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Intelligence After Next: Using Intent-Based Indications and Warning to Prevent Terrorist Cyber Attacks

By Dan Kolva , Chris Ante , Taye Folk

Terrorist attacks via cyber could be the next evolution in terror tactics. As availability of cyber threat tools increases and the capability of cyber threat actors becomes easier to develop, U.S. strategies to counter this potential threat must adapt.

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The 2023 National Cybersecurity Strategy calls for countering financing of terrorism via ransomware, the use of illicit cryptocurrency, and supporting efforts to eliminate terrorist content online. Unfortunately, these actions do not address indications and warning (I&W) of cyber terrorist actors with terrorist intent and are unlikely to address the threat before an attackthe point at which defenders can most effectively reduce the impact of such an attack. We should consider a pivot in both counterterrorism and cybersecurity to counter terrorist cyber-based threats, including enhancing early warning of potential cyber threats from foreign terrorists. This would mean including a cyber component to the National Counterterrorism Strategy as well as including specific terrorism threats to the National Cybersecurity Strategy while implementing both strategies.

Read more research and analysis for the Intelligence Community in our Intelligence After Next paper series.

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