Come the end of December, people the world over sit down to make resolutions for the year ahead. And with the On Security column for Jan. 1, what better way to ring in the new year than with 10 security resolutions to help people keep themselves, their families and their homes safe from a wide array of threats.
1. I resolve to practice the appropriate level of situational awareness for my environment.
Situational awareness is more a state of mind than a hard skill. Because of this, anyone can practice it. But to do so effectively, one must understand the different levels of situational awareness and which level is appropriate for which circumstance. For more about situational awareness, read Building Blocks of Personal Security: Situational Awareness.
2. I resolve to properly plan my overseas trips.
The key to staying out of harm's way while traveling is understanding in advance your destination's environment and security risks. Armed with this knowledge, you'll be able to make an informed decision about whether to travel to the location; and if you do decide to travel, you'll be well-placed to take the proper precautions for the trip. For more on planning a safe journey, take a look at Planning for a Safe Trip.
3. I resolve to practice good digital hygiene when I travel abroad.
You take care of your medical health when you travel overseas, so why not your electronic health as well? Personal and sensitive business information stored on electronic devices or on electronic media is extremely vulnerable when taken across international borders. Authorities can compel travelers to provide passwords to unlock devices or to decrypt data, denying entry if the passengers refuse. Because of this, we advise that travelers be aware of what is on their devices and only travel with information that is required for a specific trip. For the full article, read Going Abroad? Remember Your Digital Hygiene.
4. I resolve not to post information on social media that could be used to target me, my home or my family.
The information that people post online can be — and indeed is — a gold mine for criminals, hostile intelligence officers or terrorists intent on targeting them for a crime or an attack. Because of this, it's best to limit the type and amount of personal information you make available online if malefactors could use it to do you harm. For more about how to protect your information, see To Stay Safe on the Internet, Don't Stand Out From the Herd.
5. I resolve to be aware of the threats to my privacy posed by electronic items I bring into my home.
Home assistant devices and other internet-enabled devices such as baby monitors and security cameras are becoming increasingly popular, so that's why it's important to recognize that their rapidly increasing capabilities cut both ways — a powerful tool can easily become a potent weapon in the wrong hands. In much the same way that good cyber hygiene is critical for laptops and smartphones, it's just as crucial for our other internet-enabled devices inside our homes. Read the full piece: The Surveillance Operative Lurking in the Living Room.
6. I resolve to keep my home safe from physical threats.
Residential security protects your family from physical threats — as well as the aforementioned digital spies. Effective residential security is layered and works from the outside in. This outside-in approach also relates to the assessment of security threats to your residence, which can vary dramatically depending on the environment surrounding the home. For more on how to understand the threat and institute proper residential security measures, take a look at Residential Security: How to Stop Threats From the Outside In.
7. I resolve to purchase smoke hoods to protect my family.
Terrorist attacks might grab the headlines, but you're far likelier to die in a fire than at the hands of a criminal or a terrorist. In terms of fires though, the true killer is not the flames but the smoke. Because of the grave danger posed by this underrated threat, I recommend that people carry smoke hoods with them when they travel. Smoke hoods are also a must for anyone who lives or works in high-rise buildings, because that's the best way to escape a building in case of fire. For more about the threat of fires, see Fire: The Overlooked Threat.
Terrorist attacks might grab the headlines, but you're far likelier to die in a fire than at the hands of a criminal or a terrorist.
8. I resolve to develop contingency plans for my family.
Speaking of fires, emergency situations naturally create a great deal of chaos and confusion. A good way to help avoid, or at least mitigate, this confusion is to develop and practice emergency plans for your family. Such plans should include fire, terrorist attacks and natural disasters. For more on developing such plans, read Personal Contingency Plans: More Than an Ounce of Prevention.
9. I resolve to remain calm and to take measures to protect myself and family if we get caught in a bad situation.
Murder rates are down overall in the United States, but the instances of mass public shootings are up, as is the targeting of soft civilian targets by grassroots terrorists. And then there are also situations such as carjackings or muggings in which people may be confronted by an armed assailant. It's important for people confronted by an armed assailant to be able to calmly diagnose the threat posed by the attacker and respond accordingly. For the full article, see When Things Go Bad.
10. I resolve to learn how to stop the bleed and to carry items that can help me save lives.
The most common cause of death in mass shootings, stabbings or bombing attacks is loss of blood. Because of this, it's important that people receive training on how to stop bleeding and prevent a victim (including possibly themselves) from bleeding out. I also highly recommend that everyone carry stop-the-bleed kits in their briefcases, purses and vehicles; businesses should also purchase such kits for their premises. Read more at How to Pack for Emergency Situations.