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National Security Threats

The main threats to national security are terrorism, espionage, cyber threats and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, many of which impact on the UK’s national infrastructure.

National infrastructure sectors represent core strategic interests for foreign intelligence services, whose targeting against the sectors is likely to include espionage for economic, political, military or commercial gain.

While the threat from terrorism to the UK as a whole is high, and historically both international and Northern Ireland terrorist groups have targeted UK infrastructure, the current terrorist threat to the national infrastructure can be characterised as generally limited and often aspirational.

The exception is Transport which continues to face enduringly high levels of threat from international terrorism. In addition, the Emergency Services and Defence sectors, specifically police and military personnel, also face a high level of threat from both international terrorism and Dissident Republic groups in Northern Ireland, for whom they are a priority target for attack.

Generally higher levels of effective and visible protective security at national infrastructure sites are likely to act as a deterrent to terrorists, who increasingly favour ‘soft’ targets which allow them to achieve their aims with greater chance of success. Nevertheless, with the continual diversification of the threat, the ambition and capability of terrorist groups to target UK infrastructure is likely to continue to evolve.