Author Topic: STRATFOR: Residential Security  (Read 3214 times)

Offline swanson

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STRATFOR: Residential Security
« on: December 03, 2008, 09:37:15 PM »
More from the archives...

Here's a good place to start to review the physical security at your domicile.

swanson

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Residential Security: Assessing the Environment

STRATFOR TODAY » March 8, 2006 | 0024 GMT

Editor's Note: This is the first in a three-part series on residential security.

A common bond among people throughout the world, regardless of nationality or place of residence, is the need to feel safe in one's home and to protect the family members who dwell in it from criminal invasion and other threats. In some neighborhoods in the United States and elsewhere, security might mean simply locking the front door at night and turning on the porch light. In many other places, residential security can be much more complicated. In all cases, having a plan for residential security is of key importance.

Effective residential security planning starts from the outside and works in. This allows residents and security professionals to make informed choices, beginning with the selection of a residence location, and down to detailed decisions about guards, fences, locks and alarms. Both limitations on resources and aesthetic considerations call for a measured, informed approach to security countermeasures.

The first step, then, is to assess the general security environment of the region in which one lives, taking into account both the national and city-specific history of crime, terrorism and civil unrest -- and the current climate on all three. Residential security should be more robust in Beirut, Lebanon, for example, than in Oslo, Norway. The potential threat from natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and hurricanes also should be taken into account, as should the threat of martial law or government-imposed curfews that could leave residents isolated and, perhaps, without basic supplies and services. In such environments a good security plan will provide for self-sufficiency in case of infrastructure disruptions and imposed limitations on mobility.

The next steps are assessments of the specific security environment of the neighborhood and of the strengths and vulnerabilities of the residence itself. It also is vital to understand whether the inhabitants themselves are prime targets for crime or terrorism simply because of their nationality, job position or level of wealth. Western housing compounds in some countries can be particularly vulnerable to terrorist attack, for example, because of their symbolic value and the likelihood that a strike would cause a high number of casualties.

Similarly, the occupants of the home of a high-profile executive or government official might be more attractive to kidnappers or other criminals because of the wealth or status associated with the person's job. Entire neighborhoods, in fact, can be targeted by professional criminals because of their affluence. Of course, the number of valuables inside the home also increases the risk factor. A person with a multi-million-dollar art collection has a greater chance of being targeted by art thieves than someone without such a collection, for instance.

The effectiveness of local law enforcement and emergency response personnel also should be evaluated. If something goes wrong, what are the chances of getting help from them? Law enforcement that tends to respond ineffectively to petty crime often is opening the door to criminals of all kinds, including violent ones. If possible, a statistical history of crime in the neighborhood, usually available from local law enforcement, should be studied.

Questions to be answered include: Are violent or confrontational crimes prevalent, as opposed to petty theft? Are home invasions common? It should be borne in mind that in many areas (Mexico City, for example), serious crimes often go unreported, due to mistrust of the police and lack of public confidence in their competence. In such cases official government statistics are not to be trusted, and a deeper, perhaps more intuitive, study is required.

Whether one lives in an urban or rural setting is another consideration when determining to what degree the home must be secured and the kind of contingency plan to put in place. Recovering from a disaster, violent crime or militant attack could be more difficult in a remote area or a town with poorly developed facilities. With this in mind, an assessment of the area's infrastructure should be made, with attention paid to the availability and reliability of communications and electricity, as well as the quality of local medical facilities. The specific questions when considering this issue would include: Should the residence have backup generators in case of power loss? Is a secondary supply of food and drinking water needed? How far away is the nearest hospital? What are its standards of treatment and equipment?

Beyond the safeguards that might be needed for a particular dwelling, it also is important to know the risks associated with the geography of the immediate neighborhood. Some street layouts, for example, are attractive to criminals and potential attackers because they offer easy access to the neighborhood from outside or rapid escape routes after crimes have been committed. Some neighborhoods include features such as trees and bushes, vacant lots, or busy roads that help those engaged in hostile surveillance blend in. Local ordinances or covenants that restrict the erection or walls or the use of security measures such as window grates or certain lighting also can be a factor in determining the security of a neighborhood. In addition to examining the immediate vicinity, the surrounding areas also should be evaluated for their level of crime or other hostile activity, as these problems can easily spill over and become a direct security threat.

Once the broader security analysis is complete, residents can begin to create an informed plan to protect their home and its occupants.

Offline swanson

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Re: STRATFOR: Residential Security
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2008, 09:38:37 PM »
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Residential Security: The Five Rings of Protection

STRATFOR TODAY » March 9, 2006 | 0047 GMT

Editor's Note: This is the second in a three-part series on residential security.

