CAST has a variety of programs that help the Government and the public understand the nature and magnitude of evolving terrorist threats against the U.S. and its allies, and forumlate effective responses to the challenge of worldwide terrorism.
Terrorism Research Studies
CAST conducts empirically, theoretically and policy-relevant research studies, developing qualitative and quantitative assessments about terrorism relevant to the mission of the policy community. CAST’s objective is to produce research that “translates” findings into potential actions. These studies are cross-disciplinary, integrating insights from the social sciences, the bio-behavioral sciences, as well as information and computer science.
Counter-Terrorism Conferences & Meetings
CAST works with the U.S. Government as well as other research institutions in the United States and internationally in the sponsorship of conferences and other meetings on important topics related to counter-terrorism efforts. One major CAST effort has been the co-sponsorship with RAND of the annual Terrorism and Global Security Conference. Other efforts have focused on protecting the financial sector from cyberattack and issues related to security and privacy in cyberspace.
Goverment & Public Information
CAST has supported the Global Futures Forum and other initiatives for the terrorism research community as well as the general public with information and insight on evolving terrorist threats and related counter-terrorism programs. Using Internet web sites, specialized blogs and other modern tools experts can interact, with counter-terrorism professionals, testing conventional theories and generating new insights.
Cybersecurity for the Financial Sector
CAST personnel have been instrumental in organizing the Cybersecurity for the Financial Sector Working Group (CFSWG), a collaboration of individuals and organizations concerned about the evolving needs of the financial sector in dealing with the range of issues related to cybersecurity and privacy. Looking at increasing threats to the financial community as well as critical security and privacy issues the CFSWG is looking to strategies and programs that enhance the nation’s ability to deal with the threat environment. Included here are the evolving threat environment; vulnerabilities of the current technology; new technologies that could enhance security and privacy; technology programs of importance to the financial sector; liabilities faced by the financial sector from cyberattacks; impact of proposed legislation for cybersecurity; and priorities for a research agenda that support the financial sector.
Neuroscience & Radicalization
CAST is working with UCLA and other DARPA performers in a program exploring the process of radicalization and how cognitive neuroscience aid in better understanding of this process. Today, threats from ISIS and other terrorists are increasing worldwide, supported through social media and community contacts. While the horrific results of terrorist acts are well-documented, relatively little is
known about the actual process by which specific individuals are radicalized to the point that they will engage in terrorist acts or join organizations such as ISIS. Web sites maintained by ISIS and others provide instructional material for potential terrorists and a means to recruit them. Important gaps in knowledge concern issues related to the vulnerability of an individual to radicalization, the effects on
the individual level as well as dynamic interactions at the group level and the process by which social media promotes conversion to terrorism.
Terrorist Use of Social Media
CAST is exploring technical approaches as well as potential legal obstacles to the study of how modern social media are being utilized by terrorist groups such as ISIS to recruit and support personnel from the U.S. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. the nation has become sensitized to both new threats as well as the use of new technologies by terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda and more recently ISIS to radicalize and recruit vulnerable individuals. Increasingly social media platforms are being utilized by terrorist organizations to meet this objective. Meeting this challenge effectively requires new analytical tools to identify the nature of these interactions and detect such recruitment efforts, as well as ones which respects the evolving legal regime for privacy and security.
CAST is working with DARPA and other government agencies to develop a comprehensive approach to the problems the nation faces in cybersecurity, including hacking, vulnerability and others. These are matters of great concern that not only involves vital national security operations but commerce, finance, health care, utilities and almost every aspect of daily life. Today cybersecurity must be an active process rather than a passive condition. In the future many current vulnerabilities will be eliminated, as technical solutions are developed, vulnerable protocols will be patched, supplemented, and ultimately some will be replaced. New technical approaches will be found to securing devices and servers against evolving cyber threats. Concerns about data privacy in a changing legal regime must addressed with new software and systems that meet both user requirements as well as the ongoing needs of national security.
Responding to Domestic Terrorism
CAST has joined with others in looking at ways to respond to increasing levels of domestic violence from such groups as animal rights terrorists and eco-terrorists. Here CAST experts and attorneys have aided in the legal defense of the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) and prosecution of domestic terrorist organizations and individuals.
CAST serves to facilitate understanding and interaction on critical terrorism and counter-terrorism issues with international counterparts, including European counterparts, Israeli experts, and elsewhere. CAST is currently affiliated with the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) (Israel), The George Marshall Center (Germany), and others.