Disruptive Technology and National Security

A close up image of a computer screen shows the word Security, and a cursor hovering over itLeading technology and cybersecurity experts weigh in on a Department of Defense white paper released this month examining the role of emerging and disruptive technologies on national security.

On the Horizon: Security Challenges at the Nexus of State and Non-State Actors and Emerging/Disruptive Technologies, features opening remarks from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security noting the significance of technological advancements and the importance of developing preventative measures to counter future potential security concerns.

The report contains eight chapters on several security issues. Chapter 1 considers the security implications of future dual-use technologies and provides criteria for dealing with emerging technologies. Chapters 2 and 3 consider the use of technology by terrorist organizations and how they continue to innovate technologically to advance their objectives; Chapters 4 and 5 examine current technologies being used extremists to communicate globally and to engage in cybercrime; and, Chapter 6 explores the technological advancement of weaponry used by terrorist organizations. Chapter 7 explores the issue of biosecurity and its convergence with cybersecurity, and Chapter 8 considers the complexity of machine-driven warfare in a national security context.

The common theme of this report is the need for vigilance and foresight of emerging technologies, even those outside the traditional realm of national security. Future threats may arise from creative uses of technology that will require novel and complex approaches to prevention:

The same exciting technologies that promise to enhance human understanding and decision-making will also impact our ability to defend the homeland and respond to collective threats to allies and partner nations. There will be enormous opportunities, and potentially enormous future threats. –Brig Gen Alexus Grynkewich, Deputy Director of Global Operations, Joint Staff



More resources can be found at the Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL). Some of the links in this report require institutional access, click here for direct access to On the Horizon.