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  • September 08, 2022 6:28 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Security Management Magazine 

    During a crisis or major event it can be easy to focus on the matter at hand. But malicious actors often seek such distractions to use them to their advantage, so security professionals need to think critically about their vulnerabilities to limit opportunities for harm.

    Many organizations have gone to great lengths to secure their facilities, whether that is a single building or an entire compound. But as adversaries’ capabilities advance and attack planning cycles accelerate due to the increased availability of open-source information, the days when an organization’s physical security program started at the perimeter fence are behind us.

    This new era requires security programs and initiatives that prevail both inside and outside of the perimeter. Security professionals need to think like an adversary, constantly envisioning how a current event—whether planned or unplanned—could be used to an attacker’s advantage.

    The traditional layered approach to physical security is a combination of the perimeter, external structure measures, and internal building measures. This involves identifying the sector and regional risks, designing and incorporating appropriate security measures for each layer, arranging for contract guard services, implementing standard operating procedures (SOPs), and exercising plans on a regular basis. Some security programs also use advanced countermeasures and technology, including drones.

    Outside the perimeter, certain security initiatives can be implemented to provide an expanded, layered approach to security. Proactive security professionals leverage extensive intelligence networks, and—in some cases—these include confidential informants. Further capitalizing on threat intelligence, security leaders have engaged with regional fusion centers and benefited from industry and law enforcement organizations that share threat intelligence and situational awareness information.

    Security leaders take the time to educate their teams through awareness programs, such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s “See Something, Say Something” campaign, and communicate good practices to staff, contractors, and businesses and organizations in the area. The more individuals who provide natural surveillance and report any suspicious activity, the greater the likelihood of thwarting an attack. And while these measures help with day-to-day security, they can also come in handy during atypical times.

    Around the globe, natural disasters regularly disrupt operations, whether they occur with little forewarning—like derechos, earthquakes, or tornados—or advance notice, including hurricanes or typhoons. Critical incidents have similar divisions: human-caused accidents like train derailments or incident-triggered civil unrest can be unexpected, while other events like parades, sporting events, or festivals can be planned months ahead of time.

    Any of these events can impact staffing, disrupt public works, and impact the availability of first responders. If an organization is not prepared, these changes provide bad actors with the opportunity to take advantage of distractions to possibly gain access to a facility. Criminals may seek to steal products if the opportunity is right, or may take advantage of an event to conduct an orchestrated theft of intellectual property. On a larger scale, ideology-driven violent extremists are committed to disrupting and crippling critical infrastructure for their cause, and a major event often sparks concern that threat actors will attack during the confusion.

    “During an unusual event or critical incident that impacts a facility, it is the perfect time for an enemy to accelerate their planning process and launch an intrusion or attack,” says Brad Baker, a retired federal supervisory special agent and current security consultant. Baker has conducted physical security assessments and training for federal and private facilities worldwide. “An initial attack or unusual event may simply be utilized as a diversionary tactic in which the main attack will occur at a different breach point. It is imperative that security forces remain vigilant and be prepared for bad actors—whose mission is to take advantage of the current situation—to launch a follow-on attack.”

    To maintain a heightened level of awareness, security professionals may find themselves reviewing daily weather forecasts to understand what events could impact their facility and community. Weather-related events can wreak havoc on critical infrastructure and associated facilities. Beyond that impact, incidents can stress security assignments and create an unusually high workload for the community’s first responders and public works services. There is also significant stress associated with disruptions to employees’ personal lives. This is often overlooked, but it should be addressed through family assistance programs or other means to allow employees to focus on their work.

    To map out where an organization can boost its preparedness, consider four scenarios.

    Unexpected weather. Your hypothetical facility has been affected by an unexpected thunderstorm. Torrential rain saturates the ground, accompanied by lightning, which interferes with your buried perimeter detection systems. The wind-driven rain limits the visibility of your external security cameras. Facility guards are still required to complete their patrol rounds, whether this is a walking route or one that can be done using a vehicle, but their visibility and comfort level are compromised. In addition, your facility might experience power or communications outages that—without a backup power source—can render some security countermeasures ineffective.

    Meanwhile, a bad actor may see this as an excellent opportunity to execute an intrusion or attack, banking on the storm impacting your security plans.

    From a security continuity perspective, how can you mitigate the potential effect of this situation? Consider installing a backup generator or microgrid and ensure all security systems are prioritized to be fed from this alternate power source. For mobile communications, do not rely on a single carrier. Instead, have devices or mobile hotspots available from an alternative carrier.

    Your security plan should include a section or annex that outlines any revised SOPs for these types of situations, Baker says. This includes various mandates: call in extra personnel to increase guard levels; order activated perimeter patrols to ensure that intruders have not accessed the grounds; or lock down some entrances so that personnel can focus on securing a reduced number of ingress points.

    Consider what steps adversaries could use to take advantage of the event, and then your team should develop processes that would counter a malicious actor’s potential actions.

    Expected weather. You are the security leader for an organization with facilities across the United States, some of which are in a hurricane-prone area. A large tropical storm is forming, and it is expected to remain a tropical storm with winds of less than 70 miles per hour. One of your coastal facilities is in its path, so a decision is made to provide additional support by sending security personnel from your inland facilities. Your public information officer announces this decision on social media to show your organization’s response to the event, so the movement of security staff is now open knowledge.

    Bad actors who have been surveilling your organization see this announcement and realize that your inland facilities will have temporary security personnel shortages. They also determine through research, open-source information, and their own surveillance that your organization has not invested in state-of-the-art countermeasures and is very dependent on a security force to monitor and control facility access. Their interest is piqued by your research and development (R&D) laboratory at one inland facility. Your organization is about to beta test a new chemical mixture and manufacturing process, and one of the bad actors determines that this intellectual property could be a valuable target.

    By thinking like an adversary, you understand that because of the reduction in security staffing and the lack of in-depth countermeasures, your inland facilities will be more exposed to an intrusion. After an employee—who has embraced the “See Something, Say Something” initiative—reported someone parked down the street taking pictures of your facility, your concern is heightened further.

    The facility security plan in this case cannot be focused solely on just one facility because the sites in the storm’s path justifiably need more staff. But the annex in your security plan should emphasize that due to the R&D lab’s risk profile, this facility should provide fewer personnel to the coastal facility than other sites. With the staff that does remain, the SOP annex should address the implementation of extended hours—including overtime pay—for the security staff. Consider having a pre-approved, vetted vendor on call to supplement some of your staffing needs with mobile video surveillance and camera monitoring or alarm verification services.

    “It is critical that security leaders have established, vetted suppliers long before a storm, natural disaster, or civil unrest to support them,” says Marc Bognar, CPP, a security consultant with 40 years of experience in security services.

    “As the storm or civil unrest is bearing down, it is often too late as suppliers will already have committed their resources, and any remaining resources will be very costly and could prove unreliable. Make sure you vet your intended supplier well in advance of the potential need to ensure they meet your insurance, state, and local licensing requirements,” adds Bognar, who has planned and executed multiple security team deployments during natural disasters, civil disturbances, and other crises.

    “Do your due diligence to ensure they really have a plan and the resources to support you,” he continues. “Keep in mind that their local employees will also be impacted by a natural disaster and may struggle to support your needs. Having a plan to bring employees from outside of the impacted area is a good approach, but requires you to vet how they will house, feed, and transport employees. Although some jurisdictions will waive local licensing requirements during a natural disaster, provided the employees are similarly licensed in another jurisdiction, such a decision or declaration can take time.”

    Planned event. In honor of a national holiday, your city announced a three-day celebration and a parade eight weeks from today. City officials expect huge crowds during each day of this festivity, and the parade route will feature entertainment and street vendors.

    In reviewing the parade schedule, you identify that more than a dozen street vendor tents will be set up along Main Street, which runs along the south side of your building. A concert stage will be in the park across from your building, and the two streets on the east and west of your facility will be closed at their intersections with Main Street, although parking will still be permitted up to the road closure signs. Due to several bridge and road projects—which will not be completed in time for the parade—traffic is expected to be congested.

