Terrorism continues to be a risk to citizens. Included here is information on different types of terrorist threats and the actions you can take to plan, prepare for and respond to terrorist threats.

Biological Threats

Biological agents are organisms or toxins that can kill or incapacitate people, livestock and crops. A biological attack is the deliberate release of germs or other biological substances that can make you sick.

Chemical Threats

Chemical agents are poisonous vapors, aerosols, liquids and solids that have toxic effects on people, animals or plants. They can be released by bombs or sprayed from aircraft, boats and vehicles. They can be used as a liquid to create a hazard to people and the environment. Some chemical agents may be odorless and tasteless. They can have an immediate effect (a few seconds to a few minutes) or a delayed effect (2 to 48 hours). While potentially lethal, chemical agents are difficult to deliver in lethal concentrations. Outdoors, the agents often dissipate rapidly. Chemical agents also are difficult to produce.

Cyber Attack

Cybersecurity involves preventing, detecting, and responding to cyber incidents. Unlike physical threats that prompt immediate action–like stop, drop, and roll in the event of a fire–cyber threats are often difficult to identify and comprehend. Among these dangers are viruses erasing entire systems, intruders breaking into systems and altering files, intruders using your computer or device to attack others, or intruders stealing confidential information. The spectrum of cyber risks is limitless; threats, some more serious and sophisticated than others, can have wide-ranging effects on the individual, community, organizational, and national level. These risks include:

  • Organized cybercrime, state-sponsored hackers, and cyber espionage can pose national security risks to our country.
  • Transportation, power, and other services may be disrupted by large scale cyber incidents. The extent of the disruption is highly uncertain as it will be determined by many unknown factors such as the target and size of the incident.
  • Vulnerability to data breach and loss increases if an organization’s network is compromised. Information about a company, its employees, and its customers can be at risk.
  • Individually-owned devices such as computers, tablets, mobile phones, and gaming systems that connect to the Internet are vulnerable to intrusion. Personal information may be at risk without proper security.


Explosive devices can be highly portable, using vehicles and humans as a means of transport, and therefore easily used by terrorists. They are easily detonated from remote locations or by suicide bombers.

Nuclear Blast

A nuclear blast is an explosion with intense light and heat, a damaging pressure wave, and widespread radioactive material that can contaminate the air, water, and ground surfaces for miles around. A nuclear device can range from a weapon carried by a missile launched by a hostile nation or terrorist organization, to a small portable nuclear devise transported by an individual. All nuclear devices cause deadly effects when exploded, including blinding light, intense heat (thermal radiation), initial nuclear radiation, blast, fires started by the heat pulse and secondary fires caused by the destruction.

Radiological Dispersion Device (RDD)

Terrorist use of an RDD is considered far more likely than use of a nuclear explosive device. An RDD combines a conventional explosive device with radioactive material, and is designed to scatter dangerous and sub-lethal amounts of radioactive material over a general area. RDDs require limited technical knowledge to build and deploy compared to a nuclear device.

Preparing for a Terrorist Threat:

  • Build an Emergency Supply Kit, which includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries.
  • Make a Family Emergency Plan.
  • Check with your doctor to ensure all required or suggested immunizations are up to date. Children and older adults are particularly vulnerable to biological agents.
  • Consider installing a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter in your furnace return duct. These filters remove particles in the 0.3 to 10 micron range and will filter out most biological agents that may enter your house. If you do not have a central heating or cooling system, a stand-alone portable HEPA filter can be used.

In the case of a cyber-threat you should also consider the following:

  • Use secure, password- protected networks.
  • Do not click on links or pop-ups, open attachments, or respond to emails from strangers.
  • Always enter a URL by hand instead of following links if you are unsure of the sender.
  • Do not respond to online requests for Personally Identifiable Information
  • Review the privacy settings on your social media accounts
  • If you think an offer is too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Password protect all devices that connect to the Internet and user accounts.
  • Do not use the same password twice
  • If you see something suspicious, report it to the proper authorities.

In the case of a nuclear threat, you should also consider the following:

  • Find out if any public buildings in your community have been designated as fallout shelters. If none have been designated, make your own list of potential shelters near your home, workplace and school.
  • If you live in an apartment building, talk to the manager about the safest place in the building for sheltering.
  • During periods of heightened threat increase your disaster supplies to be adequate for up to two weeks.