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Archive for February, 2016

Cyber Security

If there is one topic prominent in today’s security world it is ‘cyber security‘. Many articles, webinars and seminars centre around the question of how to best protect information systems from theft or damage to the hardware, software, and to the information on them.

The consequences of insufficient protection have become clear through several stories that have hit the media; large companies losing data resulting in direct financial and reputational damages. The biggest retail hack in U.S. history occured at the end of 2013 and resulted in 40 million stolen credit card numbers. In the days prior to Thanksgiving 2013, someone installed malware in Target’s security and payments system designed to steal every credit card used at the company’s 1,797 U.S. stores. During the busy holiday shopping season, consumers were unaware that the malware was capturing their credit card numbers and storing it on a Target server commandeered by the hackers.

Even more frightening is what may happen in the future as illustrated by several investigative writers.

Ted Koppel’s book – ‘Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath‘ – published in October 2015, highlights a significant risk – a catastrophic shutdown of one or more U.S. power grids. Koppel reveals that a major cyberattack on America’s power grid is not only possible but also likely and the United States is shockingly unprepared.

This concept is not far fetched as proof was recently found that a cyber attack took down a power grid. A destructive malware app known as ‘BlackEnergy’ caused a power outage on the Ukrainian power grid this past December, resulting in a blackout for hundreds of thousands of people. Ukrainian officials have blamed Russia for the cyber attack. A CNN article states that U.S. systems aren’t any more protected than those breached in Ukraine.

Koppel asks us to imagine a blackout that could last months – where millions of Americans over several states are without running water, refrigeration, light, and a dwindling supply of food and medical supplies. A blackout could shutdown banks, challenge the police as they’ve never been before, and lead to widespread looting.

Closer to home and on a smaller scale, similar incidents are happening frequently but seldom make the news. This is because companies don’t want others to know that they did not protect their IT environment, as they should have. A small non-profit company found itself recently involuntarily advertising for Islamic States. Their website had been hacked and articles glorifying the IS ideology had been placed. Another company saw credit card payments from their customers land in a newly created bank account, set up through hackers. This led to considerable damage, primarily from a reputational standpoint.

Several steps can be taken to improve the security of IT systems. It is essential to at least understand and evaluate the risks, look at the options for mitigation and make smart business decisions.

Posted in: Protective Services and Investigations

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Where Did You Buy That?

Quite often we see empty warehouse units that are used for selling mass products over a short period of time. There is usually a huge banner in the front of the warehouse that tells you what sale is going on. They have great sales and I do love good deals, but sometimes these sales can be stolen items. I try to only go to manufacturer supported ware house sales. But the other day, I was taken back when I heard that the warehouse sale I went to was suspected to be full of stolen products. I really thought this sale was endorsed by the manufacturer themselves. The reality is that many honest shoppers have no idea they may be buying stolen items. Stolen products can be sold to buyers in stores, warehouses, and flea markets to name a few. I am definitely not painting every warehouse sale or flea market with the same brush. But I do not want to contribute to the purchase of any part of the supply chain of stolen goods. Getting these great deals and closing your eyes to where they came from is one way to support cargo theft. If these thieves know they can sell these products, then the vicious cycle of organized crime through cargo theft continues. Cargo theft is estimated at $5 billion a year in Canada alone. Unfortunately, these crimes are rarely publicized. The manufacturing and/or distribution channels do not want to publicize their product being stolen to protect their brand reputation and/or minimize insurance costs. The average consumer has no idea that these products are a result of cargo crime.

The stolen products range from electronics, cars, alcohol, food, and various household items. At a recent raid, York Region Police recovered a truckload of stolen candy worth more than $200,000. As a consumer, I would never imagine that buying candy for my kids at a store may have been stolen. We as buyers need to educate ourselves on what is legit and what stores are potentially supporting organized crime. The supply chain from manufacturing, transportation to distribution need to also contribute to preventing theft through due diligence. You can minimize the impact of cargo theft by becoming educated on cargo security, truck-hijacking-robbery-training, vendor recruitment driver validation and point-to-point escorts.

TruckLast November, CTV News W5 gave their viewers a taste to how serious this issue is in Canada. Watch Video Here.

Posted in: Protective Services and Investigations

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A Tragic Tail

This past summer I was lucky enough to be involved in a few of the events at the Pam Am games. My favorite was the equestrian competitions that took place in Caledon. To witness how big and beautiful the horses were from different countries and how each one had their own personality was remarkable. Each equestrian event showcased each horse’s unique talents and strengths.

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January 2016: ASAP Secured security guard on duty.

So naturally, it was hard to hear about all the recent barn fires that have taken place across Ontario. Late at night on January 4, a large barn fire started at Classy Lane Stables Training Centre in Puslinch where 40 horses and three ponies perished in the fire. 10 days later, ASAP Secured was called to secure another large barn fire in Mount Forest that claimed the lives of 13 Arabian horses.

Unfortunately, barn fires have been on the rise in Ontario over the last three years. According to the Fire Marshal’s Office, between 2012 and 2014 there were 443 barn fires in the province; 192 of those barns were housing animals at the time. Although these fires and ones similar to them have caused tremendous damage and even sometimes the loss of lives, it never surprises me to see how communities, no matter how big or small, all come together to help those that have been affected by these tragic events.

Similar to the recent changes in fire code regulations for retire homes, I’m hoping that new fire prevention laws are applied to all barns that house animals to reduce tragic barn fires that claim more lives.

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January 2016: Barn fire site.

Posted in: Protective Services and Investigations

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