Sunday, December 20, 2015

That's Like Closing the Barn Door After the Horses Get Away

How many times have we heard that?  Well, it happens all the time.  Just because you live in the country or away from city folks it doesn’t mean you can’t become a target of vandalism or theft or worse.  Here are some very common sense things you can do immediately to keep the horses safe and from loosing your britches, so to speak.

Check all gates and fence for damage.  If properly maintained they will keep animals in but the will not keep bad guys out.  You may have heard of the “broken window theory”.  Basically, it says in areas where there are rundown buildings, with broken windows crime is sure to follow.  Same goes for fences.  Fences that are not maintained suggest that security is not a very high priority and other areas of the farm, ranch and homestead are vulnerable, too.

Ensure ditches are maintained and clear of debris.  You need to do this for several reasons; 1) to make sure the ditches drain properly, 2) so that they don’t provide hiding places for the bad guys, or 3) allow the bad guys to drive through your fence.  A properly maintained ditch provides some protection.

Keep chemicals/fertilizer under strict control, especially, if being used in the field.  Do not leave outdoors overnight.  Bring the wagon back to the barn and secure it.  You’re going back that way anyway, so there’s really no extra effort.

Report unsolicited requests to buy fertilizers or chemicals from you to the authorities.

Control access to all buildings.  There are lots of electronic gadgets out there these days to assist in that area.  But they all basically fall into one of three categories, each being more secure and more expensive than the previous.  Something you have – like an access card, something you know – like a pin number, and something you are – like a retinal scan or fingerprint.  A system that has a combination of two of the three is preferable.  Make sure all buildings are protected.  Beside the animals, there are lots of items to steal.  Copper wiring, metal tubing, and lead seem to be high the thieves priority list these days.

Install visible deterrents, such as, motion activated lights and cameras.  Some systems allow for you to talk from the camera and warn the bad guy that they’re being watched.  Might be useful to "shoo" those high schoolers away who are "cow tipping" or "snipe hunting".

More common sense tips available or under the Technology Improvement Tab.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

8 Tips for Do-It-Yourself
Home and Small Business Security Alarm Systems

There are lots of alarm companies that will tell you, that you need their alarm system in order to monitor activity in and around your house or business.  They will sell you an “all-inclusive package” of X number of cameras and sensors.  The reality is, whatever X represents is in most cases not going to be enough the cover your entire building or home.  They make their money when they sell you additional equipment.  They include X but what you really need is X more to provide complete coverage. 

New alarm systems allow the homeowner/business owner to monitor activity via an IP connection.  So you can monitor your system from anywhere there’s an internet signal.  With that in mind, alarm companies now have the owner monitor the activity and notify them instead of the old way where they would monitor and notify the owner when sometime seemed amiss.  In either case, if the responding patrol car doesn’t get there within 10 minutes chances are very high that the perps will be gone and all you will have is evidence on film that they stole something.  Don’t be fooled by what you see played out by Hollywood and on TV shows – Fact: 98% of crime captured by video surveillance does not result in an apprehension.

Now that you’ve been warned, here’s the other side.  Nowadays, relatively inexpensive systems are available for do-it-yourselfers.  Eventhough surveillance cameras are an assessment tool they can provide some deterrence, if there’ visible and especially if there’s a warning sign in the yard or at the front entrance.  Actually, the sign is the deterrent not the cameras or sensors, but you get the idea.  Additionally, if properly placed, electronic security along with an appropriately equipped and trained response force can be effective.  Here are ten things you can do to make sure your alarm system benefits you and provides the protection you seek.

  • Place outside cameras so that they view avenues of approach and can detect people as they come up to the front door or entrance.
  • Placement of cameras internal to structures is a little trickier.  They have to be able to capture the entire room and high enough so that the bad guy can’t knock it down or spray paint the lens.  Discreetly placed “nanny cams” can help but it seems they are always pointing in the wrong direction or covered up by something.
  • Perform regular maintenance by cleaning the lenses and housings.  Nothing worse than getting burglarized and find out that your camera system captured Charlotte building her web.
  • Test the system regularly.  Find out from the monitoring company how often you’re allowed to test the system without a charge.  I would recommend, at least twice a year.  More often if necessary.  Find out the priority for response.  If you live in a high crime neighborhood guess what, they’re not coming – unless the perps still there and in that case you shouldn’t be.  Police departments maintain these types of stats.
  • Check the cameras field of view.  Is it viewing what you want viewed?  Sounds pretty stupid doesn’t it, but how often have the camera angles changed because of high winds or by being bumped by a cat or other critter.
  • Insure you have the latest software available.  If password enabled, make sure you change the factory installed password once you start using it.
  • Get an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) that is capable of running your security system until the power can come back on.  The UPS should be able to maintain the system for at least a day.
  • Don’t rely solely on one type of electronic security equipment, if you have cameras augment them with sensors and vice versa.  Chances of both systems failing at the same time is pretty slim.
  • Place volumetric sensors so that the beams shoot out across a room and not directly at the door or windows.  These sensors work by detecting variations in the beam, so as a person walks between one beam and another they get detected.  Think of it like your hand with the fingers being the beams radiating across a room.

