Know the Enemy: State Actors


Assignment 1: Know the Enemy: State Actors

In Module 1, you learned that divided loyalties (the loyalty to one’s country of origin or ethnicity) are a greater motivator today than ever before. State actors (who are related to or working for a government other than the U.S.) are oftentimes motivated to spy against the U.S.

In this assignment, you will examine the motivations of other states and their actors, as well as their methods.


Using at least three scholarly resources from the professional literature, research intelligence threats to the U.S., focusing on state actors. The literature may include the Argosy University online library resources; relevant textbooks; peer-reviewed journal articles; and websites created by professional organizations, agencies, or institutions (.edu, .org, or .gov).

In a minimum of 300 words, respond to the following:

Identify the greatest intelligence threats to the U.S. and methodologies used for spying against the U.S. (such as human intelligence [HUMINT], and cyber espionage).

Explain which state actors pose the greatest cyber threat.

Explain which of the state-sponsored foreign intelligence services (FISs) assaults on the United States Intelligence Community (USIC) appear to have caused the greatest damage, either through the loss of resources, failed missions, or the loss of lives.

Sample paper

Know the Enemy: State Actors

There are a number of intelligence threats facing the United States currently. Cyber threats and technology are some of greatest challenges facing the US. In the recent past, there has been increased dependency on information technology (Clapper, 2016). The modern society is characterized by proliferation of new technological gadgets and devices that have undergone little testing. These devices and gadgets are increasingly becoming interconnected through complex networks. The Internet of Things (IOT), which comprises of all the smart devices, holds a potential threat to such aspects as data security (Clapper, 2016). Artificial intelligence is another threat facing the United States. This includes the application of narrow artificial intelligence systems with various capabilities such as speech recognition. The increased reliance on artificial intelligence increases the risk of cyber-attacks.

Cyber espionage is one of the most common methods used by spies to obtain government secretes and other types of information. Cyber espionage refers to the use of malicious software and other hacking techniques to intrude computer networks and steal confidential information. Those conducting cyber espionage have a very little risk getting caught, which makes cyber espionage a key threat to security (“Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive,” 2011). Cyber espionage may target private sector companies, research institutions, academic institutions, public firms, data repositories, and other sources. Human intelligence is another method used to spy against the U.S. Human intelligence is a form of spying which involves developing interpersonal contact with targets. Individuals working secretly as spies may be able to collect information or data through interviewing their sources or by using other means such as special reconnaissance.

Another methodology is imagery intelligence, which involves information gathering by use of aerial photography and satellites. Signals intelligence is another method used in spying against the U.S. This involves the interception of communication signals. The state actor that poses the greatest cyber threat is the power grid system. The power grid is among the critical infrastructure. Like other systems, the power grid is under the control of computer programs (“The Federal bureau of Investigation (FBI),” 2016). These computer programs are susceptible to hacking and could lead to a nationwide blackout. The industrial control systems are also at increased risk of cyberattacks. The industrial control systems are responsible for operating railways, roads, pipelines, and other key infrastructures (“FBI,” 2016).

The greatest FISs assaults on the United States are the September 11, 2001 attacks and the Iraq invasion. On September 11 2001, the United States experienced one of the worst terrorist attacks that led to loss of lives. This even was a result of failure by the intelligence community to obtain useful information about an impending attack and the risk posed by transnational terrorism. In 2003, the U.S. made the decision to invade Iraq based on intelligence reports that there were weapons of mass destruction. Following the invasion of Iraq, no weapons of mass destruction were discovered. It turns out the intelligence community was wrong.


Clapper, J. R. (2016). Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US intelligence Community Senate   Select Committee on Intelligence.  Office of the Director of National Intelligence.            Retrieved from

Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive (2011). Foreign spies stealing use    economic secrets in cyberspace. Retrieved from     .pdf

The Federal bureau of Investigation (FBI). (2016). Statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism Washington, D.C. Retrieved from      of-cyber-crime-and-terrorism


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