Dispatch from ASIS International’s Seminars and Exhibit

Posting from sunny Anaheim, California this week where thousands of security practitioners have gathered for the 55th Annual ASIS International Seminar and Exhibits.  The developing trends I’ve become aware of so far are as follows: H1N1 Preparedness seems to be on everyone’s agenda as the fall wears on in North America and elsewhere in the world; global supply chain security and standards; as well as leadership succession planning at ASIS International and beyond.  These are important new development that I believe are worth following.  

I will post of any new developments at the end of the Seminars.

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Somali Piracy Goes From the Surreal to the Ridiculous

Interesting article from The Strategist, the whole idea of Somali pirates seeking legal representation from London lawyers during kidnapping and ransom negotiations appears to give the international crime of piracy an uncomfortable sense of normalcy, which should not be tolerable.  I hope the security consultant who suggested it is just being a funnyman. It’s certainly no laughing matter to the victims

London law firms and Somali piracy

Note: I’m researching companies that provide ship owners and marine insurers with security, crisis management and legal services to help them deal with the Somali piracy threat.

You’re a ship owner. One of your ships is sailing through the pirate-infested waters of the Horn of Africa. You get a call – Somali pirates have hijacked your vessel and its crew and are demanding a hefty ransom. What to do? Ring Xe (aka Blackwater) and get them to send in a hit team of mercenaries, right?…. http://bit.ly/5fnA5

Security experts warn of dangers of rogue Wi-Fi hotspots

Story Highlights

  •  Security experts warn Wi-Fi users to be more vigilant against hackers
  • Experts say it’s difficult to distinguish between legitimate and rogue networks
  • Wi-Fi Alliance says spread of Wi-Fi hasn’t led to an ‘epidemic’ of hacking
  • Users urged to protect their networks, use VPN for sensitive data



Rogue use of Nascent Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Technology in the Future

By Francisco Mateo, CPP, CFE

Many progressive police agencies around the world are already considering the use of the nascent Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology for community policing and intelligence gathering purposes.  UAV’s will have many of the capabilities of UGV’s, such as cameras and sensors, but they are not terrain limited and can scrutinize much wider areas from their higher vantage point (Farivar 2005). A much more economical alternative to helicopters, UAV’s can fulfill many of the same missions at a fraction of the cost. By 2020 UAV’s will provide law enforcement with a wide variety of flying assistants tailored to fit many different missions. Types will range from large fixed wing platforms for aerial surveillance over a city to vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) UAV’s that can hover and maneuver low over a specific point or area and provide continuous monitoring of an individual. Very small “micro-UAV’s” may be capable of flying into a building or room undetected and record activities either audibly or visually, sending their information back to police officers monitoring events in real time.

But like the narco semi-submersibles regularly used by organized drug cartels to shipped drugs from distant places across the sea, the UAV technology would also be available to criminal organizations to enhance their own operating capabilities.  It peaks my curiosity what uses, beyond drug runs and surveillance, organized crime may give this technology.  I can think of perhaps using the technology to spy on rival gangs and perhaps carryout a hit on rival gangs or against law enforcement as witnessed in the Mexican drug war today.

I posit that if it’s possible for the Mexican drug cartel’s enforcement arm to get their hands on military-grade weaponry to fight each other as well as Mexican law enforcement, than it is also possible with their burgeoning financial resources they would be able to acquire UAV technology.  

Oh! you don’t think the bad guys would be able to breakthrough the technology challenge.  Logically, it is possible since they’ve done it before.  In fact, some organized crime gangs live on the cutting edge of technology.  I think they would be able to co-opt this technology rather quickly and even developed their own clever hacks to evade law enforcement. 

The thought alone has given senior western defense officials the initiative to include UAV technology in multilateral non-proliferation treaties including the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and the Wassenaar Agreement.

That said, how would law enforcement combat this potential threat?  I’m out of my element here, but I’d go out on a limb to ponder if much like the weapons used in drug aircraft interdiction, electromagnetic weapons, or other directed energy weapons, currently under development could perhaps be applied to neutralize rogue UAV’s. How do you see this playing out?