    A lone actor or criminal enterprise in your proximity may see this as an opportunity to conduct surveillance or execute an attack. They could rent a vendor space and sell a product or craft from the front of the tent while they utilize the back to plot and launch their activity. They know that the concert performers across the street will create loud music, which could drown out any noise from saws and drills, and the ensuing light shows will complicate the field of view for security personnel who are monitoring cameras. The crowds themselves, along with the parade, will provide escape cover and ultimately affect police response times if the criminals’ activities are discovered.

    Luckily for your organization, you think like an adversary and have an annex in place to address all of this. Since you have a few months to prepare and exercise your plan, you will be ready, no matter what these bad actors have in mind.

    As Bognar suggests, you have vetted and secured extra security staff that will be in place several days prior to, during, and after the parade. Earlier in the year, you conducted a tabletop exercise that included the regional representative from your vetted security contractor, so the group is familiar with your plans and SOPs.

    Your annex identifies a revised video monitoring schedule so that each member of the monitoring staff views a reduced number of cameras. This enables them to become intimately familiar with every aspect of their assigned camera views, which means they can detect anomalies faster.

    All building accent lighting hardware will be cleaned or replaced to ensure the best possible lighting. All ground floor windows have been reinforced, and you have limited building traffic by requesting that personnel work from home if they can during the days of the event.

    Because you have already partnered with the regional fusion center, you solicit any relevant intelligence and suspicious activity reports (SARs) and share that information with your security staff.

    You work with the city planning department to create a space between your building and the vendor’s tents, and you get approval to have jersey barriers placed at the back of the vendor tents. This move protects pedestrians on the sidewalk and restricts access to these tents to the front only, facing away from your building. You also work with the city to have it restrict all parking along the north side of your building, convincing officials to instead use this open street parking to position first responder vehicles.

    Unplanned critical incident. An event—from a fuel price hike to an incident of violence—triggers civil unrest, and thousands take to the streets in defiance of curfews and police orders. Some bad actors within the large crowds are looking for every opportunity to damage property, interrupt commerce, and congest traffic while they protest. They have taken to social media and threatened to firebomb businesses in the area. Unfortunately, your building is next to the news station, which has been targeted by protesters in the past. Law enforcement is caught off-guard by the speed, size, and intensity of the protests, so it has diverted all of its nearby resources to this incident.

    Your building is set back from the road and has two parking lots between the facility and the news station. One parking area is closer to the building, and the other connects through several brick walkways. Due to the essential services that you provide to the community, your building needs to remain open.

    Your SOP annex for this type of situation has been prepared using industry best practices, and it has been exercised and validated. Upon learning of the protests, your security team immediately activates the annex. The front entrance near the news station is closed, and signs are posted directing visitors to the rear parking lot entrance, which you have fully staffed. Removeable driveway bollards are put into place, closing the parking lot closest to the building. The design of your landscaping—utilizing decorative rock walls, strategically placed trees, and water gardens in accordance with crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) principles—makes it virtually impossible to drive a vehicle near the building. All deliveries to the property have been canceled until further notice.

    Your lobby staff, which now includes a security guard, is protected by bullet-resistant acrylic. The steel-reinforced, magnetically locked doors leading from the lobby into the rest of the facility are in lockdown mode, and public access is restricted to the lobby. All meetings that involve non-personnel at the facility have been canceled. All these procedures limit the number of people entering the facility while narrowing points of access to enable more effective controls.

    It is difficult to quantify deterrence, and you might never know if the measures taken have stopped an intrusion. A bad actor may show up at a facility prepared to attempt access, only to observe that the security team is one step ahead and his or her chances of success seem extremely limited. Security’s unsung success may cause people to question why the extra efforts were necessary, but security teams should not be deterred from staying vigilant. 

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  • September 08, 2022 6:25 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from The Art Newspaper

    The National Museum of Brazil (Museu Nacional-UFRJ) in Rio de Janeiro has unveiled the first phase of a phoenix project this week nearly four years after a fire gutted the historic institution and consumed most of its collection.

    The museum had hoped to open one wing of the building in time for the Brazilian bicentennial of independence on 7 September but faced various financial and pandemic-related delays.

    Instead, the Rio de Janeiro-based firms Velatura Restaurações and Construtora Biapó have completed the restoration of the museum’s façade, and marble statues that once flanked the museum’s roof are being exhibited in the adjoining Quinta da Boa Vista park. Replicas have been fabricated for the building to safeguard the originals. 

    Several other exhibitions, including a collection of minerals, will also be installed on the ground-floor of the museum and visible to visitors from the outside. The full building is now tentatively scheduled to reopen in 2027.

    The museum had been underfunded and vulnerable to fire for years. After a series of warnings, an overheated air-conditioning unit caught fire on 2 September 2018 and quickly spread throughout the 122-room building. Within two hours, the museum itself, and more than 18 million pieces in its archive, had been destroyed.

    Inspectors had warned of a fire risk as early as 2004. Just months before the fire, an anonymous public complaint was submitted to federal prosecutors by an architect who identified and photographed specific hazards throughout the building. 

    The tragedy prompted debate on the state of cultural funding in Brazil ahead of the election of the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, following the appointment of the former president Michel Temer, whose administrations both imposed significant cuts on the cultural budget.

    The museum’s director, Alexander Kellner, was appointed to the role around six months before the fire struck. “Of course, this is not something that anyone would like to happen in their career—I will go down in history as the director of the museum that caught fire,” he tells The Art Newspaper. “But as long as my health allows I’ll work to recuperate the museum because overcoming this tragedy can perhaps be an inspiration for other struggling museums in Brazil and throughout South America.”

    Shortly after the fire, Kellner published an open letter to Brazil’s national congress and the country’s then presidential candidates calling for the government to reinforce cultural funding and further commit to reconstruction efforts. As the October presidential election looms, he hopes there will be “more gestures of goodwill from the government, and some promises of investment in culture”, because “currently there is close to zero”.

    The renovation is estimated to cost around 380 million reais ($75m) but the final figure could reach around 500 million reais ($97m). The federal government has contributed around 300,000 reais ($58,000) each year. “It’s something but it’s peanuts in comparison to what we really need for the project,” Kellner says. “All the federal funding comes from tax deductions, which the ministry of education—the government—has to then approve.”

    The Rio de Janeiro government has donated 55 million reais ($11m) and the Brazilian Development Bank has donated around 50 million reais ($10m); other significant endowments have come from private donors and foreign governments.

    Historical layers

    The São Paulo-based firm H+F Architects, led by Eduardo Ferroni and Pablo Hereñu, has overseen the interior renovation since 2020. According to Hereñu, the fire created a “violent intervention”, making visible parts of the building that would not have surfaced during a normal renovation.

    Originally the home of the Portuguese slave trader Elias Antônio Lopes, the building became the residence of the Portuguese royal family in 1808 before becoming a museum in 1892. Throughout the process, it was remodeled and rebuilt and expanded several times. “Some of these layers have been hidden for more than a hundred years,” Hereñu says.

    Once the renovation is complete, the architects hope the history of the building will be more visible. “We would like to make it easier for visitors to read this timeline through the building itself—to reveal the contradictions that exist here,” Hereñu says. “There were arches that were cut in the middle, windows hidden by new walls, paint covered by dozens of layers and many other elements that tell this complex story.”

    When it reopens, the museum will inescapably be more modern. “We are attempting to conserve everything that survived. But, in many situations, everything was destroyed,” Hereñu says. “There will be a more contemporary atmosphere, with a mixture of elements conserved and restored.”

    Before the fire, the museum had around 3,400 sq. m of exhibition space, within which 6,000 objects were displayed. The future museum will contain around 5,500 sq. m of exhibition space with the capacity to display around 10,000 objects.

    One of the most significant parts of the project is rebuilding the museum’s collection, which included more than 20 million objects, including botanical specimens, Indigenous objects, meteorites, fossils and archaeological artefacts. The fire destroyed around 85% of the collection, not including around 15% that was stored in an external facility.

