Author Topic: STRATFOR: Self-Protection: Assessing Threats and Vulnerabilities  (Read 2490 times)

Offline swanson

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STRATFOR: Self-Protection: Assessing Threats and Vulnerabilities
« on: December 03, 2008, 09:26:24 PM »
Perusing the archives at stratfor, I found the following gems that certainly have a place on this forum...

swanson

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Self-Protection: Assessing Threats and Vulnerabilities

STRATFOR TODAY » May 31, 2006 | 2000 GMT

Editor's Note: This is the first analysis in a three-part series on self-protection.

Personal security services are thriving in the post-Sept. 11 world as more and more top executives seek out expert protection. The fact remains, however, that many executives -- including those whose work location or professional status would seem to warrant them protection -- either prefer not to employ security details or are not afforded them by their employers. With some professional help and a fair amount of work, however, it is possible to create a self-protection system that will greatly enhance one's safety and that of one's family.

Professional security details range from a trained, perhaps armed, driver to full-blown, Secret Service- or Diplomatic Security Service-style arrangements involving numbers of agents, armored cars, a communications system and perhaps other high-tech equipment. A few of the more sophisticated corporate executive protection teams operate "black," blending into the background and relying on keen observation and surprise, versus an overwhelming show of force.

Many executives, however, tend to view some types of protective operations as potentially bad for business, fraught with potential liability exposure and not in keeping with the corporate image they wish to project to the world at large. Those whose only exposure to protective details is to have witnessed the antics of some details operating in the entertainment business also might find the idea of being surrounded by such protectors personally distasteful.

Having a protective detail can have consequences for one's personal life as well. Privacy and spontaneity are inevitably lost when one is surrounded by people who legitimately need advance knowledge of one's every move. A well-known executive once told a host who asked him to stay on at a party: "I'd love to, but the truth is, if I stay late there are 10 people outside who have to stay late with me."

Moreover, the decision to hire protection implies acceptance of the existence of danger, a tough psychological hurdle for many people to overcome -- at least, until something sinister happens.

For all these reasons, many key executives continue to say "no" to protection, regardless of advice and indications to the contrary.

Equally bereft of professional protection are midlevel corporate employees, many of whom are serving lengthy tours as expatriate executives in foreign cities. The economic realities of globalization mean some of those cities are the most crime-ridden in the world, including such places as Mexico City, Bogotá, Sao Paulo and Moscow. As a result, employees who in the United States would spend their lives under the radar of professional criminals are now prime targets for kidnapping, home invasion, burglary and carjacking. Corporations take responsibility for keeping their people safe in such environments, but full-time professional protection for every employee and family member is expensive. Few expatriate executives, therefore, can be afforded it, absent a specific threat.

In the United States and elsewhere, midlevel managers of banks and other cash repositories are also potential targets for extortion/robbery operations. The $43 million Securitas heist in the English county of Kent in February is a case in point. In that heist -- only the latest of many, historically -- a gang stopped a Securitas manager as he was driving and forced him to provide access to the money. The facts suggest the gang engaged in careful investigation and long-term surveillance of its target. Though the threat against such victims is high, they typically are afforded neither protection nor in-depth training.

For all of these types of executives and for all of these reasons, a viable alternative is self-protection. An effective plan will include most of the same elements that a professional security manager would employ, with the exception that the necessary training and actual practice must be undertaken by the principal. The four elements of a self-protection plan are: assessment, analysis and planning, training, and practice and drilling.

The first step on the road to devising a personal protection system is making a realistic baseline assessment of threats and vulnerabilities. Although one can do this on his or her own, it is best done by professionals, and it should be updated annually or when circumstances warrant. Regardless of who does the assessment, it should start with general research of crime history and current statistics for the area, concentrating especially on the areas around the home and workplace, and the travel corridors between them. The potential for natural disasters, for civil unrest and riots and, in some cases, the likelihood of war should all be considered.

