SOTERIA: A Better Way to Conduct Vulnerability Assessments

Uncategorized May 26, 2020

A Better Way to Conduct Security Vulnerability Assessments

 Why is it that progress comes quickly in some areas of our lives and slowly in others?  Consider for a moment that we lived for decades with household items that did not evolve much and were simply viewed as utilitarian goods.  Think vacuum cleaners, thermostats, hairdryers, and coffee makers.  These were all mundane appliances, which could be found in any middle-class home across America since the 1950s.  Yet, these very same items have recently been reinvented and rebranded as luxury accessories (dare we say status symbols) that are priced several times more than their predecessor models.  Have we reached a tipping point where any product, especially those considered no-frills (even drab) can be “sexed up” and re-packaged as the exclusive must-have gift of the year?  The days of the $900 vacuum cleaner are upon us. And, while product evolution is pricey, it is also widely...

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Transit Systems - Logical Soft Targets

Uncategorized May 26, 2020

Transit systems are among the most vulnerable and visible targets in modern cities. Metros represent a lifeline in urban economy and are often symbols of a city’s vitality and identity. The London Underground is recognized all over the world, its images, logos and maps can be found throughout pop culture, on T-shirts seen in Los Angeles or Nigeria.  The New York City subway is likewise an emblem of the city’s place in the media. Yet, such systems also epitomize the concept of a soft target. A soft target can be defined as a critical asset that is highly vulnerable to (mostly terrorist) attack, often leading to the loss of life in order to emphasize/justify a political or ideological point of view.  Terrorists, gangs, vandals and other criminals have all been drawn to metro systems the world over. In the last decades, some of the highest-profile incidents of terror have taken place on transit lines, a trend that does not show indications of slowing.  

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Criminal Planning Cycle and Victim Selection Process

Uncategorized May 26, 2020

Criminal activity normally follows a predictable planning pattern as 90% of victim’s recall noticing suspicious activity prior to the crime. Understanding how criminals choose their targets, plan and deploy can assist bank executives in preventing a kidnapping for ransom or extortion situation before it begins. 

The first step is target selection; criminals typically select individuals who are vulnerable and unaware of their surroundings. These victims unknowingly display non-verbal cues and behavioral signals labeling themselves as oblivious to their surroundings. Indicators of a preferred victim include abnormal walking stride (dragging feet), slow walking rate, awkwardness of body movements, posture and even gaze.

Victim Selection Process

Prior to criminals conducting surveillance, they first select a target. Numerous studies and research has been conducted to understand how kidnappers, serial killers, rapists and other criminals select their victims. Besides the...

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The Role of Pre-Operational Surveillance in Terrorist Attack Planning

Uncategorized May 26, 2020

by Luke Bencie and Leo West

It should come as no surprise that the aspect of the terrorist attack planning cycle in which the terrorist is most easily detected, is that during the pre-operational surveillance of intended targets.  This “exposed” phase has been the downfall of many would-be terrorists and is usually credited as a key indicator of potential threats. It has also proven significant in post-attack investigations, where surveillance video has helped piece together the evolution of plots for use in assisting with future mitigation strategies.  

However, government officials are often reminded that the investigations of 9/11, the 2005 London Underground bombings, as well as of the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai (just to name a few) all reported instances of “casing” prior to the event.  A good example is that of Ramzi Yousef who visited the World Trade Center (WTC) several times prior to his delivering the bomb to the...

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Protecting the Power Grid: Utilizing the CARVER Target Analysis and Vulnerability Assessment Methodology to Comply with NERC CIP-014 Regulations

Uncategorized May 26, 2020

By Leo Labaj and Bruce Barnes

As a nation, the United States has become addicted to the steady and dependable delivery of electrical power.  Without electricity the world, as we know it, would cease to function (imagine no lights, television, cell phones, computers etc.).   The US Power Grid is enormously complex and consists of over 11,000 generation facilities, in excess of 200,000 miles of high voltage transmission lines, and thousands of substations.  As such, the energy sector is considered the most critical of critical infrastructure and is arguably the backbone of our modern society, due to critical dependencies and interdependencies with other utility sectors.  

With today’s heightened risk of terrorist attacks, threats to the energy sector have been increasing, and it is only a matter of time before a major attack is conducted directly against an electric utility or indirectly against the community it serves.  For those malicious...

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The White Elephant - Chemical Facilities as Soft Targets of Attack

Uncategorized Jan 27, 2020

By Luke Bencie

Chemical facilities are soft targets of attack.  According to the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS), every facility must engage and implement a comprehensive physical protection program. The decision to implement a physical protection program at a chemical facility, regardless of the elements employed, is made out of the realization that there is a threat, which must be controlled. The design of a physical protection system must first consider the range of events potentially confronting the site or asset to be protected then consider what the consequences of loss or compromise would be and what it might take to deter and prevent such acts from occurring. Once installed and operational, the system must be constantly reviewed to determine if changing threats impact the system now in place.  

What initially follows is an executive overview from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Guidelines for Analyzing and Managing the Security...

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A 6-Part Tool for Ranking and Assessing and Risks

Uncategorized Jan 27, 2020

One of the most overused expressions thrown around by wannabe “Wall Street Rambos” is business is war. But sometimes war tactics really can help in business. 

Among these tactics is CARVER, a system for assessing and ranking threats and opportunities. Developed during World War II, CARVER (then one letter shorter and known as CARVE) was originally used by analysts to determine where bomber pilots could most effectively drop their munitions on enemy targets. It can be both offensive and defensive, meaning it can be used for identifying your competitors’ weaknesses and for internal auditing. In addition, many security experts consider it the definitive assessment tool for protecting critical assets. In fact, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has recommended it as a preferred assessment methodology. (One of us, Luke, is so enthusiastic about CARVER that he cowrote a book on it.)

More recently, CARVER has converted a new community of believers in the...

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