Cyberterrorism: What is it, Who is involved and Will it affect me?

Could a cyberterrorist bring down a government from the other side of the world using just a computer, like in Skyfall, Die Hard 4.0 and 24? Or is it just fiction?

A major international conference hosted by Swansea University will be asking ‘What exactly is cyberterrorism?’, ‘How significant a threat is it?’, ‘Has it ever occurred?’ and ‘How should we respond to the threat it poses?’.

The Cyberterrorism Conference, being held on 11/12 April 2013 in Birmingham, will bring together international scholars from across the social and physical sciences to examine understandings of and responses to cyberterrorism.

Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, former independent reviewer of UK terrorism laws and one of Britain’s top legal experts will be the keynote speaker at the conference. Other speakers include experts from across the world, including the UK, Ireland, Australia and the US. 

The conference has been arranged by the University’s Cyberterrorism Project team. The Cyberterrorism Project is a multidisciplinary research initiative which was established to investigate a range of core questions relating to cyberterrorism.

Stuart Macdonald, Senior Lecturer, School of Law and Deputy Director of the Centre for Criminal Justice & Criminology at Swansea University said: “Cyberterrorism is likely to be a familiar, yet imprecise concept to many people. Although the term has been around for over twenty years there isn’t a consensus on what it refers to, how significant a threat it might pose or how states and others should respond (if at all) to it. There is even disagreement over whether cyberterrorism has ever actually occurred!

“In an attempt to begin to provide answers we established a multidisciplinary research network on cyberterrorism in 2011, bringing together expertise from the physical sciences (engineering, computer science) and the social sciences (politics, international relations, law, criminology). Beyond its academic members, the project also hosts three postgraduate researchers and three interns.

“Recent research activities undertaken by our team include conducting a survey of the opinions of over 500 academics across the globe on cyberterrorism, and building a database of political, legal and other definitions of cyberterrorism to help explore key differences in approaches to this term across legal jurisdictions and political cultures.”

The conference has been organised around the three themes of Understanding cyberterrorism; Assessing the threat of cyberterrorism and Evaluating responses to the cyberterrorist threat.

  • The conference takes place on 11 – 12 April 2013 at the Jury’s Inn Hotel, Birmingham, UK. For more information go to or email:

  • For more information on the Cyberterrorism Project visit:, visit the Project’s Facebook page ( or follow the Project on Twitter (@CTP_Swansea).
  • The Bridging The Gaps (BTG) programme at Swansea University is one of the major sources of funding for the Cyberterrorism Project. Supported by a £780,000 grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, BTG fosters and develops interdisciplinary research activity to deliver high-quality projects directed towards the global physical, economic and social challenges that face today’s modern world.
  • Confirmed speakers include: Keynote speaker Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, Professor Clive Walker (University of Leeds) and Dr Maura Conway (Dublin City University).