Following Stratfor's philosophy of assessing from the outside in, the next step should be to determine the specifics by studying the environment and performing certain analyses and diagnostics. Professionals should be consulted for some of this work:

In-depth cyber-stalking report: Few people have done Internet database searches on themselves, and even fewer have the skills to do an adequate job of it. They might be surprised to find how much "private" information is available free -- or for a few dollars -- to criminals who might be targeting them for kidnapping, extortion or other crimes. The study should also include family members. Children, for example, are sometimes profiled through their participation in sports or other activities that expose them to the public.

Baseline surveillance diagnostics: Surveillance diagnostics, a sophisticated blend of several surveillance-detection techniques, is performed by a professional team to determine whether the principal or his/her family is under programmatic hostile surveillance or criminal casing. It concentrates on the home, the school (if applicable), the workplace, any regular venues the principal predictably visits, and the routes between them. This is a "snapshot" to establish a baseline from which to plan, going forward.
Route analysis: Route analysis looks for vulnerabilities, or choke points, on the principal's regular travel routes. Choke points have two main characteristics: First, they are places where rapid forward motion is difficult, such as sharp blind curves. Second, they are places where hostiles can wait with impunity for their victims. The "best" choke points also offer rapid escape routes for attackers. Choke points are used both by highly professional kidnap/assassination teams, and by criminal "ambush predators" who wait for targets of opportunity. Route analysis is usually done at the same time and by the same team that conducts surveillance diagnostics.

Physical security surveys: These surveys are performed for the home, work place or school for the principal and family members. Although principals can effectively survey their homes, a professional look is highly recommended. Professionals also should handle any security upgrades that might need to be installed. For surveys and upgrades at workplaces and schools, obviously principals must rely on security resources at those venues.

Assessment of response capabilities: Also critical is a realistic assessment of the capabilities and responsiveness of local police, other security assets, and fire and medical first responders in the area. It is not sufficient to make assumptions about this; personal security depends critically on knowing whether and under what circumstances help is available, and when it is not.

Armed with a realistic assessment, complete with recommendations, the principal can begin to formulate a personal- and family-protection plan.

Offline swanson

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Re: STRATFOR: Self-Protection: Assessing Threats and Vulnerabilities
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2008, 09:29:34 PM »
If you have not considered it, STRATFOR is well worth joining price...

swanson

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Self-Protection: Analysis and Planning

STRATFOR TODAY » June 1, 2006 | 2129 GMT

Editor's Note: This is the second analysis in a three-part series on self-protection.

No one can be on red alert everywhere and at all times and still expect to live a satisfactory life. Even if one did live in a constant state of hypervigilance, it would be no guarantee of safety. This is true even of executives whose professional status and/or job location might put them in harm's way, but who either prefer to go without expert security protection or are not provided this service by their companies. By working with professionals to develop a self-protection system, these executives can assess possible threats and begin to determine when and where they must be most vigilant.

The first step on the road to devising a personal protection system, therefore, is making a realistic baseline assessment of threats and vulnerabilities. Armed with this assessment, one can then make informed distinctions about how to prioritize the threats and vulnerabilities, and what kinds of actions are appropriate to each. A comprehensive -- but simple -- security plan can then be crafted.

Personal security does not involve living on red alert, but making the appropriate distinctions and leveraging the percentages in one's favor. For example, a principal who lives a normal suburban American life, but happens to be the manager of a large cash repository in an industrial park, should prioritize planning that accounts for long-term, sophisticated hostile surveillance by professional extortion kidnappers. A jeweler who routinely hand-delivers expensive items to clients might first think about the possibility of information compromises originating from his workplace. An expatriate in a crime-ridden Third World city might think primarily in terms of choke points along his and his family's routes, where predatory criminals could wait for attractive targets to ambush. A key executive with a high public profile might think first about venues and events that put him or her in direct, previously announced contact with the public.

For purposes of analysis and planning, then, it makes sense to divide the criminal threat into two rough categories: threats directed specifically against the targets because of who they are; and threats from ambush predators who wait for attractive targets to come to them. In the first case, privacy protection, surveillance awareness and physical security are called for. In the second, understanding route analysis and avoidance of choke points is necessary. Some cities unfortunately present both classes of threat to a high degree.

Making these distinctions in a pragmatic way can allow one to convert a general, often vague atmosphere of fear, into a manageable set of priorities and actions.

