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Archive for the ‘Travel Security Awareness’ Category

If It Ain’t Broke, You Can Still Fix It

April 27th, 2017 Comments off

biking

We have seen the last of the snow around our corporate offices, and most people are coming out of hibernation and prepping for the spring and summer months. My wife’s bicycle needed a tune-up, so I brought it into a local bike shop that has been in town for many years. The shop was packed, with only a thin walkway through the center between the rows of bikes waiting for a tune-up.

I was given a numbered ticket that matched up with the bike. The owner said it would be ready in a week and someone would call me when it was ready, but if I did not hear back by then, I should contact the shop. The owner was very nice, knowledgeable, and appeared to be in his element as he had been doing it for years, however, there was room for improvement.

When I called back the shop a week, and two days later, I was asked for the ticket number. Since there was no record of my name or ticket number, the owner told me to stay on the phone with him while he walked up and down the path of bicycles. He then asked, “What kind of bike is it? Did you say it was red? No, you didn’t say, did you…let me see…I may have passed it…when did you drop it off?”

He did not find the bike but promised it would be ready for pick-up the following day. I believed him. I do not think a bike has ever been lost at that shop, but I am sure there have been delays, as I have experienced. Upgrading his system to use software, or even just record info in a logbook would work wonders.

Whether it is a local shop or large corporation, people can become complacent and trust in the motto, ‘If it ain’t broke’.

I have heard comments from travel managers stating that they have never had an incident with their security plan and do not need to change it. Complacency can backfire. Travel security policies need to be reviewed and constantly updated with new and improved services available.

For example:

Terrorism insurance coverage has quadrupled in the last three years

  • Here is the article
  • CAP™ exclusively by FocusPoint, has travel assistance memberships that cover terrorism amongst other travel risks

Epidemic of infectious decease is a concern for travelling workforces globally

  • CAP™ exclusively by FocusPoint, is the first assistance company to offer pandemic coverage

If it ain’t broke, you can still improve upon it.

Security Planning – Don’t be a Zombie

February 23rd, 2017 Comments off

zombie

Recently I was in London, England for a business travel show on behalf of FocusPoint to speak with travel managers regarding travel security.

After I had checked in at my hotel, I was directed to the elevator. I walked in, and to access my floor, I realized I had to swipe my room key outside of the elevator.

I later went out for the day and returned to the hotel. I decided to take the stairs since I did not have my suitcase this time. The stairs were just across from the card access elevator, and there was no type of security barrier to enter them. I was able to access any floor I wished without swiping my card, showing ID or confirming to anyone that I was a guest.

Security is vital and having a facade of security is dangerous. A security plan with gaps can leave a business or individual open to an undesired incident.

Duty of care is more than going through the motions of creating a security plan that looks good on paper. Plans have to be challenged and tested on a regular basis.

Don’t be a zombie and coast through security planning. Be thorough and detailed.

 

Peter Martin of FocusPoint International quoted in Sun Sentinel article ‘Fort Lauderdale airport shooting reveals security flaws’

January 19th, 2017 Comments off

sunsentinel

Until he turned his gun on tourists, Esteban Santiago hadn’t broken any laws flying to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport with a semi automatic handgun and bullets.

No rules were bent or ignored, no red flags raised.

Security experts and public officials say the shooting — the first of its kind in America — exposes weaknesses in a system designed to protect travelers on airplanes, but not necessarily in airports.

Until now, no one in America has ever gunned down airport travelers after flying with a checked weapon. But under airline and federal aviation rules, experts say, an airport attack like Santiago’s could easily happen again.

“It’s no more surprising than someone walking up to you on the street and shooting you,” said Jeff Price, an author, security trainer and professor at the Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Department of Aviation & Aerospace Science.

Santiago is accused of killing five tourists and injuring six other people in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2, after checking only a 9 mm handgun in Alaska and flying one-way across the country to carry out the attack.

Video shows Santiago opening fire in an area where the public can freely come and go without a security check. He told the FBI he emptied one magazine, reloaded and emptied the other, shooting the first people he encountered. Law enforcement officers were about one minute away, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel has said.

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, airports have been wrapped in a cocoon of safety regulations. That might give travelers a false sense of
security, Price said.

For complete coverage of the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting, click here.

Travelers can’t take more than 3.4 ounces of shampoo on an airplane; theirbodies are scanned by high-tech machines; their hands are sometimes
swabbed for bomb-making ingredients; and their bags are sniffed by trained German shepherds.

The areas of the terminal beyond the security checkpoint are protected because anything there could end up on a plane. In 2016, 3,391 guns were seized when people tried to carry them onto airplanes in the United States, according to Transportation Security Administration data. Four out of five were loaded.

Yet, the federal government leaves it up to airlines and local or state legislators to set rules for public areas like baggage claim.

In Florida, for example, concealed weapons can’t be carried in airports. But a gun in a case is fine, and people entering the baggage claim area aren’t
screened, anyway.

The policies remain in place even after previous shootings proved airports to be vulnerable. In November 2013, gunman Paul Ciancia took a Smith &
Wesson semi-automatic rifle into a busy terminal at Los Angeles International Airport and opened fire, killing a TSA agent and wounding three others.

Ciancia was not traveling. But no major airline prevents someone from entering with a gun as baggage, checking it and picking it up at the end of a
flight.

Delta spokesman Michael Thomas in Atlanta declined to discuss specifics about the ticket agent’s encounter with Santiago in Anchorage. But in general, he said, a traveler with a gun would approach the airline counter and sign an affidavit declaring the weapon is unloaded.

Following standard procedures, Santiago then would have opened the gun case and placed a Delta bright orange placard inside, declaring “FIREARM UNLOADED.”

The gun must travel in a hard case and must be locked, with only the traveler carrying the key to open it at the destination, according to TSA regulations. The case can be placed inside another piece of luggage, but the federal complaint against Santiago says he checked only the gun box.

The checked gun would be turned over to the TSA to be scanned for explosives, then stowed on the airplane.

Airlines require no gun permit when checking a gun for domestic travel, no proof of gun ownership, and no permit to use the gun in the arrival city or state, Thomas said.

“All these details are applied the same regardless of airline,” Thomas said. “We’re just applying the federal regulations.”

Gun policies posted on domestic airline websites show their rules differ from one another only slightly. Some airlines specify how ammunition is packed or how much it can weigh. Airports, too, generally follow the same guidelines when it comes to travelers with guns. Travelers must heed the gun laws in the states they travel to, but many states honor another state’s gun permits.

Jesse Davis, chief of police at the Anchorage airport, said his agency had no contact with Santiago and detected no sign that he planned violence.

“As far as the question about flying with just a gun case,” the chief wrote in an email, “there would be no way of knowing whether he had a traveling companion and that person had checked luggage under his/her name that belonged to both of them, or whether the other person may be holding onto the carry-on bags while the other traveler is declaring the handgun. So, it would not raise any red flags or warning signs.”

Santiago would have then boarded the flight from far-flung Alaska to balmy South Florida, knowing his Walther 9mm semi-automatic handgun and two magazines were tucked securely aboard.

Barring a baggage mix-up, Santiago could be assured his gun would emerge on the conveyor belt at Fort Lauderdale airport’s Terminal 2, around the lunch hour, as TSA announcements or a welcome message from Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief blared from the speakers.

Retrieving the gun was as easy as plucking it off the baggage belt. The government does not monitor how weapons are returned to passengers at the end of a flight.

“The reuniting of checked baggage with passengers is the responsibility of the airlines,” TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz said.

After the shooting on Jan. 6, the broadcast message soon turned dark, with a female voice warning, “There has been a report of an emergency. Proceed calmly to the nearest exit and leave the building immediately.” An alarm sounded as pandemonium broke out.

The shooting has brought new scrutiny to airport security, but one security expert cautioned against focusing on airports, given that the attack could have occurred in any busy place.

“If the person wasn’t able to carry it on the plane, would it have stopped the shooting? No,” said Peter Martin, CEO of the international security firm FocusPoint International and a Plantation resident. “It would have changed the location, for certain. But he’s not going to just go home and watch TV.”

John Parrott, director of the Anchorage airport, said the employees appeared to have gone by the book in Santiago’s case. Whether the rules themselves are adequate, he said, is beyond his purview.

“It appears that in this incident the required procedures were followed,” Parrott said by email. “As to whether or not those processes are adequate, that is part of the national discussion that is taking place.”

You are Either too Dumb, or You Were in on it!

October 13th, 2016 Comments off

robertdiniro

Robert De Niro’s character, Sam Rothstein says in the movie Casino “3 jackpots in 20 minutes!? Why didn’t you pull the machines? You’re either too dumb, or you were in on it.”

A little harsh, but worth some consideration in the corporate security world.

You may have put a contingency plan together for travel security, employment screening, a work stoppage or general workplace safety and believe that everything has been considered, but then you see that something is not working out. Don’t beat yourself up over it or pretend it is not happening and hope it gets back on track.

Move quickly and make a change. Simple.

Last week, the Toronto Blue Jays hit back to back to back home runs from the same pitcher. Why didn’t the manager pull the pitcher after the second?

 

pillar jays2 jays-3

Make sure all of your contingency plans allow for change as required, so they remain as fluid documents that you can continuously improve on.

AFIMAC CEO Peter Martin discusses Rio Olympics security on Fox News

August 19th, 2016 Comments off

AFIMAC CEO Peter Martin discusses security concerns at Rio 2016 Olympics on Fox News Special Report.

Original Date: August 12, 2016

CEO Peter Martin quoted in The Sun article ‘Olympics Terror Threat’

August 5th, 2016 Comments off

The Sun

JUST 500 of 3,000 vital screening guards have been recruited for the Rio Olympics.

With just five days to the opening ceremony, desperate organisers are drafting in soldiers and retired cops to fill posts.

The shambles emerged as al-Qaeda kingpin Abu Wa’el Dhiab went off radar amid fears he is heading to Brazil.

The ex-Guantanamo Bay inmate disappeared with five other former lags in neighbouring Uruguay last month.

Terror expert Peter Martin said: “He is a confirmed part of a terrorist organisation that has already demonstrated willingness to attack.”

Screening plans for Olympic venues collapsed after Artel won the £4million contract just weeks ago.

It had no previous experience securing major sporting events and did not have the time to recruit and train thousands of £7-a-day staff.

It echoes London 2012 when G4S failed to take on enough security screeners and the Army stepped in.

Rio officials have mostly drafted in old cops to pat down visitors and man screening kit. Some 41,000 troops are already committed to protecting the troubled games.

Justice Minister Alexandre de Moraes said Artel will be fined.

Dhiab is thought to have attended the same terror training camp as the 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta.

He was freed from Guantanamo in 2014 after 12 years and was resettled in Uruguay.

Brazil’s Federal Police have arrested 12 IS fanatics thought to be plotting an attack.

One suspect allegedly wrote: “The Olympics are our opportunity to reach paradise.”

Robert Muggah, a security researcher in Rio said: “Brazilian intelligence officials have now begun to take the threat of Islamists far more seriously”.

Terror concerns emerged as crime-plagued Brazil faced charges of hosting the most shambolic Olympic Games in history.

Rotting corpses have been spotted floating at the rat-infested sailing and wind-surfing venue as officials try to clean it up before the opening ceremony.

Athletes have been robbed at gunpoint and even allegedly kidnapped by gangs of rogue cops on the streets of Rio, where local government has collapsed amid an economic crisis.

The Olympians’ “Disneyland for Athletes” accommodation has also rendered virtually uninhabitable by a putrid open sewer gushing through the village.

And athletes and fans have been also been warned to guard against mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus around the host city.

AFIMAC CEO Peter Martin’s interview with Security Insider ‘How to stay safe in Rio’

August 5th, 2016 Comments off

AFIMAC CEO Peter Martin’s interview with Security Insider ‘How to stay safe in Rio’.

FocusPoint International: Mickey Winston’s advice on Rio 2016 in Safe Travels Magazine ‘Expert Advice: Is It Safe To Go To The Olympics?’

August 2nd, 2016 Comments off

Expert Advice

Mickey-Winston-profile-picMickey Winston at FocusPoint International

Email: mwinston@wwfocus.com
Website: www.focuspointl.com
Twitter: @mickfpi

FocusPoint is a Global Specialty Risk Consultancy with a focus on Travel Assistance/Crisis Response. We worked in over 100 countries last year and have been responding to crises and evacuating persons for over 30 years.

Mickey has over 25 years in the security industry and has held management positions with several Fortune 100 companies and spent over 10 years managing security for a high net worth Family managing all aspects of both personal and corporate security for their financial firm.  He has extensive experience in corporate investigations, crisis management, physical security and executive protection.  Mickey is a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, serving 7 years as both an infantry NCO and a Marine Security Guard at US Embassies.

How safe is it to go to the Olympics?

In my opinion, you can travel to pretty much anywhere, depending on your appetite for risk and willingness to implement security measures to ensure your safety.  With regards to Rio De Janeiro, I think it’s safe to attend the Olympics.  The chances of being a victim of a terrorist incident are slim, but the chances of being a victim of a kidnap, robbery or violent crime are more likely.

What are the biggest risks?

The level of street crime is dangerously high and although there will be a massive police and/or military presence in and around the Olympic venues, other areas of the City will not have coverage.  There have been several reports of athletes being victims of express kidnaps and robberies pre-Olympics, and this will probably increase during the Games.

What are the overlooked risks?

While everyone is focused on crime and terrorism, I think the risk of political unrest, getting caught up in some kind of violent protest action is high.  Travelers could unwittingly be cut off from their hotels or groups and then be vulnerable to injury or arrest etc.  The probability of a vehicle accident and/or medical mishap occurring is very high.  The availability of quality medical care and emergency response services will certainly be tested throughout the Olympics.

How should people mitigate this?

Have a plan.  Ensure your plan extends beyond the sights and sounds of the Olympic experience.  Situational awareness is key.  Be aware of your surroundings.  Know the contact numbers for your Embassy or Consulate.  Make sure your mobile device works overseas and you know how to use it locally in Brazil.  Identify medical facilities ahead of time and make sure your insurance will cover you if needed.  If your existing insurance will not cover you, purchase protections that will.  Keep abreast of changing threat dynamics through available media outlets – newspapers, television, social media, etc.  Secure transportation ahead of time and avoid public transportation as much as possible.  Know what to do and where to go if a crisis event occurs during your Olympic experience. Speak with hotel staff or Brazilian friends about what is going on.  Stay away from the area of official Government buildings that might be the focus of a protest or terrorist incident.  Make sure you can get in contact with your fellow travelers, groups in case you get separated.

Monkey Business

July 25th, 2016 Comments off

I had no idea what to expect; nobody did.

FocusPoint had never been an exhibitor at the GBTA show, and we needed to get the company brand in front of as many eyes as we could.

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Booth 773 at GBTA 2016 before the Expo opened.

We took the same approach that our clients use when they contract our services. If they are not travel, safety or security experts, they get our help and build a plan.

    • We invited Michael Thompson from our sister company, ISB Canada, for his years of experience in the travel business
    •  

    • We also requested the presence of our partner Don Churchill from e-Travel Technologies, for his years of expertise in the travel business
    •  

    • Peter Martin and Greg Pearson scheduled a weekly one-hour online meeting for everyone attending the trade show to run through the breakdown of companies and competitors that attend the show, service reviews, role playing scenarios for potential ‘on the floor’ discussions and more

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      Line up in front of our booth at GBTA 2016.

    • There was a team dinner the night before the trade show to rally the group, discuss strategy, and introduce partners
    •  

    • We held a debrief at the end of each trade show day to discuss the pros/cons

Every one of my twenty colleagues that attended the show were superstars. We had a plan, but without the team executing it, it would not be successful.

Oh, and we had rescued monkeys at our booth. That helped too (check out photos here). We had a lineup each day and were able to meet and have great conversations with the attendees about CAP travel assistance memberships, exclusively by FocusPoint.

We didn’t monkey around, and it paid off.

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AFIMAC Global CEO Peter Martin quoted in CNN article ‘Rio Olympics: Brazil vows to be ready in case terror strikes’

July 8th, 2016 Comments off

CNN

Rio de Janeiro has long had a reputation for dangerous favelas, with muggings and kidnappings not uncommon. But authorities are stepping up measures to tackle a different kind of security threat altogether when the Rio Olympic Games begin August 5.

Wary that the international sporting event is a potential prime target for terrorists, Brazilian forces have been working with specialist French SWAT teams to simulate attack scenarios.

In one drill, Brazil special forces and a police dog chase down an armed gunman to thwart a possible attack on Rio’s subway system. The dramatic display is meant to reassure journalists that a country with limited experience in handling terrorism is ready for the unthinkable.

“There is not a specific threat,” said Lt. Gen. Luiz Linhares with the Brazilian Ministry of Defense. “You have to screen for a great (spectrum) of threat.”

The Brazilian government said it is not taking any chances — especially after the recent terror attacks around the world, including in Turkey, Bangladesh, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Security is visible at a checkpoint Tuesday at the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro.

Linhares said authorities will be screening the ticket names of the hundreds of thousands coming for the Rio Olympics, South America’s first games.

Brazil’s intelligence agency reported in April that the number of those influenced by ISIS ideology had increased in recent months but insisted there was no threat to the Olympics.

Brazil mostly lacks the presence of extremist networks that terrorists rely upon, but at least one ISIS fighter tweeted after the November 2015 Paris attacks that Brazil would be next. Several ISIS members have launched a Telegram channel in Portuguese, the official language of Brazil.

The UK government’s latest travel warning advises citizens going to Brazil that “there is an underlying threat from terrorism. Attacks, although unlikely, could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreigners.”

There have been no major terror attacks in Brazil in recent years, but Peter Martin, CEO of security firm AFIMAC Global, said the country does have serious organized crime issues and therefore could leverage high-level training to combat that problem within the Brazilian special forces.

“When you’re going after gangs like that, there are a lot of similarities to terrorists with intercepted communications, informants trying to penetrate the organization, trying to understand what the next target is,” Martin said.

“It is different, but a lot of the methodologies apply. Brazil has been doing that for a long time.”

Problems with police

Police and firefighters protest pay delays this week at Rio de Janeiro’s main airport.

Some 22,000 troops will be stationed at the games, officials said, but the capability of the police force has been the focus of recent scrutiny.

For days, members of Rio’s law enforcement have been protesting over late wages. The state of Rio de Janeiro requested an emergency federal bailout after it said it was unable to fund essential public services.

Angry police officers have been camping out at the international arrivals hall of Rio de Janeiro’s main airport holding up banners that say, “Welcome to hell,” and warning visitors they will not be safe in the country.

A 2.9 billion-real bailout (roughly $850 million) was made available last week after acting Gov. Francisco Dornelles said the games could be a “big failure” without the funds. It’s believed that the back pay will be distributed this week.

Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes told CNN this week the state was doing a “terrible” job in regard to security in the lead-up to the games.

“It’s completely failing at its work of policing and taking care of people,” Paes said.

But Brazilian officials later put on a united front to assure the world that Rio was up to the task of hosting sport’s greatest showpiece.

Delays in construction

Also complicating security efforts is the unfinished construction of several Olympics sites and infrastructure.

Corruption probe into Olympics construction projects

“The construction is so far behind. (There are) the roads that were meant to have been built by now, and we’re not sure if they’re going to be open in time,” Martin said.

A tremendous amount of planning goes into mapping out the fastest routes to secure medical attention or safe zones. Parking for events may end up being farther away, he said, which means exposing people to being outside the security perimeter for longer periods of time.

“Because of the lack of development, we’re still not being told where all of those are going to be right now. Usually by now, we’d have that planned and done.”

What to do if you’re going to Rio

Martin said anyone traveling to Rio for the Olympics should know how to reach emergency services and monitor the situation on an ongoing basis.

“People need to understand that these situations are fluid, and it’s not enough to make an assessment a month out and say, ‘I’m good to go.’ You want to monitor the situation quite frequently,” he said.

“Understand that the police response is going to be limited potentially if they go on strike. Know your local hospitals, know how to dial (numbers). Take more personal responsibility to your safety.”

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