Terrorism can take many shapes and involve a vast range of political or ideological agendas. But there are common threads linking all acts of terror: they involve the use or threat of violence, they are random — potentially occurring in any country, against any target, at any time — and their ultimate goal is to generate fear.

The face of terrorism has evolved rapidly in recent years. Terror moves through different periods or waves; we are now in the “Fourth Wave” of terrorism, which began in 1979 and is dominated by acts of religious terrorism, sects and domestic terror, and environmental activism.

“Lone wolf” terror on the rise

The profile of terrorist suspects and the nature of their attacks have been shifting. “Lone wolf” attacks are becoming more prevalent, often involving radicalized individuals previously unknown to security services, which makes early infiltration and prevention difficult. In many cases, the attackers operate without a leader, use unsophisticated and accessible weapons including firearms, knives, and blunt objects, and are willing to sacrifice their own lives for the sake of their cause.

Perpetrators are also using the 24-hour news cycle to their advantage, spreading and amplifying their messages globally so they can reach the largest audience as quickly as possible and heighten the psychological impact of attacks.

The business risks of terror

Terrorist threats and attacks create a wide range of risks for individuals and corporations. For corporations, this includes physical risks such as threats to employees and facilities. Organizational risks also exist, including disruptions to a company’s business operations, impediments to global business expansion, and contingency planning concerns. And finally, there are larger economic risks, including successful terrorist attacks preventing foreign investment in a country. 

No “safe” country exists

These risks exist across all countries. As terror tactics continue to evolve, individuals and corporations around the globe cannot depend on security forces for their safety. In “permissive” environments — developed countries with an open democracy, freedom of movement, and minimal restrictive security measures — people are typically unaware of the terror threat potential and have a false sense of security, creating additional dangers.

In environments perceived as “safe,” taking proactive measures to mitigate terror-related threats is imperative at both a personal and corporate level. Individuals need to increase their overall situational awareness and proactively identify threat locations in the places they live, work, and travel. Corporations need to have sound and tested crisis response plans, understanding threats related to their industry, location, and association with targeted organizations and groups. 

Essential terror risk mitigation strategies

AIG’s Global Perspective Series is a series of webcasts designed to help our clients understand the most pressing political and socio-economic trends shaping the world today and their impact on global risk management.

Our latest webcast focuses on the changing face of terror around the globe. Experts from the AIG Global Security team — including John Rudolph, Assistant Director of Global Security, and Paul Mills, Global Prevention Manager — draw from their decades of security experience to discuss:

  • The current terror threat environment and associated risks.
  • Case studies of recent attacks — including the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris.
  • Essential risk mitigation strategies for individuals and corporations.

To watch the AIG Global Security team’s webcast discussing the current global terror landscape and related risks and mitigation strategies, please click here.

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