Whatever the analysis indicates, the plan should include active measures that allow one to sensibly raise and lower his or her level of security awareness as the circumstances warrant. This is the secret to living with security. For most people, this means knowing where one is relatively safe, and where one is not, and taking steps to create "safe areas" within which security awareness can be more relaxed. For most people, these are the home, the workplace, and if it applies, the school. In the latter case, parents must select schools based on their security measures as well as their academic qualities, and should stay active in monitoring the security environment through the school administration, parent-teacher association or other groups. For some executives, the threat of workplace violence also can be a concern. In such situations, extra measures are required to secure the environment. Physical security and access-control measures should be taken to establish these safe areas, measures that exceed the realistically perceived threat.

Outside established safe areas, principals should understand that they are most vulnerable to targeted crime when they are most predictable. For most people this means travel between home, work and school, though for many people the best advice, to vary routes and times, is not practical. This concept in fact is counterintuitive for most people: The very familiarity of their routine movements can create a sense of false security. Many people have had the experience of leaving the office at the end of the day and pulling into their driveways, unable to remember a single detail about the drive home. This tendency must be consciously eliminated from one's behavior.

In countries where kidnapping for ransom is an industry, the security of school buses often is overlooked. Many expatriate parents send their children to high-end private schools, most of which provide busing for a fee. Despite the convenience, parents should recognize that a busload of children traveling to and from a school known to serve the children of wealthy, prominent parents may present a tempting target to kidnappers. Moreover, school buses are uniquely predictable, both as to times and routes. School buses are seldom protected.

Having established safe areas and worked out safe travel procedures and routes, principals should add some final refinements to the security plan:

Privacy plan: Principals should understand that most targeted, professional crime follows this progression: target selection, target investigation, target surveillance and then attack. The first two stages -- target selection and investigation -- require first of all that information about the targets be available. The cyber stalker report will help reveal the degree of transparency principals' lives present to outsiders. Although some of this information is already "out there" and cannot be erased, some things can be done. Delisting phone numbers; removing personal information from cars and buildings; restricting the circumstances under which one -- and especially one's children -- are photographed; and re-registering homes, cars, boats and personal aircraft under innocuous shell corporations should be considered. Principals should use crosscut shredders to destroy papers that would otherwise be available to "dumpster divers." Finally, household staff must be vetted for criminal records and for credit/financial problems.

Some executives also require psychological evaluation of personal staff. Principals also should maintain an active interest in the personal lives of staff, especially those who live in the home. Some kidnapping operations begin with criminals seeking a personal relationship with a live-in maid or nanny. Principals also should consider avoiding ostentation in their personal lives. Owning the largest estate in a community or the only customized red Ferarri with vanity plates in town raises one's profile.

Communications: Principals should ensure redundant communications systems for themselves and family members. Push-to-talk cell phone/radio combinations with text messaging work very well in many countries, and should be considered. Communication capability does not help, however, if one does not know whom to call. In most developed countries, there is some version of the 911 system.

In areas where police response and capabilities are not to be trusted, employees and their families may have access to the employer's security control center, which can call out a protective response. If family members are scattered (kids at school, wife at her workplace, husband at his), families should have a preset plan for who calls whom to alert them and ascertain their safety. In some cases, families should have a simple code for communication under duress. This is an easily remembered word or phrase known by all family members that will discreetly signal that one is under duress. For children, "kid phones" traceable via Global Positioning System will soon be available.

Fire and home evacuation: Not all threats are criminal. Principals should have an established plan for evacuating the home and ensuring that all family members are safe.
Area evacuation: In regions threatened by war, major civil unrest or possible natural disaster, leaving the area during a crisis could be the safest course of action. Principals should have a preset plan in place for accomplishing this successfully.

Drilling: Emergency plans, even simple ones, cannot be expected to work unless they are practiced periodically. This is not only true in cases involving children. Under sudden stress, people of all ages can experience diminished thought and decision-making processes.

Once the security plan is in place, the principal and his or her family can begin the process of learning the skills to become mentally and physically prepared to successfully handle a threat. This step, training, is the most challenging.

