Less than a week ago, Hamas attacked Israel in a brutal assault by land, air and sea. The stories still emerging from the October 7 attack are heartbreaking. The apparent lack of intelligence from Western and Israeli intelligence organizations will surely be the topic of after-action reports (AARs)—particularly given the success of the U.S. intelligence community in the leadup to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
Geopolitically, Iran’s involvement in planning the attack is becoming clear, and the Kingdom of Saudia Arabia’s road to normalization with Israel is now at risk. Here in the U.S., antisemitic spikes have resulted in school lockdowns and evacuations, including the evacuation of a synagogue in Utah this week. And this Friday, Hamas’ “Day of Mobilization” is an explicit call for “rebellious youth” in Arab countries to demonstrate and create disruption. Economically, investors are expressing concern as the stock associated with companies operating in the area drops, and the price of oil spikes.
5 Recommendations for Wartime Resilience
In the days following the Hamas attacks in southern Israel, OnSolve was asked by the organizations we support for guidance on how they can protect their people and operations—those in Israel, those affected by the downstream fallout from Israel and those in other conflict zones, including the ongoing conflict from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. To assist them in making informed and proactive decisions, we’ve gathered recommendations from our industry experts who have firsthand experience in navigating similar situations. The following can provide guidance on how security, business continuity and crisis management professionals can be proactive and protect their people during times of war.
Here are five recommendations for every resilience practitioner. Since wars are inherently fluid situations, it’s essential to stay situationally aware, and we’ll start there.
1. Stay situationally aware.
During times of war, situational awareness enables organizations to understand and remain informed about the dynamic and volatile conditions that exist within a conflict zone.
With OnSolve, organizations can leverage Risk Intelligence to understand where the risks are, the level of severity and how those risks could impact their people and operations. Setting up custom filters is useful in isolating relevant information.
Larger teams or those with a GSOC should consider casting a wider net when choosing the types of events, sources and methods for monitoring. For example, focus on greater “general awareness” that includes large and small events around the world (from local rallies to organized protests in large cities, for example). AI can be helpful in speed of detection and in improving coverage and granularity. By widening the scope, risk teams are more likely to proactively catch rapidly intensifying risks — from the mass shooting to the escalation of a protest to a riot, to strategic shifts on the ground in Israel.
Note that even larger teams should focus their monitoring on their own assets — and the nodes most important for their business. Your risk solution should make it simple to add ports, airports, customer locations, etc., for ease of monitoring.
Smaller organizations are best served by narrowing filter parameters to provide a more manageable number of results. For example, a single-threaded security team may wish to use “analyst-only” alerts in close proximity to assets and then push those directly to plant and facility managers in the affected area(s).
2. Beware of false information — and spreading it.
Misinformation is both an inherent complication of war and a growing concern. Social media is currently inundated with falsehoods and misleading information about the Israel-Hamas conflict. It is to be expected that narratives evolve as new information is available, but beware of blatant falsehoods, as well as bias, in the information environment. In addition to longstanding “information operation” shaping strategies, OnSolve expects the information environment to be at risk of further pollution due to the rise of large language models (LLMs), the relative ease of producing untrue narratives, and the incentives of nation-state actors and non-state actors to further cause disruption.
We recommend risk practitioners leverage trusted sources, with intelligence reports corroborated from multiple sources. It’s important to understand the original source model of the information (e.g., government sponsored, independent, ad-driven) and the potential for any source to have a fundamental bias (i.e., pro-Western, anti-Western, etc.).
3. Analyze travel policies and procedures in the region.
There will be situations where your employees still need to travel to Israel. Various government agencies – such as the FCDO in the UK and the U.S. State Department – can provide helpful resources., as well as alerts and warnings, including land-border crossing status for specific countries.
Rather than monitoring each agency’s page separately – along with the thousands of additional sources – we recommend using a consolidated approach for alerts, warnings, and country and city reports. If you have a Travel Risk Management solution, you need to assess your traveler policies for the region(s) in question. Pre-Travel Advisories should be turned on for all international travel to Israel. If not already in place, we also recommend initiating a Pre-Travel Approval process, which can ensure the traveler annotates their planned activities in-country, and can be a signal for the need for additional training or security resources. For example, travel to Tel Aviv may be sufficient with awareness and training; travel to areas closer to the Gaza strip should likely be restricted or require other precautions (e.g., security escort).
A robust Travel Risk Management solution should integrate with travel management companies (TMCs). Security and travel management teams should make sure the TMC is properly integrated and that passenger name records (PNRs) are automatically imported. This is also a good time to ensure travel compliance and reduce non-TMC travel.
In addition to PNR data, you’ll also want to make sure all asset and contact data is up to date so your alerts reach their intended recipients.
4. Ask the “What If?” questions, and work through potential escalation paths.
The fundamental skillset of the risk practitioner is imagination. Yesterday's questions are easily answered today, but tomorrow's questions must be addressed today. We recommend informal “war-gaming.” Start to think through how the conflict could escalate and how those changing risks could impact your people or operations, both in the immediate term and in the coming weeks. Will another country become involved in the conflict? If so, will you need to evacuate employees in any of your locations? Are any of your partners at risk? What is your short- and long-term plan? Should we provide cash advances for our employees? What are our obligations to our employees? To contractors?
While this process could ultimately be a formal undertaking (like a tabletop exercise), we recommend risk practitioners start with a simple conversation with other business and supply chain leaders: A ground invasion is possible; how does this affect us? We may soon see a Palestinian corridor in Egypt. Similarly, violence may spread to the Israel-Lebanon border or Beirut – what are our risks?
No matter the format, though, the key questions to ask are: How could any of these escalation paths affect my organization? What if they do? Who needs to know?
5. Check in with your employees.
During these situations, emotions run high. Tensions related to Gaza, Palestine and Israel are particularly sensitive — for employees in-country and for those with ties in-country but located here in the U.S. Keep the lines of communication open with your employees. Accept that some conversations will be difficult. For those in-country, send alerts requesting safety checks to those in or near a potentially unsafe area and provide instructions for those requiring assistance. Send reminders about available resources and support. When circumstances change, provide those updates and, above all, let your employees know the organization prioritizes their safety and well-being.
As with all crises, this is an important time for leaders to lead. OnSolve is here to help.