In light of recent violent events occurring across America, more enterprises are asking customers in the U.S. not to enter their locations with firearms. CVS, Walgreens and Wegmans joined Walmart and Kroger in asking customers not to openly carry firearms.
Will this fix the problem? Unfortunately, probably not. In 2018, there were 488 violent deaths that took place in retail America, which was a 30% increase from 2016, as shown in Figure 1. Among these violent deaths, 84% of the victims were shot and 72% were innocent victims including both customers and employees.
Figure 1: Violent attacks are on the rise in retail America
The Internet’s Role in Violent Crimes
While some people may assume that violent criminals do not share their intentions of violence on the Internet, people are using online environments to share these intentions more frequently. Although not all violent incidents involve the Internet, some criminals believe that the anonymity that the Dark Web offers allows them to gain support from their online community without being identified.
The Christchurch Mosque shooting, the Poway Synagogue shooting, and the El Paso Texas Walmart shooting all had an online component. In all three cases, the violent acts were foreshadowed on extremist site 8chan.
In the case of the Christchurch Mosque shooting on March 15, the gunman shared his 74-page manifesto titled “The Great Replacement” shortly before the attack, as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: 8chan post of the shooter of the Christchurch Mosque shootings sharing his manifesto shortly before the attack.
Threat Intelligence is the Missing Piece
Companies need to have a strategy in place to proactively detect threats targeting their locations and surrounding areas to prevent violent acts from occurring. In addition, reactive measures can be incorporated to deal with the repercussions if the company does fall victim to violence. Threat intelligence is the missing piece to a more effective security strategy in today’s digital world.
Proactive Threat Intelligence
Threat Intelligence can be used to stay on top of threats and risks towards your people, location and important assets. In an ideal world, threat intelligence tools can be used to prevent acts of violence before they occur. With the increasing use of the Internet, some criminals are using online environments to share their intentions of violence and gain support from their online communities.
Deep & Dark Web Search
A number of criminals have used Deep & Dark Web forums to share their violent intentions before performing an act of violence. Needless to say, the Dark Web can be an unsafe and unpredictable place that requires additional safeguards. Having the ability to safely and anonymously search the Dark Web will help your security team detect violent threats, while both your systems and staff remain safe during the process.
Considering 51% of violent retail deaths in 2018 occurred in the parking lot, it is integral to monitor both the inside and outside of the building, as well as the surrounding areas. Location-focused searches equip security teams with the ability to monitor threats in specific locations. This process plays on the assumption that sources will indicate where threats and violent attacks are occurring and stems away from traditional geofencing techniques that rely on location-enabled devices and inaccurate location detection. For example, creating custom alerts for nearby landmarks, high traffic intersections and surrounding areas of your location of interest will help your security team to be quickly notified when there are threats in the area.
Reactive Threat Intelligence
It is important that organizations have a contingency plan in place for when things go wrong. If proactive measures are not successful at detecting violent threats, reactive measures can aid your security team in determining who is behind the violent crime, what events lead up to the attack, and the repercussions that occur after an attack
Oftentimes there are a lot of moving pieces to an act of violence. Whether it involves a number of suspects or a lengthy planning process, there are usually different pieces of the puzzle that need to be put together. Threat intelligence that allows for security professionals to create investigation maps will equip your team with the tools to follow a trail of evidence. Having the ability to connect different pieces of evidence to tell a story is integral to ensuring no information gets lost. Investigation mapping tools, such as Media Sonar’s recently released Pathfinder shown in Figure 3, will help your security team see the whole picture and prevent evidence from falling through the cracks.
Figure 3: Media Sonar Pathfinder tool displaying an investigation map
After an organization experiences a violent attack, customer relationships can be fragile. Take the Las Vegas strip shooting for example. On October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire on a concert from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, killing 58 concertgoers and injuring 851 more. After the fact, the hotel suffered a $16.3 million revenue loss and a 6% occupancy loss in the first quarter of 2018. Having the ability to monitor online sentiment towards your brand after an attack occurs gives companies the opportunity to rebuild their brand reputation and prevent the loss of loyalty, sales, and even recruitment.
Better Threat Intelligence with Media Sonar
Media Sonar’s threat detection and intelligence software can help corporations proactively and reactively manage acts of violence. With safe access to the Dark Web, location-focused filtering capabilities, and investigation mapping tools such as Pathfinder, companies can implement a more effective strategy to protect the assets that matter most.
Book a demo to learn more about how Media Sonar risk detection and threat intelligence software can help you investigate acts of violence.