As a physical security professional, your job is to protect your facility from threats and dangers. The problem is, you cannot effectively protect your facility when all you are seeing is what is in front of you. It helps to have another set of eyes filtering information in the virtual world where social sentiment can impact your situational awareness. To protect your facility in this day and age, the convergence of online threat analysis and facility protection is necessary.
Situational Awareness Defined
During my police career, situational awareness was key to the success of surviving all types of events. This was especially important during undercover operations. We would start by analyzing all of the known factors we could access, such as source information, past criminal activity, physical and technical surveillance. From that information, we would formulate an action plan based on the analysis, and how our proposed action would impact our overall objective. After the operation, we conducted a post-action review to understand the current state of the case and what our next moves would be. To be successful, we continually evaluated our chess piece moves to keep our case moving forward in the right direction.
What does situational awareness have to do with facility protection? Facility protection involves protecting physical spaces. This is traditionally accomplished by controlling access and monitoring the physical space for threats. Security personnel observe people, and their behaviors, to inform what actions need to be taken at any given moment. The responses tend to be more reactive than proactive because you must rely on what you see to dictate what to do.
Why You Need Digital Intelligence
The world as we know it, however, is more than just what we see with our two eyes in our physical world. There is an ever-expanding world of conversations and information taking place in the virtual world. That virtual world is being used by people to generate threats to physical spaces. If security professionals cannot access this intelligence, it cannot be used to enhance their situational awareness.
Let’s use the example of a security team at the mall whose situational awareness was affected by what they were seeing in front of them. Could their ability to control the outcome been altered by using cyber threat intelligence gathering? Undoubtedly. Let’s explore.
Not too long ago, an incident took place at a shopping center in the downtown core of Toronto. Several popular social media influencers organized an impromptu meet and greet with their fans. When they posted their intention to their followers, this resulted in hundreds of people descending on the mall during an already busy holiday shopping season. It was immediately clear that the size of the crowd would overwhelm the security team’s control of the situation. The mall requested that local police help with dispersing the gathering. Luckily, there were no reported injuries.
Now, let’s analyze how the outcome may have been different if the security team had the Media Sonar platform on their side. Having the ability to deliver insights from social networking platforms, then filtering for relevant content by using keyword groups, potential dangers may have been identified.
Several things could have taken place if that intelligence had been available. A few things immediately come to mind:
- The security team could have contacted the influencers once they caught wind of it. That conversation could have either prevented the gathering or allowed for more secure containment.
- The mall management could have made it a PR success by allowing the influencers to host the event, all the while promoting the mall and retail shops.
Either approach would have given the security team the upper hand, along with the time to deploy the necessary resources.
When an event has passed, a post-action review should be conducted to identify the weaknesses and strengths of the strategies and tactics employed. A portion of that conversation should include digital threat intelligence and how to apply that information to build out policies and action plans for the future as social media, and social media influencers use public spaces to create content for their fans.
So if you are in the business of protecting facilities, why restrict yourself to traditional ways of preserving safety and security? Technology has advanced and the practice of protecting a facility should follow suit. There is a lot of value in knowing what people are saying about the facility for which you have a duty of care. Online conversations can directly affect your operations, or worse yet, your brand reputation. By identifying this information before, during and after, will enhance how you protect your facility.
Using Media Sonar, which gives you the ability to analyze vast amounts of data on the Surface, Deep and Dark areas of the web will enhance your security team’s ability to protect the facilities they’re charged with.
About The Author
Nick Ibbott, Media Sonar Brand Ambassador
With 30 years of police experience in the criminal investigative theatre of operations, Nick Ibbott has extensive expertise planning, coordinating and executing complex investigative projects to achieve the core functions of an investigator. Nick was trained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (R.C.M.P.), the Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario (C.I.S.O.) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) to prevent and investigate cybercrimes and on open-source intelligence (OSINT) investigations. In addition to serving as a brand ambassador for Media Sonar, Nick currently provides foundational training through his organization, L.E.A.D.S. Solutions Inc, on Digital Investigations and Cyber Security for Law Enforcement and Investigative Agencies.