Critical Communications, Cybersecurity, Incident Management

The Rise of Man-Made Security Threats: How to Prepare for an Attack

By Aaron Kuhn

Looking back on the past decade, few would argue that certain man-made threats – active shooters, cybercrime, and workplace violence – are on the rise.

What are the facts behind these incidents?  And is your organization prepared to respond should they occur at your workplace?  Let’s take a closer look.

Active Shooter Scenarios

The FBI published “A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013.” There were at least 160 active shooter incidents in the US during this 13-year period; only those meeting search criteria were included in the study. Here are a few pertinent facts:
  • This breaks down to 11.4 incidents a year, while the number of annual incidents increased each year. From 2000 to 2007 there were an average of six incidents a year. From 2008 to 2013 that figure rose to 16 incidents on average annually.
  • Among incidents when the duration of the incident was calculated, nearly 70 percent lasted less than five minutes.
  • The number of victims wounded or killed in these active shooter incidents was 1,043, which included 486 deaths—these numbers do not include the shooter.
  • Seventy percent of incidents occurred in an educational or business environment.
  • The other 30 percent of incidents occurred in private homes, religious centers, healthcare facilities, military grounds, and on city streets.
  • Victims of all active shooter incidents were of all ages, races, religions, and cultural backgrounds.
What this shows is that there is no rationale for active shooter incidents and that they can occur at any time. However, the FBI indicates organizations do have some control over this situation. Within this study, an active shooter incident “inherently implies that both law enforcement personnel and citizens have the potential to affect the outcome of the event base upon their responses.” Since the duration of these incidents is so quick, it is imperative that organizations and civilians be prepared to make instant decisions. The FBI also promotes the use of prevention efforts and training to respond to active shooter incidents.

Workplace Violence

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, fatal work injuries resulting from workplace violence increased by 163 cases in 2016. Homicides in the workplace increased by 83 cases that same year, making this the highest number of homicides since 2010. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) adds that each year nearly two million people in the US report they are victims of workplace violence. Keep in mind this is only the number of cases reported to OSHA, and among undocumented workers, the figures are thought to be much higher. The primary causes of workplace violence include:
  • Working with unstable or volatile people
  • Exchanging money with customers
  • Working in isolated areas
  • Working alone
  • Working where alcohol is sold
  • Providing services and care
  • Working late at night
  • Working in high crime areas
Certain job types are more likely to experience workplace violence including:
  • Law enforcement
  • Healthcare professionals
  • Customer service representatives
  • Drivers
  • Public service workers
According to OSHA, the best way to prevent workplace violence is to enact a zero-tolerance policy toward such violence. In addition, individuals and businesses should identify risk factors and minimize or prevent these whenever possible.

Cybersecurity Threats

A cybersecurity threat can occur on several different levels. A data breach typically involves the theft or compromise of personal information. Hacking into a corporate, government, or financial network generates a globalized intrusion. Cyber thieves are also responsible for elaborate financial schemes, such as with the use of ransomware, which adversely affect businesses of all sizes. The FBI reports other types of cybersecurity threats businesses need to take seriously:
  • Business email compromise scams, or BEC scams, involving payment fraud via unauthorized wire transfers, which have incurred more than $3 billion in financial losses worldwide
  • Intellectual property theft in which inventions, creative material, or ideas are stolen; this includes trade secrets, proprietary software, music, and movies
In order for first responders to provide the best response to a cybersecurity breach is through proper training. This includes understanding how to collect digital evidence and how to establish post-incident procedures. Organizations also need to understand the workings of cyber concepts, such as social networks, encryption, and digital devices.

Preparing for Man-Made Threats

In addition to preventing man-made threats, your organization should also focus on preparing for the inevitable. Awareness campaigns provide a way to identify risk factors, improve security, and to know what to do in the case of an incident. The OnSolve emergency alerting solutions are an effective part of any awareness campaign. With our alert notification systems, you can communicate with employees before, during, and after a crisis in a controlled format. Request a demo today to learn more.