Don’t forget that just because you have an alarm system it doesn’t make you invincible.  If the rest of your security posture sucks, they’re gonna get you.  It’s just matter of time!

More common sense tips available under the Technology Improvements Tab on our homepage or here:

Sunday, October 18, 2015

How the 1983 Beirut Marine Barracks Bombing Changed
My Life – Forever  

In October 1983, I was the Assistant Flight Sergeant, responsible for law enforcement duties at Rhein Main Air Base, Germany.  A couple of days after the worst attack suffered by the US Marine Corps took place in Beirut, Lebanon, the bodies of the dead Marines were brought to Rhein Main via two C-141 transport aircraft.

 I was standing on the tarmac waiting for the aircraft to taxi over and park.  A third aircraft with the Commandant of the Marine Corps arrived almost simultaneously.  His plane was suppose to go over to the VIP lounge at the control tower, where various dignitaries were waiting.  So I didn’t think too much of it when the plane landed and taxied toward the control tower. 

After the two C141’s parked next to each other, the rear cargo doors opened.  One and then the other.  All I could see were metal caskets.  Both planes were full.  From the deck to the ceiling - FULL! 

As the ground crew was moving the k-loaders into position, I saw out of the corner of my eye, the “follow me truck“ racing across the parking ramp.  It was going fast, too fast - well over the speed limit allowed for the parking ramp.

As I turned and walked toward the vehicle to tell the driver to slow down.  It stopped just short of me and out of the passenger’s door jumped Gen PX Kelly, USMC Commandant.  As he walked toward me,  I saluted him.  He returned my salute and said to me, “Sarge, are those my boys?”.  I answered, “Yes, sir.” And he and I stood there until every one of HIS Marines were taken off the plane.

I wish I could say, that while I stood there I had profound reflective thoughts but I didn’t.  Those didn’t come until a few days later.  When it hit me, I thought of those Marines.  They were MY Marines, too.  No, they were OUR Marines.  Anyone of them could have been a son, a brother, a dad or an uncle to anyone of us.  They were the sons, brothers, fathers and uncles of all Americans.  Not just his and not just mine.  They were OURS! 

They had taken an oath to protect America “from all enemies…”.  I had taken the same oath.  So, from that day forward, I was going to do everything in my power, however small in my little piece of the universe it was, to prevent  this kind of thing from happening again. 

I’ve spent the last 30+ years fulfilling that promise to myself and OUR Marines.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Perimeter Security - What is it Good For?
Absolutely Nothing, If Done Wrong

