A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

START team assesses insider threat for international air cargo

Research team develops framework for assessment tool

A generalized, modular and adaptable insider threat assessment tool for the International Air Cargo (IAC) supply chain is feasible, according to a new study by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).

START approached its research through a five-fold methodology. Researchers conducted an extensive literature review on the air cargo industry and insider behavior and psychology, interviewed 17 subject matter experts in allied fields and conducted a week-long observational case study at Cargo City Bogotá-El Dorado International Airport in Colombia.

During these efforts, investigators developed an operational process prototype, which provided a generic model of the air cargo supply chain as it conveys cargo from a foreign last point of departure toward U.S. destinations. Ultimately, investigators established an eight-step insider threat procedure, useful for any application between basic policy analysis and data-rich facility assessments of specific air cargo environments.

Led by Dr. Gary Ackerman, director of the Unconventional Weapons and Technology Division at START, researchers on The Insider Threat for Inbound International Air Cargo project established that insider activities could occur in various combinations across the 13 stages of the supply chain and highlighted the unique ways IAC employees could subvert existing security and operational functions.

START has received funding through the Department of Homeland Security to further develop the operational process prototype and threat assessment procedure by implementing them into a software tool that can be flexibly employed by a large variety of end-users.

As the study proceeds, the team – Dr. Ackerman, and UWT staff researchers Gabrielle Matuzsan and Herbert Tinsley – will focus on validating the tool and its underlying algorithms, and conducting one domestic and two foreign use cases to test and deliver an agile, software-based tool that government and commercial air cargo stakeholders can utilize to defeat insider threats.