Overview

Newer forms of technology are also subject to criminal misuse. Robots are becoming more commonplace, and international organized crime groups and terrorists have lost no time in deploying these technologies as part of their field operations.

Marc Goodman,Former Futurist-in-residence with the FBI,New York Times Best-Selling author, global strategist and consultant

“There are risks and costs to a program of action — but they are far less than the long range cost of comfortable inaction.”

John F. Kennedy35th President of the United States

Security specialists like Bruce Schneider have long studied the manner in which enforcement agencies as well as criminals and by extension terrorists use technology. He noted that “Security is a tradeoff, a balancing act between attacker and defender. Unfortunately, that balance is never static. Changes in technology affects both sides.” (Schneider, 2014). Amidst this grandiose game of cat and mouse .

At the crux of discussions on security and technology is the conceptual notion of both safety and security. Whilst often used interchangeably and perhaps at times taken to mean the same thing, the understanding of security and safety needs to be unpacked. Ironically, technology will be used by both attacker and the defender. Depending on one’s vantage point, the role of attacker and that of defender would change accordingly.

Safety and Security

In very broad terms, the concept of security highlights the value placed on the loose and intangible feeling of safety wherein one’s ultimate survival is not put to question. Today, no longer is the concept of security limited to relations between states but includes the impact by non-state actors.

There is value in teasing out these differences in order to better understand how technology can often be used by terrorists and criminals but additionally the need to underscore the varied manner through which safety and security are uniquely enmeshed together.

Source: The New Conservative Party

“The underlying concepts of safety and security are indeed notidentical, they're complementary. In both cases we have a "system" in an environment. The system might be able to have an undesirable effect on its environment, but the environment can equally well have an undesirable effect on the system. The inability of the system to affect its environment in an undesirable way is usually called safety; the inability of the environment to affect the system in an undesirable way is usually called security. Depending on the type of system, its environment and the types of undesirable effects one can have on the other we get a multitude of definitions for safety and security.” 1

Conceptually, the dropping cost of technology and the use of technology by individuals from both sides have added a considerable layer of complexity to the efforts undertaken to mitigate the threat and to work towards ensuring efforts made at ascertaining security are undertaken. Both terrorists and criminals will continue to make considerable effort to capitalise on the use of technology and its accompanying cost effective platforms to both stay ahead of agencies that attempt to combat them. The propensity for a future attack capitalising on available platforms or using available platforms to conduct attacks given that technology will continue to progress and improve with time.

Understanding the Variables

Why do we need to study all three variables, viz. technology, criminals and terrorists in a complex manner? The reason is straightforward. We need to study these variables in a complex manner through theoretical and conceptual models because that is the way in which security, criminal and terrorist issues present themselves in the modern world, or in modernity. Security specialist, Bruce Schneier refers to this as the scope of defection. It refers to the manner not only in which criminals and terrorists alike make creative use of technology in order to further their cause but additionally the manner through which law enforcement adapts to the use of technology. Law enforcement is often relentlessly placed in a position wherein they are forced to work to catch up and be ahead of the learning curve of both criminal and terrorists who have shown themselves to be more adapt at navigating the terrain.

Security and technology are interdependent variables. According to Antonio L. Rappa, a variable in the social sciences is an entity that possesses a certain quality and quantity of matter that is subject to change. It is in reference to factors that can be subject to change. An interdependent variable as such refers to variables that are in turn dependent on each other.

So take for example, the quality and quantity of Police Special Forces deployed against terrorists. However, a variable may also refer to an entity that is less tangible such as “regionalism” or “neoliberalism” or even, “security technology”. In the social sciences such as political science, the independent variable is an entity that may or may not impact on another entity. We are now going to study the meaning of how some entities or variables in Security and Technology have a significant impact while other variables in this area of work do not.

This Study Unit broadly examines the relationship between technology, criminals and terrorists. It will simultaneously explore the manner through which “Combatting transnational issues such as cyber attacks, terrorism, and propaganda requires developing new rules to address the negative consequences of technology.” (Karsten, 2017)

Definitions of security, technology, criminals, and terrorists are also included. This Study Unit also invites students to consider different variations of models of security technology.

Dual-Use Technology

Students are encouraged to explore the complexity of dual-use technology and be sensitised to the evolving challenge of the dropping cost of technology and its impact on security. The term Dual use “refers to materials, hardware, and knowledge that have peaceful applications but could also be exploited for the illicit production of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons.”2 At the end of this Study Unit, students should be able to discuss the relationship between technology, criminals and terrorists. With the rapidly evolving technology, there is a need to evaluate attempts made by governments internationally as they attempt to keep up with these changes and the challenges that they in turn present. Coordinated efforts by intelligence, police and enforcement agencies are needed to better understand and mitigate the threat of a rapidly shifting technology and the manner through which technology can be used as a weapon, target or enabler. Technology can be used to benefit humanity which can also be used to harm.

Over the course of the Study Units, students should also be able to appraise models of security technology. Antonio L. Rappa reminds us that the links between security, technology, crime and terrorism are akin (or similar) to a spider web of intersecting and interlocking attachments, relationships, and hierarchies. This unique ability to navigate the complex terrain of interdependent relationships would enable better appreciation of the evolving quality of these relationships. It is only through a better appreciation of the security and technology landscape can better efforts be gleaned towards embracing the challenges ahead.

Source: Dr Jerard
1 Bartnes, Maria. (2006). Safety vs security? Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Probabilistic Safety Assessment and Management
2 Johnathan Tucker, Innovation, Dual Use, and Security: Managing the Risks of Emerging Biological and Chemical Technologies, (United States: MIT Press, 2012) p.2