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When Pricing is Equal, What Separates Vendors?

June 10th, 2015 Comments off

Often pricing is relatively comparable when looking at vendors. How a vendor is able to respond and provide service is the only real difference.

Make certain you engage the vendor’s operations personnel at the onset. Also give them a few small test cases. Do they respond to your email or telephone calls in a timely manner? Do they make simple tasks more difficult? Can they use common sense? Some individuals come from environments that are extremely process driven and are unable to think outside the box. Failure is almost certain if you require services in a crisis and/or when your needs change on a case-to-case bases.

Having a military or police background does not always mean these individuals have the necessary skills to meet your expectations. Individuals who do not come from industries where customer service is important, often struggle. They often fail to communicate, provide updates and lack the ability to manage project budgets and seek the proper approvals should the scope of work expand. Anything can be solved by spending money foolishly. Can your vendor’s operations personnel manage your cost expectations? Receiving a bill that is 100% over budget is not the kind of surprise you need.

Also ensure operations personnel are clear on whether those supporting them are direct employees or subcontractors. All too often you find out your folks on the ground are dealing with a subcontractor, who in turn has subcontracted out the assignment.

Not only is it wise to meet the operations personnel but also at a minimum you should speak to the people providing support on the ground. By doing this, it will provide the only true sense of their skills, expertise and ability.

By taking time on the front end, you will save heartache and mistakes on the back end.

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A Cry For Help!

April 8th, 2015 Comments off

As we try to understand what happened with the recent plane crash, it is becoming clearer as the investigation continues that the co-pilot was suffering from depression. He was struggling to cope and unfortunately elected to take his life along with 150 others. This tragedy is bound to bring about significant changes to the airline industry. Would monitoring this co-pilot’s previous social media activity provide early clues? Companies in all sectors are now conducting social media monitoring and digital surveillance on their employees. The findings are often quite shocking. Threats of violence, suicide, self-harm, and use of weapons as well as narcotics are often uncovered. We all need to think about our own workplaces and imagine the harm that could be done if an individual elects to take action. How many others could be harmed? What would be the trigger to cause a reaction? The big question is, who and how often should one be monitored? I think we will see employees in safety sensitive positions undergoing more aggressive monitoring. We almost always find out after the fact that all the signs were already there.

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Start Your Engines

February 25th, 2015 Comments off

Formula 1 racing returns to Mexico with the next race set for November 2015. This event will attract many U.S., Canadian and Latin American fans. Many corporate sponsors will also have VIP and guests travelling to Mexico.

Mexico has recently faced a number of high profile, well-organized protests regarding the disappearance of 43 teachers. Will the protesters take this opportunity to bring attention to their cause? Recently Coca Cola had a facility targeted in Mexico. During the attack, firebombs were tossed and individuals kidnapped. Coca Cola is reported to be contemplating relocating operations to a safer area. These events are just two of the more recent high profile events.

As we know Mexico suffers from high crime rates and ranks as one of the most dangerous countries in the world. The disappearance of the teachers pointed to some other troubling discoveries. Local political leaders along with the police and cartels all had a hand in the disappearance.

The auto industry in Mexico is set to overtake Canada in the number of vehicles produced. If oil prices rebound and efforts continue to allow for foreign investment in the oil sector, more and more business travel to Mexico will occur.

What does all this mean for those in corporate security, human resources, corporate travel and event management?

You will require:

- To complete risk assessments to fully understand risks and challenges

- Intelligence gathering and monitoring

- Development of security plans for various levels of travellers

- Pre-trip security briefings

- To review medical plans

- To ensure crisis communication measures are in place

- Budgeting and recommendations for security coverage

- To work with vendors in country to coordinate efforts

Duty of Care obligations need to be communicated to all stakeholders to ensure all parties understand the risk and consequences. You may need to engage security drivers and vehicles for executives. For some groups, GPS tracking and panic devices should be considered to support those with a lower risk profile. VIP guests should be afforded additional security measures. Event based social media monitoring is also becoming a tool that many firms utilize prior to and during events. Threat risk assessments of hotels, event venues and routes will all become part of an overall plan.

