Future Security Threats

December 9, 2015

in Manage Risk

In the past, most of our security threats have been physical and kinetic in nature. The classical example would be a home invasion by a gang of armed thugs. Remedy examples include perimeter defense and/or alarms, strengthening entry portals (doors and windows), and developing options for defense inside the perimeter (most likely with some form of arms).

We will still have to consider those threats in the future, but there will be some significant differences in future threats. The defensive options against physical and kinetic threats will improve dramatically. Alarms and sensors are rapidly becoming smaller, cheaper and include greater functionality. Bulletproof blankets and shields offer portable and easy to deploy options. Materials science is producing lighter, stronger and cheaper fabrics and screens that can offer protection against sharp blade impacts, bullets, and even blasts. The physical and kinetic threats will never completely disappear, but they are becoming more manageable. Future threats will also include chemical and biological weapons, cyber attacks, 3-D printers, and attacks using advanced nanotechnology. These attack vectors have the potential to completely change defense strategies.

Chemical weapons range from substances like chlorine gas that are cheaper, and easy to make from components purchased at a drug store to higher end, more expensive, more difficult to make nerve agents. There are also a variety of poisons to consider, such as ricin or radioactive agents. Biological weapons used to be exclusive to national military programs, but home brew bio-genetic design kits are now becoming available for a few hundred dollars. It will soon be possible to create designer pathogens in any garage or basement.

Cyber attacks will continue to require more attention as more and more of our everyday objects have embedded computing ability and become connected to everything else. Left unsecured, hackers will be able to take over control of most of the objects that surround us. 3-D printers can be used for both defensive purposes and as another attack vector. As they become more useful, they can be used to manufacture objects locally, making it easier to secure a perimeter by not allowing objects to pass through the perimeter. On the other hand, they can be used to print weapons and perhaps someday even assemble bombs or chemical and biological threats.

Nanotechnology offers the ability to engineer substances at size levels that we are not familiar with considering as threats. Everyday objects can be converted into trojan horses to penetrate defensive measures by embedding hidden components and substances inside them. Ingestable substances will make it possible to use the human body as a threat vector. If we can use nanotechnology to deliver drugs to fight disease on a cellular level, the same concept can also be used to deliver bio-weapons and more.

In order to effectively defend against these new threat vectors, defensive strategies will need to evolve. Here is a list of some of the changes:

  • Entry through the perimeter will need to be closely controlled by an embargo of most manufactured objects and advanced technology scanners that can see beyond the surface of materials
  • A body check that can detect ingestable nanosubstances – this will likely involve ingesting some nanoparticle tools that can detect foreign agents inside the body
  • Total transparency of all computer and communications systems allowing packet inspection to detect dangerous information in addition to malware and penetration efforts – this will be needed to prevent misuse of 3D printers and substances that might be combined in dangerous ways
  • Pervasive monitoring of the entire environment, including audio, video and molecular/olfactory presence
  • Special function security bots to inspect security conditions and situations as needed – with human oversight

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