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Thread: Understanding Terrorist Efforts to Overcome Defensive Technologies

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    Default Understanding Terrorist Efforts to Overcome Defensive Technologies

    Another interesting read from RAND; this one goes well with their earlier two-volume study on terrorist organizational learning mentioned in another thread.

    Understanding Terrorist Efforts to Overcome Defensive Technologies
    Technical countermeasures are key components of national efforts to combat terrorist violence. Efforts to collect data about and disrupt terrorist activities through human intelligence and direct action, information gathering, and protective technologies complement technical countermeasures, helping to ensure that terrorists are identified, their ability to plan and stage attacks is limited, and, if those attacks occur, their impact is contained.

    Given the potential effect of such measures on the terrorists’ capabilities, it is not surprising that they act to reduce or neutralize the impact of defensive technologies on their activities. In the event that the terrorists’ counterefforts are successful, the value and protection provided by defensive technologies can be substantially reduced. Through case studies of terrorist struggles in a number of nations, this document analyzes the nature and impact of such terrorist counterefforts on the value of defensive technologies deployed against them.
    Contents

    Chapter One: Introduction

    Chapter Two: Palestinian Terrorist Groups

    Chapter Three: Jemaah Islamiyah and Affiliated Groups

    Chapter Four: Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

    Chapter Five: Provisional Irish Republican Army

    Chapter Six: Conclusions: Understanding Terrorists’ Countertechnology Efforts

    Appendix: Prominent Acts of LTTE Suicide Terrorism, 1987–2002

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    Default worth the read

    Thanks for the paper, this is a quick read and worth the effort. It clearly illustrates that we constantly have to adapt our tactics and strategies, because our enemy is constantly adapting in response to our changes. The concern is that the longer we fight this war, assuming that this evolution is a constant, then we risk the development of a super-terrorist.

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    Ditto for me Bill. It is worth the read. Thanks Jed.

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    Rand again "Terrorist Groups and the Exchange of New Technologies"

    Terrorist groups — both inside and outside the al Qaeda network — sometimes form mutually beneficial partnerships to exchange “best practices.” These exchanges provide terrorist groups with the opportunity to innovate (i.e., increase their skills and expand their reach). Understanding how terrorist groups exchange technology and knowledge, therefore, is essential to ongoing and future counterterrorism strategies. This study examines how 11 terrorist groups in three areas (Mindanao, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and southwest Colombia) have attempted to exchange technologies and knowledge in an effort to reveal some of their vulnerabilities. The analysis provides the Department of Homeland Security and other national security policymakers with insight into the innovation process and suggests ways that government policies can create barriers to terrorists’ adoption of new technologies.
    http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2007/RAND_MG485.pdf

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    ...and another in the series:

    Stealing the Sword: Limiting Terrorist Use of Advanced Conventional Weapons
    This book examines one manifestation of the general technical competition between terrorist groups and security organizations—the balance between the potential use by terrorists of advanced conventional weapons and the responses available to deter or counter them. Our use of the term advanced conventional weapons is inclusive and broad: any new or unusual conventional weaponry developed for ordinary military forces. Such weaponry seems a priori likely to be particularly threatening in the hands of terrorists. All weaponry is obviously designed to do damage, but new design features might enable new, or at least unfamiliar, terrorist attacks. At the same time, the usual limitation of weaponry to militaries implies that various controls could be applied, albeit less stringently than controls imposed upon nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. Consequently, the competition involving advanced conventional weaponry seems both complex and potentially important.

    One example of this competition has received much attention—the balance between terrorist use of man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) and U.S. responses. The November 2002 attacks in Mombasa, Kenya, using Russian-built MANPADS against an Israeli airliner, demonstrated that terrorists are able to acquire and use that type of advanced weaponry. In response, the United States has negotiated a multinational agreement that calls for imposing both technical and procedural use controls on new MANPADS through an expansion in scope of the Wassenaar Arrangement. The United States has also started a pilot program within the Department of Homeland Security to demonstrate technical countermeasures suitable for protecting commercial aircraft from MANPADS. But MANPADS are only one of a long list of advanced conventional weapons that are potentially attractive to terrorists. This monograph explores a range of other weapons, both those still under development and those already available but relatively unused by terrorists. The monograph identifies those weapons that require greater attention from U.S. homeland security decisionmakers and outlines a number of actions that can mitigate the use of these weapons by terrorists.....

