21 Oct 2019

Global security threats mean New Zealand should stay on guard

12:59 pm on 21 October 2019

A political expert says New Zealand can't become complacent when it comes to security and creating alliances.

Global political tensions, and new technologies used by terrorists mean changing threats.

Global political tensions, and new technologies used by terrorists mean changing security threats. Photo: 123rf

Fostering partnerships for security will be a key focus of the Asia Pacific Security Innovation Forum to be held in Queenstown next April.

Forum Committee chairperson Anita Abbott said the Christchurch mosque attacks were a wake up call for security and defence.

"Security cannot be compromised. New Zealand cannot be too relaxed in terms of its security," Dr Abbott said.

"Complacency is not the answer.

"There is a network of global terrorism that without cooperation ... it is going to be difficult to address."

The development of technology had changed the face of conflict.

"The traditional model of warfare is more like a battlefield, whereas now the modern type of warfare involves technology," Dr Abbott said.

That meant two main differences.

The threats were no longer focused on the battlefield, with a rise in hybrid threats, she said.

Hybrid threats are a combination of traditional and unconventional tools of warfare, including cyber attacks, economic blackmail, terrorism, regular military forces, diplomacy and support of local unrest.

There had also been a change in the people involved in conflicts with a rise in non-government groups and individuals engaged in these hybrid threats, she said.

"Security really depends on the dynamic of the global political situation. It is challenging, we need to have a model of resiliency and this type of model is possible only with the cooperation with other states because one state can not do everything by itself ... that's why we need to develop a model of resiliency through partnerships and alliances.

The use of social media in acts of terrorism would be a feature of the forum, particularly in the wake of the Christchurch mosque shooting and Germany synagogue shooting.

Both incidents were live-streamed.

"The forum has started to take the discussion in this area, in addressing global terrorism networks... We are still working on that and of course we have to include this type of discussion in the forum and how we can address the challenges and the issues, how to develop a counter-threat model in this area."

While the use of technology in acts of terrorism has been in the spotlight, it also played a significant role in the prevention of attacks, both for intelligence gathering and for an early warning, she said.

"Technology is fairly helpful when we try to find data, and of course it is useful as an early warning. Technology is obviously both very useful and a threat, because anyone can use technology."

Dr Abbott encouraged more New Zealanders involved in the defence, security and the military sectors to attend the forum.

"We do have a lot of speakers from Europe, South East Asia and South Asia, but we don't really have a lot from New Zealand."

The forum will be held between the 15th and 17th of April at the Copthorne Lakefront Hotel.

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