Webster describes perimeter as, “the boundary or circumference of a figure having two dimension; the sum of all sides of the boundary.  Webster goes on to describe security as”…freedom from danger or risk.”  So when we put them together our most common definition of perimeter security goes something like this, “an identifiable boundary to provide safety from threats”.
We take that a step further in our definition:  A boundary comprised of several different “layers” of defense, with each layer providing an opportunity to deter, delay and detect unwanted activity.
Most people think you have to have a fence in order to establish that boundary or perimeter and once you’ve done that, the fence will act as a deterrent and stop the threat.  Both assumptions are wrong.  You don’t need a fence to establish the perimeter.  You just need to identify it in some way to let people know, “Hey, this is my space.  If you want to come in here, then go down there and let me check out who you are”.  Good folks will follow the rules and go down to the entry control or access point.  The bad guy will climb over the fence in about 4 seconds or less, so not much deterrent here.  So in reality the fence doesn’t act as a deterrent, it acts as a method of identifying good and bad intentions. 
Therefore, the perimeter  is merely a line of demarcation that says, if you’re over there we don’t care what you do but if you come over here, we want to know who you are, so go down there where we can check you out.  Now, many of you will disagree with that.  You will say, “No, the fence keeps the bad guys from doing bad things because they have to climb over it and they don’t want to get caught”.  Exactly!  But, the fence doesn’t deter them, it makes it so that if they climb over it we will detect this bad behavior and can possibly catch them.  After all, the good guys will follow the rules and go down to where there is an opening in the fence.
This opening is usually in the form of an access or entry control point (ACP/ECP) of some sort, manned or manned.  The ECP is where we check to see if the person trying to enter is allowed.  There are many ways to do that but we’ll have to discuss that in a future article.  For the time being let’s concentrate on perimeter security excluding its access control mechanics.  There are three distinct purposes for establishing a perimeter.
We already established that, first, it delineates the property line that we care about (deter).  Second, it may slow (delay) the bad guys as they approach with the idea that if we can delay them we may be able to spot their bad behavior.  Which leads us directly into point three – it serves as an early warning systems (detect).  It immediately allows us to determine ill-intent.  Think about it.  If the person climbing the fence wasn’t trying to circumvent the access control point then why climb over the fence.  Why not, go down the ECP, show or use your authorized credentials and enter.  Another way to think away it is, if a person were to break through a wall, you would think this behavior bizarre and want to check them out.
Which brings me to my next point; there are actually four perimeters or layers of defense and each provides an opportunity for us to design against our threats.  Threats come in all shapes and sizes, but we usually are most concerned with vehicle or pedestrian threats.  In pretty short order I can come up with about 40 natural and about 20 or so manmade threats.  For the purpose of this article we’ll concentrate on vehicles and people.
Perimeter Design Considerations
  • Visibility – what do people see - both good and bad?  Consider proximity to your neighbors.
  • Demographics/Statistics – crime rates, terrorist activity, first responder locations and emergency access
  • Landscape and Environmental Conditions - Type of terrain and extreme weather
  • Power Requirements - availability, if electronics are used to augment passive barriers
  • Accessibility – whether by foot or vehicle, during normal and emergency operations.
Protection Components
  • Physical barriers (most common) – fencing or vehicle barriers, landscaping
  • Intrusion Detection/Access Control – quickly becoming the norm
  • Response Forces – without them the other components are useless.  Forces MUST BE well-trained, well-equipped and regularly drilled and exercised.
Common Mistakes
  • If we build a fence high enough, we’ll be okay
  • Assume the property boundary to be the external perimeter that requires the most robust system
  • Making it look substantial – fortress like will deter everybody and all threats
  • Putting barbed or concertina or razor wire on top will deter the bad guy
  • Putting CCTV to capture activity without having response force capabilities
  • Forgetting about moving vehicle threats (ask the security staff at the Brussels airport about this one.  Had they installed cable-reinforcing to the fencing the diamond thieves would not have been able to cut the fence and drive up to the plane unnoticed.)
  • Lighting portions of the perimeter that cannot be patrolled by security forces.

  • Non-aggressive methods
    • Landscaping and Designing Crime Out strategies
  • Arial surveillance
    • Balloons.  This might be the most promising since they can stay airborne for very long periods of time.  One advantage is they can be placed high enough to see three of the layers of defense.
    • Drones.  There are several companies out there that already have off-the-shelf products available.  Once manufacturers are able to overcome the current short battery life cycle and extend them to 10-12 hours or longer and add analytics this will become a great tool.
  • Robotics (mobile, semi-fixed or stationary)
    • Mobile – with the advent of self- driven or remotely controlled vehicles I don’t think it will be too long before we see a company promoting a self-driving security patrol vehicle; equipped with sensors, camera systems and audible/visual capabilities
    • Semi-fixed – these systems are attached to or immediately adjacent to a boundary line and can patrol randomly or in a sequential order (not advised).  They can be equipped with sensors, CCTV cameras, spotlights and speakers.
    • Stationary – these systems already exist.  There are many systems out there that have CCTV fields of view of perimeters with video analytics, combined with sensors, DVRs, etc.  Really the sky's the limit based on budget.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the property boundary is your only perimeter and therefore, it’s the only one you protect.  Use every layer of defense to deter, delay, detect or defend a would-be aggressor.  Remember, it won’t happen on its own; you have to design your security system to be integrated because if it’s not – it’s worth absolutely nothing.

