduce the “emergency measures” which the Nuclear Control Institute’s experts have outlined.

Contrast that Governmental complaceny with the positioning relation to cyber-terrorism.

In relation to this risk, the US Government has been very active in issuing statements and taking action – yet many independent experts consider there to be a lot of hype in relation to this risk. This was the view expressed by a panel of security and technology experts brought together at the CeBIT technology fair in 2003. Respected security expert Bruce Schneier said "The hype is coming from the US Government and I don't know why".

So, the question is whether you trust the US Government to do the best and most accurate assessment of probable actions by terrorists or not.

Based on past performance, I would not rely too heavily on the US Government’s terrorism experts...

Social Engineering
My opponent places considerable weight upon the ability of hackers to use “social engineering”.

“Social engineering”
is in fact a term used to refer to techniques used to manipulate people into performing actions or divulging confidential information.

Such techniques are generally time-consuming and resource intensive (e.g. confidence tricks on the telephone) or only result in success in relation to a very small proportion of individuals (e.h. phishing techniques to try to get people to reveal their Paypal password by sending an email purporting to be from Paypal).

My opponent has not indicated how such techniques could realistically be used by “cyber-terrorists”.

[edit on 19-11-2007 by The Vagabond]

posted on Nov, 18 2007 @ 11:46 PM
I have followed my opponent’s last post and read more than half of it to actually get to something that he hasn’t basically posted over and over. He keeps saying, as if it his last breathe of defense, that cyber-terrorism is not real and will not happen. After three of his posts I feel he is basically standing in a corner with his eyes closed and hands over his ear mouthing nah, nah, nah, nah over and over in not wanting/willing to understand what my point is.

But he did make this statement about half way through his repetitive droll…

“I challenge my opponent to produce such evidence in relation to cyber-terrorism.”

Now we all know that there has not been even a remote case of a nuclear weapon falling in to the wrong hands, and even the Bush administration went to war over false claims in Iraq, and also the US with other countries try as they might have not been able to find that “yellow cake” in Africa. This has been the extent of the world’s nuclear terrorism issues.

Who does my opponent think he is kidding?

To not inflict anymore boring ramblings on the reader with continued explanations as I have already painfully spelled out in my first few posts in what terrorist see as their true goals and why a detonated nuke will not meet those goals I will accept my opponent challenge, using logic, to explain which event has the best chance to happen.

The Nuke Option part 1 (building/getting a bomb)

My opponent feels that terrorist are too stupid to change their tactic in the least, but seem to be smart enough to build a nuclear bomb, and I have a hard time seeing his logic in this.

There is a country called Iran that is investing huge amounts of time, energy, and cost to get their first nuke. When you look at the logistics for them to do this it is really a feat that only a country of people on a focus mission and the right infrastructure can do. This ability is totally out of the hands of terrorist, and so my opponents 5 points on a terrorist group constructing a nuke are worthless in they are nothing more than myths and hearsay.

This comes down to terrorist need to get their nuclear weapons premade, and so to do this they will need a country to give/sell them one.

To give you an example of how far my opponent wants to dwell into science fiction for this to happen let’s take his example of the “suitcase nuclear bomb” for this is the daddy of all myths and is right up there with the bogyman.

The minimum amount of plutonium needed to create a nuclear detonation is 22 pounds and when you add the explosives needed it gets rather big. Remember the explosives are not used to blow it up but to implode the plutonium and so must be built around it to go off all at once into a true imploding blast that is not an easy thing to do.

A nuke is not a small weapon, so let’s get a picture of just what we are talking about here. They normally range from 2000 to up to 8000 lbs, and the smallest tactical nuke I could find was at about 243 lbs here, but it needs a cannon and powerful shape charges to be fired into it to create the fission needed to go nuclear. Also the smaller it is the less shielding it has and you get a very dirty bomb that gives off a good amount of radiation (before it is detonated).

The Russian nukes, as example, are extremely dangerous in close proximity, and this is a big issue in actually moving a nuke into a first world country that I will go into a little later.

Nuke option: part two (getting it into a first world country)

As Vahid Majidi, the assistant director of the FBI's Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, stated in a recent article

There is one more wrinkle: Nuclear devices require a lot of maintenance because the material that makes them so deadly also can wreak havoc on their electrical systems.

The more compact the devices are -- guess what? -- the more frequently they need to be maintained. Everything is compactly designed around that radiation source, which damages everything over a period of timeBoston News

Also in the article Majidi stated that “It seems highly unlikely that a country would knowingly cooperate with terrorists because the device would bear the chemical fingerprints of that government”

I guess if a country wants to doom themselves to the world they might do this…I think not.