The key is to have a plan. November is just around the corner and many firms have already commenced with plans. If you would like more information surrounding the upcoming Formula 1 race and security planning please email jrovers@afimacglobal.com to arrange a time to speak with one of our risk mitigation specialists for Mexico.

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Follow the Money!

February 25th, 2015 Comments off

The IMF will be hosting the 2015 Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund in Lima Peru on October 9 – 11, 2015. Senior executives from the banking and financial sectors, as well as governments will be attending from around the world. Activist groups have cast the IMF in a negative light. In many countries, austerity plans put in place by governments are viewed as the IMF’s way to control a country’s activities. As economic growth has stalled in many parts of the world, the average citizens have grown weary of the prospects of slow job growth and reductions in many services delivered by governments.

This no doubt will garner attention from social activists, as well as hard-core groups looking to bring attention to their cause. As witnessed during recent G8 and G20 gatherings, security challenges and logistics can be an enormous undertaking. Those attending will need to have contingencies in place for intelligence, security and medical response. With recent attacks in Canada, Australia and France, a greater emphasis on security will have to be considered.

Currently we have clients engaging us to provide a host of services for this upcoming event. At this time initial discussions are taking place surrounding threat risk assessments and advanced planning of security details, and security drivers and vehicles are being booked.

Firms are asking for more frequent briefings relative to the conditions within Peru. Event monitoring tools are being engaged. Information posted on social media platforms is often faster than traditional news sources. Locations can now be geo-fenced and critical information harvested to identify and monitor risk.

Needless to say, a combination of some or all of these measures may be considered to ensure your executives’ safety while attending.

If you would like to learn more, please email jrovers@afimacglobal.com to book a time to speak with one of our Latin American risk mitigation specialists.

Jim Rovers

AFIMAC Global

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Where Do We Go From Here?

January 20th, 2015 Comments off

In recent days we have faced terrorist attacks in Europe. The US uncovered a plot to attack government offices in Washington. Raids in Belgium and German foiled attempts by extremists to attack police and civilians. Each day we read in the news about homegrown terrorists or individuals that have been radicalized.

These events are no longer isolated incidents. We all need to increase our level of security awareness. Corporations need to ensure employees report suspicious activities and have a process in place to evaluate. Business travellers might find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. We need to train them on how to deal with and respond to potential attacks and hostage situations. For those responsible for executive security, ensuring your team has the resources and training will become increasingly important. Not only do we need to focus on travel but also it is important that event planners ensure that security measures are in place at venues. Keep in mind that many venues offer security support. In some cases it is handled very professionally and in others it is not. Ensure you fully understand what you are getting.

Recently I spoke to two clients that had tabled active shooter training in the past 12 months. In both cases, human resources overruled security, as they did not want employees to feel startled. Due to recent events and employees questioning security about why nothing was being done to prepare employees, the decision was overturned and the employees are now receiving active shooter and security awareness training. We need to stop worrying about scaring employees and focus more on today’s reality. This does not mean training needs to be over the top. Finding a balance is key.

Decision-making around security expenditures needs to be taken out of the hands of finance. This does not mean there is no level of accountability. All too often a recommendation reaches finance and without discussion, the budget proposed is dramatically reduced. I recently completed an audit and one of the recommendations was for perimeter fencing. When the proposal was reviewed it was decided to cut the budget in half, which allowed for fencing on only 2 sides of the property leaving the other 2 sides exposed. Those with ill intentions only had to walk around the fence. Why have any fence at all. This is a simple example that displays a lack of understanding. The good news in the end was a member of the executive team elected to take security’s recommendation.

We are now all potential targets of extremists at home and at work. Having a well-resourced plan and ensuring we all become more aware is key to our future security.

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Cargo Theft Stats Are Seeing More Driver Involvement?

November 27th, 2014 Comments off

Cargo theft continues to be a growing problem. Some recent stats point to increased driver involvement in cargo crimes.