For more information about perimeter security see our article in Security Middle East magazine Jul/Aug issue 

http://issuu. com/securitymiddleeastmagazine/docs/sme_july-_aug_2015_web/31?e=3061242/14215610

or send an email to

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Social Engineering
Spaces that are occupied are designed with a specific purpose in mind.  If the space is private then the space is designed to perform a particular function, such as, office space or a factory work floor.  On the other hand, if the space is public it is normally designed to allow open access to it, to allow people to either use the space or transit through it.

The concept of using design to “socially engineer” public and private space has been around for some time now.  Building designers have been designing spaces to achieve a variety of desired effects.  Back in the Middle Ages, castles were designed to withstand an enemy’s siege and when that didn’t work and the invaders breached the walls divide the aggressors into small enough numbers in order for the hometown folks to kill them.

So it really should come as no surprise that over the years new concepts and technique have been developed to address new threats.  Although we’ve come a long way in our tactics based on new threats the purpose remains the same – cause people to do what we want them to do or suffer the consequences of their actions; detection or capture.
In the modern era, threats come in a multitude of forms, either natural and man-made.  We’ve done a pretty good job in regulating construction standards for natural threats, such as, high winds, tornadoes, earthquake and fire but we’ve done less of a good job for man-made threats.
In 1991, Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) was introduced as a concept to reduce crime in neighborhoods.  The program has become so successful that most cities have ordinances that require implementation of CPTED principles during all new construction projects or phased in during major renovations.
CPTED controls the surrounding environment of a building thru four strategies:
Natural Surveillance – developing opportunities for observation of all spaces within an area by those occupying, using or transiting the area.
Natural Access Control – causing access control to be part of the environment by allowing design to create “choke points” and paths to and from buildings so that there is no doubt this is the proper way to enter/egress the area, even for first time users.  Non-adherence would cause detection and a response by authorities.
Territorial Reinforcement – identifying public and private space.  There should be a clear distinction of who the property belongs to.  This doesn’t mean putting up a fence; instead this can be achieved by using different materials, shrubbery/bushes, and cobble stone paver instead of poured concrete for example.
Maintenance – although not really a concept, the fact remains, if the space doesn’t have continuous upkeep it will come into disrepair through normal use and before too long become unsightly and bred criminal activity.
After the Khobar Tower terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia in 1993, the Department of Defense identified the lack of a comprehensive overarching standard for building construction for the protection of personnel.  During the investigation of that incident it was observed that most of the victims were not killed or injured by the blast itself but instead were injured because of how the building reacted to the blast.  This was again proven in Oklahoma City in 1995.  Most fatalities were the result of the building collapsing upon them and not from the bomb blast itself.  Over the course of the next few years, through analysis and a lot of painstaking work, 21 standards were developed for the construction of DOD Buildings.  When implemented correctly the standards will reduce the effects of terrorist attack to personnel in the inhabited space.  While these standards are regulatory for DOD buildings the concepts are proven and can, and I believe should be implemented for all new construction or during major renovation projects for buildings that house 10 or more folks.  Implementing these standards at the beginning of a project may add 2-5% in increased costs to the project.  Adding the features later can add an additional 20-30% in cost overruns.  So just from a cost benefit perspective it makes good sense.  Not to mention, the reduction of injuries and number of dead during a catastrophic event.  You can’t put a price on that.
Over the course of the last 10 years or so, we have seen a dramatic increase in criminal activity within inhabited space – in schools, hospitals, theaters, police station, etc.  Those involved in planning mitigation strategies and designing inhabited and uninhabited spaces, basically anywhere the public gathers, should now consider criminal activity within the confined spaces they are designing.  Recent events prove this activity can include, knife attacks in hospitals, shootings in schools, theaters and police stations and bombings at military facilities.  Unfortunately, this trend will continue for the foreseeable future.

So what can we do about it?  First, we would be well served if we required our leaders to implement legislation that addresses these current crises and looks to the future for emerging threats.  Unfortunately, the criminal threat and terrorist threat will be with us for some time to come, probably forever.  Both have changed over the years and as we address them we need to change too.  Second, even without the government we can start designing spaces addressing these three components; the environment, the building and its interior.  We really shouldn’t wait on the government to act; we should take it upon ourselves to do the right thing even without government intervention or supervision.  We can start by implementing these concepts on all new construction or whenever a renovation project meets a certain threshold (to be established locally).
I sincerely believe that when all three design components are incorporated into the building design “from the curb inward”, risks to personnel can be significantly reduced and their effects on people minimized.  We have to design the inhabited space so that people do what we want them to do and when they don’t they’re detected and captured, and the results of their bad actions are kept to a minimum.  It won’t happen on its own – we have design it that way!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

How to Use Building Design To Increase Security Effectiveness
The Aesthetics vs Design Basis Threat Approach
Did you know that adding security measures after the design process has reached the 35% designed phase can increase the cost of a construction project by 20% in the short term and much more long term.  Think about it.  Adding security at the beginning may add a mere 2% to the overall project costs.  Why is that?

Most buildings are designed for aesthetics and not the threat that the building must face – whether those threats are man-made or from natural causes.

There are plenty of regulations that address fire and earthquakes but rarely are their construction codes for incorporating security measures for the myriad of other threats.  That can change.  By bringing architects, engineers, planners, facility managers and security professionals together at the beginning of the design process the building design including the surrounding area can actually be used to deter criminal activity and reduce the effects of catastrophic events; such as, high winds or terrorist attack.

The design team needs to know and agree on what possible threats there are to the building, people and information inside.  This is called the “design basis threat” or DBT.  By knowing the DBT the design team can ensure each potential threat is mitigated through the design of the building.  Possible mitigation measures could be maximizing the stand-off distance from legal parking spaces to the building façade.  For example, the further the stand-off distance is, the less likely it is that the building will be affected by a stationary vehicle borne improvised explosive device.  Also by keeping the “unobstructed space” (the area immediate adjacent to the façade) free of shrubs or other places where small explosive devices or tools could be concealed, will eliminate that potential threat.  These are just two threats that can be affected through design.  Most others can be too.

In order to be effective the design team must consider all threats that are capable of effecting the building, whether they control the surrounding property or not.  If adjacent property offers the opportunity for people will “ill intent” to compromise the building then that area must also be considered. 

We usually call this “designing from the curb”.  There are four general rules to follow in providing mitigation strategies in building design. 

First, deter bad behavior.  We do this by training personnel on what is expected of them during on-boarding orientation.  We should also teach what constitutes “bad behavior” and how to report it.  An additional deterrent is a well-trained and well-equipped security force.  A common practice is to post a warning sign or a fence but rarely will this deter a determine advisory.  That said, we can design inhabited space so that a would be perpetrator will choose another “softer” target.

Secondly, we should delay “the bad guy” so that through effective design their presence and the activity they are conducting will be noticed.  A very effective way of doing this is creating as much distance as possible from the entrances of the building to the uncontrolled/public space.  The longer it takes to transit the space the more likely it is that someone will notice.  We commonly forget that each perimeter layer provides an opportunity to delay.  Perimeter layers are:

o   Layer 1 – property boundary
o   Layer 2 – exterior enclave or enclosure
o   Layer 3 – facility façade or elevation
o   Layer 4 – internal enclave or controlled/restricted space

Third, detect bad behavior. We can do this by limiting the number of access points, so that someone attempting to enter in a different fashion will stand-out and be noticed.  The use of combined landscaping; i.e., rocks, meandering pathways, shrubs, trees, water obstacles can be very effective tools in channeling persons to the correct access point.   Another good design tool is to make walkways pass by windows where people in the building, either from their workstations or a public space, such as, a break room, will be able to see people approaching.  In the 80’s we relied on security guards to do the watching for us.  As man-power cost rose over the next couple of decades, we replaced the guards and started to rely heavily on electronic security systems (ESS); i.e., Close Circuit Television (CCTV) or Access Control Systems (ACS).  While ESS is a great force multiplier, I submit that by designing approaches to the building so that they can be observed by persons inside will add tremendous detection capability and reduce long term costs in maintaining and monitoring the ESS systems.  Some assistance is provided by biometrics and analytical video but remember technology is a tool to be used by a human.  A recent article in the Chicago Tribune reported that less than one half of one percent of crime is solved by cameras. 

And finally, the fourth element of design is to defend against bad behavior.  One of the most common mistakes in using too much technology is that the requirement to respond to bad behavior is forgotten.  Therefore, a response force must be readily available.  They must be well-trained through drills and exercises and they must be well-equipped. 

Remember, the building does not have to look like a fortress in order to be secure.   By working together, architects, engineers, planners, facility managers and security professional can ensure it’s aesthetically pleasing and still provide adequate measures of security that are transparent to the public.  When these disciplines collaborate and security is incorporated at the beginning of the project, an immediate gain can be realized in keeping the project costs down and in the long term by limiting the need for maintenance and manpower.