The radiation these suckers give off in their dormant state is huge. It is large enough to rot everything around it in its casing, and since 9/11 we have many companies that have or are developing systems to detect fissile or radioactive material or the shielding material to conceal such fissile or radioactive material.

As fast as these are being installed, where there was none before 9/11, custom agent have always used mobile X-ray units to look for just about anything, but plutonium sticks out like a sore thumb since it is so dense that it would show as a totally black image in a sea of containers. There is also a continued effort to install detectors on major roads throughout all large cities and critical infrastructures.

As my opponent has stated we have been very busy since 9/11 and this window of opportunity to get a nuke into this country or any first world nation is rapidly closing if it hasn’t already.

The Cyber-terrorism option

A terrorist would not risk everything on a nuclear weapon just to stick a Fed X sticker on it and ship it here, (kidding) and so they need to test, prod and retest many methods and places to find cracks in the system to get their nuke through. This takes a serious amount of time and effort and then even if they do find a crack it doesn’t mean it will still be there on the actual shipment.

This is where cyber-terrorism really shines.

Terrorist would have an excellent chance of getting a nuke into the US if they were able to test our systems 8000 times a day until they found a crack. Well banks are attacked more than that daily by hackers with success on a daily bases too. This is why cyber-terrorism is our greatest threat.

A typical mission would be for al Qaeda's electronic experts to test their skills against targeted sites and as they find the cracks hundreds of thousands of Islamist hackers are then put into action against an untold numbers computers, and this is only the beginning.

This type of cyber threat I have stated in my past posts is a 24/7 operation, and just by the instant access from anywhere in the world and the incredible testing and prodding of any security system makes every computer vulnerable. As I have shown what massive damage that this would bring to every home in America the scariest point my opponent can muster is,

“Al Qaeda has had a strong interest in, and has attempted to acquire, nuclear weapons” Yawn

I’ll leave it up to the readers of our debate as to which event will happen first.

Can’t have it both ways

I’m starting to see some edginess in my opponent as he feels the need to express my inability to edit my posted work. I have notice numerous link errors in his postings and other easy to edit mistakes, but since we cannot edit our works I just assumed all his links etc were intended to be good to go without the need to jump on him for it for I would rather debate his point of view and not his errors.

This edginess is also heading in the direction of him disregarding the agencies in charge of our safety and digging on the internet until he can find some “independent experts”. In one case he says the US has it act together on cyber-terrorism and in the other case it doesn’t when it comes to nukes. Which one is it?

I also suggest you get some more independent experts and stop using the same old ones over and over. Just look at "The hype is coming from the US Government and I don't know why" in his posts to see my point.

Isaackoi stated:

“My opponent has not indicated how such techniques could realistically be used by “cyber-terrorists”

As I demonstrate a very real and dangerous practice to all of us my opponent needs further reassuring that terrorist can do this too. He just doesn’t get it that hackers can also be terrorist, and even the ones who are not are very willing to sell their services to the top dollar.

This means EVERY technique out there are also available to terrorist, and terrorist have a lot of time and money to do this. I could go into multi scenarios, but I think we all get the picture.


Nuclear weapons of any type have never been in the wrong hands.

The ability to get one continues to become an almost impossible task.

The window to actually get a nuke into a first world country and move it around is rapidly closing or is already closed.

Cyber attacks are a 24/7 event with 10,000s of them daily.

Cyber attacks are the new dawn and are just beginning, but with an exponential growth.

Computers controlling the physical world are also exponentially growing.

Tools like Social Engineering and Zombie Computers are just a start.

A nuclear attack is just a big IF.

A massive cyber attack is not an IF but a WHEN.

Mod-edit This post has been edited to remove a typo of significant impact. IsaacKoi is entitled to request similar corrections if necessary. There is no penalty or shame for a few rare errors.
The Vagabond

[edit on 19-11-2007 by The Vagabond]

posted on Nov, 19 2007 @ 09:24 AM
I’ll be brief

In terms of getting stars for this post, I am going to take a calculated risk.

In this round, I’m deliberately going to be relatively brief.

After all, I don’t want my opponent to accuse me of continuing my “repetitive droll” and “boring ramblings”.


I’ve already (repeatedly) referred to evidence that certain terrorist groups have attempted to obtain nuclear material. (Bin Laden and some fellow members of Al Qaeda have even claimed to have such material already). I submit that, even if the more extreme claims are exagerrated, the evidence shows that terrorists WANT nuclear bombs/material.

