By Dr. David Matsumoto
As the target article mentions, many security measures can and should be put in place in a multi-layer approach to comprehensive security. Security professionals should consider as many different possibilities as possible in order to provide maximum security in order to harden targets. Hardening targets lessens the possibility of being attacked in the first place and makes responses to attacks when they happen more effective. Hardening targets also helps prevent attacks from happening because perpetrators often choose softer targets. All such measures contribute to being what is known as “left of bang” – assessing threats and mitigating them before an incident occurs.
Many (but not all) of the possible layers of security to consider involve the assessment of behavior. These can include the behaviors of attackers as they are actively engaged in committing a malicious act, as they deceive security personnel about their intent, or as they cover their operational tracks and personal security concerns. Thus, the assessment of behavioral indicators becomes of utmost importance in these aspects of security.
But the incorporation of behavioral assessment of threats begs the question of exactly which behaviors to assess. And where can security professionals turn in order to find these behaviors? For us the answer to these and similar questions is simple – security professionals should rely on validated behavioral indicators.
What does “validated” mean? In science, there are many types of validation. For our work in the security field, two types of validation are the most important. One involves the use of carefully constructed experiments that isolate specific behaviors that are consistently and accurately related to mental states related to threats. Laboratory-based, experimental validation is important because these are the only types of efforts that can isolate specific behaviors and their associations with meaningful mental states underlying threat and malicious intent.
But experimentally based, laboratory research is not the only type of validation that is required. What is also required are field validation efforts, in which operators trained in the specific behavioral indicators generated from laboratory research actually use those indicators in the field and document their utility.
We believe that both of these types of validation are important. Some behaviors may be experimentally validated in the laboratory but of no utility in the field. Other behaviors may catch an operator’s eye and suggest to him or her that they “work.” (And there have been many books and other media of former operators claiming they have the goods on THE indicators.) But those potential indicators should really be tested in controlled studies.
One good example is gaze aversion. Many security professionals, and laypersons around the world, believe that people avert their gaze – don’t look you in the eye – when they are lying to you. But this is a myth. Many studies have actually tested this specific behavior, and the vast majority of them have not found and empirical support for this claim. Consequently, training security professionals to be on the alert for gaze aversion in security interviews can be misleading, with potentially deadly consequences.
Our training solutions powered by Humintell rely only on validated behavioral indicators of threat – indicators validated not only in controlled experimental research but also in field use by actual operators whom we have trained. The training solutions we provide are unique because we bridge both worlds – state-of-the-art research and real world, practical experience. We employ both world-renowned scientists and security personnel with decades of experience. It is this unique combination of science and practice that can help us help security professionals be ahead of the curve in identifying threats and mitigating them, keeping them left of bang.
This article originally appeared on https://parminc.com/2018/05/14/threat-assessment-and-management-for-venue-security-the-importance-of-validated-threat-indicators/