There is currently a low threat of damaging cyber attacks against the U.S. energy infrastructure according an intelligence assessment released by the Department of Homeland Security and Industrial Control Systems Computer Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) in January. While “advanced persistent threat (APT) nation-state cyber actors are targeting US energy sector enterprise networks,” these activities are conducted primarily in support of cyber espionage focused primarily on “acquiring and maintaining persistent access to facilitate the introduction of malware” in the event of “hostilities with the United States.”
The Dangers of Traveling Overseas to Fight Against the Islamic State
Foreign fighters are pouring into Iraq and Syria from all over the world to take up arms with the Islamic State (ISIL). Recent reports have estimated that as many as 30,000 foreign fighters may be fighting in Iraq and Syria and that they are flowing in at a rate of nearly 1,000 new recruits a month. However, a recently emerging phenomenon of Western individuals, primarily veterans, returning to Iraq and Syria to fight against ISIL forces has only recently begun to receive significant media attention. No one has a precise number on how many Westerners are actually fighting in the conflict against ISIL, though estimates often place the number somewhere around 100-130 foreign fighters.
The Increasing Sophistication and Legitimacy of the Islamic State
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has become the preeminent terror group among U.S.-based extremists according to an assessment authored by the Department of Homeland Security and more than a dozen state and local fusion centers. Individuals determined to fight “overseas in a Muslim-majority country” or conduct attacks domestically will be “more likely to derive inspiration from ISIL than [al-Qaeda] or any of its affiliates” as long as ISIL can maintain its “current level of perceived legitimacy and relevancy.” This assessment of ISIL’s increasing popularity among domestic extremists is the focus of a ten page Field Analysis Report obtained by Public Intelligence titled Assessing ISIL’s Influence and Perceived Legitimacy in the Homeland: A State and Local Perspective. Drawing on suspicious activity reports from around the country as well as intelligence reporting from DHS and the Bureau of Prisons, the report finds that ISIL’s military successes in Iraq and Syria along with the group’s self-proclaimed re-establishment of the caliphate have captured the attention of violent extremists likely to buy in to its “violent extremist counterculture.”
DHS Warns of “Domestic Violent Extremists” Targeting Government Officials, Law Enforcement
An intelligence assessment released July 22 by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis warns of an increasing trend of “anti-government violence” from what are described as “domestic violent extremists” inspired by the recent standoff at the Bundy Ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada. The report, titled “Domestic Violent Extremists Pose Increased Threat to Government Officials an Law Enforcement,” was originally obtained and published by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a non-profit alliance of local state and federal resource professionals that has been advocating for criminal charges against Cliven Bundy and “militia snipers” involved in the April standoff with the Bureau of Land Management. In recent months, the report suggests that there has been a notable increase in violence from domestic extremists motivated by “anti-government ideologies.”
The Vocabulary of Cyber War
A restricted document from U.S. Strategic Command provides insight into the underlying philosophy of military efforts to wage cyber warfare.
Identity Dominance: The U.S. Military’s Biometric War in Afghanistan
For years the U.S. military has been waging a biometric war in Afghanistan, working to unravel the insurgent networks operating throughout the country by collecting the personal identifiers of large portions of the population. A restricted U.S. Army guide on the use of biometrics in Afghanistan obtained by Public Intelligence provides an inside look at this ongoing battle to identify the Afghan people.