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Fascicolo 13 | 2021


Barbara Lucini, QAnon: risk assessment sociologico di un fenomeno estremista

This article aims to propose a sociological reflection of risk assessment represented by the QAnon phenomenon. The complexity of QAnon, its communication mechanisms, the relational and organizational peculiarities deserve to be deepened, considering the social categories and cultural aspects that intervene in the constitution of different forms of the same phenomenon.
Through an analysis of the historical, social and cultural components of this phenomenon and a google trends research related to the research on the subject QAnon carried out in Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Germany it has been possible to propose an interpretative model capable of orienting the assessment of the risk of radicalization and extremism, as well as the future scope of this potential threat, which seems to be increasingly a resilient extremist phenomenon.

QAnon; radicalisation; extremism; violence; social movements; resilience

Abdullah Metin, West of ISIS: a discourse and operation analysis from occidentalist perspective

Studies on terrorist organizations have been constantly increasing as terrorism have become an imminent threat at the global level. One of these organizations, the self-declared Islamic State in Iraq and Sham (ISIS) has provided so much data through its intensive media use. Although considerable research has been done on ISIS’ magazines, videos, and social media releases, less attention has been paid to its discourse on the West. Therefore, this paper aims to explore ISIS’ perception of the West from Occidentalist perspective. To achieve this aim, numerical and text-based data was acquired by scanning ISIS propaganda magazines, Dabiq, Konstan­tiniyye, and Rumiyah. Also, an operational analysis was performed by mapping the locations targeted by ISIS’ actions. This article contributes to the literature on several points. First, while almost all of the studies analyze only the English-language magazines Dabiq and Rumiyah, this study also includes the Turkish magazine Konstantiniyye. Second, unlike other studies, this research also focuses on ISIS’ targeting of the Western way of life. Third, the study assesses ISIS’ attacks in the West by combining them with the content analysis of the magazines. Last but not least, it compares ISIS’ reaction to the West with the other Eastern reactions that per­sisted for nearly 200 years. The results disclose that ISIS considers its struggle against the West as a religious and sacred war. It also targets the different core values and lifestyles of the West. Furthermore, ISIS’ discourse is repudiative, condemning, and challenging, whereas previous Eastern reactions to the West were eclectic and apologizing.

Dabiq, Rumiyah, Konstantiniyye, terrorist propaganda, the Islamic State (ISIS), Occidentalism

Daniele Maria Barone, EU economic losses in the haze of jihad

The consequences of the terrorist threat go far beyond intangible factors. Behind the casualties, the symbolic and communicative charge brought by the perception of a jihadist looming threat, reverberates in concrete impacts on the economy of a State, turning fear into costs or variations in economic standards at different levels.
In these terms, it is fundamental to analyze the direct and indirect economic consequences of terrorist attacks in Europe, to quantify their repercussions and which sectors should be accurately be monitored to efficiently prevent and counter the destabilization spread by these violent events.
From this perspective, based on previous researches and surveys in different sectors (i.e. socio-economic, marketing, policy-making) this paper is aimed at suggesting which areas could be better monitored to depict the economic consequences of terrorism in the EU and highlight which elements of the phenomenon are still over or underestimated.

Jihad, terrorist attack, European Union, economy

Tiziano Li Piani, Threat Assessment and Vulnerability Mapping for Sensitive Buildings against Terrorism in urban environments