    The museum has a “wish list” of objects it hopes will be donated by Brazilian and foreign institutions. Significant contributions so far include a promise from Unesco to donate 140 objects in total from each of its geoparks and a collection of botanical specimens from the Amazon from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 

    As Brazil seeks to re-establish its cultural identity through the restoration of its most significant institution, Kellner emphasises that it “needs to deserve this new material”, and it will “only prove that we deserve the materials if we rebuild the palace with the best safety measures in place”.

    Around 50,000 objects were recovered from the fire. Among the works that survived was a 12,000-year-old skull nicknamed “Luzia”, the oldest human remains discovered in South America and a cornerstone of the museum’s collection. The Bendegó meteorite, the largest meteorite ever found in Brazil, discovered in 1784 in Bahia, was also found intact.

    Museum scrutinised for conflict of interest

    The federal organisations that administer the museum—the Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (Iphan) and the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro UFRJ—were recently accused of “irregularities” in the hiring process of companies involved in the reconstruction project. 

    According to a complaint that has now reached Congress, there has been a “triangulation that could reveal an evident game of marked cards and conflict of interest that has been fueling the flames of serious suspicion of corruption” in the project. 

    The complaint specifically states that a technical coordinator of the IPHAN, which was in charge of providing inspection services, is the son-in-law of two consultants contracted to produce proposals and guidelines for the reconstruction process. The investigation remains ongoing.

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  • August 23, 2022 9:18 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Security Management Magazine

    The purpose of training is to inspire a sense of confidence and competence where knowledge and skill are otherwise wanting. Training has no practical value without that animating purpose. Training that leaves participants terrorized, anxious, and bruised fails the foundational ideal that makes it meaningful.

    Recent research, buttressed by a resurgence of common sense, suggests that the graphic, dramatized, flashy active shooter training that has become a staple in educational settings harms rather than helps.

    The centerpiece of fashionable active shooter training is reality-based, scenario-based, or stress inoculation training (for better or worse, the terms have come to be used interchangeably).

    Law enforcement did not forge the concept of stress inoculation or the edgy terminology that grew out of it. Law enforcement co-opted the concept from psychology, which used it to treat psychological conditions and phobias. Distilled to essentials, the idea was to introduce a person to the environment (or element thereof) exciting the traumatic response in controlled, measured, and rationally sequenced doses in a systematic effort to build tolerance against the trauma.

    For psychologists, the focus is inoculation. For law enforcement trainers, the focus is stress.

    In practice, for law enforcement, the concept devolved into heaping stress onto trainees with little regard for anything else. Stress became an end in itself—and the more elaborate and wild the stress, the “cooler” and “more real” the training seems. “Ready, stress, go!” became the clarion call of the high-octane trainer. The problem with this approach is that it contradicts the premise of stress inoculation. Heaping stress on trainees does not magically prepare them. On the contrary, it deepens the tendency to inaction and pathology.

    Proper training can and should empower. Good, active-minded trainers remind themselves regularly that stress is not an end in itself but rather a means to achieve efficacy in real world encounters. There is no clear evidence that trainees are empowered to act with any degree of efficacy in real-world encounters after being confronted with potboiler scenarios teeming with juiced-up “bad guys” clad in imposing tactical gear, cutting edge weaponry, and thundering grenades, bursting into classrooms like modern day Mongols, capping teachers in the backs of their heads and spraying fake blood around, peppering the mayhem with occasional witty quips. On the contrary, such theater dials up anxiety.

    There is nothing “real” about reality-based training. Reality-based is much like the “based on a true story” moniker designed to pique TV show viewership. Melodramatic half re-enactments induce stress. They do not, in themselves, help to manage stress. The result is a deepened sense of anxiety and helplessness.

    By contrast, just like fire drills and evacuation drills, lockdown drills can be very effective precisely because they focus on developing simple, fluid mechanics in prescribed contexts. The basic mechanics, reinforced by regular practice, support action against stressors that would otherwise overwhelm someone asked, in effect, to improvise his or her way through the chaos. Just as with fire drills or evacuation drills, lockdown drills should be conducted with a focus on calm, deliberate action. And they work.

    Where employed, lockdowns have impeded killers from gaining access to victims. Training scenarios should do essentially the same thing. They should focus on developing the right mind-set and mechanics in tightly scripted—not improvised—exercises designed to train, not test, such that action becomes second nature. Fire drills would never have worked if, while practicing the mechanics of calm, orderly evacuation, administrators ran about during drills while wielding flame throwers and screaming “Fire! Fire! The fire is going to get you!” But active shooter training for civilians—including children—teems with that sort of drama.

    Additionally, consider: is the focus on mitigation justified by the data? Mass murderers do not emerge out of nowhere—kids do not snap suddenly. They telegraph their troubled intentions, generally more than once and in more than one way.

    Court officials knew of the two killers at Columbine High School long before the massacre because they had been arrested before. And the courts recognized them as troubled; part of their plea after their arrest involved court-ordered counseling. Police, too, knew the two students. Indeed, police had prepared a warrant to search the room of Eric Harris based on, among other things, information that he had made terrorist threats. The warrant was never executed.

    School officials and teachers had detected warning signs as well. The killers had written and turned in school projects praising the killing apparatus of the Nazis. At least one teacher expressed concern about what the praise might mean but without substantive follow-up. Some parents knew of the killers’ aberrant behavior and complained to police.

    There were, in short, many inflection points but no coordinated, integrated response to interrupt the path to violence.

    Columbine was not a one-off. Recent reports authored by the United States Secret Service confirm the pattern (see Protecting America’s Schools and Averting Targeted School Violence). These mass attackers engage in alarming behavior in 100 percent of the cases surveyed in school settings. This is an extraordinary statistic, not least because it screams of the opportunity to prevent these events before they happen. So why is the focal point of training on mitigation after violence commences? The priorities are inverted. Prevention should be the primary, though not exclusive, focus of training and policy.  

    Interrupting the path to violence begins with defining a simple, accessible mechanism for reporting information on threats—a mechanism understood and trusted by staff and students. Information, once forwarded, must be assessed. As a practical matter, assembling a threat assessment team to evaluate the nature, credibility, and gravity of the information is the critical step in preventing violence. This is no simple task. Thinking about violence, confronting those who threaten it and devising protocols to keep it from happening is not for everyone—psychologically or logistically. Pro forma threat assessment that serves as a mere cosmetic appendage to satisfy appearances fails every time. Gathering the right mix of personalities and talents takes time.

    Furthermore, it is important that threat assessment teams avoid cloistering themselves within the educational setting, as so often happens. Coordination is crucial. Lack of coordination results in missed opportunities, as Columbine and many other incidents illustrates. Effective threat assessment teams establish liaisons with counterparts in other agencies—law enforcement, district attorneys, family courts, and departments of mental health and youth services. Many agencies with unique powers and mandates coordinating effort to address the same threat afford a range of possibilities unavailable to a single organization. The value of an integrated approachcannot be overestimated.  

    Horror-film style, gory, simunition-riddled, semi-improvised theater that masquerades as training has provably failed. It has not reduced the number of active shooter incidents year over year. It has not diminished the number of deaths. It has not produced a civilian populace prepared to confront a killer. On the contrary, as argued, the evidence demonstrates that it has produced a civilian populace more anxiety-ridden than ever after the training. If training in school settings is to be mandated and supported by government funding, perhaps the dollars should go to protocols and practices that do not make the problem worse.  

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  • August 23, 2022 9:15 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from The Art Newspaper

    Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the Strutt North Mill Museum, a historic 19th century textile mills located in Derbyshire’s picturesque Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, attracted up 4,000 visitors a year. 

    The small museum houses a collection that includes a spinning mule, used to spin cotton, and an early mechanical knitting machine, as well as ephemera and objects such as handmade hosiery once worn by King George III and Queen Victoria. The museum preserved an important piece of the region’s local industrial history. 

    But in April this year the Strutt announced it would be permanently closing its doors to the public in September after losing a grant to the tune of £50,000 from the Amber Valley District Council, as part of the UK Budget Reduction Plan introduced in the wake of the pandemic. 

    John Layton, chairman of the Belper North Mill Trust, said the museum was “a very much loved local landmark” but that they had not been able to secure further public money because they do not own the building. “We are living in difficult economic times and there’s no easy solution,” he told The Art Newspaper

    Without funding, the museum is caught in a catch 22, unable to invest in improvements needed to boost visitor numbers to create more secure income streams less reliant on grants. A Labour MP on the Amber Valley District Council called the closure “an insult to local people past and present whose heritage and culture was celebrated in the museum." 

    The Strutt North Mill Museum is one of many regional museum and heritage sites across the UK that has struggled during the pandemic, when national closures fell during the peak season between Easter and September—a time when heritage sites anticipate earning 70% of their annual turnover. Some heritage charities, according to Heritage Alliance, have seen their non-grant income fall by up to 90% over the last two years.

    Future remains unclear

    While many heritage sites have steadily re-opened, there are now new challenges to face: the impact of the current cost of living crisis, loss of staff and public engagement, and rising fuel and energy prices are still yet uncertain, and the future for many is unclear. 

    Anne Young, the director of strategy and innovation at the Heritage Fund— one of the key funders of the UK’s heritage projects—framed the situation the sector is facing unequivocally as the "gravest threat since the Second World War".

    In May, Art Fund published the results of their nationwide museum directors report, compiled from responses from 200 directors across the country. The outlook remains grim, with the cost of living crisis posing a looming threat and challenge to both staff and audiences, while emergency funding made available during the pandemic no longer accessible. 

    “The true impact of past cuts and future losses will be felt sharply and deeply," the Art Fund report says. “The cost of living crisis looms large in discussions about staffing, with concerns particularly focused on the lowest paid staff and those living in rural areas needing to commute to work.” Meanwhile, the data reports reduced visitor numbers for 2021-2022: down 39% compared to pre-pandemic figures.

    Cautious optimism and resilience

    Yet despite this, others are cautiously optimistic. Respondents to the first survey sent in February 2022 as part of a new directive launched by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, UK Heritage Pulse project, were surprisingly positive. Of 277 respondents (a number that is indicative rather than comprehensively representative), confidence in survival over the next six months averaged 4.3 out of 5. This is a vastly differently outlook to a similar survey conducted by the organisation in 2020, when 37% of respondents felt they would not survive more than six months.

    It may be the case that the true effects of the current crisis are not yet being felt—but the pandemic has perhaps made organisations more resilient and adaptable. A spokesperson at English Heritage, a charity responsible for over 400 monuments, buildings and sites across England, including Stone Henge, Hadrian’s Wall and Dover Castle, reflected a similar sentiment.

    “We’re not seeing any immediate impact, although it’s something we are monitoring very closely. In terms of visitors to our sites, we’ve had a relatively positive start to the financial year, but it is early days, people are still making their plans as to how they’re going to spend their time—and money. Rising fuel prices may mean reduced numbers at those sites that can only be reached by car or a delay in the recovery of inbound tourism. However, some of that risk may be mitigated by the fact that the current airport disruption might encourage domestic visits while the weaker pound sterling might improve the UK’s attraction as an international holiday destination.”

    In 2021, in addition to a surge in memberships, English Heritage saw an increased number of visitors at smaller, local sites such as Barnard Castle in Durham, Boscobel House, Shropshire, and Wrest Park, Bedfordshire, which recorded its highest visitor numbers to date.

    The support of the local community seems paramount to an organisation’s success. On 15 June, Colchester Museums announced that a planned exhibition on witchcraft and magic at Colchester Castle could go ahead thanks to a crowdfunding campaign that raised more than £15,000. The majority 200 donors were local people who contributed even “at a time of great financial hardship for many families,” says Pamela Cox, Colchester Borough Council member.

    Ultimately, economic instability and global politics might be driving a shift in perception of local heritage sites and their importance as part of the social fabric and identity of communities where people are increasingly rooted and invested. As English Heritage suggests: “These are the places where history happened; these historic sites bring us solace and refreshment, because they have survived, because they're still standing—and because the stories they tell us help give perspective in uncertain times.”

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  • August 23, 2022 9:12 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from the Seattle Times

    There’s no such thing as spending too much time in a museum. But as much time as you spend walking between artworks, pausing to absorb the work or read the accompanying text, you’ll never see a museum’s art quite the way those who regularly work around it do. In this spirit, I ventured to Frye Art Museum to speak with one of the museum’s security officers to walk the museum with them and see what the museum looks like through their eyes.

    Stephen Kelley is one of the Frye’s lead security officers, charged with tasks like opening and closing the museum, interfacing with visitors and, of course, making sure you don’t touch anything you’re not supposed to. One of the hardest parts of the job, he says, is deciding what exactly is “too close” to an artwork and trying to judge whether or not someone venturing closer and closer to a work is actually going to touch something.

    “There’s a lot of reading people involved in the job,” Kelley says.

    The 32-year-old Kelley studied illustration and continues to make his own art outside of his work at the museum — a position that he says allows him to draw inspiration from the artwork he’s surrounded by on a daily basis. Kelley joined the Frye after attending a 2018 conversation there between Jim Woodring and Simon Hanselmann, two of his favorite cartoonists. He had recently moved to Seattle at the time and saw the Frye was hiring security guards, resulting in this, his first time working at a museum.

    We start our walk toward the entrance of the Frye with “Jeremy Shaw: Liminals,” an exhibition (running through Oct. 9) that features prismatic lens-refracted photographs. In other words, the exhibition features photographs where, instead of a pane glass protecting it, as you might have over your own framed photos, Shaw has covered the photos with a prism. The photos sit in a sort of shadow box with the glass covering looking almost as if it has been pressed outward and fractured.

    The particular work Kelley draws attention to is “Towards Universal Pattern Recognition (Brain Club. Wardour St. 17/2/92).” In the photo are two people wearing what looks like a cross between some sort of early virtual-reality goggles and a sleep mask wired into devices on the table next to them. A caption under the photo reads, “Brain machine in operation at the Seed Club,” and in the top right corner is a label that says, “Brain Club.”

    “It tells such a great story with not a lot that’s evident right away,” Kelley says. “What is the Brain Club? What are they doing? It just pulls me in, and then the prism distorts that and takes you further away from it. From certain angles, you can see the full image as it is. It’s like a little glimpse into what’s happening, but you never can get the full part unless you’re at the right angle.”

    This is part of a series. So I ask Kelley if there’s something in particular about this one that stands out from the other three on the same wall.

    “I’ve always been a big fan of movies like ‘Lawnmower Man’ or ‘Tetsuo: The Iron Man,’ where technology gets integrated with biological elements,” Kelley explains. “That’s what I feel like is happening in this, and from what I’ve read on the wall text, Jeremy Shaw likes to incorporate a lot of that into his work. I find that really interesting.”

    As we walk further into the museum, we come to “Romare Bearden: Abstraction,” the first in-depth examination of the artist’s work with abstraction, shown in context with Bearden’s more widely known collages (through Sept. 18). Here, Kelley pauses to point out two untitled mixed-media works from Bearden, including one that features just enough bits of newspaper that it feels like you could just move some of the other paper from the collage out of the way to reveal a full, intact print ad.

    “There’s just something about them that’s so different from the rest of them in this room from this period of Bearden’s work,” says Kelley. “They’re much more figurative. These are actually like full figures in motion interacting with each other. It’s more of a graphic cartoony quality as well. And I like his use of the newspaper articles, like how much of the text is still preserved.”

    As our conversation winds down, I ask Kelley for his favorite place in the museum. It’s a tough ask, especially considering the fact that the walls literally move around when new exhibitions are installed.

    “It’s an ever-changing labyrinth here,” jokes Kelley. “I think there’s one last one I want to talk about in our permanent collection that I’ve found really interesting.”

    He points to an item in a glass case toward the center of the gallery containing items from the Frye Art Museum’s archives. In the early 20th century, Charles and Emma Frye, who gifted the Frye Art Museum’s founding collection of European art, were owners of the local meatpacking plant Frye & Co. Displayed in the museum’s glass case is a piece of its history: a “Frye’s BAR-F Brand Beef” product label, dated 1910-1950.

    “This isn’t so much artwork as it is Frye history that I thought was really weird,” Kelley says. “They’ve got the label for one of their cans of beef. BAR-F Beef. And I think it’s interesting that it’s barf. Another guard and I actually went back and tried to look up the history of the word barf, and this predates it.”

    They seem to be right. While the exact origin is unknown, multiple dictionaries and etymology resources point to the slang term for vomiting dating back to 1960, with the earliest dating it in 1956.

    “That’s what you can find out when you’re staring at this stuff all day,” Kelley says. “You get so many questions about the artwork, you’ve got to look them up.”

    See Original Post

  • August 09, 2022 3:17 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from AAM

    In combating climate change, we can look to Indigenous and historic practices for models of sustainable architectural solutions to extreme heat, cold, and humidity. Structures built in societies or eras without electrically powered air conditioning found passive methods to beat the heat, from enclosed balconies in traditional Indian architecture, designed to funnel cooling breezes; to lanais, the traditional open-sided verandas of Hawaii. We can learn from surviving examples of such structures, some of which are preserved as historic houses or sites. However, in coming decades, many buildings that were perfectly adapted to local conditions when they were first erected will find themselves living in a climate much more severe than that for which they were designed. Yet these historic structures are quintessentially place-based: what is an historic house to do when the world, and the climate, shifts? Today on the blog, Jenny Dyer shares some advice based on her work as Historic House Manager and Preservation Administrator for the Louisiana Landmarks Society and Pitot House Museum.

    –Elizabeth Merritt, Vice President, Strategic Foresight and Founding Director, Center for the Future of Museums

    Most historic houses in the Southeastern United States were built with flooding and extreme heat in mind, because the southern coastal region is hot, humid, and prone to flooding. They were built two to three centuries ago with many tall windows with transoms, lofty ceilings, raised foundations, and expansive galleries, all of which kept the heat at bay and the water out of the living space. The houses are uniquely built for a harsh sub-tropic environment, down to the frames themselves, which are usually made from local cypress to combat rot from rainwater and insects such as termites.

    An excellent case study is the Pitot House on Bayou St. John in New Orleans’ Mid-City neighborhood. Constructed in 1799, it is the quintessential Creole country home. Comparable homes were a regular feature of the built environment along the southern bayous for centuries. Early residents were aware of the harsh environment they were living in and constructed the house on pillars out of cypress and stucco with a deep, wide gallery and strategically placed windows and doors that ventilate the living space. These houses have served their purpose well for the last two centuries. However, their builders could not have foreseen the even worse severity of those harsh conditions that climate change now threatens.

    Historic houses face unique challenges in addressing environmental threats. They are not easily movable artifacts, nor are they easily packaged to protect against weather events. In some rare cases they can be moved, as the Pitot House was 1965 to prevent it from being demolished, but the stewards of historic buildings and houses typically consider this a last-resort plan, both because of the time and money involved and the risks incurred. Moving a historic house raises concerns about structural integrity during relocation, the relative safety of the new location, and whether the house will lose historical value outside of its original natural environment. For example, when the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse owned by the National Park Service urgently needed to be moved in 1999 because of the threat of coastal erosion, a significant question was how far to move it to prevent future threats of erosion while keeping it in a location appropriate to its maritime history. Another challenge in protecting the houses arises when considering what contents of the house should be regarded as a part of the larger “package” and need to be protected as well. These questions become complicated and difficult to manage for most non-profit organizations, which are typically the steadfast preservers of America’s historic homes.

    Barring moving the structures to safety, there are piecemeal options available to protect them that are essential for stewards to explore. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), an environmentally sound structure combines approaches by addressing heat, humidity, rain, flooding and wind. To that end, the goal is to have things in place like window reflectors specifically designed to reflect heat back outside. This was done effectively by the National Park Service at Oakland Plantation in Natchitoches, Louisiana. In addition, insulation is indicated to keep the heat out, and a powered attic ventilator, or attic fan, to regulate the heat level of a building’s attic by clearing out hot air. Again, this is recommended for modern structures, but can be helpful in historic houses if done responsibly and properly. However, the challenge for houses owned by non-profits is the cost and time required.

    The architecture and engineering firm Watson & Henry Associates recently conducted a study of the environmental concerns of the Pitot House which offered modifications and additions to its existing recommendations to comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and maintain the house’s historic character. Their recommendations included screens, shades, or curtains hung on the windows to keep out the heat and sunlight. Another useful and acceptable budget-friendly recommendation was the age-old method of opening and closing the shutters and windows at crucial times—i.e., opening windows and doors to ventilate during hot, humid daytime periods. Pitot House has been doing this to significant effect.

    The most significant challenge we face is flooding and hurricanes causing wind and water damage. In 2021, Hurricane Ida strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane within twenty-four hours, with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour. Most staff and board members evacuated the area, and the most we had time to do to protect the house was shuttering it. Upon our return, shutters and roof shingles had been blown off, doors had been blown open, and many trees had fallen. We were not the only damaged historic property, as many iconic sites, such as Oak Alley, suffered the same if not worse damage. It was a wake-up call to many. With an already limited budget, cleaning up and making repairs after the storm taxed the stewards of the house and set back plans to make permanent preventative changes. Yet, preventive measures could not be overlooked.

    The plans to address wind and water environmental concerns, ignored not out of negligence but out of budget necessity, emerged again as of the utmost importance. Some of them included:

    • Structurally reframing the gallery, the gallery colonettes, and the roof au vent to address rainwater entry through exposed surfaces
    • Replacing the damaged members with dense, durable wood inserts, preferably cypress or kiln-dried white oak
    • Keeping all structural wood members protected with paint
    • Reinforcing critical framing connections for additional resistance to wind loads, especially hurricanes.
    • Wherever practical, reinforcing roof framing connections with hurricane wind-resisting metal plates and tie-downs, as selected by an engineer

    (Pitot House implemented many of these recommendations within eight months of Hurricane Ida.)

    All of these recommendations are well and good, but useless if stewards of historic houses do not have a strategic plan in place. A staff and board meeting concluded that we did not have a robust plan and required one immediately. With that in mind, we consulted several local organizations to gather information, training, and resources. Notably, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities conducted several excellent webinars on disaster preparedness and offered a well-rounded resource guide for cultural institutions. It has proved an invaluable resource for Pitot House as we begin the planning process. It includes streamlined recommendations on readiness and planning, response and recovery, and building a network, as well as handouts and links. The guide will soon be available on their website.

    Historic houses are some of our nation’s most unique artifacts, their diversity of architecture and region making them even more challenging to protect. One size does not fit all, as they say. As many of them are transforming their interpretations and representations into more diverse and inclusive histories, they are meeting the challenges of remaining relevant and essential. They still hold a space for representative living history that provides invaluable insights into institutions, periods, trends, and individuals of our past, together with significant, interesting examples of historic workmanship and architecture. For these reasons, it is time to take rapid environmental changes seriously if we are to save the houses, buildings, and sites that hold together the fabric of our history.

    See Original Post

  • August 09, 2022 3:13 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Herald Mail Media

    A rare piece of Baroque art. An international mystery. A determined art expert.

    And finally, after nearly 60 years, a resolution to a theft first discovered in 1965 — in Munich.

    When a year-end donation to the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts last winter included a rare Baroque drawing by Italian artist Giovanni Battista Salvi — better known as Sassoferatto — the museum staff was thrilled.

    "How truly delightful it is that Hagerstown now has a Sassoferrato to call its own!" museum Executive Director Sarah Hall gushed in a column for The Herald-Mail.

    It was no small distinction — most of Sassoferrato's known drawings are in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle, one of Queen Elizabeth II's several homes in Britain.

    The drawing, "Madonna and Child (c. 1650)," was part of a collection donated to the museum by John and Sylvie O'Brien. They had purchased the work from a French collector in 1970.

    The piece is a study for oil paintings Sassoferrato completed later, and originally included a study of a hand in the upper right corner.

    A startling discovery

    Once the acquisition was made, Daniel Fulco, the museum's Agnita M. Stine Schreiber curator, set about the business of researching the piece.

    "The drawing came into the collection (over) the holidays. And oftentimes what we will do is, we do preliminary checking, we do some basic research on the piece," Fulco told The Herald-Mail. "But then later, after it's been accessioned, we will often go into more depth, especially if we're planning to do a feature on it or something like that."

    Fulco, a soft-spoken man who clearly knows his stuff, found a catalog published by French scholar François Lepinay in 2017 for a special exhibition of Sassoferrato's works, primarily from the collection at Windsor.

    "And sure enough, there's the drawing pictured in one of his essays. And I said, 'Wow, that looks a lot like the drawing that was donated by John and Sylvie O'Brien,'" Fulco said.

    "So I took the book, and I went downstairs into storage. And lo and behold, when I put them together, I said, 'Oh, my goodness, this is almost a mirror image.'

    "And that's when there was a little bit of a drop in my stomach, because I was kind of like, 'oh no,' because the caption book said 'missing/stolen, since 1965, Munich Graphic Collection, Germany.'"

    And that's when Fulco knew he had to talk to his colleagues about next steps.

    "But at the same time, of course, we had just very recently accessioned this. It also was disappointing, because it would have been a major acquisition for the museum," he said.

    "But we are in an era now of transparency. And so it is the duty of the museum to do due diligence and return it to its rightful owner."

    He also spoke with the donors, who hadn't realized it was stolen.

    "John O'Brien had acquired it in 1970," he said, "and with that you get into many unknowns, because you can't know exactly where it was between 1965 and 1970.

    Museum collections weren't documented at that point as they are now, he added, and stolen works were more difficult to track.

    In fact, the initial discovery of the theft in 1965 was a bit of a fluke.

    A student doing research at the Graphic Collection in Munich discovered on Aug. 13, 1965, that the drawing had been torn away from its base and stolen. The museum contacted Munich police, but the Munich prosecutor's office reported the investigation closed by the end of the week, as authorities concluded all leads had been exhausted and the thief couldn't be identified.

    In other words, nobody knew when the piece was stolen, or by whom.

    Fulco, Hull and Collections Registrar Sarah Wolfe, compared the drawing with the missing work depicted in the catalog, and concluded that most of it matched up "line for line" — although some alterations had been made to the drawing, presumably to make it easier for the thief to sell.

    Fulco said the alteration could have been done with a light eraser, a tool or a mild solution, but on the upper right of the sheet, a study of the hands was "almost erased to oblivion." And the drawing's original inventory number had been erased as well.

    The damage "undermines the integrity of the artist's technique," Fulco said. "It does diminish its value, that is its monetary value. And it spoils for us, as viewers, the artist's original intents, which were to really show the contrast between the shading and the highlights of the draperies of the Madonna and child, and also their facial details, because the outlines of Sassoferrato are so clear … they're very linear, very crisp, they're also rounded — it depends on what part of the figure — that when this person did that, to disguise it for sale on the black market, they have totally diminished the drawing."

    Nevertheless, while Fulco couldn't comment on its actual value, it's still rare and therefore still valuable.

    A mystery partly resolved

    The museum contacted the FBI for procedural guidance, and contacted the museum in Germany. And at some point soon, the piece will be returned.

    “Our museum greatly appreciates the conscientiousness given to the drawing by the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in acquiring it," Michael Hering, director of State Graphic Collection in Munich, said in a statement. "This attentiveness made it possible to identify the sheet as the one that had been stolen from the holdings of the Graphische Sammlung in 1965 and has been sorely missed ever since.”

    Museum officials there thought the work had been lost forever.

    “It is very fortunate and encouraging that an exchange between museums on different continents can be conducted in such a collegial manner,” Herring said.

    But you still have a chance to see the piece before it goes home; it is on display at the museum through August.

    “While I will definitely feel a pang of loss when we pack the drawing up to return it to Munich, I’m proud of the curatorial research that allowed us to send this drawing home, and I am appreciative of the time we have had to enjoy this beautiful drawing firsthand," Hall said.

    But while this particular lost art has been recovered, the Munich police might have been right about one thing: The mystery of who took it, and when, remains — perhaps forever.

    See Original Post

  • July 26, 2022 12:26 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Security Management Magazine

    Active assailants have typically come in different categories: psychological disorder-driven active shooters, ideologically extremist-driven terrorists, vengeful employees (or ex-employees), and insiders who are known as troubled individuals to at least some of their intended targets. But a recent wave of violent attackers crosses these separate categories, vastly complicating traditional threat assessment practices.

    In these active threats where several distinctive categories of threats converge, there is a direct relationship between the attacker and at least some of the intended targeted victims. Such attacks often fall into one of two categories: workplace violence type 3, when the attacker intentionally targets his or her coworkers (or ex-coworkers) at their places of employment, or workplace violence type 2, when a customer or patient targets a retail, entertainment, hotel, or other facility where some of the employees may recognize the attacker as a regular customer or patient.

    These violent assailants are lone actors, as opposed to members of an organized terrorist group, although some members of groups might be known to some of their intended victims.

    To effectively anticipate and counter the multidimensional nature of this broader category of attackers, it is crucial to expand the professional security community’s analytic lenses. It is helpful to apply a multidisciplinary approach to identify potential perpetrators because they now exhibit the characteristics of several categories of threat actors, rather than solely one category.  

    Defining Active Threat Lone Actors

    To be defined as active threat lone actors (ATLAs), these attackers either are psychologically disordered active shooters or ideologically extremist terrorists who have a direct relation to at least some of their intended targeted victims and their workplaces, whether as fellow (or former) employees or as customers or patients who are known to at least some of the staff, with their attacks considered workplace violence-related. Knowing at least some of their intended targeted victims also makes the violent assailants insiders.

    To qualify as ATLAs, at least three of the four categories of the violent characteristics of such perpetrators need to converge:

    • Active shooter. Psychologically disordered assailant.
    • Terrorist. Ideologically motivated assailant.
    • Workplace violence. Targeted a place of employment.
    • Insider. Knows at least some of the victims.

    In some of the incidents, the perpetrator might be both a terrorist and an active shooter, as some lone actor terrorists are considered to exhibit a higher degree of mental disorder than those who join terrorist groups. (For more on this, see A false dichotomy? Mental illness and lone-actor terrorism, by Emily Corner and Paul Gill.) The insider dimension of such lone attackers is the most crucial because it characterizes perpetrators who will conduct attacks at a workplace, whether as employees (current or former) or as customers or patients.

    Significance of ATLAs

    What makes this new threat category especially significant is that it applies both to ideologically driven terrorists and psychologically disordered active assailants. The perpetrators primarily operate as lone actors (and, in a few cases, they might have a co-attacker), and they generally do not belong to an organized group, according to the Handbook of Terrorism Prevention and Preparedness.

    The attacker’s insider status makes it easier for such ATLAs to thwart some strict security mechanisms that might be in place to prevent an attack. As a result, such a direct authorized access at the targeted area enables an active threat attacker to potentially inflict a higher level of fatalities and injuries than other types of lone actor attackers. An outsider would have difficulty entering their targeted facility with their firearms and ammunition.

    This multidimensional nature of ATLAs, therefore, requires a more complex awareness, preparation, and response cycle by the professional security community.

    Chronology of Significant Active Threat Actors Worldwide, 2009-2022

    To understand how pervasive the threats by active threat lone actors (ATLA) pose to public safety, this chronology provides a list of their significant attacks globally from the mid-1990s to mid-2022. The categories of each incident are listed at the end, noted as: terrorist (T), active shooter (AS), insider (I), and workplace violence (WV), whether as type 2 (customer/patient) or type 3 (worker-on-worker).

    20 June 1994: Dean Mellberg, a 20-year-old U.S. airman who had recently been dishonorably discharged, attacked the Fairchild Air Force Base hospital complex in Spokane, Washington, killing four—including the psychologist and psychiatrist whose diagnosis led to his discharge—and wounding 23. [AS, I, WV-3]

    5 November 2009:  U.S. Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hassan, 39, killed 13 people and wounded 39 others in a shooting at Fort Hood military base in Killeen, Texas. Throughout his career, colleagues and superiors expressed concern about his low job performance and extremist views. [T, AS, I, WV-3]

    27 September 2012: Andrew Engeldinger, 36, attacked the Accent Signage Systems company outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, after he was told he was about to be fired. Throughout his employment at the company, he had been repeatedly disciplined for “offensive behavior, tardiness, and poor job performance.” Engeldinger killed six people and wounded two others. [AS, I, WV-3]

    16 September 2013:  Aaron Alexis, 34, had worked for a company that provided IT contract services to the U.S. Navy, which provided him access to the guarded Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. Alexis had learned he was about to be fired, which led him to target his coworkers. By the end of the attack, 13 people were killed, including the perpetrator. [AS, I, WV-3] 

    2 December 2015:  Husband and wife Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 29, attacked his workplace holiday party at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 people and wounding 22 others. The couple considered themselves jihadists[T, AS, I, WV-3]

    12 June 2016:  Omar Mateen, age 29, carried out a mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub, in Orlando, FL, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others. Mateen killed himself following a three-hour standoff with the responding Orlando Police officers. He was reportedly a customer at the club and was known to some of the employees, and in the course of his attack he announced his ideologically extremist views. [T, AS, I, WV-2]

    14 June 2017: James Hodgkinson, 66, wounded six people during a mass shooting at a practice session for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity in Alexandria, Virginia. He was reportedly a left-wing political activist from Belleville, Illinois, who had spent several days at the park’s recreation center before the attack. [T, AS, I, WV-2]

    26 September 2017:  Nimer Mahmoud Ahmad Jamal, 37, a Palestinian laborer, carried out a shooting attack against security guards at the entrance gate of Har Adar, an Israeli settlement outside Jerusalem. Jamal killed three Israeli security guards and wounded a fourth before he was killed in a shootout with the security guards. Jamal held a license to work in Israeli settlements, and he was known to the guards at the town’s entrance gate, so his attack took them by surprise. The Times of Israel reported that Jamal, who had been radicalized into violent extremism, also suffered from severe personal and family issues, including engaging in domestic violence against his wife. [T, AS, I, WV-3]

    1 October 2017: Stephen Paddock, 64, used his vantage point on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, to fire more than 1,000 bullets down on the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, killing 60 people and wounding 411. The ensuing panic injured several hundred more. [AA, I, WV-2]

    7 October 2018:  Ashraf Waleed Suliman Na’alwa, 23, a Palestinian, worked at the Barkan Industrial Park in the West Bank as an electrician. He entered the factory with a Carlo sub-machine gun and killed two Israeli coworkers, wounding a third. It was reported that he had trained for his attack for two weeks, with his mother indicted by Israeli authorities for knowing about his intended attack but not reporting it. [T, I, WV-3]

    3 October 2019:  Mickael Harpon, 45, an IT worker at the police headquarters in Paris, France, used a kitchen knife to fatally stab four coworkers, while wounding an additional worker. Harpon had worked at the police headquarters for several years. He had converted to Islam some 18 months earlier and was reportedly radicalized into religious extremism, with some of his colleagues alerting managers to his suspicious opinions and behaviors, but no formal investigation was launched. [T, AA, I, WV-3]

    6 December 2019:  Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, 21, a second lieutenant in the Saudi Arabian Air Force and an aviation student, carried out a mass shooting attack at Naval Air Station Pensacola, in Pensacola, Florida. Three U.S. Navy sailors were killed, and eight others were injured. It was reported that he had become radicalized into jihadist extremism in Saudi Arabia as early as 2015.  [T, AA, I, WV-3]

    30 October 2021:  Ethan Crumbley, 15, carried out a mass shooting attack at the Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan, where he was a sophomore student. Four students were killed and seven others injured, including a teacher. Crumbley was previously known to his school authorities as psychologically problematic. In addition to criminal charges, he was also indicted with a terrorism charge, under Michigan law, for “an act that is intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population.”  [T, AA, I, WV-2]

    1 June 2022:  Michael Louis, 45, used an AR-15 style semiautomatic rifle to kill four people at St. Francis Hospital, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He shot himself to death immediately after targeting his victims. He had been a patient at the hospital and allegedly intentionally targeted his former physician and nursing staff because he was unhappy about his earlier treatment for back problems. [AA, I, WV-2]

    Anticipating ATLA Attacks      

    To effectively preempt ATLA perpetrators at the earliest pre-incident phases, it is crucial to collate at least three out of four of their characteristic types and the pre-incident early warning signs associated with each of them and how they might converge into active threat assailants, to be aware of the category of violent attacks they might carry out as troubled insiders.

    In all of the 14 incidents included here, the perpetrators were known to at least some of their intended victims, and in many cases they were considered highly problematic individuals. This is a crucial early warning indicator because such insiders are aware of how to exploit an organization’s security vulnerabilities in order to smuggle their firearms and ammunition for their intended attack. Lone attackers without a similar direct link would have a harder time accessing facilities and reaching targets.

    Anticipating how pre-incident activities might lead to perpetrators’ engagement in violence requires a multifaceted forecasting approach.

    If the attacker’s activities were viewed as largely singular in nature—preparing for a terrorist attack in general, but not an attack against one’s coworkers as well—their activities would be more difficult to monitor unless those associated with the potential perpetrator would be aware of the early warning signs to collate into an actionable threat assessment. Otherwise, such perpetrators would benefit from the shorter timeframe available to their targeted adversaries to prevent, preempt, or halt their pre-incident attack preparations. As three or four of these types of threats converge, the magnitude of the overall threat becomes exponentially greater (e.g., combining workplace violence’s insider access with a terrorist or active assailant’s vengeful motivation, attack capability and arsenal of weaponry and ammunition).

    To anticipate and prevent potential attacks by such active threat perpetrators, security professionals must aggregate their previously separate threat assessment methodologies to forecast how an individual in their midst might become an active threat lone actor (ATLA):  an active shooter (psychological disorder and disposition to violence), a terrorist (radicalization into violent extremism and acquisition of arms as a lone actor or joining a terrorist group), perpetrator of workplace violence (vengefulness towards coworkers accompanied by acquisition of weapon and ammunition), and an insider (someone who is known to associates, including coworkers, with a possible disposition to become an active threat-type perpetrator).

    But gathering threat information is not enough. To preemptively prevent potential active threat incidents, public safety responders in government, law enforcement, and the private sector need to be knowledgeable about how to respond to each of these threats and to prepare tailored and customized responses to comprehensively respond to several threats in combination.

    For example, it is legitimate in a democratic society for an employee to espouse an extremist ideology. But when it is accompanied by angry and vengeful expressions towards coworkers and increasing isolation from them, it should at the very least be reported to an organization’s human resources department for an appropriate counseling measure. If it is discovered that the employee is also accumulating firearms and ammunition under suspicious circumstances, then the local police department should be contacted for a follow-up measure. The organization’s security department should be made aware of each development, while ensuring the employee’s privacy rights are protected to the extent possible.

    Promoting such an enterprise-wide situational awareness of active threat risks will also resolve any definitional confusion that may arise when multi-type perpetrator incidents occur. For example, if a workplace violence incident is caused by an employee’s ideological extremism, as opposed to dissatisfaction with one’s job, then the early warning signs associated with ideological extremism need to be monitored. This will help avoid the confusion of having to come up with a single threat term to define the underlying causes for such violent attacks, since several threat types will converge for them in a combustible mix.

