Thursday, September 27, 2012

Vauban Star Fortifications

Bourtange Star Shaped Fort
Taking a blast from the past that still has some application in today's physical security landscape ...  Star Shaped Forts using the Vauban (military engineering) Principle.

Acute angles on the corners of a building are added to the architectural design to eliminate "dead zones" in which an adversary could hide or take refuge.  At the time of star shaped fortifications, all of the competing designs employed rounded towers or turrets at each corner, typically to house archers.  As a breaching force approached the rounded corner, they were able to hide from the archers using the fortifications intended to be an asset in favor of the defenders.

Acute angles, however, prevented the breaching force from seeking shelter along the very walls intended to shelter the defenders.  [See the illustration, below right.]

Modern applications against a well equipped modern adversary are very limited, since "air support" ruined traditional fort designs (adversaries can simply rain fire from above).  However, against a low tech insurgency, the classic star design still prevails.

There are also applications for the acute corners in modern civil architecture.

For example, an HVT (High Value Target) person, such as a celebrity, bank CEO, or anyone else that might typically employ a Private Security Detail, these corners help to deter snatch-and-grab and similar attacks by simply limiting the avenues of approach.  Col Jeff Cooper, famous for dealing with small arms fire, had a fascination with these acute angles to the extent that the term "Cooper Corners" was coined referring to this much older design.

In public civil architecture, there are obvious applications in places such as bank vaults, manufacturing facilities where the likelihood of espionage is high, and even public restrooms in semi-remote and semi-private, yet public places like city parks, where the likelihood of an after dark robbery or rape assault is high.  In the case of the park (along with a well designed layout of lighting, landscaping, and shrubbery) the acute angles may be just the trick to eliminate lie-in-wait hiding places.

The next time you are tasked with securing a high value asset at a physical location, being familiar with the acute angles of the Medieval star fort might be the exact tool you need to pull out of your security toolbox.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Avoiding Protests with a DIY Press Pass

Do you live in an area that is likely to have civil unrest and protests?  Perhaps having a Press Pass may get you out of trouble.  ITS Tactical ran an article on just how to do this.

An excerpt:
Protesting is About Attention! Use that to your advantage. Protesters love the press. It can be a relatively simple proposition to get a press pass that will get you through/past protests that completely block traffic. Afterwards, ask them for a letter stating you have written for them, etc.
  • Set up a blog using a free service like Blogger or WordPress.
  • Write an “About” page or article telling people that this blog is for covering local protests or demonstrations
  • Design your own press ID using a template (Here’s an example template). Don’t lie on the pass. It’s not necessary.
  • Print it on a solid plastic card. There are tons of companies that will do this for a few bucks. (Here are a few) I had mine printed locally for  about $.80 each.
  • Throw the ID on a lanyard or in an ID armband and stash it in the glove compartment for whenever you may need it.
  • If you have to use it, present it with authority!  It has never failed me, even under the scrutiny of armed soldiers at roadblocks.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Destroying Paper Documents

The folks over at ITS Tactical have an interesting article on securely disposing paper documents.

Here is an excerpt:


The reconstruction of sensitive documentation has been around as long as shredders have. According to a fantastic NY Time article that everyone should read, reconstruction was first brought to light during the 1979 US Embassy takeover in Tehran. The Iranians elicited the help of local carpet weavers to reconstruct sensitive documents, which were sold on the streets of Tehran as a testament to US imperialism.

Just know that with some time and even the help of computer programs like Unshredder, there isn’t much reassurance that your documents will stay shredded.

Document Burn Bag
ITS Tactical also sells "Burn Bags" for important documents (or shreddings from documents) at a reasonable price, just like the kind you'd find at government agencies or in the movies.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Lock Kill

Do you have a house/door key lock that you no longer want somebody to have the ability to unlock, but you don't have time to change the locks?  Maybe you're a landlord?  Or maybe you have some hidden purpose, such as forcing door traffic to a different entry to the building?

LockKill has a solution: a specialty key designed to slip in, bypass tumblers long enough to get all the way set, and then sheer off in place, destroying the lock.  It only takes a few seconds.

Warning: the only real way of bringing that lock back from the dead is to replace it.

Watch the review by ITS Tactical:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cognitive Side Channels

A recent media buzz this week involves so-called "side channel" attacks or leakages of information from human brain to computer interfaces.  Not a ubiquitous technology today, but quite possibly down the road.

Essentially the attacks follow the lines of showing a plugged-in subject a bank, in which case the subject's mind races down the neural paths for things like account numbers, PINs, maybe balances or recent expenditures, etc.  And the mere thoughts picked up by the device can capture these otherwise private thoughts inside the subject's brain.

Sound scary?  It is.  The brain wasn't designed to keep information from itself.  Count us out of the "early adopter program".

Reminds us of the time the Ghostbusters were told the worst thing they could think of would be their next enemy: