Oft-quoted Bruce Schneier, founder and CTO of security firm Counterpane, made the statement at the Infosecurity Europe Conference in London.
"Nobody is getting blown to bits," Schneier said. "It's not real terrorism. But if you add 'terrorism' to things you get more budget."
Schneier also added that espionage, rather than cyberterrorism, was widespread. "We know that governments are spending money on hacking organizations," he said. "Israel, China, us (the U.S.) and everyone else."
But some industry insiders said claiming cyberterrorism is a real threat might not get the required response.
"It's a little sensational," said Simon Church, regional director for Northern Europe at security management company NetIQ. "Companies are more concerned about ensuring compliance and service levels. Perhaps government institutions might be persuaded by it but a fairly savvy board would dig under the carpet and ask what is really meant by cyberterrorism."
Schneier made the claims during a briefing in which he also outlined his vision of future threats. He argued that minor variant worms would continue to increase but the world should expect a new Sasser any time soon.
"We haven't seen a big attack for a while and it's long overdue," he said. "All it needs is the right guy. It's really only a matter of time."
Last month SC reported cybercrime attacks have risen markedly over the last six months.