Threat and Vulnerability Assessment…A More In-Depth Look
So, if you read our previous post (What the heck is threat and vulnerability assessment?). You now have an idea of what a Threat and Vulnerability Assessment is. That’s good. Now, let’s take a deeper look and go over some of the questions that Threat and Vulnerability Analysts ask in each new situation they are asked to assess. This is also known as Risk Assessment.
So let’s visit the major terms again and give a more in depth look to risks, threats and vulnerability.
Risks are normally classified in four different ways. Those are hazardous, financial, operational or strategic. Risks have the potential for loss of anything of value in your care that holds value. A lot of things hold value but in this case it can be anything from your reputation, to finances or even people.
Threats are those outside forces that can get into your space, your system and wreak havoc. These can be financial threats if someone accesses your accounts or what if some really bad guy gets into your building and starts running amok with a gun? These are all threats.
Vulnerabilities are gaps; gaps in your security, gaps in your building access, gaps in your computerized ID programs, etc. Businesses, schools and hospitals all have vulnerabilities that once exposed should be buttoned up tight. These are what a risk assessment should and will expose.
So, depending on the test, which test the business, school, hospital, etc is trying to pass the evaluation is carried out by attempting to find holes in the plans or the previous solutions that where to have closed the gaps.
In the case of schools, universities and colleges, there are certain threats that come to mind immediately.
An armed intruder.
An armed student fighting with other students.
Natural disaster such as inclement weather.
A health related event such as a heart attack.
Next the assessor will look at vulnerabilities, i.e. in the case of schools, communication and security systems are number 1. Building access is a big one. We have to ask our office workers to enforce the rule that everyone must produce ID, even if you know them and even if you know they are coming.
What about communication? How will staff members communicate with each other in the event of an emergency? Are there phones that people will have access to so they can alert the proper authorities should there be any ongoing issue at the school? Where will children and staff hide in the case of an intruder? How will they tell each other when it is safe to come out? Who will come and find them? Active-Defender is very handy in this situation. If a threat enters the main building and the first person that sees that threat uses Active-Defender to send out an alert as well as a noted location on the map then others in the path of this intruder can immediately take steps to get their charges and themselves to safety.
In terms of fire, we check to see that each classroom and lunch room location has fire extinguishers. Science labs are not the only areas that might possibly have a fire. We need to be prepared.
Armed students fighting and armed intruders need to be avoided at all cost and we know about locking doors and producing ID, etc. But what happens if they get in? Well right now everyone screams, yells and some don’t even know what is going on until it’s too late. The reality is that if your staff is armed with Active Defender they can quickly and silently communicate the problem to everyone else on staff, locking down the problem area before anything spreads to the other side of the school. At the same time, first responders are alerted and know what is happening, where and what/who they are looking for. They are no longer responding blindly. Now they have a map, a description of the problem and can plan a way in and a way to subdue the perpetrator.
In terms of a natural disaster, your staff can send alerts or messages to first responders, letting them know that their population of students and staff are ok sheltering in place. Now first responders are not bogged down with stopping at each location where everyone is accounted for and well. They can continue on to the emergencies and keep up with the business of saving lives and keeping people safe.
In a health related event, using Active Defender to alert staff and first responders can mean the difference in saving a life. Staff once alerted can hold students in their current class so that they are not milling about as spectators to someone else’s misfortune. Hallways can be kept clear so that first responders can make their way to location and get to work.
In any event, each threat is noted and assigned a level of risk. Now we look at the vulnerabilities and match them up with the risks, testing and improving each result, meaning we lock doors better, we make changes to the ID access program, we hold staff training so that the human intervention is minimized as much as possible. In addition, we add necessary equipment such as fire extinguishers and defibrillators and last but not least, Active Defender, saving time and saving lives.