A new white paper from the logistics security services provider FreightWatch International reported last year truck cargo theft activity spiked in the final quarter of the year, with a total of 242 reported incidents. It detailed that driver theft reached an all high in 2013; increasing 76% over 2012 and a whopping 389% jump over 2011.

Monitoring a driver’s social media footprint may provide information and clues when investigating drivers who might be under the suspicion of being involved in losses.

Tools have been designed to harvest open source social media data in an automated way and provide alerts and reports of suspicious activities.

We have found that almost all stolen items make their way back onto the market. Individuals involved will often use social media as a means to sell items quickly.

Not only can drivers be targeted, you can also monitor individuals and groups who also might be involved. The cost to monitor can be as low as $500 dollars for a 30-day period. Most people I speak with simply don’t have the time to continuously monitor activities on social media.

The good news is you no longer have to spend countless hours being a cyber sleuth. To learn more about our digital surveillance products, please feel free to reach me at jrovers@afimacglobal.com.

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Would You Love to Predict Events Before They Happen?

November 21st, 2014 Comments off

The term “big data” is everywhere today. Almost everything we do can be captured in some way, shape or form. Retailers can now determine when a woman is pregnant by using big data. And what does all this mean to security, investigative and human resource professionals? Through the use of open source web and social media data, we are able to identify potential risks and threats. Imagine if you were able to predict if workplace violence is likely to occur. Past violent or aggressive behaviour is a predictor of future behaviour. Using digital surveillance, you are able to monitor a person’s behaviour. In the past, we had to wait to see if an event would occur and later read about it in the news that the individual had posted information online that indicated a strong possibility of violent behaviour. Threats, photos of weapons and rants about injustice are quite typical. I recently worked with a client that had experienced a significant increase in workers’ compensation claims. The client was uneasy about traditional surveillance as a first step. We selected two test cases. In the first case, not much was found. In the second, we hit the jackpot. The individual in question was deemed totally disabled. By harvesting social media data and using key words, we determined that he had left the country via Toronto Pearson Airport and had flown to New York. While in New York, numerous photos and information were posted about the individual’s vacation. In one instance, he described climbing a fire escape in great detail. Needless to say, the Human Resources team was able to use the information in dealing with this person.

As an investigator, imagine if you could capture and understand when your stores are being targeted and by whom. Rather then spending money on loss prevention resources during times of low likelihood of a crime, you could now target peak hours.

Law enforcement groups have commented that they need to do more with the web and social media. Attacks on police in New York, as wells as the soldiers in Canada have all revealed that the violent indicators were present prior to the actual crimes.

Harvesting data from the web and digital surveillance are becoming an important tool. The key is to be able to harvest data in an automated way and receive the data so it can be understood. Drinking from a fire hose tends to be difficult.

The good news is now you can. If you wish to learn more, please send me an email jrovers@afimacglobal.com

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The Day We Lost Our Innocence

October 29th, 2014 Comments off

Last week Canadians lost their innocence.  The country has always prided itself as a safe country and a melting pot of many cultures. The loss of two soldiers on Canadian soil in separate attacks has caused many Canadians to wonder if their country has changed. To make matters worse, the second attack was at the parliament buildings. The police and other law enforcement agencies responded and eliminated the risk before more people were harmed.

The nation now mourns the loss of two heroes and begins the process of trying to understand what took place. I work in the security industry and noticed a real shift. When 9-11 occurred there were adjustments made in how security was handled. These types of incidents typically happen in the United States, not in Canada. We have learned that we are not immune.  What will happen next? Are these events isolated or is this the beginning of a trend? Incidents of workplace violence have been increasing. Terrorism is now a very real threat. Each citizen now understands that they could also be a target. I think all citizens also realize they need to have more security awareness. The parliament buildings will undergo a review of security practices to ensure appropriate measures are in place to deal with these new possible threats.  The police and lawmakers will begin the process of reviewing our current laws and procedures and no doubt will make adjustments. Businesses will also adjust. In the last few days, I have fielded numerous calls regarding camera systems and access controls. In a few instances, we have seen clients move from concierge style security to a more robust security posture at main access points. The requests for digital surveillance and social media monitoring have also increased.  This time something feels different. Those reaching out sound more like individuals I typically speak to regarding Mexico or Latin America.  Incidents last week may have changed Canada forever. Although Canadians are viewed as friendly, passive people to the rest of the world, when attacked our resolve hardens. Military battles from both World War I and II have shown that when poked, the sleepy and peaceful people of Canada rise up to meet the challenge. For those who have lost their lives, the nation weeps. For those left behind, we now move on with a different view and feeling.

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Security is Always Too Much When Nothing Happens and Never Enough When an Incident Occurs

September 26th, 2014 Comments off

I borrowed this subject line from a client. It is such a true statement. How many times have you sat through meetings and had to explain or justify the cost and why certain security measures are being put in place, only to have your plan rejected or watered down. What typically happens at some point is a security breach and immediately following there is a debriefing of the incident and the finger pointing begins. How come we didn’t have a plan? What steps need to be taken to ensure this does not happen again in the future? We spend thousands of dollars on security and we are not protected. Dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t.

There have been some recent high profile security breaches. The breach of the White House perimeter made headlines around the world. A recent article by an airline union claiming security is lax and items could be placed in food also hit the news. I’m sure there are numerous other breaches around the world that do not get picked up by media sources.

How can these breaches occur? What can be done to stop them? The simple answer is ‘if there is a will, there is a way’. No facility can guarantee that they cannot be breached. The firm I work for regularly completes penetration and breach testing for a number of different industries annually. Security quite often takes the blame when a breach occurs. The issue is not just a security issue. Everyone at an organization is responsible for security. We recently had an example where our team breached a shipping entrance that was left open. We gained access and made our way to the elevator of the office tower. We simply looked lost and confused and a kind employee used their card to assist us in activating the elevator. They asked which floor we were going to and even pushed the elevator buttons. Next thing you know, we were on the executive floor. Once again we encounter another set of glass doors that required an access card. After a few minutes, we were greeted by another employee who kindly opened the door and took us to the visitor waiting area. After enjoying a cup of coffee we decide to go for a walk. The next 30 minutes were spent roaming. Photographs of sensitive information left on desktops were taken. We placed a backpack in the lunchroom and exited the building. The backpack was not reported until almost 48 hours later.

The company had recently implemented some cost cutting measures that affected a number of security programs. They had all the necessary policies and procedures in place to prevent such a breach. Unfortunately they did not have the security resources required. In addition, the level of security awareness amongst the employees was extremely low. This most likely was a result of complacency. I think it is extremely important for organizations to complete regular penetration testing. This can be done through a third party or you can use internal resources if they are not recognizable.

The end result should allow you to identify gaps in your security program as well as provide an avenue to create heightened awareness with the entire organization.

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How Many Hamburgers Do You Need to Make to Recover $27 Million Dollars?

August 27th, 2014 Comments off

Recently McDonald’s was sued successfully and held liable for an incident that took place at their College Station Texas location. The lawsuit claimed McDonald’s did not have adequate plans and security measures in place. The courts are now examining what contingency plans and security measures are in place to prevent or mitigate risk. Public restaurants and stores may be held responsible for violence occurring in their locations. This includes both inside and outside the establishment. In Canada, a lawsuit is ongoing against York University for $20.6 million dollars. The claim alleges that security measures were not adequate. This case has yet to be proven.

Turning a blind eye can prove very costly. Duty of Care requires employers to take adequate steps to protect their employees. The emergency management and contingency planning field is growing rapidly as corporations realize they will need to understand all threats to their business as well as the probability and consequences should an event unfold. This not only applies to violent incidents. Natural disasters, bad weather and illness as well as disease are just a few other scenarios that require consideration.

Too many times organizations look to find the lowest cost solution. Conducting a threat risk assessment will allow you to understand the threat and you can begin to craft a solution to ensure you get the best value vs. low cost. You must also teach your employees to recognize dangerous security situations and how to notify senior management and authorities. Be prepared and protected when a threat emerges.

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