If the tragic events of 9-11-2001 taught us one thing, it’s that a system that compartmentalizes information and relies on manual efforts to link critical data is doomed to be reactive and inefficient. This is true in the case of government agencies and private sector security/risk management as well. I know because I have experience in both worlds, first as a Special Agent in Charge and Assistant Director for the FBI, and later as a Corporate Security Executive for the largest bank in the US. As a former member of the US “Intelligence Community” I’ve learned that being able to see the big picture is the best chance an organization has to prevent or mitigate the impact of destructive security events. Unfortunately though, holding information close to the vest is a government pastime. And, security departments of large corporations share many of the same challenges in consolidating information sources across literally hundreds of databases and technology platforms.
The failure to integrate information sources happens for many reasons. In the government sector, it can stem from: the classification of information; “walls” that exist between, and within, government agencies; privacy laws; and the slow pace of deploying data integration technology solutions. In the private sector it more often relates to: the size and complexity of the corporation; mergers and acquisitions; lack of enterprise-wide technology solutions; and the proliferation of individual databases without the tools to manage and analyze that data.
Our global and digital world economy has shown us time and time again that information can be a powerful success-enabler when harnessed correctly. Marketing firms and businesses across many sectors routinely use analytical tools to collect, integrate and analyze business intelligence – in order to predict customer buying habits, control inventory and even prevent fraud.
The same strategies can and should be applied to the industrial security realm. After all, the security environment is an information-rich eco-system with video analytics, CCTV, access control, alarms, guards, environmental design, event tracking databases, law enforcement information, and many other internal and external data sources. Each element is a window into what’s happening but not the complete picture. To enable real situational awareness, you need to break down the walls between security silos – to integrate, synthesize and analyze information. For example, a bank that was experiencing an increase in ATM thefts utilized CCTV analysis of the incidents combined with police crime data to determine that stolen construction equipment from nearby construction sites was often utilized to commit the theft. Bank security professionals then utilized satellite geographical visualization technology to identify ATM machines located within a mile of heavy construction sites to identify high risk machines. By deploying GPS trackers and other security enhanced measures the bank virtually eliminated ATM thefts.
Similarly, by combining rapid assembly of relevant data with user friendly visualization tools, situation management technology can help security teams manage other types of fast breaking tactical events and crisis scenarios – from fires and access control breaches to criminal acts and bomb threats. Ultimately it takes a commitment to leveraging technology to “tear down the walls” between security information silos. This is the key to transforming your security center from just another corporate cost center to an intelligence driven, prevention focused, enlightened business operation.
About the author:
Chris Swecker has 30 years of experience in law enforcement, national security, legal, and corporate security/ risk management positions. Swecker served 24 years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) before retiring as Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. From 01/2006 to 7/2006 he was Acting Executive Assistant Director responsible for eight FBI divisions including Cyber, Criminal, International Operations, Training, Crisis Management, Operational Technology, Criminal Justice Information and the Law Enforcement Liaison office encompassing more than half of the FBI’s total resources.
As Corporate Security Director for Bank of America from July 2006 to January 2009 Chris Swecker led investigations; physical security; international security, employment screening and executive protection. He provided strategic direction and overall management for over 600 proprietary associates and over 3800 contract security guards with an overall budget of over $250 million. He executed a comprehensive transformation of all aspects of the security organization, emphasizing the use of advanced analytical software, security technology and fusion of open source, government and internal information to drive strategies to prevent fraud, privacy and security events. Swecker created an advanced Security Operations Analysis and Command Center (SOAC) to support security operations worldwide. The SOAC monitored and managed the largest alarm, access control and digital video surveillance system in the financial sector with responsibility for 6100 bank branches, 18,000 ATMs and 450 administrative facilities. Swecker spearheaded the bank’s efforts to integrate people, processes and technology across 12 different bank components related to fraud detection and investigations, Anti Money Laundering and data security. During his tenure fraud losses were reduced by over $50 million and armed bank robberies were reduced by over 26%.
From 1999 to 2005 Swecker served as Special Agent in Charge of North Carolina Operations where he presided over two of the most significant terrorism cases in the country, one involving the capture of the Atlanta Olympic bomber and another that dismantled a Hezbollah terrorist financing cell utilizing the RICO statute for the first time in a terrorism prosecution. Swecker has testified before Congressional Committees on topics such as identity theft, crimes against children, mortgage fraud, human trafficking, financial crimes, information privacy and data compromise, crimes on the internet, drug trafficking on the southwest border and gangs. He has also appeared as a guest on such media programs as 60 Minutes, Oprah Winfrey, Good Morning America, CSPAN Washington Journal and North Carolina People. He received the prestigious Presidential Rank Award in 2003 for his service in Iraq and as Special Agent in Charge of the NC Office. Swecker is a graduate of Appalachian State University and received his Juris Doctor from Wake Forest School of Law. He is a member of both the North Carolina and Virginia State Bars.