Jurisdictional Challenges in the 21st Century Security Environment


subnational strategy
design-basis threat
national security
critical infrastructure
foreign interference

How to Cite

McAuley, W. (2021). Jurisdictional Challenges in the 21st Century Security Environment: Subnational Design-Basis Threats. The Journal of Intelligence, Conflict, and Warfare, 4(1), 7–25. https://doi.org/10.21810/jicw.v4i1.2749


What security and intelligence strategies do subnational governments require to protect themselves and the social, cultural, economic, and safety interests of their citizens? Although subnational governments wield important levers in areas now inhabited by an expanding array of domestic and foreign threat actors, few have any coherent security and intelligence culture, architecture, or strategy. This paper seeks to address the conspicuous absence of discourse on contemporary subnational security challenges, suggesting that subnational security strategies are an inescapable requirement of the 21st century security environment. Given that the inception of any form of polycentric security strategy with an enabling architecture and culture is a complex undertaking, the utility of the design-basis threat concept is explored to provide a tangible starting point for evaluation of key drivers for analysis in the contemporary subnational security environment. A simplified framework for a provincial-level design-basis threat analysis is proposed as a gateway to deeper analysis. 

Received: 2021-03-10
Revised: 2021-04-07



Boyle, P., & Dafnos, T. (2019). Infrastructures of pacification: Vital points, critical infrastructure, and police power in Canada. Canadian Journal of Law and Society / La Revue Canadienne Droit et Société, 34(1), 79-98.

Canadian Chamber of Commerce. [Canadian Chamber of Commerce]. (2020, July 23). Foreign nterference and economic espionage threats against Canadian business [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKr1pPD03Q0&t=343s

Canadian Security Intelligence Service. (2020). CSIS public report 2019. https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/csis-scrs/documents/publications/PubRep-2019-E.pdf

Canadian Standards Association. (2017). CSA S850-12: Design and assessment of buildings subjected to blast loads. CSA America, Inc.

Cheney, C. (2019). China’s digital Silk Road: Strategic technological competiton and exporting political illiberalism (Issues & Insights Working Paper Vol. 19 WP8). Honolulu: Pacific Forum. https://pacforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/issuesinsights_Vol19-WP8FINAL.pdf

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. (2019). A guide to critical infrastructure security and resilience. https://www.cisa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Guide-Critical-Infrastructure-Security-Resilience-110819-508v2.pdf

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. (2020, December 14). CISA issues emergency directive to mitigate the compromise of Solarwinds Orion network management products. United States Government. https://www.cisa.gov/news/2020/12/13/cisa-issues-emergency-directive-mitigate-compromise-solarwinds-orion-network

Department of Homeland Security. (2010, September 10). Remarks as prepared by Secretary Napolitano to New York city first responders. https://www.dhs.gov/news/2010/09/10/remarks-prepared-secretary-napolitano-new-york-city-first-responders

Emergency Preparedness Canada. (1991). Vital points manual. https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/lbrr/archives/jl%2075%20v58%201991-eng.pdf

Geddes, R. R. (1988). Protecting category II vital points during time of war or serious civil crisis. Emergency Preparedness Canada. https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/lbrr/archives/jf%201525.c74%20g43%201988-eng.pdf

Ginter, A. (2018). The top 20 cyber attacks on industrial control systems. Waterfall Security Solutions LTD. https://www.fireeye.com/content/dam/fireeye-www/products/pdfs/wp-top-20-cyberattacks.pdf

Goldberg, C. (2020, August 18). The great 5G technology tussle highlights critical infrastructure shortcomings. The National Interest. https://nationalinterest.org/feature/great-5g-technology-tussle-highlights-critical-infrastructure-shortcomings-167129

Goldberg, C., & Lee, K. (2020, December 1). Retooling democratic good governance: The technologies of a more open future in Southeast Asia. Center for a New American Security. https://www.cnas.org/publications/commentary/retooling-democratic-good-governance

Government of Canada. (2020, August 26). Smart cities challenge. Infrastructure Canada. https://www.infrastructure.gc.ca/cities-villes/index-eng.html

Gray, C. (1971). The need for independent Canadian strategic thought. Canadian Defence Quarterly, 1(1), 6-12.