This is why the RAND report I’ve discussed above states that there is “widespread agreement in the U.S. intelligence community that al Qaeda has had a strong interest in, and has attempted to acquire, nuclear weapons” (page 24).

What has my opponent had to say about this material?


Yes, “yawn”.

That remark does not really demonstrate a detailed analysis of the relevant evidence and issues, does it?

Nor has my opponent attempted to reconcile the evidence I’ve highlighted with his claims that nuclear weapons are “useless” to terrorists.

Failing to meet my challenge

In the previous round, after providing evidence that terrorists have already attempted to put into effect plans involving nuclear weapons/material, I challenged my opponent to provide similar evidence in relation to cyber-terrorism. I made the point that we should debate the issues based on evidence as to facts, not merely put forward views as to what the terrorists would like to do.

My opponent responded by stating that he accepted my challenge.

Yet, where has he provided any evidence that terrorists have put into effect any plans involving cyber-terrorism?

I fail to see any such evidence within his response.

Instead, he has again discussed what he thinks terrorists want to do. Therefore, my challenge still stands.

Getting some more experts

My opponent kindly suggests that I “get some more independent experts and stop using the same old ones over and over”.

I admit I’ve used a couple of quotes more than once, mainly because my opponent did not respond to them on the first occasion.

However, it is a relatively trivial task to find yet more independent experts that also state that cyber-terrorism is an over-hyped risk. For example:

(1) Richard Mogull (a Gartner analyst) has said “Although terrorists undoubtedly are using the Internet to communicate among themselves and as a research tool, their use of the Internet as a delivery vehicle for a significant, digital terrorist attack is a nightmare scenario not grounded in reality”.

(2) Richard Starnes (director of incident response for Cable & Wireless) has said: “Cyberterrorism is a word that the press loves because it gets people to read stories … Terrorists use the Internet for recruiting, fundraising and research, but not a lot else."

Suitcase nukes

In relation to evidence that terrorists have sought to obtain nuclear bombs (suitcase or otherwise), my opponent suggests that “suitcase” nukes are “the daddy of all myths and is right up there with the bogyman”. He goes into some detail on this point. He claims that:

(a) “a nuke is not a small weapon” and that

(b) “the smallest tactical nuke I could find was at about 243 lbs”.

I’ll just briefly note that the Wikipedia page on suitcase nukes:

(a) indicates that both United States and the Soviet Union have acknowledged producing nuclear weapons small enough to be carried in specially-designed backpacks (not to mention any unacknowledged secret devices).

(b) Refers to the warhead of one particular American suitcase nuke weighing 51 lbs (23 kg) – so you could have about 5 of these for the weight given by my opponent. That page also refers to Russian devices weighing from fifty to sixty pounds.

Oh, and in case the facts I’ve given in previous round of this debate didn’t scare you (or merely provoked a “yawn”), I note that the same Wikipedia page gives details of claims by a former Russian National Security Advisor that “more than a hundred” suitcase nukes were lost following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and may have been “sold or stolen”.

So, are suitcase nukes “the daddy of all myths”?

Unfortunately not.

They exist.

Not only that, but terrorists may obtain them (if they don't have them already).

posted on Nov, 19 2007 @ 01:20 PM
As the final post in this debate I would like to say I had a great time debating with my opponent.

As with all debates there is a Pro and Con, and in most cases one side happens to be the easier of the two to debate because it just turns out to be most popular in the general sense.

In our debate my opponent has basically used the mental image of the shear destruction of a nuclear bomb as his main point, and also the fact that IF a terrorist organization could they would with zero doubt there.

I on the other hand had to take something that cannot be seen, touched or heard and paint a picture of the monster that it actually is. In this case it is not so much the actual act that could tear apart a society as much as the results or after effects.

In the case of a nuclear bomb, it is totally the opposite for the act is what it is all about and the results or after effects are the mourning and rebuilding processes. So here you would have a terrible but very short event that would dwarf 9/11, but just like 9/11 America would survive and grow stronger.

With long term massive cyber attack it would not rip a city apart but it would tear down a society piece by piece to the point that nothing could be trusted, and so small groups would start to trust just themselves and this would soon become a coast to coast Karina situation without the visible damage.

I must ask the reader which threat worries them personally today. Dying from a nuclear blast or being attacked through their computer to the point that they loose most of what they have gained in life along with their identity. If you choose a computer attack then my point is made.

Now when you add that tens of millions can be affected like this over a long period of time you can just start to grasp the true evil nature of what cyber-terrorism is capable of.

