Lone wolf actors often leave clues about their intentions through several stages of the attack cycle. For corporate security executives, using data and protective intelligence to identify these clues is crucial for mitigation and prevention.
Failure of imagination leads to most crises. As the pandemic persists, vaccinations and vaccine resistance increases, mass shootings rise, and racial and political unrest show few signs of ebbing, seemingly impossible "what if" scenarios are our everyday reality. But can we prevent and protect ourselves from the bad impossibilities? In my experience, if we believe it can happen, then we can look for that trouble, see around corners and potentially head off bad situations. This is why opportunities for protective intelligence analysts are growing and, as digital transformation continues, will be one of the most in-demand roles at corporations alongside cybersecurity experts.
After a lifetime in the protection business, the one constant in Washington that I’ve learned is that it takes tragedy to force change. The January 6 Capitol riot is not an enigma. This was a clear protective intelligence failure. The key finding of Retired Army LTG. Russel Honore’s report reviewing how the pillar of U.S. democracy could have been so easily infiltrated is that the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) must better integrate intelligence into its operations through improved awareness, assessment, sharing, and response capabilities. We can look at effective protective intelligence as a three-part story: Act I is identifying threats; Act II is building those threats into a cohesive profile; Act III is sharing and acting on that information in order to make nothing happen. Applying this framework to January 6 helps us understand how we can and must do better and provides important takeaways for corporations.
By the end of 2020, it is expected that more than 59 zettabytes of data will be generated globally. With access to data from sources such as social media, news and the dark web, encrypted connected security systems, and public and company-proprietary records and communications, physical security and safety professionals are challenged not only with parsing through this “big” data but transforming it into actionable intelligence.
It sounds simple: a company must be a safe place to work, and people will want to work for companies that make them feel safe. Companies have a duty of care and responsibility to keep employees safe, even as many work remotely. But as enterprises undergo digital transformation, physical security has at times been left behind (with legacy and outdated technology systems) despite a rise in threatening events and its increasing importance for corporations. Embracing digital protective intelligence and making safety a priority is not just a way to support wise corporate values, but given the potential loss of life and the cultural, bottom line and brand reputation damage that could occur, must be a mandate for modern business operations.