One of the surest ways to prevent a mass shooting is to identify potential threats before they actually attack. Often the threats are “insiders”.
James Densley, co-founder of the Violence Project and a criminal justice professor at Metropolitan State University, said researchers looked at factors in the lives of shooters, including mental health troubles, whether they considered suicide, and how they had access to guns. These findings were reported in the New York Times/Associated Press:
“For a start, we need to be a little bit more attuned to the fact that people are in crisis, and are looking for help, and perhaps aren’t getting it.” Researchers found that 98 percent of mass shooters were men and that 52 percent were white. The proportion of mass shooters who had been diagnosed with mental health conditions was only slightly higher than the general population, according to researchers.
Importantly, school mass shooters are most often insiders. Here are more recent tools to help with threat assessments:
- Protecting America’s Schools: A U.S. Secret Service Analysis of Targeted School Violence. Ensuring safe learning environments for elementary and secondary school students, educators, administrators, and others is essential. Consider what role you can play in the larger efforts to make our schools safer.
- Making Prevention a Reality: Identifying, Assessing, and Managing the Threat of Targeted Attacks. This report, a practical guide on assessing and managing the threat of targeted violence, contains concrete strategies to help communities prevent these types of incidents. United States Department of Justice. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to some analysts, the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has the potential for violent reactions by United States-based homegrown violent extremists (HVEs). While there is no specific threat to the Jewish community or to the New York area, JCRC-NY recommends that Jewish institutions maintain heightened vigilance.
This is a good time to review your facility’s security protocols to ensure that they reflect the current need for heightened vigilance. We suggest that you download JCCA’s Security Readiness:A Framework for Security at Jewish Community Centers (JCCs), YM and YWHAs, and Camps. The publication is a valuable tool for all kinds of organizations and the chapter on a “Security Escalation Plan” on pp. 42ff. features six indicators that should cause you to consider escalating security and the included checklist is a helpful template to build an effective response.
DHS CISA Region-II Training & Exercise Coordinator, cordially invites you to participate in a one-day active shooter security workshop. Be advised Registration closes 11/13/2019 at 12:00 pm. Link is provided on the flyer and here https://www.govevents.com/
November 15th, 2019 (8:30am – 4:00pm)
Pace University, New York City Campus
One Pace Plaza (Student Center West)
New York, NY 10038
Preparing all of your constituencies for a potential active shooter incident is an integral component of an organization’s incident response planning. Because active shooter incidents are unpredictable and evolve quickly, preparing for and knowing what to do in an active shooter situation can be the difference between life and death. Every second counts.
A Unique Training Opportunity
Pace University and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, are hosting a one-day security workshop to enhance awareness of, and response to, an active shooter event:
- Educating participants on the history of active shooter events.
- Describing common behavior, conditions, and situations associated with active shooters.
- Fostering communication between critical infrastructure owners and operators and local emergency response teams. This course includes discussions of interoperability, communications protocols, and best practices for planning, preparedness, and response.
Who Should Participate?
This event is open to:
- Organization and corporate and facility security professionals and leaders from the private and public sectors
- Supervisory first responders
- Human resource managers
- Community response officials
- Homeland security representatives
- Registration for this event is free; please click here to register.
- Registration closes 11/13/2019 at 12:00 pm (EDT).
Please see attached flyer and invitation for more details on this workshop. We appreciate your engagement in this process; your participation will enhance and contribute significantly to building your organization’s incident response plans. Should you have any questions or concerns, please let us know.
Region-II Training & Exercise Coordinator (RTEC)
Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)
Northeast & Caribbean NY~NJ~PR~USVI
Cell: (917) 710-4764 | Stephen.Allyn@hq.
Operation Desert Storm – Iraqi Freedom – Enduring Freedom
Thinking High Holiday Security & Preparedness
After a year that included the horrible events of Pittsburgh and Poway, JCRC-NY recommends that Jewish institutions increase their levels of vigilance. This is especially true during the High Holidays, when people know that Jews congregate. Synagogues should review this document, ADL’s Security Recommendations For the High Holidays or SCN’s High Holy Days Security Planning. For more information click to our contact form here and someone will get back to you.
Your services are usually associated with larger than normal crowds and could be an attractive target for terrorism and other crimes. The single, most important step that congregations should consider: screen all attendees before they enter your premises. Your screeners (who might be equipped with a “panic button” to be used if there’s an emergency) may assess those with valid, High Holiday tickets as “pre-screened” (see “Ticket sales” below) so that+ any others merit a higher level of scrutiny. Trained guards, staff, or volunteers should conduct screening. Consider bag checks.
Hm-m-m-m-m. Any special planning for severe weather?
Here are some additional suggestions:
- Create a culture of security. Institutions should not merely subcontract security. Even buildings with well-trained security personnel should expect that staff and constituencies should be part of the security equation. Everyone should have heightened vigilance in times like these. For tips on security awareness, Indicators of Terrorist Activity from the NYPD and/or the ADL’s Guide to Detecting Surveillance at Jewish Institutions.
- Connect with your local police. Someone (or more than one) should have ongoing personal relationships with key police personnel. They should know you, your building and your organizational activities.
