Difference between Cyber Crime, Cyber Warfare, and Cyber Terrorism

In the twenty-first century, the ways of threatening have been changed as well. Attackers had to be present physically to harm the victim before the inception of computer technology. In recent days, physical presence is not important, and damage can be done virtually by exploiting the critical infrastructure.

Likewise, such exploitation can be divided into three categories by looking at the attacker, their motives, and the outcome they get from such actions. We will discuss the same briefly to know the difference between them.

What is Cyber Crime

Cybercrime is more of a judicial matter which is governed by domestic laws. In some cases, we can get guidance from international bodies such as the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, the G7 24/7 Network Points of Contact, and the Convention on Cyber-crime of the Council of Europe Budapest Convention.

Cybercrime can be brought internationally by the Budapest Convention. They guide countries to develop national legislation against cyber-crime and serve as a framework for collaboration between parties internationally to report cybercrime. It is the only and first international treaty on crimes committed through the internet and other networks.

They deal mainly with child pornography, infringements of copyright, computer-related fraud, and violation of network security.

What is Cyberwarfare

Military matter of state and non-state actors are referred to as Cyberwarfare in a broader perspective. Geneva and Hague Conventions govern such matters. The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) issued the Tallinn Manual on the Internal Law Applicable to Cyberwarfare in 2013.

In which they guide the legal experts and policy advisors on critical cyber operations. It allows the state to exercise the right of self-defense if non-state actors violate the use of force in international relations. CCDCOE updated the Tallinn Manual 2.0 on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Operations in 2017.

The updated manual covered the legal analysis of the cyber threats that the state encounters daily and tells the threshold of force or armed conflict.

What is Cyberterrorism

The use of the internet to execute violent actions to threaten or give physical harm or even loss of life is referred to as cyberterrorism. This act of violence is usually performed to achieve ideological advantages or political using threat and fear. These acts involved the international disruption of computer networks via multiple tools like phishing activities, viruses, worms, and various other malicious software and encryptions.

The term cyberterrorism is inclined to change more frequently. However, the main motive of hackers’ behind such activity is to threaten people’s wellbeing and personal gain by stealing information. In simple words, cyber terrorism is an attack on digital infrastructure or information of any organization to achieve ideological objectives instead of economic motivations.


These three terms are often vague in comparison to each other and not understood correctly. However, distinctions can be made by knowing the actor involved in malicious activity and their motives behind it, and the outcome. Understanding is so important as it will be a big challenge for organizations in the 21st century.

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