The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP) released its 2022 Threat Assessment, the 14th annual version of the report.
The report is designed to analyze New Jersey’s threat landscape for the coming year, with a focus on counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and resiliency efforts.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and instances of civil unrest over the past few years exacerbated a threat landscape that continues to grow more diverse and innovative,” said NJOHSP Director Laurie R. Doran.
Threat of Domestic Terrorism on the Rise
“My office’s unwavering commitment to protecting communities throughout New Jersey is driven by intelligence development and information sharing capabilities,” added Doran. “Just as domestic and international extremists adapt their operations to an ever-changing environment, homeland security and law enforcement professionals must also enhance their strategies to combat these threats.”
Overall, the state agency argued domestic extremists would return to pre-pandemic operating norms, with a shift in focus to local expansion and low-level criminal activity. Over the past two years, NJOHSP said domestic extremists had leveraged national events to justify violence across the U.S.
High Risk Groups
NJOHSP noted homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) and White racially motivated extremists remained the most prominent threats to New Jersey in 2022, with both groups listed in the “high risk” category.
Of note, NJOHSP reported just 10 HVEs who were identified in 2021, compared to 18 in 2020 and 43 in 2019. However, due to the sensitivity of ongoing HVE investigations, the 2021 data could increase.
In 2021, the agency noted White, racially-motivated extremists would work in small cells to distribute propaganda throughout the Garden State.
Foreign Terrorism Threat Wanes
Meanwhile, the report noted foreign terrorists organization posed a low threat to New Jersey despite their continued dedication to combating the U.S.
Additionally, NJOHSP believed foreign actors were likely to focus on critical infrastructure. The report noted theft, cyber intrusions, and stealing intellectual property via talent recruitment were legitimate threats to U.S. private industry.
NJOHSP noted The New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell (NJCCIC) believed the overall cyber threat to New Jersey was high, with organizations, governments, businesses, and private citizens throughout New Jersey facing the issue in 2021.
Cybersecurity Threats Remain
NJCCIC reported there were over 3,100 ransomware incidents in 2021, including high-profile attacks at Colonial Pipeline and JBS Foods. However, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) were also attacked.
The average ransom demand for third quarter 2021 was $140,000; however, the overall costs is often much higher than that figure.
Additionally, NJOHSP are on alert for foreign actors that could play a part in cyberattacks on U.S. companies and individuals.
“In general, nation-state actors carry out cyber attacks to advance their foreign policy interests and increase their influence on the world stage, while decreasing that of their adversaries. Motivations include espionage and exfiltration of intellectual property, disruption and destruction of information and systems, sowing social discord, and financial gain,” the report read.