DHS Assesses Threats to National Security

Two security guards walking in front of a large American flagThe Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has published a comprehensive report on threats to American security. The October 2020 Homeland Threat Assessment (HTA) is specifically intended for public consumption, and factors in all of the new challenges DHS faces in light of the COVID-19 (coronavirus 2019) pandemic. The inaugural report arranges the topmost threats to America in seven sections:

  1. The Cyber Threat to the Homeland

    • The US continuously faces cyberthreats from both domestic and foreign entities, as well as state and non-state actors, seeking monetary gain and to compromise US infrastructure, public opinion, and elections.
  2. Foreign Influence Activity in the Homeland

    • Russia remains the number one threat to US democracy as actors continue to use disinformation campaigns to undermine confidence in US institutions, the election, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. Threats to U.S. Economic Security

    • The COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted US supply-chains, leaving trade lines, academic institutions, and information and communications industries vulnerable to Russian and Chinese infiltration.
  4. The Terrorist Threat to the Homeland

    • While foreign terrorists remain a very real threat, lone wolf terrorism and homegrown violent extremists currently pose the most prominent threat to national security. Domestic terrorists, emboldened by online communities, are capitalizing on social and political tensions surrounding the upcoming election and human rights campaigns.
  5. Transnational Criminal Organization (TCO) Threats to National Security

    • Mexico remains the primary source of TCO threats, trafficking drugs and humans across the borders, even though the rates have slowed since COVID-19.
  6. Illegal Immigration to the United States

    • The pandemic and resulting travel restrictions have led to an influx of illegal immigration via land and sea, as well as human trafficking. While illegal immigration does not equate to a national security threat, there are plenty of opportunities for exploitation on both sides of heavily-traveled migration routes.
  7. Natural Disasters

    • The addition of a worldwide pandemic to an already overactive natural disaster season (particularly wildfires and hurricanes) has complicated response efforts, causing DHS to reevaluate its role in the recovery process.

For more information, visit the HSDL Featured Topics on Domestic (U.S.) TerrorismImmigration, Cyber Crime and National SecurityCyber Infrastructure ProtectionGlobal TerrorismLone Wolf Terrorism, Pandemics and Epidemics, Wildfires, and Hurricanes.

You can also visit our Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Special Collection or our In Focus: 2019 Novel Coronavirus collection.

Please note that an HSDL login is required to view some of these resources. Need help finding something? Ask one of our librarians for assistance!

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Author: Emily Bruza

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