Corporate security investigations are an important aspect of enterprise security programs. According to Alan Saquella, Professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and former Director at Cox Communications’ nationwide security division, security executives can benefit from breaking down an investigation into four distinct elements. The acronym for this is P.L.A.N. 

  • Preparation: As part of the preparation, the incident or investigation starts a report or information received about a particular crime or event. 
  • Learning: In this stage, the investigator learns as much as possible about the case. 
  • Analysis: Once an investigator compiles all the information from the learning phase, they then analyze it to determine what has happened and how it was perpetrated along with the when, why, where and who might be involved.
  • Notification: This is when the investigator notifies the superior or the manager of the investigation. As part of this phase, the investigator provides the proposed path that the investigation will take and the resources needed to support it.  

How technology aids security investigations

A good investigator will use all available tools at their disposal, according to Saquella. Some of these sources for gathering information include government and business websites, court reports, and public-facing internet sources, whether it be social media or other types of information-gathering methods. In recent years it has become exceedingly difficult for anyone to hide — even the most novice investigator can find and uncover information spread throughout the internet. Investigators must use all available information in conducting modern-day investigations. If the information is public and easily gathered, it should be used in an investigation.

Vast technological advancements over the past few decades have given corporate investigators various tools to aid an investigation. Gone are the days of investigators sitting in the back of blacked-out vans with binoculars and cameras attempting to take photos of individuals suspected of crimes to further an investigation. Artificial intelligence (AI) and drone technology have already been seen as an opportunity in security and investigation.

What was once seen as an expensive device used only by militaries and other high-end users, drones have become a useful tool to the corporate investigator. A commercialized drone can be used for a myriad of different situations, from surveillance of an individual to looking for potential weak points in a facility’s external security layout or actively deterring crime. One example mentioned by Saquella of this particular use case was when a crime was being committed at his former company. A drone was dispatched and hovered over the suspect; the drone recorded the event while security officers in a remote command center two thousand miles away held a conversation with the suspect, allowing for a safe diffusion of a situation that could have turned hostile. As bad actors learn to use technology in the commission of crimes, investigators too need to learn and develop new techniques, systems, processes and technologies to combat their innovations.

The human side of security investigations

Despite the increase in technology and tools available to assist an investigator, it is important that security teams still maintain the humanity needed when dealing with crimes committed by other humans, according to Saquella. Machines cannot account correctly for every possible motive and rationale only seen through the complexities of human-to-human interaction. 

In recent years, there has been an increase in criminal behavior throughout the corporate and public sectors, resulting in increased demand for capable investigators. Because of this, over 1 million jobs are vacant in these fields with few applicants skilled enough to fill them.

With modern technology at their disposal, investigators should follow a P.L.A.N., use all available technology and strive for innovation in their work.