There is a Cyberwar going on out there, and we’re the Collateral Victims

I want to start the week by focusing on online security awareness.  Many factors in our society today have combined to form a perfect storm of online scams using clever ploys.   The scams are so widespread that according to CSO’s Zulfikar Ramzan “The effects of cybercrime are far reaching. It would be a difficult task to find someone who has never been affected by malicious Internet activity, or who does not at the very least know someone who has been negatively impacted by cybercriminals”

“Oh what a tangled Web We Weave, when first we practice to deceive” Avoiding such scams is not just about sophisticated security software or timely updates, although that does help plenty. But the truth of the matter is that sophisticated social  engineers or identity thieves consistently stay one step ahead of our best defense tactics, despite the institutional efforts to bring cybercrime under control. We stand in owe at their sophistication, while the seed money that funds their evermore advance operations comes straight out of our pockets. Humankind evolved out of necessity, and so must our thinking about online victimization.   Our security posture requires us to be more, well “Hinky”, about it all.  I can only describe this as a combination of security awareness and intuitiveness; splashed with plenty of common sense about cybercrime.   

The Role of Self-Defense in Security Awareness

There is a precept among security practitioners in that prevention is the best policy when it comes to personal security. Good prevention strategy can disrupt 95% of all schemes. That said it is clear that even the most aware person can be get distracted and fall victim to a clever thief.  Overreacting during a mugging is most dangerous.  Only 5% of all disruptions strategies are successful once the criminal has pounced on his victim.  To improve your chances of fending off an attack it is recommendable to know how to handle yourselves through self-defense.

Just remember to be sensible in your actions before you assume a defense posture, evaluate your chances of repelling the attack, and walking away from the ordeal unhurt.




Caught in Bandit Cross Fire

No information-waste in this article.  My own philosophy is that applied information is a force multiplier.  Remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; this part of a series of 8 articles exploring unthinkable events which are becoming more comment in our world today has got it right.  Invest a bit of time and read on.  Afterwards browse over to the National Geographic site for more information.

Caught in Bandit Cross Fire  

By Damon Tabor (National Geographic Adventure)

There’s a fine line between off the beaten path and out of control. Sometimes you find it.

How it Could Happen

“You can still travel pretty much anywhere so long as you stay out of the tourist ruts, trust the locals, and don’t advertise your movements,” says adventure contributing editor Robert Young Pelton, author of The World’s Most Dangerous Places. A few notable exceptions: Yemen, where as many as nine foreigners were executed in June; bandit-and-pirate-beset Somalia; Sudan; and the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Then there’s Pakistan and Afghanistan. “The real risk here is being kidnapped, held for ransom, or possibly murdered,” says Robb Maxwell, iJET regional analyst.

How to Survive

Before traveling to an unstable country, engage in what security pros call “journey management.” Set up prearranged times to call a friend who’ll alert authorities if you don’t arrive at a destination. If possible, arrange a fixer or, on the cheap, find a local university student looking to practice English. You’ll need someone who knows the terrain intimately and can get you to safe locations. “You want lily pads in the sea of hostility,” says Ed Daly, director of watch operations for iJET, a risk management company. Monitor the State Department’s website for travel warnings and find regional blogs that give a more nuanced sense of the ground scene. Wear drab clothes—no ball caps or sunglasses—and carry small gifts like cigarettes or candy that can smooth tense situations. (!!) Should a serious conflict erupt, head immediately to the airport, but remember that everyone else will too. If commercial options are no longer available, go to the closest U.S. Embassy, which will evac citizens for a price (you’ll pay the going rate for the last commercial flight out). If possible, attach yourself to a friendly military force. On the road, be prepared to encounter checkpoints: Stay calm and move slowly if stopped. Should you get kidnapped for ransom, relax. According to Clayton Consultants, a crisis management consultancy, some 95 percent of kidnappings can be resolved with a payoff. In the meantime, don’t volunteer unnecessary information. Escape attempts should be exercised only as a last resort. “If you feel like you’re going to get murdered anyway, I would try to escape—steal some food, study the guards, and look for an opportunity, since the worst-case outcome would be just as fatal as staying,” says Tim Crockett, a former British special forces soldier and executive director of AKE, an international security company.

Intrepid Travel

The State Department’s travel alerts aren’t foolproof, but they do offer a good bird’s-eye view of the global security situation. Traveling anyway? Get insurance. Journalist Robert Young Pelton uses adventure travel specialist Ingle (ingle-international.com).