Virtual Reality: a Friend and Foe in War on Terrorism

Home / Articles / External Non-Government


September 11, 2017 | Originally published by Date Line: September 11 on

As virtual reality technology becomes less expensive and delivers a more realistic, immersive experience, some national security experts warn that it is only a matter of time before terrorists use it for recruiting, training and plotting attacks. The virtual reality (VR) marketplace is exploding. Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Sony PlayStation VR, Google Cardboard, Microsoft HoloLens, One Plus and Jaunt are competing in a rapidly growing field. Greenlight Insights, a VR research firm, projects that the global market will reach $7.2 billion by year’s end and nearly $75 billion by 2021.

Terrorists could create a virtual building identical to one they wish to target and use it to plan and train to carry out an attack. “Even building models of things becomes pretty straightforward with some of the techniques. So, for example, as terrorists are trying to scout out and figure out how to conduct an attack, you can certainly see them wanting to use a virtual reality tool,” says Daniel Gerstein, senior policy researcher, the RAND Corporation, a global policy think tank.