Evolving Threat Networks
Threat networks today are loose groupings of criminals, terrorists, insurgents, and their supporters and facilitators, who blend together to present an array of security risks. While the motivations and structural characteristics of these networks differ, there are fundamental similarities: they are flexible, agile, and ever-evolving; they blend illicit activity with licit business and, in many cases, violence; they transcend borders; and they have confounded government efforts to counter them. These networks rely on a global web of transportation, logistics, social media and financial networks to sustain and expand their operations.
As noted by Admiral Stavridis in the Washington Post article, "The Dark Side of Globalization," the U.S. "must recognize that it takes a network to confront another network. Networks of criminal and terrorist activities are converging. The United States needs to build its own network solutions. This means combining international, interagency, and private and public mechanisms for cooperation -- or open-sources security -- across the spectrum of threat."
BENS can use its convening power to help build the U.S. government and private sector network to confront the converging network of criminal and terrorist activities. Since many of the threat networks operate as businesses, BENS can also help the government understand threat networks as businesses and bring to bear counter-network strategies that seek to exploit vulnerabilities in the business models on which the networks are built.