Cover: Emerging Threats and Security Planning

Emerging Threats and Security Planning

How Should We Decide What Hypothetical Threats to Worry About?

Published May 7, 2009

by Brian A. Jackson, David R. Frelinger


Download eBook for Free

Full Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.6 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Summary Only

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.1 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.


Purchase Print Copy

 Format Price
Add to Cart Paperback30 pages $20.00

Concerns about how terrorists might attack in the future are central to the design of security efforts to protect both individual targets and the nation overall. In thinking about emerging threats, security planners are confronted by a panoply of possible future scenarios coming from sources ranging from the terrorists themselves to red-team brainstorming efforts to explore ways adversaries might attack in the future. This paper explores an approach to assessing emerging and/or novel threats and deciding whether — or how much — they should concern security planners by asking two questions: (1) Are some of the novel threats “niche threats” that should be addressed within existing security efforts? (2) Which of the remaining threats are attackers most likely to execute successfully and should therefore be of greater concern for security planners? If threats can reasonably be considered niche threats, they can be prudently addressed in the context of existing security activities. If threats are unusual enough, suggest significant new vulnerabilities, or their probability or consequences means they cannot be considered lesser included cases within other threats, prioritizing them based on their ease of execution provides a guide for which threats merit the greatest concern and most security attention. This preserves the opportunity to learn from new threats yet prevents security planners from being pulled in many directions simultaneously by attempting to respond to every threat at once.

This Occasional Paper results from the RAND Corporation's continuing program of self-initiated research.

This report is part of the RAND occasional paper series. RAND occasional papers may include an informed perspective on a timely policy issue, a discussion of new research methodologies, essays, a paper presented at a conference, or a summary of work in progress. All RAND occasional papers undergo rigorous peer review to help ensure that they meet high standards for research quality and objectivity.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.