A letter from our 2016 Cyberterrorism Project Database Interns

During July and August 2016, three second year undergraduate students from Swansea University partook in an internship to conduct research on definitions of cyberterrorism: Nathan Davies (Criminology), Damary Kyauka (Politics) and Callum Sullivan (Criminology). Our students have shared their experiences below:

“Being a part of the Cyberterrorism Project team was exciting and fulfilling, and we feel very privileged to have undertaken an internship last summer. We all individually and as a group developed skills that were essential for our career prospects and personal growth. Our first couple of weeks were concentrated on amending and collecting cyberterrorism definitions for a database. Handling, finding and collating these definitions proved to be quite challenging, but it enabled us to heighten our computer and analytical skills. One of the issues that we quickly identified was the lack of cyberterrorism definitions from governmental, non-governmental and public bodies. This was quite limiting, considering that a wide range of sources was needed to gain a picture of the variety of definitions being employed globally. Collecting the data was also equally challenging but it was also thrilling as we could acquire more knowledge on understandings of cyberterrorism. In addition to this, we could advance our team working skills. We had to communicate and explain to each other the information that we found and decide on which parts of the data were most important for inclusion in the database.

We were also able to familiarise ourselves with different academic databases which will undoubtedly be extremely useful in our further studies. After collecting extensive data, we had to plan and co-ordinate how to analyse it. We had to determine whether we wanted to use thematic or content analysis. This was rather interesting as it was new territory for some of us. We decided the most effective and appropriate analysis method was that of a thematic style. This approach proved to be more useful for our final report. As we used a thematic approach, it was interesting to discover the range of different types of definitions that are being used in the world today. Take the ‘target’ theme for example. Before starting the internship, the main consensus within the group was that the main target would have been a computer. After analysing the data, to our surprise, there were a wide range of targets being used within definitions, ranging from computers, to aeroplane systems and actual people. Therefore, what we learnt through the research challenged our initial thoughts about definitions of cyberterrorism and gave us a whole new perspective on this topic. During our analysis, we decided to divide the analysis in sub-topics that aligned with the definitions of cyberterrorism. We then allocated the sub-topics to each other through based on our personal interests.  Although we were continuously working in a team, we were able to shine independently in our allocated sub-topics, which enabled us to work more in-depth in our chosen sub-topics of the database and were able to work more effectively whilst still helping and giving guidance to one another.

One of the most difficult aspects of the internship was presenting our findings and data in a final report. This tested our team work and organisational skills as we had to produce a report that included an extensive amount of data and research collectively. We had to put our separate work together whilst still ensuring it was a collective report.

One of the most exciting aspects of the internship was the opportunity to attend a talk with a renowned expert of fascist ideology and far-right extremism Professor Matthew Feldman who was visiting the University to provide a research talk. We were able to have a private moment to speak to him and ask him some of our own questions. He was also able to assist us and give us some ideas on our research; which was a great networking opportunity. The analysis of our findings was also extremely fascinating and encouraged us all to pursue this project forward for our third-year undergraduate dissertations”.

More details about this project and the report produced from the students work will be available for download from the project website in the coming months. The Cyberterrorism Project provides opportunities for students from across all Colleges at Swansea University to participate in internships every summer. If you are currently a student of Swansea University and are interested in these opportunities – please contact Dr Lella Nouri: l.m.nouri@swansea.ac.uk for further information.


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