The architectural and cultural heritage of European cities is exposed to various hazards of different nature – natural events such as floods or earthquakes but also man-made threats. The escalation of terrorist attacks conducted in urban environments against soft targets necessitates the development of guidelines for the antiterrorism design of buildings and public spaces. Counter-terrorism engineering design is challenged by the lack of definite knowledge and quantitative assessment concerning terrorist risks, including the behavior of terrorists prior and during an attack. The results of a pilot project that aimed at comprehensively addressing terrorist attack scenarios against Churches in urban settings are summarized in this chapter. The threat assessment was based on the statistical inference of patterns extracted from a sizeable database of such attacks. The statistical incidence of certain behavioral patterns enabled the quantitative elaboration of ten threat scenarios, addressing also timing and placement patterns of the attackers based on their modus operandi. Data analysis revealed inter alia that even if an attack is targeting the inside of a the building, people on the outside are also in danger, even beyond the entrance. The extension of this vulnerability area is not only determined by the type of weapons used but also depends on the social function of the public space in which the building is situated. This chapter summarizes the main results of the project and further interprets and generalizes its main findings.

Terrorism, input, target, threat encoding algorithm, space of influence.


Federico Borgonovo – Luca Cinciripini – Marco Zaliani, L’attacco hacker a SolarWinds: nuove frontiere del cyber warfare e impatti geopolitici

The growing relevance of cyber warfare as a dimension of conflict and competition in international relations, such as to involve state entities and non-state actors, stems from the high level of digitization and interconnection achieved by contemporary society. Given the high pervasiveness of digital tools and technologies, cyber threats can now orient themselves not only towards the military sphere of a single country, but also towards civil infrastructures such as to seriously endanger national security. This implies the need for a careful evaluation not only of the technical specifications connected to certain attacks, but also to evaluate the potential repercussions on the international geopolitical level. Therefore, this article intends to trace the physiognomy of the hacker attack suffered by the US company SolarWinds, underline the scope and importance of the cyber threat and the possible repercussions of systemic security for Italy. Such large-scale attacks represent an immediate danger for various key sectors in the economic and social spheres, also considering the existing regulatory vacuum at the level of national and international law that limits the possibility of effective contrast and the identification of effective countermeasures. This article identifies the main gaps and threats of the current picture and indicates mitigation factors.

Cyberwarfare, SolarWinds, Supply chain attack, malware, APT, impatto.

Cosimo Melella, Cyberwarfare: combattere in una nuova dimensione

This work focuses on and explores the theme of a new type of war. Unlike the past wars, it has particular characteristics that are decreeing its success to the point that it is a candidate to become the paradigm of future conflicts between nations.
The 1910s of the 21st century began with state actors of the first cyber weapon known to the general public (Stuxnet). They ended at the end of last year with a significant cyber attack on some of the main infrastructures “sensitive”of the American government (the attack suffered by Solarwinds).
Cyberspace is, therefore, the new battlefield on which the leading players on the international stage face each other. In this arena, new forms of attacks develop, such as influencing attacks aimed at “influencing” public opinion by encouraging the copious dissemination of fake news through social networks.
In any fight, the goal is to overwhelm the opponent, annihilating the forces both on a tactical and strategic level. From this point of view, cyber operations are also more effective than conventional conflicts, allowing to launch of potentially devastating attacks on a technological or economic level, from the short to long run. Even without physically destroying the attacked sites, allow striking any goal at any time.
In the light of what has been summarized so far, we will proceed in this research work, starting from attempting to provide a clear definition of a cyber attack. It should be noted that this expression implies an unauthorized intrusion into a computer and a physical computer network with the intent of sabotage, and that can cause from simple forms of tampering to denial of service, up to the exfiltration of data and infiltration into servers.
We will then continue to outline which are the actors of the threats and the new types of attacks (among these, as previously mentioned, we find the new channels of disinformation), which will involve much more the mobile internet devices (smartphones and tablets) also under the reduction in costs and the increase in power of the same – combined with the new health emergency due to Covid19 – which, benefiting users, have made effectiveness and maintenance even more complicated the level of security of “sensitive” infrastructures.
The paper will conclude by referring to the new strategies used by the Rogue State and proposing new possible countermeasures and remediation methods, methods aimed precisely at preventing and limiting these attacks used by threat actors.

Information Security, Cyberwarfare, Advanced Persistent Threat, Malware, Information Warfare

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