The "outside-in" approach to developing an effective residential security plan involves a system of five concentric rings of protection. The outermost ring is off the property in the area surrounding the residence. The second ring usually is the residence property line, and the third is the outer perimeter and grounds. The fourth ring is the "hard line" -- the actual walls of the residence, and the final, innermost circle is the safe-haven, a place to shelter during an attack or intrusion.

Ideally, a professional security service that is trained in countersurveillance should provide the first ring of protection, by patrolling the neighborhood regularly. In U.S. neighborhoods, however, this function often is performed by police and neighborhood watch programs, both of which can be effective deterrents to crime. If dedicated security patrols are not available, residents should encourage local authorities to step up police patrols and develop a cooperative relationship with others in the vicinity. The area around the residence also should be well-lighted at night to discourage both surveillance and criminal activity.

The second ring starts with a clearly delineated property line, which is marked as private property and includes physical barriers such as fences or hedges to discourage casual or accidental intrusion. For this, aesthetic considerations should be taken into account. A high wall topped with razor wire, for example, might not fit in with many residential areas. If possible, the entire property line should be accessible to security personnel, including police, so that they can regularly inspect the entire perimeter to watch for signs of intrusion.

Depending on the size of the area contained by the property line and the available security personnel, the outer perimeter of the property -- the third ring -- can reach to the property line. For larger estates, however, fencing in the entire property might not be feasible, meaning the outer perimeter will be closer in to the residence. In general, it is better to establish an outer perimeter that can be adequately patrolled and protected by available security personnel than to try to cover too much area and have security spread thin. In any case, the outer perimeter should, at a minimum, provide a physical barrier to intrusion and shield the property from prying eyes such as paparazzi or hostile surveillance. The physical barrier along the outer perimeter can range from aesthetically pleasing privacy fencing or hedges in most cases, to electric fencing or massive concrete walls topped by razor wire.

If the security assessment has deemed it necessary, the outer perimeter also can be monitored by security personnel and/or the resident using closed-circuit television cameras. The perimeter should be well-lighted to discourage intruders and to provide enough light for the cameras to be effective. Where aesthetic concerns or local light-pollution ordinances must be considered, infrared lighting and infrared sensitive cameras can be used. Intrusion-detection equipment, such as pressure plates, buried radio frequency loops or motion-detector systems -- all connected to alarms -- also can be used.

Full lighting should be available on demand, in case of emergence, though suddenly flooding the grounds with light can be a double-edged sword: It can expose intruders, but also can reveal the location of residents and/or security personnel. Therefore, the circumstances and techniques for employing full lighting should be carefully considered, based on the situation.

The outer perimeter should be established far enough away from the residence to provide enough stand-off distance to mitigate the effects of explosives or to give security personnel a better chance of intercepting an intruder who is heading for the house. In extreme cases, in regions in which the overall threat is especially pronounced or the resident is assessed to be at extreme risk, the outer perimeter should be actively patrolled at all times by human security personnel. These can include armed or unarmed security guards, on foot or in patrol vehicles. Guard dogs can be employed in extreme situations, as they make excellent patrol and detection assets, especially with an armed handler.

In some cases, an upper-floor apartment in a well-secured building can be a wise choice for housing because such living provides a degree of anonymity, while access to the public is limited via the use of security cards or doormen. The quality of the building's security system and personnel, as well as the risk incurred by living in close proximity to the other residents, some of whom may be high-value-targets, however, must be taken into consideration. Apartment living also complicates fire/evacuation plans.

The dwelling's grounds, part of the third ring of security, also can be covered by closed-circuit TV or seismic detection devices, infrared cameras and motion detectors. Any system, however, should be linked to a single, integrated alarm set to alert both security personnel and residents to any intrusion.

Residents and security management should develop clear understandings with first responders, such as local police, as to the actions they will take should an intrusion occur beyond the outer perimeter. These procedures should be tested by both residents and security personnel, with response times carefully noted.

The "hard line," the walls, doors and windows of the residence itself, makes up the fourth ring. In practical and legal terms, this barrier can and should be protected according to the level deemed appropriate in the overall security assessment and, if necessary, defended with force. The hard line should have its own system of passive and active defenses. Passive defenses include robust construction, locks, landscape features and security procedures, while active defenses refer to alarms, detection systems and security personnel.

Special attention should be paid to the strength, quality and proper installation of doors and locks. Ideally, cipher locks with combinations that can be changed frequently should be used, as changing the combinations mitigates the threat of a former, possibly disgruntled, employee or staffer from having access to sensitive areas.

In cases in which a combination lock is not optimal, a good quality dead bolt also can be effective. Double-cylinder dead bolts should be used if the door is near any window. Both types of locks can be augmented by a simple slide bolt that goes into the floor. In all cases, locks should be professionally selected and installed by specialists. However, the best lock in the world, even when set in a sturdy metal door, can easily be kicked in if it is set in a cheap wood frame.

Special attention should be paid to windows, especially ground-floor windows. It goes without saying that locks on ordinary glass windows are useless, as shattering or removing a glass pane allows access to the residence. In extreme cases, then, ground-floor windows should be barred, as should any higher window that can be reached if the intruder climbs onto a wall or tree. Of course, emergency releases should be installed on an adequate number of the window bars to allow for escape in case of fire.

Wherever possible, landscaping features such as hedges should be kept away from hard-line walls, windows and doors, as they can conceal an intruder. Another passive defense is having the entire hard line flooded with light, infrared if necessary. In addition, any outside roof access ladders should be enclosed by cages and locked.

Active defenses along the hard line should consist of redundant intrusion-detection systems and individual alarms that are connected to the overall alarm system, but that function if the main system fails. The system should be backed up with battery power in case electric power is lost or disconnected. A cell phone backup also should be at hand at all times, in case the phone lines go down or are cut. In addition, door and window alarms plus systems that detect motion or glass breakage can be installed inside the residence if the broader assessment demands their use.

"Panic alarms," those that can alert the entire household and even local police to an intrusion, also should be discreetly placed in several strategic locations around the residence. And an intrusion beyond the hard line must always be treated as an extreme emergency until security responders can clear the residence. This requires that security respond immediately and aggressively to an intrusion and that the residents retire immediately to the final ring of protection -- the safe-haven.

It is important to note that a security plan should be commensurate with the overall threat assessment for the residence. In other words, while the five rings of protection are standard for every dwelling, the degree to which they are reinforced can fluctuate. What works to prevent criminal intrusion may not be sufficient to defend against militant attackers armed with heavy weapons or explosives. Also, some individuals, based on their status or what they symbolize, are at greater risk than others and require fuller security. With this in mind, a measured response to the assessed threats should be applied.

Offline swanson

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Re: STRATFOR: Residential Security
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2008, 09:40:13 PM »
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Residential Security: Safe-Havens, Fire Plans and Emergency Drills


STRATFOR TODAY » March 9, 2006 | 2216 GMT

Editor's Note: This is the third in a three-part series on residential security.

Of the five rings of protection in residential security, the innermost ring is the safe-haven, or "panic room." It is the place to which residents can retreat if a potentially violent intruder successfully penetrates the outer security rings and gains entry into the residence.

Safe-havens are small, windowless rooms such as sufficiently sized and unobstructed closets or purpose-built rooms designed and installed by professionals. In most cases, using these rooms is preferable to attempting to run from the residence in the event of a break-in, as running could expose the residents to the intruders.

Not all residential security plans require a safe-haven, although if the decision to create or install one is part of the broader security assessment, it should become an integral part of the plan. Every home, however, should have a fire/evacuation plan.

The safe-haven should be centrally located on the sleeping floor, the part of the residence where bedrooms are located. If there is more than one sleeping floor or area, each one should have its own safe-haven. The pathways from the sleeping quarters to the safe-haven should be easy to maneuver and free from obstructions -- and they must not cross the paths likely to be used by the intruders.

Safe-havens usually are rated based on the time it would take an intruder equipped with hand tools such as sledge hammers and crowbars to break into them. Thus there are 10-minute safe-havens, two-hour safe-havens, etc. This rating is reflected in the design and materials used in constructing the haven. The level of protection required should be based on the overall security assessment, and as a rule should at minimum protect residents for twice the known and tested average response time of security responders. In its design phase, attention should also be given to the safe-haven's air supply.

The safe-haven also can be equipped with a firearm for defense, although the decision to maintain firearms for self-defense in the home is personal and specific to each family, and depends on the capabilities of family members who might use them. In the hands of a well-trained person who has the will -- not everyone does -- to use deadly force in an emergency, a firearm can be an effective deterrent to violent intruders. Whatever the decision, firearms must be well maintained mechanically, able to be deployed quickly under high-stress conditions and carefully secured inside the safe-haven. A firearm in the hands of an untrained person is more dangerous to him or her than it is to the attacker.