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    RAND reprint of a Brian Jackson article that originally appeared in Studies in Conflict and Terrorism back in 2001: Technology Acquisition by Terrorist Groups: Threat Assessment Informed by Lessons from Private Sector Technology Adoption
    Because of the importance of technology to the operations of modern terrorist organizations, the factors which affect the technological sophistication of extreme organizations are of great interest. In this paper, the process through which terrorist groups seek out and deploy new technology is examined by bringing to bear the deep literature which exists on technology adoption by commercial organizations. A framework is described which delineates not only the factors that influence a group’s decision-making processes surrounding new technology but also the obstacles which stand in the way of the successful absorption and use of unfamiliar technologies by a terrorist organization. This framework, by taking a holistic view of the entire technology adoption process, sets out a methodology to both more reasonably predict the outcome of a group’s technology seeking efforts and to speculate about its future innovation efforts. Such a technology-focused viewpoint provides a route to more fully inform risk assessment especially with regard to the low probability-high consequence technologies which have served as the focus of much recent counter-terrorist deliberation. The lessons provided by the framework with respect to weapons of mass destruction terrorism and to novel counter-terrorist routes are discussed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    RAND reprint of a Brian Jackson article that originally appeared in Studies in Conflict and Terrorism back in 2001: Technology Acquisition by Terrorist Groups: Threat Assessment Informed by Lessons from Private Sector Technology Adoption
    I'm not sure how much value this report would still have today. Software development is done using completely different models. Hacks seem to be the best and safest way to disrupt our technical infrastructure. Web 2.0 applications, and social networks are used by terrorists for recruitment and training.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffC View Post
    I'm not sure how much value this report would still have today. Software development is done using completely different models. Hacks seem to be the best and safest way to disrupt our technical infrastructure. Web 2.0 applications, and social networks are used by terrorists for recruitment and training.
    To disrupt infrastructure an all vector approach is best. Multiple threads and depths of attack will cause a likely cascading outage across vast areas. Coordination of such doesn't take much. Just the right target at the right time in the right way.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffC View Post
    I'm not sure how much value this report would still have today. Software development is done using completely different models. Hacks seem to be the best and safest way to disrupt our technical infrastructure. Web 2.0 applications, and social networks are used by terrorists for recruitment and training.
    I didn't read this report as being something that is narrowly focused on infrastructure vulnerabilities or cyber-terrorism, and thus rapidly dated by the passage of time. I read it more as musings on organizational learning and innovation by terrorist organizations, with a broad application.

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    ....continuing the series:

    Evaluating Novel Threats to the Homeland: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Cruise Missiles
    Deciding how to invest homeland security resources wisely in the United States can often appear to be an intractable problem because the large, open American society seems to be so vulnerable to so many threats in every corner of the country. This monograph is intended to help bound the problem in order to aid policy and resource decisions about one type of potential threat to the homeland: cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Importantly, the methodology used can be applied to other modes of attack, and the insights gained from this methodology extend to other threats as well. The focus of the research is on a specific class of weapons, but those weapons are not assessed in isolation; rather, it considers class of weapons as one of many options open to a potential attacker and seeks to identify investment strategies that are effective against multiple threats.....
    Contents

    Chapter One: Introduction

    Chapter Two: UAVs and Cruise Missiles as Asymmetric Threats: How Do These Systems Compare with Alternative Attack Modes?

    Chapter Three: What Adversary Operational Problems Can UAVs and Cruise Missiles Best Solve and How Do UAVs and Cruise Missiles Compare with Alternative Solutions?

    Chapter Four: What Are the Terrorist Group Characteristics and Preferences Relevant to the Acquisition and Use of Technology?

    Chapter Five: Considering Defensive Strategies and Options

    Chapter Six: Conclusions

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