Washington D.C.— In the world of corporate espionage and insider threats, consider that the US has been moving very slow when compared to Israel or other western nations. I know that most people can relate to Israel as having one of the most powerful counterterrorism and counterintelligence programs that rely heavily on Human Intelligence (HUMINT) and has a superior technologically based and cyber based intelligence collection as well.
The challenge today is for the US to try to catch up with the new threat of having someone from inside become radicalized and take some form of action to facilitate or actually participate in a terrorist attack against an airliner. This is a real problem when addressing airport security. Today, we have faced a new reality in airport security. Not longer do we have to wait to see if a former employee inside an airport has traveled to Syria to fight for ISIS… it actually happened.
Abdirahmaan Muhumed is one example that comes to mind and it is a reminder employees inside airports may be posing a threat and nobody is looking or is someone looking?
Muhumed was an employee of Delta Airlines at the Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport. Muhumed became radicalized and went to fight for ISIL in Syria and was killed there. Some argue that this is a close call.
The question now becomes, how do we detect, prevent, and intervene, with the thousands of employees of airports with badges that allow them to move inside the airport and more inside the bellies of these planes with little or no supervision?
Common crime and Transnational Organized Crime also dwell inside these airports and they appear to be completely undetected. Many arguments can be raised from one side of the coin or the other when talking about performing surveillance against employees with access.
The bottom line is the airports in the US are not and should not be places where employees or people who travel can or should enjoy complete freedom of movement and freedom of speech. The flying community enjoys more freedom but posting a selfie at the gate while waiting to board a plane could be interpreted as threatening and could soon keep that person from flying-at least until the police investigate.
Last week in Chicago we saw what happens when two males speak Arabic while waiting to board a plane. Things could get really ugly very quickly when people begin to use their own fears to detect possible terrorists… we have to do better than that and avoid destroying people’s dignity.
A threat in Twitter from an employee against Muslims for example is as bad as having someone show in “Open Source” significant approval for Terrorist Organizations around the world and in particular ISIL. Or is it not?
The Insider Threat is a wide-ranging problem that goes beyond terrorism. What is proposed is to detect all the different variations of potential problems not simply these who may be Middle Eastern.
As the matter fact that is a huge mistake to just focus on one group where the fighters going to Syria from the west are from different races and different ethnic backgrounds as most experts agree.
Contingent Security Services, Ltd. announced last week that their Cyber Intelligence and Social Media Intelligence Division was able to provide governments and companies with insight and reports on vulnerabilities of “Insider Threats.”
“Our Focus will be Airports at this point in time, since there we have completed significant research in the last 5 years where we can build solid programs not only in cyber and social media but also in Human Intelligence,” stated Lonn Howarter, President of Operations in North America.
Some of the challenges is dealing with thousands of people who work there, thus the company employs technology and builds human networks inside these airports to support crime prevention, counterterrorism and counterintelligence. “This requires a significant amount of knowing and a significant amount of research to implement programs that work… and we have done that with a proven track record,” added Mr. Howarter.
“Things happen in cyberspace such as social media that can provide clues that someone maybe tilting into the radicalism side of things, so we try to learn what is free speech and what constitutes an Insider Threat. During our testing (inside one of the busiest airports in the world) we detected common crimes, organized crime, and in one case, a person who could pose a threat to President Obama in one of our latest cases,” added Nicholas Keleher, Criminal Intelligence Lead Analyst for North America. As a Note: This last one was referred to the Secret Service for follow up and the other cases were referred to the local and federal authorities in the airport.
How easy is it to social engineer yourself into any airport?
“In social media, this process is very easy and requires a body of government inside these airports that teaches these employees how to spot and report that someone may be trying to enter their social network for motives of accessing the airport,” added Mr. Keleher.
Contingent Security Services has tested programs in communities of thousands that include modeling programs that could be implemented inside airports with similar groups of people who work in the airports. The bottom line is, the way an employee gets hired to wear a badge inside an airport that allows access to sensitive areas should not be left to chance or be treated as a permitted activity or become associated with free speech actions that could lead to criminal activity or in some instance a terrorist act… or should it be protected?
And yet another problem is the issue of “Social Engineering” that can be used to gain access to information/intelligence, and possibly compromise an operations or even commit a terrorist act. This one challenge goes beyond airport security. This gets a lot more complicated when the individual is already becoming radicalized or has mental issues, while working inside an airport with almost complete access to any place.
“It is timely that we begin to explore these business opportunities for our company. We can assist these organizations in the public and private sectors such as airports to stay one step ahead of the criminal or terrorists by preventing the opportunities,” stated Mr. Howarter.
The world is changing since the downing of the Russian Aircraft where 224 people died in Egypt was not only an inside job but it was performed with easy to obtain bomb materials. Everyday airports are used to transport significant amounts of illegal contraband without anyone checking it because criminals are working inside these operations.
Is anyone really looking?
If you are in position that may need to monitor or perhaps conduct some kind of counterintelligence, this could be a way to do it. The opportunities that some of these individuals who get a background check and nothing else may be a thing of the past or not a problem until something happens.
If you have questions, they recommend you try them out with one free report: Nicholas Keleher, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details they recommend a visit to the website.