But just what are we debating here?

What we are debating is to show which one of these two threats “presents a greater threat” and not which one has the bigger boom. To do this we all must think about the future and how these two attacks will come into play.

During my debate I presented a case that shows that cyber attacks will be the attack of choice for the future. With the exponential growth we see today this is an undisputable fact. Also during my debate I demonstrated just what can be affected by cyber attacks and once again as the physical world continues to evolve with more and more computer control over it the future risks of cyber attacks that would affect the physical would is also exponentially growing and is also an undisputable fact.

When we look at nuclear option if we look back to the most critical time for a terrorist group to gain access to one it was the 1990s. With the fall of the Soviet Union not only was their great risk in missed placed nukes, but also a few of the countries that broke away from that union also had the same if not worst issues.

We all need to remember that this was a time where terrorist groups had free reins to go into most countries with billion of dollars at their disposal. It really wasn’t until after 9/11 that terrorists were finally put on the run with much of their vast resources unreachable with locked accounts and other measures to limit access to their financial resources.

The US and other countries were scrambling to help secure and account for all those nuclear weapons in an era where you could pull up to a Russian port and load up a cargo ship with their latest aircraft, tanks and weapons privately sold by the ton from the actual military members who just happened to have access to the equipment.

Now this was a very scary time for the world, but it is amazing that after a decade the biggest threat to come out of all this has been the lack of nukes in Iraq and the lack of yellow cake material in Africa. THAT IS IT!

We are now well into the next decade of not only massive control over the world’s nuclear supply that has never been seen before, but technology continues to advance at a fantastic rate that prevents this very radioactive material from entering a country or moving around in it to a soon to be impossibility.

In the case of cyber-terrorism it is just the opposite. As we end this decade and enter into the next this threat will just continue to grow and more importantly will do more damage with each passing year.

So what we have here is the window of opportunity for the nuclear option is rapidly closing and the window for cyber attacks is rapidly opening. So once again I need to ask which one “presents a greater threat”.

I showed how banks alone are attacked more than 8000 times a day and my opponent keeps wanting me to show proof that terrorist have this capability too. Well is there anyone reading this that actually thinks anything other than that terrorists not only have this capability, but also are more than willing to use it?

I would like my opponent to show me how many times a first world country has been attacked with a nuclear bomb by a terrorist group. We all know he can’t since there has not been even a remote case of a terrorist group even coming close to a nuke and when he could only muster up “Al Qaeda has had a strong interest in, and has attempted to acquire, nuclear weapons” as his big smoking gun you all can now see why this led to my “yawn” response.

Right now I see the score at 8000 per day for cyber to 0 in the last 50 years for nukes. Give cyber terrorism another decade to mature and who knows what the number will be but the nuclear option will still be 0.

So one last time, which of these two threats does the reader see as the greater threat from this point on and well into the future?

posted on Nov, 19 2007 @ 01:50 PM
Closing submissions

In my closing submissions I’d like to summarise some of the points made during the course of the debate.

While both opponent and I have sought to argue what terrorists are likely to want to do given their aims and objectives, I have also highlighted evidence of what terrorists have ALREADY sought to do or said themselves that they want to do.

In short, the views put forward by my opponent (or, indeed, by me) about the various weapons available to terrorists are far, far less important than the evidence about what the terrorists themselves think.

They want to blow us up. The bigger the explosion, the better.

They are prepared to die in an explosion that kills some of us.

They don’t work themselves into a frenzy at the thought of giving our systems a computer virus.

They have already tried to obtain nuclear weapons. Indeed, they have claimed to have them already (but, given that they are murdering thugs, there is the possibility that they are prepared to lie…). At the very least, they have shown they want to obtain nuclear weapons/material.

While controls have been tightened up to some extent since 9/11, I’ve referred to evidence from a former Russian National Security Advisor that over one hundred suitcase nukes were lost during the dissolution of the former Soviet Union. The fact that they haven’t been used yet does not give complete assurance that they will not be used in the future.

Also, the topic of this debate refers to “nuclear terrorism”. As I indicated in the definitions I gave at the outset of the debate, this includes not merely the use of nuclear bombs but also the use of nuclear material in an attack (e.g. blowing up nuclear power stations or detonating “dirty bombs” containable radioactive material, even if there is not a nuclear explosion).

In relation to dirty bombs, I’ve referred to evidence from independent experts that “the physical protection requirements for radioactive sources widely used in commerce are quite lax”.

As against the above evidence of risks of nuclear terrorism, what is the evidence that terrorists plan on using cyber-terrorism?

