Cyber Warfare and Cyber Terrorism Threats Targeting Critical Infrastructure: A HCPS-based Threat Modelling Intelligence Framework


  • Rennie Naidoo University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  • Carla Jacobs University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa



Cyberwar, Cyber Terrorism, Human–Cyber–Physical Systems, Threat Modelling, Critical Infrastructure, Systematic Literature Review


Acts of cyber warfare and cyber terrorism (CWCT) that target a nation's critical infrastructure (CI) are quickly becoming a larger threat to national security than conventional kinetic warfare strategies. Adversaries or potential adversaries can target a nation's electrical grids, telecommunications, financial services, transportation, healthcare systems, and other forms of CI. These acts pose a major threat to a nation's CI and consequently exposes citizens to public health, safety, security, and economic development risks. Identifying cyber vulnerabilities and threats can help nations to improve their CI defence strategies. There is a crucial need for research that can aid in understanding the major types of CI threats and by what method they might occur. This paper conducts a systematic literature review to develop an initial threat intelligence framework of CWCT attacks on CI. Drawing from a Human–Cyber–Physical Systems (HCPS) lens, the threat intelligence framework classifies CWCT attacks according to the methods, weapons, vulnerabilities, targets and impact of the CWCT attack. The cyber warfare community can extend the proposed HCPS-based threat intelligence framework to develop more advanced cyber security mitigation strategies, training scenarios and simulations. Large-scale monitoring of CI threats requires in-depth threat intelligence analysis and a collaborative defence strategy. This calls for a higher degree of coordination and orchestration between the military, intelligence agencies, government departments, multinational allies, regulators, and commercial entities. Future research can customize the proposed HCPS-based threat intelligence framework to cater for the unique threats facing specific CI domains.

Author Biography

Carla Jacobs, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa