Critical Communications, Critical Event Management, Cybersecurity, Risk Intelligence

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

By Sarah Perry

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? Is your organization prepared to respond should they occur at your workplace? Let’s take a closer look.

Active Shooter Scenarios

The FBI published “Active Shooter Incidents 20-Year Review, 2000-2019.” This report provides statistical data covering 333 active shooter incidents in the United States. It was designed to aid law enforcement officers, organizations and the general public to prevent, stop and recover from active shooter events. Here are a few pertinent facts:

  • The total number of shootings breaks down to 16.65 incidents per year on average, but the number of annual incidents increased each year. From 2000 to 2007, there was an average of eight incidents per year. From 2008 to 2013, that figure rose to 18 incidents on average annually. From 2014 to 2019, it went up to 25 per year.
  • During this twenty-year span, 2,851 people were wounded or killed in active shooter incidents, and 1,062 of these victims were killed. These numbers do not include the shooters themselves.
  • Of the twelve types of locations delineated in the report, the three with the highest number of shootings were businesses, schools (Pre-K-12) and open spaces.
  • Businesses had the highest number of shootings overall, with 41 percent, representing a total of 96 incidents.
  • Ten incidents involved multiple shooters, half of which took place in businesses that were open to pedestrian traffic.

It’s clear that active shooter incidents can occur anywhere, at any time. As a statistically significant location for shootings, businesses must make a greater effort to prepare for these events. It’s imperative that organizational leaders are ready to make instant decisions and are able to communicate quickly and effectively with crisis response teams and impacted individuals. Given this reality, the FBI promotes the use of prevention efforts and training to respond to active shooter incidents.

Workplace Violence

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics , there were 5,333 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2019, representing a 2 percent increase from the 5,250 in 2018. Private industry employers reported 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2019. Of those nonfatal injuries, 44,480 fell into the category of violence and other injuries.

Currently, OSHA reports that acts of violence and other injuries are the third-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States. Keep in mind this is only the number of cases reported to OSHA. Among undocumented workers, the figures may be much higher. Research has identified factors that may increase the risk of violence for some workers at certain worksites, including:

  • 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 or confidential information. Hacking into a corporate, government or financial network generates a globalized intrusion. Cyber thieves are also responsible for elaborate financial schemes such as ransomware, which adversely affect businesses of all sizes. The annual report from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) indicates losses exceeding $4.2 billion in 2020. In addition, scams exploiting the pandemic emerged last year, when the IC3 received more than 28,500 complaints of fraud related to COVID-19.

Other types of cybersecurity threats businesses need to take seriously include:

  • Business email compromise scams, or BEC scams, in which an attacker uses deceptively authentic emails to trick recipients into transferring funds to them. BEC incidents resulted in more than $1.8 billion in financial losses in the United States.
  • Ransomware, in which a cybercriminal holds data hostage or threatens to release it to the public unless a ransom is paid. Ransomware attacks caused more than $29.1 million in adjusted losses in 2020.

Proper training and planning are vital for an effective response to a cybersecurity breach. 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

Protecting people, places and property is one of an organization’s biggest responsibilities. To do this, you need the ability to anticipate events that affect your world – and that means access to fast, relevant and actionable information with an AI-powered risk intelligence solution.

In addition to preventing man-made threats, your organization should also focus on how to respond both during and after the event. Awareness campaigns provide a way to identify risk factors, improve security and ensure all stakeholders know what to do when an incident occurs. OnSolve Critical Communications is a crucial part of any awareness campaign. With our mass notification system, you can communicate with employees before, during and after a crisis in a controlled format. 

Man-made or naturally occurring, the OnSolve Platform for Critical Event Management can help you achieve the best possible outcome when a critical event occurs. Request a demo today to learn more.