CHAPTER 3 Case Study 1 : Wildcats Fight Cyber terrorists
A team of computer scientists from the University of Arizona (UA), whose mascot is the wildcat, is tracking and analyzing the use of the Internet by terrorists to recruit new members, train supporters in terrorist tactics and methods, and spread propaganda. This research project, dubbed Dark Web, is supported by the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies. Its goal is to collect and analyze all terrorist content on the Internet, including e-mail, Internet forums, and terrorist-related Web sites (now estimated to exceed 50,000). The project team is made up of roughly one dozen UA professors and graduate students. At its initiation, the Dark Web was only able to collect and analyze Internet communications in English, Arabic, and Spanish. German and French were quickly added. Chinese, Farsi (spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan), Dutch, and other languages are also being added. UA received a $1.5 million grant to study how terrorists use the Internet to train their followers to build, plant, and explode improvised explosive devices (IEDs). These deadly roadside bombs have killed and maimed thousands of people in Iraq and other countries. “Our young soldiers, before they’re deployed, will know the IEDs through the enemies’ eyes,” said Hsinchun Chen, director of UA’s Artificial Lab, home of the Dark Web project. The ability to study this information and to know where it has been downloaded has led to countermeasures that protect soldiers and civilians. Another research area is the identification of the kinds of individuals who are more susceptible to recruitment by extremist groups, and what messages are more effective in recruiting people. A surprising discovery by the Dark Web project team is that the terrorist Web sites are much richer in multimedia content (audio and video) and much more effective in creating an active community of frequent visitors than are U.S. government Web sites....
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