Terrorists are leveraging information technology to learn how to create devastating weapons cheaply and quickly - and the West is now having to learn to keep up.

Since the start of the Iraq War, improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, have accounted for nearly half of the combat deaths reported by U.S. coalition forces. The death toll underscores a grim paradox of the ongoing conflict: during the last four and a half years the United States and its allies have fielded the most advanced and complex weaponry ever developed, but egg timers and toy remote controls in the hands of knowledgeable terrorists can do just as much damage.

Military analysts and counterterrorism experts say that this war is radically different from previous ones and must be thought of in an entirely new light. Warfare is being transformed from an exclusively state-sponsored affair to one where the means and the know-how to do battle are readily found on the Internet and at your local RadioShack. Open global access to increasingly powerful technological tools is in effect allowing small groups to declare war on nations.

Some observers have dubbed the new style of conflict open-source warfare, because the ways insurgent groups are organizing themselves, sharing information, and adapting their strategies resemble the open-source movement in software development.

- IEEE Spectrum