I’ve repeatedly challenged my opponent to provide this evidence. He has failed to produce any.

He has provided various reasons why terrorists may want to use cyber-terrorism. Those reasons are not wholly spurious, but there no evidence has been put forward AT ALL during this debate that terrorists have used such techniques or have actually made any plans to do so in the future.

This is in stark contrast to the evidence in relation to nuclear terrorism.

On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence of Government agencies and officials getting very worked up about the alleged risks of cyber-terrorism. I’ve referred to various steps that have been taken to reduce the risks of cyber-terrorism (in addition to numerous steps taken to protect computer systems from viruses and non-terrorist hackers).

Some groups have suggested that the Government alarm about cyber-terrorism is merely an excuse for introducing measures that allow greater monitoring and control of the Internet.

Whatever the motive, several notable independent experts have made statements (set out above) that there is a lot of hype in relation to cyber-terrorism and that the alarm about this topic is not based on any reality.


I submit that the arguments and evidence highlighted in this debate do NOT support the proposition that “Cyber-terrorism represents a greater threat to first world nations than nuclear terrorism”.

posted on Nov, 19 2007 @ 03:06 PM
This debate is now open for commentary on which posts were awarded stars and why. Final tally will be made on Wednesday.

posted on Nov, 21 2007 @ 09:18 AM
Hi all,

I'm not sure if this is the right place to discuss it, but I thought it worth noting that the number of views for this final round of the debate is less than half the number of views for the semi-final in relation to "Ancient Astronauts".

I think ATS members show considerably more interest in debates on topics that tie in with the major themes of discussion on ATS, i.e. aliens and conspiracy theories.

But perhaps I'm just biased. I know I found the debate involving UFOs etc considerably more interesting and relevant to my personal interests than debating the more political subjects.

Anyway, I thought worth mentioning the issue...

Kind Regards,


posted on Nov, 22 2007 @ 09:49 AM
The tally at 7:48 pacific on Nov 22 is 37-24, Isaac Koi. The judge finds in favor of Xtrozero and awards 5 stars. The final tally is 37-29 Isaac Koi.

Isaac Koi has won the tournament. This thread will remain open for commentary because there has been none yet.

posted on Nov, 22 2007 @ 05:05 PM
Congratulations you two. I hesitated to give stars to any of you two because I think you both did a great job of making your point. So good in fact, that I dont see any winner to this debate and I am still confused as to which is more likely...cyber or nuclear terrorism. But at the end of the day I would argue that both are becoming less and less likely as security tightens. So sorry, the game is tied for me.

This would be a chance for me to ask Isaac Koi: What do you REALLY think of Ancient Astronauts after having debated the con position in the last round? As for choosing topics, you can always choose a topic to debate with someone and carry out a match.

To the Vagabond: Id like to pre-register for the next Tournament, I am eager for more.

Lets also see Isaac Koi debate the champion Semperfortis someday.

posted on Nov, 22 2007 @ 10:56 PM

Originally posted by Skyfloating
Congratulations you two. I hesitated to give stars to any of you two because I think you both did a great job of making your point. So good in fact, that I dont see any winner to this debate and I am still confused as to which is more likely...cyber or nuclear terrorism. But at the end of the day I would argue that both are becoming less and less likely as security tightens. So sorry, the game is tied for me.

This would be a chance for me to ask Isaac Koi: What do you REALLY think of Ancient Astronauts after having debated the con position in the last round? As for choosing topics, you can always choose a topic to debate with someone and carry out a match.

To the Vagabond: Id like to pre-register for the next Tournament, I am eager for more.

Lets also see Isaac Koi debate the champion Semperfortis someday.

Yes, it is not easy debating two issues that have not even come close to happening yet.

I think your debate was a very popular subject and generated a good crowd, so I feel Isaac Koi had a good following at the start from your all debate. Because of this he got a hefty star count right out of the box, but as the debate went on it was not the most interesting subject to many, and we kind of lost the crowd so to speak. In any case Isaac Kol did a good job.

posted on Nov, 23 2007 @ 03:21 PM

Originally posted by Skyfloating
Congratulations you two.

Thanks Skyfloating.

This would be a chance for me to ask Isaac Koi: What do you REALLY think of Ancient Astronauts after having debated the con position in the last round?


I wouldn't entirely rule out the possibility of Ancient Astronauts but (as I argued in the debate) I don't think the evidence is stong enough to warrant such a remarkable conclusion.

As for choosing topics, you can always choose a topic to debate with someone and carry out a match.

True. I'll probably do this in the future.

All the best,


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