Terrorists use a wide variety of targets, tactics, and means, forcing hazard prediction and mitigation to rely on even more variables than most other man-made hazards.
TEMA defines terrorism as “threats of terrorism, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, bomb scares and bombings, cyberattacks (computer-based) and the use of chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological weapons..”
An attack upon the United States is extremely unlikely, though the potential for such a nation-wide event does exist. However, terrorism can take many forms, on small or large scales.
Examples of types of terrorism include:
- Active shooter: Individuals using firearms to cause mass casualties
- Individuals using a vehicle to cause mass casualties
- Individuals using homemade bombs to cause mass casualties
- Other methods of mass attacks may include knives, fires, drones or other weapons
Attacks in Public Places
In general, you should also take the following precautionary measures:
- Be alert and aware of your surroundings.
- Take precautions when traveling. Do not leave luggage unattended. Promptly report unusual behavior, suspicious or unattended packages and strange devices to the police or security personnel.
- Learn where emergency exits are located in buildings you frequent. Identify exits and areas to hide wherever you go, including work, school and special events.
- Be prepared to do without services you normally depend on: electricity, telephone, natural gas, gasoline pumps, cash registers, ATMs and Internet transactions.
- Create an emergency kit for your workplace (in case you need to evacuate from work).
- Observe warning signs in others. Signs might include unusual or violent communications, expressed anger or intent to cause harm and substance abuse. These warning signs may increase over time.
- Learn lifesaving skills. Take trainings such as You Are the Help Until Help Arrives and first aid to assist the wounded before help arrives.
During a terrorist attack: Run. Hide. Fight.
Run to Safety:
- Seek safety. Getting away from the attacker is the top priority.
- Leave your belongings behind and get away.
- Call 9-1-1 when you are safe and describe the attacker, location and weapons.
Cover and Hide:
- If you can’t evacuate, cover and hide. Find a place to hide out of view of the attacker and if possible, put a solid barrier between yourself and the threat
- Lock and block doors, close blinds and turn off lights.
- Keep silent.
Defend, Disrupt, Fight:
- Fight only as a last resort. When you can’t run or cover, attempt to disrupt the attack or disable the attacker.
- Be aggressive and commit to your actions.
- Recruit others to ambush the attacker with makeshift weapons like chairs, fire extinguishers, scissors, books, etc.
- Be prepared to cause severe or lethal injury to the attacker.
Help the Wounded:
- Take care of yourself first and then, if you are able, help the wounded get to safety and provide immediate care.
Cyberattacks are malicious attempts to access or damage a computer or network system. Cyberattacks can lead to loss of money, theft of personal, financial and medical information that can damage your reputation and safety. Cybersecurity involves preventing, detecting and responding to cyberattacks that can have wide-ranging effects on individuals, organizations, the community and at the national level.
Cyberattacks can occur in many ways:
- Accessing your personal computers, mobile phones, gaming systems and other internet and Bluetooth connected devices.
- Damaging your financial security, including identity theft.
- Blocking your access or deleting your personal information and accounts.
- Targeting children and adults.
- Complicating your employment, business services, transportation and power grid.
There are several ways to protect yourself from cyberattacks:
- Limit the personal information you share online. Change privacy settings and do not use location features.
- Keep software applications and operating systems up-to-date.
- Using a password manager, use upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters, as well as, two-factor authentication (two methods of verification).
- Think before you click, and when in doubt, do NOT click. Do not provide personal information. Watch for suspicious activity that asks you to do something right away, offers something that sounds too good to be true, or needs your personal information.
- Use encrypted (secure) Internet communications.
- Protect your home and/or business on a strong, using a secure Internet connection and Wi-Fi network.
- Use a stronger authentication such as a personal identification number (PIN) or password that only you would know. Consider using a separate device that can receive a code or uses a biometric scan (e.g. fingerprint scanner or facial recognition).
- Check your account statements and credit reports regularly.
- Only share personal information on secure sites (e.g. “https://”). Do not use sites with invalid certificates. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that creates a more secure connection.
- Use antivirus solutions, malware and firewalls to block threats.
- Regularly back up your files in an encrypted file or encrypted file storage device.
- Protect your home network by changing the administrative and Wi-Fi passwords regularly. When configuring your router, use either the instruction manual or speak to your internet-cable provider, to setup the Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) setting, which is the strongest encryption option.
During a cyberattack:
- Check your credit statement for unrecognizable charges.
- Check your credit reports to be aware of open accounts and/or loans you did not open.
- Be alert for soliciting emails and social media users asking for private information.
- If you notice strange activity, (e.g. inappropriate pop-up windows), limit the damage by immediately changing all of your internet account passwords.
- Consider turning off the device. Take it to a professional to scan for potential viruses and fix. If you take your device to a store or local business, contact them in advance.
- Let work, school or other system owners know.
- Contact banks, credit card companies and other financial services companies where you hold accounts. You may need to place holds on accounts that have been attacked. Close any unauthorized credit or charge accounts. Report that someone may be using your identity.
- Check to make sure the software on all of your systems is up-to-date.
- Run a security scan on your computer/device to make sure your system is not infected or acting more slowly or inefficiently.
- If you find a problem, disconnect your device from the Internet and perform a full system restore.
Using alert systems is crucial to being informed before and during terrorist attacks, just as with any other disaster. Our alert systems page has resources for a number of alert options.
Local Terrorism Risks
History of terrorism in Tennessee
- Self-Radicalized Terrorism– July 2015
- Muhammad Youssef Abdul Azeez opened fired on two military installations in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The attack took the lives of four US Marines and one US Sailor, and resulted in the wounding of two additional Service Members and a police officer.
- Self-Radicalized Terrorism– September 2017
- Emanuel Kidega Samson opened fire at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Nashville, Tennessee. The attack took the life one woman and resulted in the wounding of 7 members of the congregation.
Population growth continues to change the face of Tennessee. Population growth necessarily raises the odds of incidents involving terror within the state as more diverse cultures interact with each other and the cultural landscape changes. In addition, the close proximity of Fort Campbell Army Post, along with various DOE assets could make Tennessee an attractive target area for domestic and foreign terrorists.
Terrorism is also driven by trends, technology, and information exchange. Terrorist propaganda and literature continues to play a role in educating terrorists in attack trends, tactics, technology, and procedures. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency expects that terrorists, both foreign and domestic, criminals, and foreign state actors to employ increasingly sophisticated methods of attack on both physical and virtual infrastructure, private companies, and government.
For More Info
- FEMA: Attacks in Public Places
- FEMA: Bioterrorism
- FEMA: Cybersecurity
- Red Cross: Terrorism
- Run, hide, fight video