“What Threat Assessment Is (1 of 3 parts)”

“What Threat Assessment Is (1 of 3 parts)”

 © 2015 Research Solutions, Inc. (all rights reserved)

 

Threat Assessment is not a “new” term, nor has it been around for a short time.

The term itself has gone through many variations and buzz words, but the fact that the main word that is most understood is the word “Threat”.

Barring the typical definition, for our purposes we want to make the definition exceptionally simple and break it down into three (3) components:

A Threat is where there is a potential event or action that will negatively cause, effect, damage or destroy:

  1. Physical property (e.g. equipment, installations, tangible property, infrastructure);
  2. The destabilization or overthrow of a government / country infrastructure; or
  3. Life (e.g. the injury or death of employees, contract personnel, civilians, military and law enforcement personnel, government officials and staffing, agency personnel, as well as any related family members)

You could add thousands of examples and expand the definition into hundreds of pages, but the bottom line is Threat Assessment addresses

“Physical property”;

“Destabilization / Overthrow of a government / country infrastructure”; and

“Human lives”

Where one of the confusions exist is in the case where de-stabilization takes place in a country – as an example the attempted de-stabilization of a government. Would it be considered a “Threat”?

Yes. It effects the entire infrastructure of the country, which in turn, if successful, would create a limited period of chaos and eventual re-stabilization of the country by a newly empowered government, either by election or by coup.

Then again, it may be a de-stabilization where there is permanent chaos and no new government elected (e.g. Somalia).

Another area of confusion is what “determines” a Threat. We can place levels of the “degree of a Threat”, such as the color code system of the United States Homeland Security; however, Threats and Threat Levels are “fluid” and constantly change.

Therefore the analysis and validation of intelligence is a constant, ongoing requirement.

Measuring Threats is all well and fine, but validating the “nature” of the Treat is the first step in determining the strategy of how we would “address” the Threat itself.

For a Threat to be addressed “Proactively”, one must understand “how” a Threat is determined, the nature of the Threat, the potential effects of the Threat, and how to mitigate the Threat “WHEN” it
happens – not “IF”. This is a key issue between “Reactive” strategies and “Proactive” strategies.

Our National Security Agency (NSA), along with the United States Homeland Security and United States Department of State (and numerous other domestic and international counterparts), constantly are assessing intelligence which is acquired by numerous means.

From dumb-luck, to hard-legwork-validated intelligence collected through numerous agencies, such intelligence accumulated of a potential “Threat” is then assessed and addressed appropriately.

When it comes to the private sector, Threats can have an equally broad range, from internal espionage to destruction of equipment (e.g. computers), from vandalizing of property to an attack on key employees.

Again, a Threat, by “our” definition is:

A Threat is where there is a potential event or action that will negatively cause, effect, damage or destroy:

  1. Physical property (e.g. equipment, installations, tangible property, infrastructure);
  2. The destabilization or overthrow of a government / country infrastructure; or
  3. Life (e.g. the injury or death of employees, contract personnel, civilians, military and law enforcement personnel, government officials and staffing, agency personnel, as well as any related family members)

What we attempt to address Threats and Threat Assessment with this short series is not to over-simplify the issue of Threat Assessment, but to place it into better perspective for all readers to understand.

Let there be no illusion that Threat Assessment is one of the most complex and tedious tasks to be performed. The factors and variations are constantly changing and can have effects on “how” a Threat is determined to be valid, or not, from day-to-day. More important, it can “change” in a matter of days, even hours.

Taking a “cursory” look at what is taken into the analysis of Threat Assessment would include, but definitely not be limited to:

Political factors;

Religious factors;

Geo-political factors;

Economics;

Neighboring country events and factors;

Political, religious and /or ethnic positions towards other countries;

Present government structures;

Potential corruption and fraud;

Ethnic instability or issues;

Discrimination of all types;

Potential or on-going attempts to de-stabilize;

Areas of potential exploitation (e.g. natural resources to sensitive data / information)

This is just a very “basic” list of factors that are usually a common denominator in assessing Threats; however, there is an unlimited number of categories where Threats can exist / take place which require much more complex analysis and validation.

There are two, common factors with ALL Threats, whether they be potential (e.g. unconfirmed), or imminent, and that each Threat must be examined “individually” as a unique potential occurrence, AND if such a unique potential occurrence is either “isolated”, or part of a larger picture (e.g. a “non-isolated” event that has multiple objectives and / or targets). This is where the analysis and validation is the most serious of all of Threat Assessment activities and duties.

The greatest enemy of Threat Assessment is “Time”. In “every” case of determining if something is potentially at risk, time is always working against the analysts and Threat Assessment personnel. The methods of how to “reduce” the liability of “time” is what will be addressed will be part two (2) of the next section to be posted.

Regards,
Research Solutions, Inc.

 

 

 

 

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