OK, I admit I’m hooked on MythBusters, the Discovery Channel TV show that answered the burning question: Are elephants frightened by mice? To my surprise, MythBusters Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman mixed elephants and mice and found the tale plausible.

I don’t usually write about elephants but crime and crime prevention is another kettle of fish, and one closer to home. It’s also a constant topic of the talking heads on radio and TV. Their bottom line, more often than not, is that America has gone to heck, that people are killing each other, robbing each other, committing fraud, shoplifting, robbing banks, abusing kids, doing more bad stuff today as society further sinks into the primordial soup.

The challenge to determine the truth is more than politics. Most of us get out dose of “everything is going downhill” from secondary sources. Some of us have had our pocket picked or a relative murdered or a home burglarized. But most get their crime news from TV, radio, the Internet and newspapers.


Down the Tubes

So the talking heads tell us that more women are the victims of domestic violence on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day of the year. And we believe it. That hotel keycards have a guest’s personal information that could allow a thief to commit identity theft or steal money from the guest’s bank account or credit card account. And we nod our heads. That parking lot and garage carjackers place a flyer on car windshields so that, when the driver steps out of his car to remove it, the carjacker steals the car. That burglars stand at gas stations handing out free key rings with transmitters to follow them to rob them while entering their garage. Or that drinking bleach can help a person beat a drug test.

All those are myths without substance.

But what about America as a violent, high-crime society? Sounds good to me.

However, all facts and statistics show that most crime peaked per capita in 1993. The International Crime Victims’ Surveyfound overall crime to be lower in the United States than in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, England and Wales, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Scotland and Sweden. Rates of personal assault or threat of assault were much higher in Canada and twice as high in the UK and Australia. Only when it comes to murder, a rare crime in all developed countries, does America have a high annual rate.

And how about school violence? It’s rampant, isn’t it?

It may seem so, with media attention focused on a spate of school shootings. In fact, school shootings are extremely rare. Even including the more common violence that is gang-related or dispute-related, only 12 to 20 homicides a year occur in the 100,000 schools in the U.S.

In this New Year, there still is an essential job for enterprise security leaders to do. It is to fashion policies and procedures, to employ technologies and to get everyone involved in security awareness to mitigate risk and cut losses.


Crime Shifts

And there are emerging threats such as cybercrimes that can do damage faster and more deeply. For example, my friends at Symantec Hosted Services just sent me their top threats for 2011. Among them:

  • Distributed Workforce Drives Security Policies: In 2011, businesses will become more aware of the issues associated with managing remote workers and recognize the need to apply consistent policy controls and safeguard Internet access from malware such as that from unsecured USB storage devices, and drive-by attacks on compromised Web sites.
  • Security and Services Continue Migrate to the Cloud: In 2011, businesses will increasingly begin to reap the benefits of adopting a hybrid infrastructure that is premise-based, private cloud based and public cloud based and will seek to deliver a seamless user experience regardless of device or access location.
  • Botnets Evolve with Steganography: This means hiding their commands in plain view – perhaps within images or music files distributed through file sharing or social networking Web sites.