Since the mid to late 90s, spending on security has increased exponentially by several hundred million dollars. After 9-11, it increased faster and at an ever increasing rate because of the technological aspect of security. But the question we have to ask ourselves is quite simple and because it is so simplistic it will be ignored or glossed over by most.
That question is; are we safer than we were 2 decades ago? My answer for this is an absolute emphatic no. We are not safer, although we have convinced most of the general population, including C-suite and other security professionals as well, that we have made ourselves that way. We as the professionals can point to alarms, fences, officers, software and the like to quantify our safety and security.
Usually it is the politicians who will spout that “I did it…I made us safer…I passed this bill…I introduced…” and so on and so on. Of course it’s not only politicians. Security professionals, software engineers, sales people (of all stripes), and innumerable others will saturate you with the platitudes about how well and impregnable their products will make our facilities. And absolutely none of it is true.
As those professionals we have to think like the criminal, terrorist, or hacker. If you do that then you can easily see how our facilities are not impregnable and how easily they can be breached. The facility can, and probably will be penetrated, no matter how much money we throw at the problem, unless we construct our facilities like gulags, and no one will go along with that for long (look at how soon after 9/11 security was relaxed at most companies).
One of the worst things we can do after we upgrade to newer ‘more secure’ appliances, equipment, or software is make the declaration that we are… When the state of Connecticut spouted that the new, and improved, Sandy Hook Elementary was the most secure school in the country… it made me cringe. Before the 30 second news cast was over with I had already thought of 3 ways to get into the school and cause havoc and chaos as well as kill dozens. This despite that the school was ‘totally secure’.
They spent more than $10 million on the new school. And while it may be true it may be safer than the previous version it’s not the most secure and impregnable. Those words are spoken to calm the fears of parents and group who want our kids safe and secure, and who doesn’t want that, but we are fooling ourselves. But as I said earlier. No matter the amount of money you throw at the problem it can’t be solved that way.
What we have to do is temper the flattery and feel good words that flow out the mouths of salesmen, consultants, and our own management/C-suite. We can never be 100% safe and secure. We can’t even assure than we can be even 60% safe & secure from any threat.
The best we can hope for is a stalemate between those who wish to do us harm and our efforts to protect our charges. Whether those charges be people, assets, property, or products doesn’t matter. We have to be constantly vigilant for the next round of threats and potential attackers.
Those attackers and threats are just a clock tick away, despite what anyone wants to think or what they will say to employees, the public, politicians, or whoever. Do you remember the cliché from the 70s television show ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’? “Bigger, stronger, and faster.”
That is what we face. There is always someone out there who is bigger, better, stronger, and faster to get their threats into production to injure, kill, maim, and traumatize people. From terrorists, workplace violence, theft, fraud, computer hacking and the stealing of secrets, to military conquest.
That is where we, as the group tasked with protecting our charges, need to be aware and think like a criminal, terrorist, or hooligan. We need to stay a step ahead and the only way to do that is to think like them. We know we can’t out spend their brains but we can try to out think them. Sometimes those thoughts are definitely old school and considered, at least in this digital world, out-of-the-box and weird but…
Just because you spend an extra $10,000 for a voice activated/interactive vehicle doesn’t mean it will work to perfection. Spend money on IT consultants who will tell you that it will be easy to upgrade to the newest and hottest newfangled computer software. But does it work as well as they promised? Usually it takes months, if not years, to work out all the bugs and kinks so that 3 different systems can speak to each other efficiently and effectively.
So just because we throw money at the problem of security has it made us any safer? No, it hasn’t. There are ways to circumvent any security system you have, even drones, there are ways to evade detection and get around them. Dogs can be compromised by food. Officers can be compromised by money, other prizes, or a beautiful/handsome and sexy member of the opposite sex. And alarms, including CCVS & computers, can be compromised by innumerable methods, some not as far fetched as the movies show.
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I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear