How did security stop being clever and turned smart

How did security stop being clever and turned smart

July 30, 2020 Uncategorized 0
man wearing blue suit

When I was a teenager my father asked ne this –
What the difference between smart and clever is? Being a teenager, as you probably imagine, I got all my answers wrong. After some attempts he said

“It is simple – the smart will not get into a situation from which the clever could get out of”.

Same with security.

Until not long ago security was “clever”.

Honestly, there was no other choice. The fact was that the chance of getting any preemptive warning about an act of aggression rolling your way was slim to none (even if you worked for a government agency). Therefore the whole concept of security was based on passive “strong” physical measures and security operators trained for “reactive action”. That means their training was based on the notion that you will be surprised and will have to react, going from 0-60 in no time. And end the incident swiftly and decisively.

So the whole concept was to get you out of dire straits. Clever, not smart.

OK, so you are asking – what is smart? And how did it evolve? Will it always work?

Well, the answer to the first question is –
Thwart the incident before it starts! Because once you have to react you are in “damage control” mode!

What does it mean?

Well, in the decisive majority of violence and/or criminal acts there will always be early signs – perpetrators will case the target beforehand to gather intelligence for vulnerabilities and decide on their preferred method of operation (MO) and in some cases conduct additional preliminary preparations. Even most deranged people do not choose their targets randomly unless it’s an instantaneous local meltdown (and that’s where the “traditional paradigm” kicks in).
Here are two examples:

  • In the case of Temple Emanuel in Colorado, four days before his arrest, the perpetrator told an FBI UC agent in a chat voice message: “Hey guys, I’m in front of you know where. And the lights are on in the building and there’s definitely movement in there”
  • Lately was published that the killer from Christchurch (NZ) mosque attack used a drone before the attack on March 15 2019.

Identifying the preliminary actions would give us the preemptive warning we desperately need.

Life would be easy if these action were done overtly. Every one of our security personnel could easily identify these preparations and thwart the attack beforehand. But the fact is that these actions are done covertly. And in today’s world technology makes it even easier – Google Street, internet and the dark net, YouTube, smartphones, drones and more make the perpetrators life easier. Perpetrators and criminals and are up to date with these methods.

How did it evolve?

The catalyzing component for the process was technology. Especially the trickling down of technologies that were once available, affordable hence usable only by governments in the fields of intelligence, cyberspace, video analytics, communication and data fusion. If used correctly, these technologies can give a security professional the early warning so desperately needed.

So what does it take to be security smart?

Three things
Knowhow, State of mind and technology


Understand, learn and master the tactical MO and POV (point of view) of the assailant. Especially the ways and methods to gather intelligence on your protected object. Know your protected object vulnerabilities and how to address them.

State of mind

Be proactive rather than reactive. Look for the “weak signs” in the “real” and cyber arenas, refute any sign of suspicion. Think, plan and drill possible scenarios and how to avoid them. Look at your protected object as an assailant. Embrace tactical thinking.


Get acquainted with current technologies in intelligence, cyberspace, video analytics, communication and data fusion. Find the ones that are suited for your security needs and implement them. Technologies today are priced in all ranges. Consult with professionals if needed.  

Will it always work?

Not necessarily. Don’t abandon the traditional “clever” option. Build and train a strong “last resort” inner circle that will maintain the “clever” option and could get your protected object out of an extreme situation should the possibility preemptive measures will not give the wanted “buffer”.


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