- Discuss your security procedures with them and ask them for suggestions for improvement. Inform them of the dates and times of your services, regular events and special events.
- Special attention is given to a synagogue based on an assessment of the current threat balanced by the availability of resources. In some jurisdictions it is a longstanding practice to assign police personnel to synagogues during services. In others, patrol cars are directed to visit synagogues at regular intervals. Discuss your situation with local police officials as soon as possible so that they have time to make their assessments and to secure the resources that they need to protect you.
- In some instances, the traffic conditions surrounding services warrant police attention.
- Private security. Some police departments allow private parties to hire off-duty officers in uniform for events (in NYC, contact the Paid Detail Unit). Others use other off-duty officers (hired privately or through a security firm), retired officers or hire private security guards.
- Security guards must be trained in security awareness, understand your environment, be in harmony with your organization’s culture and be customer-service-oriented. You must clearly detail what is expected of your security guards, including specific duties, inspection of your facilities and your access control policy. (See more at the JCCA Security Readiness Manual, pp. 50 ff.)
- Check that your security firm is appropriately insured and ask for a Certificate of Insurance naming your synagogue as an additional named insured.
- Revisit and review your security plans and procedures.
- Access control. Did you hear the one about a pro-Israel organization visited by a middle-aged, well-dressed woman saying that she wanted to make a contribution? They opened the door for her and a dozen protesters rushed in. Nine of the invaders were arrested. Are you vulnerable to such antics? Take the time to review your access control procedures. For more information and guidance, see JCRC-NY’s Sample Building Access Policies & Procedures (PDF).
- Active shooters. Have a plan and train your staff and key volunteers on its implementation. See JCRC’s dedicated active shooter webpage here.
- Bomb threats. Review your bomb threat procedures and make sure that your staffers (especially those who answer the phones) know what is expected of them. For a range of resources from top agencies, including the FBI and the DHS guidance click here.
- Train your staff and key volunteers. It might not be practical to have evacuation/active shooter drills for your entire congregation before the holidays, but do conduct drills for your staff and key volunteers (e.g., ushers, area captains) as soon as possible. Get their feedback on your plans and update the plans as necessary.
- Suspicious packages. Is your staff aware that they should be on the lookout for suspicious packages? For USPS guidance click here.
- Assess your cybersecurity. Over the past month the websites of several Jewish-affiliated organizations were hacked. Protect your organization. See Cybersecurity for Jewish organizations 101: an update and how to have inexpensive and effective backup and other plans at Resources to prepare your organization’s technology for a disaster.
- Questions? Click here to send questions, comments and suggestions.
Today, the New York Times reported that “This has been the summer of crippling ransomware attacks” to all types of computer systems. Not only have 40 municipalities been struck — their data encrypted and a ransom demanded — but last week there was a report that another synagogue ransomware attack investigated by the FBI.
Cyber-hygiene. If you look closely at the screenshot above, you will see a pop-up from the anti-malware provider Malwarebytes, stating that its database is out of date (Oops!). What should you be doing to ensure a good cyber-hygiene regimen? (see a longer article from Symantec here)? What can you do to protect your data?
- Deploy an antivirus/anti-malware product. An up-to-date, real-time antivirus might stop a cyber-attack.
- Backup. Make sure to back up your important documents and keep a backup set offsite (in case of fire, etc.). There’s no excuse. These days, cloud backups are free or low-cost and you can automatically sync documents to your cloud account.
- Update, update,update. It’s a constant battle. Bad actors learn how to sneak into our systems to do bad things. Software providers constantly provide security patches designed to close the open doors that bad actors use. Update your operating systems (Window or Mac), browsers, remote management software, Adobe products, Microsoft products, firewalls — everything. True, updates sometimes cause problems, but not updating leads to worse problems.
- Use a firewall. Firewalls are the guards designed to protect your network from the internet. Whether you have a hardware or software firewall, it is critical that you keep it up to date.
- Set strong passwords and use two-factor authentication. People still use easy-to-guess passwords like, “Welcome123”, fail to change default passwords, or use the same password for multiple sites. Check out password tips from Google here. Check out a good primer from PC Mag, Two-Factor Authentication: Who Has It and How to Set It Up.
- Before you pay a ransom ask for help! Contact the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the FBI, or the Secret Service and work with an experienced advisor to help recover from a cyber attack. Victims of ransomware should report it immediately to CISA at www.us-cert.gov/report, a local FBI Field Office, or Secret Service Field Office.
Consider cyber-attack insurance. Cyber-attacks can be costly. Even if you are following all of the steps recommended above and have current backups of everything, you may still be attacked and getting back to business may be costly. A compromised computer or network will have to be restored. If there is a data breach and your members’ confidential data is compromised, other steps will have to be taken. Work with your insurance broker to determine what it would cost to recover from a cyber-attack versus the cost of the policy and do a cost-benefit analysis.
Note: Membership records. The synagogue was lucky, their membership data is stored in the cloud (e.g., Chaverware, ShulCloud). Most of the established synagogue management software stores data online, encrypts it and backs up its database. User agreements should specify that it is the vendor’s responsibility to protect your data and to be prepared to quickly restore it.
For more information visit the CISA Resource Page on Ransomware.