Offline swanson

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Re: STRATFOR: Self-Protection: Assessing Threats and Vulnerabilities
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2008, 09:31:03 PM »
Self-Protection: Acquiring -- and Practicing -- the Necessary Skills

STRATFOR TODAY » June 2, 2006 | 2112 GMT

Editor's Note: This is the third analysis in a three-part series on self-protection.

Security professionals spend years acquiring and fine-tuning the skills they need to protect their charges. For various reasons, however, an executive might live and work without the benefit of a security detail. In that case, developing and practicing a self-protection plan is a viable option. After the first two phases of the plan -- assessment of risks, and analysis and planning -- are completed, the principal and his/her family can proceed with acquiring professional training in the skills their assessment and security plans indicate. This is where most of the work comes in. This training might include some or all of the following:

Escape/evasion driving: Because these skills cannot legally be practiced on the public streets, this training must be done at a track, by experienced teachers. It should emphasize rapid forward motion as the single factor most conductive to survival in an attack. This training also should affect one's choice of vehicles in daily life: In some situations, an armored vehicle is indicated; in others, speed and maneuverability should be emphasized.

Emergency medicine: This should account for any medical issues family members may have, together with more general knowledge. "Wilderness" medical training -- that practiced by guides and ski patrols -- is a good choice because it emphasizes the treatment of injuries, and because it assumes a longer professional response time than some other types. Related to this, trauma and first aid kits should be maintained and kept up-to-date, especially by those living on remote properties or large estates. The kit would contain any special emergency medications family members might need.

Surveillance-detection: This training should include surveillance awareness, simple surveillance detection techniques, and knowledge of the nearest safe havens along one's regular routes. Ideally, the principal will develop awareness of how to quickly get to the nearest police station and hospital anywhere in his/her usual area of operations. Surveillance detection is an esoteric set of skills, but it is most often taught to people who must operate without alerting hostile "watchers." Surveillance detection for personal security can be much more "provocative," so the learning curve for this aspect of the skill set is much shorter.

Self-defense: The goal is to escape, not to fight, attackers. The correct approach to self-defense training should include a great deal of learning about confrontational situations and how to see them coming and avoid them, or survive them when confrontation is unavoidable (as when an attacker stands between one and the only escape route). Coupled with this knowledge should be a few simple physical techniques that can disable an attacker long enough (usually a few seconds) for one to get away. Because escape is the goal, however, it is a good idea to create a safe haven, or so-called "panic room," inside the residence.

Superior area knowledge: This is less a matter of training than familiarization. It must be self-taught, and it takes time. But outside established safe havens, a thorough knowledge of the areas in which one operates, together with awareness of available safe havens and hospitals and the fastest route to them, can give principals a distinct advantage over criminals who could be in the area only for their operations and do not truly know their way around.

Training for children: Many schools and police departments offer excellent "kid safety" training programs for children. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, at www.missingkids.com, is an excellent resource for finding training of this type, both for parents and children. Parents might also consider providing their children with phones that have Global Positioning System capabilities.

To arm or not to arm: The use of firearms, pepper spray and other weapons in a reactive situation requires professional training and constant practice. Most of all, the weapon must be in one's hand and in working order at the moment of attack. By their nature, however, attacks are rare surprises, especially for someone who has put a great deal of effort into learning how to avoid confrontational situations in the first place. Although a shotgun, when maintained and used properly, can be an excellent home-defense weapon, the use of weapons in a life-threatening situation should be considered a "third tier" tool. Attack recognition and avoidance is of most importance, followed by the use of tools that are always available at a split second's notice: One's hands. Weapons come last, if at all.

Finally, many of these skills have a very short shelf life unless they are practiced regularly. Likewise, emergency plans, even those that may be well-developed, will be of little help during the mental and physical chaos of a life-threatening situation if they are not regularly drilled.

Executives under threat -- perhaps even those who have professional security details -- can greatly enhance their safety by following the basic principles: Developing a realistic understanding of the threat they and their families face; devising a plan that is responsive to the understood threat; and getting the skills necessary to implement the plan effectively. Professional help is necessary in getting things started, but going forward, safety and security can be quite effectively self-managed, except in the most extreme circumstances.