Hancock, T. (2015, September 2). Policies should focus on basic needs. Times Colonist. https://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/columnists/trevor-hancock-policies-should-focus-on-basic-needs-1.2047484

Held, D., McGrew, A., Goldblatt, D., & Perraton, J. (2003, Fall). Rethinking globalization. In D. Held, & A. McGrew (Eds.), The global transformation reader: An introduction to the globailization debate (2 ed.).

Hoaglund, J.R. (2015, April 1). Security effectiveness analysis (Report No. SAND2015-2580C). Sandia National Laboratories. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1248642

International Atomic Energy Agency. (2009). Implementing guide: Development, sse and maintenance of the design basis threat. Vienna: International Atomic Energy Agency.

International Standards Organization. (2017). ISO 22316:2017 Security and resilience – Organizational resilience – Principles and attributes. https://www.iso.org/standard/50053.html

Lee, K., Rasser, M., Fitt, J., & Goldberg, C. (2020, October 28). Digital entanglement: Lessonsl learned from China’s growing digital footprint in South Korea. Center for a New American Security. https://www.cnas.org/publications/reports/digital-entanglement

Maslow, A. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370–396.

Mazarr, M. J., Bauer, R., Casey, A., Heintz, S., & Matthews, L. J. (2019). The emerging risk of virtual societal warfare: Social manipulation in a changing information environment. RAND Corporation. https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2714.html

McAuley, W. (2017). Beyond delusions of grand strategy: A cetrifugal national security strategy for Canada. Unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary. doi:10.11575/PRISM/25114

McMillan LLP. (2015, December 5). Does Canada need a terrorism risk insurance scheme? https://mcmillan.ca/insights/does-canada-need-a-terrorism-risk-insurance-scheme-2/?print-posts=pdf

National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. (2020). Annual report 2019. https://www.nsicop-cpsnr.ca/reports/rp-2020-03-12-ar/annual_report_2019_public_en.pdf

Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness. (2003). Threat analysis: Threats to critical infrastructure (Report No.. TA03-001). Government of Canada. http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2017/sp-ps/PS48-11-2003-eng.pdf

Pherson, K., & Pherson, R. (2013). Critical thinking for strategic intelligence. Los Angeles: SAGE/CQPress.

Privy Council Office. (1970). Protection of vital points. Cabinet Conclusions 1970-12-23. https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/CollectionSearch/Pages/record.aspx?app=CabCon&IdNumber=829

Public Safety Canada. (2009). National strategy for critical infrastructure. https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/srtg-crtcl-nfrstrctr/srtg-crtcl-nfrstrctr-eng.pdf

Reeves, M., Levin, S., & Ueda, D. (2016, January-February). Biology of corporate survival: Natural ecosystems hold surprising lessons for business. Harvard Business Review, 46-55.

Rosenbach, E., & Mansted, K. (2018, October). Can democracy survive in the information age? Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. https://www.belfercenter.org/publication/can-democracy-survive-information-age

Rosenberger, L., & Gorman, L. (2020a). How democracies can win the information contest. The Washinhton Quarterly, 43(2), 75-96. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/0163660X.2020.1771045

Rosenberger, L., & Gorman, L. (2020b). Foreign interference is a strategy, not a tactic. Lawfare. https://www.lawfareblog.com/foreign-interference-strategy-not-tactic

Schwab, K. (2018, May 28). The fourth industrial revolution. In Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-Fourth-Industrial-Revolution-2119734

Taleb, N. (2007). The black swan: The impact of the highly improbable. Random House.

Terrorism risk insurance program; Updated regulations in light of the terrorism risk insurance program Reauthorization Act of 2019, and for other purposes, 85 F.R. 71588 (final rule November 10, 2020) (to be codified at 31 C.F.R. pt. 50). https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-11-10/pdf/2020-24522.pdf

United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. (2020). The China deep dive: A report on the intelligence community’s capabilities and competencies with respect to the people’s Republic of China. https://intelligence.house.gov/uploadedfiles/hpsci_china_deep_dive_redacted_summary_9.29.20.pdf

Van Creveld, M. (1991). Technology and war: From 2000 B.C. to the present. Toronto: Maxwell Macmillan Canada.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2021 William McAuley


Download data is not yet available.