As part of their attack, intruders could cut telephone and power lines. Thus, it is best to have two communication options in the safe-haven in case one system is unavailable or nonfunctioning. A regular hard-line phone supplemented by a combination cell phone/radio on a battery charger would work in this case. A panic alarm whose signal is different from those of other alarms in the house also should be part of the safe-haven's equipment, in order to let first responders and security personnel know that the family has gone to the safe-haven. A stand-alone backup power source is advisable in case the primary power source is cut.

The safe-haven should also be stocked with materials and supplies that the residents might need during an assault and subsequent siege. This includes first-aid supplies as well as medications residents might need immediately. In specific cases, the safe-haven might include an inhaler for an asthma sufferer, a defibrillator for an elderly family member or insulin and sugar sources for diabetics. Auxiliary light sources such as flashlights or battery-powered lanterns will be needed if all sources of power have been interrupted. In addition, drinking water, an emergency food supply such as energy bars, and provision for toilet functions should be included in the event of a prolonged siege.

Like any security precautions, a safe-haven is useless without a plan, and a plan is useless unless it is practiced. A typical plan might go as follows: When an unauthorized intrusion is detected, family members move immediately toward the safe-haven. As they move, the nearest available panic alarm is activated. Once the family goes into the safe-haven and secures the door, the safe-haven's alarm is activated. Then a head count is taken to ensure that everyone in the household is present. In the case of separate safe-havens, the head count can be completed by phone.

During the emergency, a line of communication is established with security personnel and first responders who are briefed on the situation. It is essential that this line be kept open. The family stays inside the safe-haven until the all-clear is given by security responders. This plan should be practiced by all family members in conjunction with security personnel, if employed. Each member should know the plan and their part in it so they will know what to do in the event of an emergency.

Because fire or other environmental dangers, such as gas leaks, smoke and dangerous fumes, are far more common than invasion by hostile intruders, a fire/evacuation plan should be included in every residential security plan. It is advisable to cooperate with firefighting professionals in formulating fire/evacuation plans.

In many cases, experts from the local fire company are available to provide on-site advice and surveys, and some have formal training programs established, as do some home insurance carriers. In the United States, a good fire plan will at minimum adhere to standards established by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), which provides codes for fire detection equipment. In homes with valuable art collections, some insurance carriers may impose requirements over and above those of the NFPA.

A good fire plan includes frequent, regular maintenance of detection equipment and fire extinguishers, and all adult family members should be trained in the use of extinguishers. Because kitchen fires are perhaps more common than any other kind in modern houses, consider equipping kitchens with automatic extinguishing systems employing Argonite or FM-200. If the residence contains any appliance that could produce carbon monoxide (CO), CO detectors should be installed. Obviously, these fire and smoke alarm systems should have audible tones that are easily distinguishable from intrusion alarms. Heat detectors are available for areas in the home where smoke detectors might produce false alarms.

In general, the best plan in case of fire is to evacuate the premises and leave fighting it to the professionals. A family fire plan should, at a minimum, include several evacuation options, and a single "rally point" well away from the building, where a head count can be conducted. When formulating the evacuation plan, provision must be made for family members who have mobility problems. One or two commercially available folding escape ladders can be kept on the upper floors within easy reach of established escape routes, such as windows or balconies, in order to facilitate escape. In addition, every family member should have a commercially available smoke hood stored in or near his or her sleeping quarters.

The fire plan, like the security plan, must be practiced by residents and any security personnel employed. Each family member should know where to go and what to do in case of a fire. In particular, because of the physical considerations involved, the use of ladders and smoke hoods must be practiced.

When formulating an emergency action plan, it should be kept in mind that the more complex a plan is, the more likely it will fail. Plans must be simple, not only because children often must participate, but because sudden stress impairs memory and thought processes for people of all ages.

Offline Tycoon

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Re: STRATFOR: Residential Security
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2008, 08:55:50 AM »
Great post Swan, I dig it.

Offline swanson

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Re: STRATFOR: Residential Security
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2008, 09:06:25 AM »
Tycoon,

Thanks for the reply.

I've posted a ton of security related stuff, and have been wondering if it's been of value to the folks on the forum.

Regards,

swanson

Offline Tycoon

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Re: STRATFOR: Residential Security
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2008, 09:42:15 AM »
Tycoon,

Thanks for the reply.

I've posted a ton of security related stuff, and have been wondering if it's been of value to the folks on the forum.

Regards,

swanson


Your deffinitely a wealth of info and have a skill that enables you to find quality info and resources if you don't have the answer. Not to mention you package it very well. Keep it up!, I not only read most of your posts but find useful info in many that I may implement or add to my everyday knowledge and survival briefcase. This is personally why I am on this site.