    Such early warning risk-based mind-sets and behaviors were not reported to appropriate authorities, signaling a reluctance to get involved, a fear of being wrong and liable for a counter-suit, or lack of awareness of proper reporting mechanisms that would still maintain privacy and civil liberties provisions for all concerned.

    While it is still important to be aware that a violent assailant, such as a terrorist, might attack a target with no direct tie to it, an assailant might be someone who is known to its intended target as well. Security professionals should adopt an expanded 360-degree threat awareness aperture that takes multiple and multilayered threat pathways into account. For upgraded threat awareness, therefore, the construct of an enterprise-wide security focus on an imminent active threat situation must become pervasive for all those tasked to preempt such attacks at the earliest pre-incident attack phases.

    See Original Post

  • July 26, 2022 12:24 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from The Art Newspaper

    One of the most famous paintings in the Gallerie degli Uffizi in Florence, Sandro Botticelli's Primavera (around 1480), was left undamaged after climate activists glued themselves to the masterpiece, gallery officials say. The protest on 22 July was carried out by a man and two women from the climate activist group Ultima Generazione (Last Generation); all three were dragged away by security guards though it is unclear if the demonstrators have been charged.

    A gallery spokesperson says that the protesters glued themselves to the glass covering the work, which took 20 minutes to clean following the glue incident. “If there had not been the special protection glass—something that museum management put in place with all major masterpieces a few years ago—then the work would have been badly damaged.” The protestors also rolled out a banner which read: “Last Generation: No Gas, No Coal.”

    In an online statement, Ultima Generazione representatives say that there was no risk to Botticelli’s celebrated work. “We consulted restorers who advised us to use a glue suitable for glass and frames,” they say. The group says meanwhile that governments worldwide must "immediately stop reopening disused coal plants and halt any new oil and gas extraction projects".

    “In the same way that we defend our artistic heritage, we should be dedicated to the care and protection of the planet that we share with the rest of the world,” they add. The press statement is headed, “Actions in museums: let’s start with the Uffizi”, implying that other activist campaigns at Italian institutions may be imminent.

    The protest follows a number of similar actions in the UK at major museums and galleries. Earlier this month, environmental activists from the group Just Stop Oil glued themselves to the celebrated Constable painting The Hay Wain (1821) at the National Gallery in London; Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, Manchester Art Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts in London were also targeted.

    Primavera shows nine figures from classical mythology gathered in an orange grove including the goddess of love and beauty, Venus, and a blindfolded Cupid, firing his arrow. “Although the complex meaning of the composition remains a mystery, the painting is a celebration of love, peace, and prosperity,” says a statement on the Gallerie degli Uffizi website.

    See Original Post

  • July 26, 2022 12:21 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Security Management Magazine

    It is a dramatic understatement to say that staying one step ahead of continually evolving cyberthreats like ransomware, malware, and other serious attacks must be a top priority. Today’s global community of threat actors and hackers are sophisticated and organized, constantly on the move to find the next layer of vulnerability in your environment. A proactive, all-encompassing security strategy is essential.

    If you are like most organizations, your focus on tightening security starts with heightening identity access management at the perimeter and graduates to following established best practices that span across your applications, your data, your networks, and the cloud.

    This begs the questions: What’s next? To where should you turn your attention? The fact is serious, persistent threats are already looming in your infrastructure. The lowest-hanging fruit—and the most vulnerable point of attack—is where you may least expect it: the hardware and firmware that lies in the deep layers of your physical infrastructure.

    Firmware Updates and Vulnerabilities

    The increasing proliferation of malware attacks on server infrastructure prove they are vulnerable ransomware or malware targets.

    Let me paint a picture of why. Think about how many different components in your data center need firmware updates. Your server includes myriad specialty pieces of hardware and the firmware that goes along with them—some examples include the BIOS (basic input/output system), Board Management Controller (BMC), solid state drives (SSDs), storage controllers, network card, and more.

    If you are part of a large shop, you have thousands of devices that constantly need updating. Keeping ahead of the update curve is an endless challenge. First, you need to be monitoring the latest updates—with some coming every several months. Then the updates themselves require time and resources, both of which are already a scarce commodity.

    To complicate things further, the firmware update process is not universal across operating systems, hardware vendors, or the device getting updated. Some require you to boot from one operating system, update the firmware, and then go back to the previous operating system. Due to the cumbersome nature of this updating process, IT organizations tend to ignore the firmware, leaving a huge hole that is very open to ransomware and other attacks.

    Although organizations understandably won’t voluntarily disclose that they have been the target of a firmware-based attack, there is mounting evidence that bad actors are pursuing this route. A recent Microsoft Security Signals report found that more than 80 percent of enterprises have experienced at least one firmware attack in the past two years, yet only 29 percent of security budgets are allocated to protect firmware.

    As you plan your best next courses of action, there are two key security principles and solutions to keep in mind. 

    Zero Trust Security Models

    While it’s been around for a while, the concept of zero trust is prominent in every current security discussion and is used in the design and implementation of IT systems. It’s built on a never-trust, always-verify model where devices are not trusted by default, even if they are connected to a permissioned network such as a corporate local area network (LAN) and even if they were previously verified.

    A recent report published on 26 January 2022 by the Executive Office of the President builds a case for moving the U.S. government toward zero trust cybersecurity principles.

    The report notes that in the current threat environment, the U.S. federal government can no longer depend on conventional perimeter-based defenses to protect critical systems and data. These perimeter-level mechanisms—firewalls, for example—focus only on protecting infrastructure accessibility. If breached, hackers can suddenly get their hands on all data and information within the perimeter, as there are no other layers of defense.

    It then goes on to build the case that a transition to a zero-trust approach to security provides a defensible architecture for this new environment.

    As outlined in this report, the foundational tenet of the zero-trust model is that no actor, system, network, or service operating outside or within the security perimeter is trusted. Instead, anything and everything attempting to establish access must be verified. This is a dramatic paradigm shift in philosophy of how infrastructure, networks, and data are secured—moving from verify once at the perimeter to continual verification of each user, device, application, and transaction.

    To simplify the idea, let’s look at how zero trust would be applied to a real-world environment, like your home, for instance. The most common security model today is perimeter security. For your home, this means your front door is locked. And that might be enough, right? Wrong. What if you are storing something valuable in one of the rooms inside your house? Once the front door is bypassed, the intruder can access any room in the house. With zero trust security models, each room within the house would be locked and the contents secure.

    At every security layer, this line of thinking is applicable to government organizations and private enterprises alike. Increased value comes as zero trust models incorporate always-on, end-to-end encryption of data at rest as well as data in-flight. And applying a zero-trust model ensures that all customer and application data is always secure, even if drives are physically removed from the servers.

    Avoid Configuration Drift

    With threats increasingly targeting deeper levels of server hardware and firmware, there’s a pressing need for a way to securely deploy and maintain the deeper layers of server-based infrastructure. The ideal way to protect your infrastructure is through an immutable solution, one that prevents inadvertent changes by users that could open the door to malicious software. An immutable solution can be used to deploy standardized server-based infrastructure rapidly and repeatedly, yet still maintain consistency.

    Immutable machine instances implemented avoid configuration drift, so that the firmware across all your devices is up to date, with no holes where a new cyberthreat can break in. Cluster upgrades are simplified using discretely versioned immutable instances and infrastructure standardization.

    In this way, your IT organization can manage and maintain your hardware-based infrastructure, overcoming increasing security challenges as you consistently and reliably provision bare-metal infrastructure services and operating systems. As a result, you can avoid configuration drift and maintain infrastructure security at the same time.

    What’s more, to help you better meet and maintain your security goals, some vendors are now offering streamlined mechanisms that eliminate the need for complex encryption and security configurations at every level. This ensures your organization—and its infrastructure—isn’t subject to vulnerabilities due to lack of expertise or incomplete security configurations.

    Between the application of zero trust principles throughout the infrastructure and the elimination of configuration drift, there will be no holes to exploit beyond your front door.

    See Original Post


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