Facility Security Threats – What’s in Your Crystal Ball?

What types of threats are we facing?

Last week’s blog discussed threats as a key factor in our risk equation.  This week we’ll delve into the types of threats that challenge our facility security regime.

Over the course of many years, we’ve placed threats in various categories.  In our courses we highlight threats from terrorism, organized crime, lone criminal acts, cyber, civil unrest, and our ever-popular “random acts of stupidity.”  Recently we’ve added to these types of threats to now include complacency, communicable diseases, and natural disasters. 

Let’s look at a few of these threats…

Terrorism – On average, there are well over 100 terrorist attacks globally every month.  Recent domestic terror events clearly demonstrate that terrorists are entrenched in America.  Our history is rife with terrorists dating back to the Revolutionary War.  Today is no exception.  The terrorist will capitalize on our weaknesses and will be patient in planning the attack.  They’re not afraid to die, but they are afraid to fail.  Our awareness is crucial – detecting terrorist activity while the attack is in the planning stage is the most effective defense.  Your facility’s security posture can help deter a terrorist attack – become a hard target. 

The term "lone wolf" is used by U.S. law enforcement agencies and the media to refer to individuals undertaking violent acts of terrorism outside a command structure.  While the lone wolf acts to advance the ideological or philosophical beliefs of an extremist group, they act on their own, without any outside command or direction. The lone wolf's tactics and methods are conceived and directed solely on their own; in many cases, the lone wolf never has personal contact with the group they identify with.  As such, it is considerably more difficult for officials to gather intelligence on lone wolves, since they may not come into contact with routine counter-terrorist surveillance.

Organized Crime – Referred to as Transnational Organized Crime (TOC), the FBI cites that these groups are self-perpetuating associations of individuals who operate, wholly or in part, by illegal means and irrespective of geography.  They constantly seek to obtain power, influence, and monetary gains.  There is no single structure under which TOC groups function - they vary from hierarchies to clans, networks, and cells, and may evolve into other structures.  These groups are typically insular and protect their activities through corruption, violence, international commerce, complex communication mechanisms, and an organizational structure exploiting national boundaries.

With few exceptions, TOC groups’ primary goal is economic gain and they will employ an array of lawful and illicit schemes to generate profit.  Crimes such as drug trafficking, migrant smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, firearms trafficking, illegal gambling, extortion, counterfeit goods, wildlife and cultural property smuggling, and cyber crime are keystones within TOC enterprises.  Note that each of these crimes can have a maritime component.

Lone Criminal Act – This threat is contrasted with the lone wolf terrorist.  For example, a lone criminal could be an Active Shooter, who is defined as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.  Recently, the word ‘shooter’ is often dropped because a method of attack can be by any means.  The semantic distinction may seem trivial but it is critical to security.  For example, instead of Active Shooter, in Israel the term used is ‘sacrificial attack.’  Other examples of lone criminals include a saboteur, who destroys or damages something deliberately, or a thief, who steals property, especially by stealth and without using force or violence.  Remember, a lone criminal as a threat can have a broad application.

Cyber Attack – This is the threat that is most likely to occur.  There are all sorts of cyber attacks occurring in today’s world.  Wikipedia characterizes these attacks as follows: 

  • Indiscriminate attacks - These attacks are wide-ranging, global and do not seem to discriminate among governments and companies.
  • Destructive attacks - These attacks relate to inflicting damage on specific organizations.
  • Cyber warfare - These are politically motivated destructive attacks aimed at sabotage and espionage.
  • Government espionage - These attacks relate to stealing information from/about government organizations.
  • Corporate espionage - These attacks relate to stealing data from corporations related to proprietary methods or emerging products/services.
  • Stolen email addresses and login credentials - These attacks relate to stealing login information for specific web-based resources.
  • Stolen credit card and financial data, stolen medical-related data – Attacks that gain access to personal data, resulting in compromised finances and personal information.

Civil Unrest – America’s civil stability is increasingly threatened and the dangers are now bigger than the collective episodes of violence we’ve witnessed in recent years.  Much civil unrest is characterized as low-intensity conflicts with episodic violence in constantly moving locales.  The question is whether our facility could be one of those locales.  What relationship does your facility have with the community outside your fence line?  How does your public reputation impact your perceived threat of civil unrest activity either on or adjacent to your facility?

Next week we’ll wrap up our look at facility security threats…

Also, did you know? …

Registering for either the Seebald & Associates Facility Security Officer Course (4-6 June) or Facility Security Officer Refresher Course (5 June) will enable you to attend the 2018 Facility Security Symposium (6-8 June in New Orleans) for free!  Register now to participate!  And, if you register by April 2, 2018, you’ll receive a one-year subscription to the Seebald & Associates Platinum Membership, a $925 value!