The CIA on terrorism and tech

By Christine Duhaime | June 18th, 2016

On June 16, 2016, the Director of the CIA testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in respect of the Islamic State (ISIS), terrorism and technology generally.

Here is an executive summary:

  • The CIA said there there has never been a time when there is such a “dizzying” array of national security issues and threats affecting countries;
  • The so-called “Twitter Terrorist” and terrorist propaganda phenomena poses an international security threat and such propaganda takes place mostly on Twitter, Tumblr and Telegram, working to inspire attacks by sympathizers globally to harm the West (to learn more, you can read our research here);
  • ISIS is still able to raise tens of billions of US$ per month in revenues;
  • Libya is now ISIS’ most developed and dangerous jurisdiction, followed by Egypt. The Libya branch of ISIS is actively planning attacks in the EU;
  • ISIS will be moving with groups of migrants and refugees to access the West;
  • The US financial system (its banks and financial institutions) are under serious threat of cybersecurity threats;
  • The rebuilding of Syria will take billions and billions of dollars;
  • The digital realm, including mobile and online activities, pose the most challenge to the CIA and other intelligence agencies. The CIA called digital challenges a “new frontier”, noting that the law has not kept up with those challenges; and
  • The Internet of Things (IoT),  where every type of electronic and mobile device will be connected to the Internet will create inherent security risks to the US.

With respect to national security solutions, the Director of the CIA said that the agency is (a) embracing diversity and ensuring that it has women in leadership in the intelligence community; (b) working with the EU over threats to terrorism and on the issue of social media propaganda promoting terrorism, and the movement of prospective terrorists to the EU; and (c) working with the tech private sector to advance the national security interests to ensure that the tech companies are aware of their responsibilities in respect of national securities issues and are cooperative.

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