Uncertain Future – About the Author

Thank you for reading, seriously. You’ve probably wondered why I would bother writing a 16,000 word essay on every terrible thing that could happen in the next twenty years.

That said, I wanted to write on this subject in particular, is a matter of background. I am a Marine, honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corps in 2008. My primary military occupational specialty was Tactical Data Network Specialist and this was the role I carried on my first tour in Iraq in 2005 along with my second in 2007.

My job centered on building and maintaining the information network with which mission critical information and communications were carried out. Our responsibility was to ensure that that data network was secure from outside threats both physical and through our network. I maintained my base’s SIPRnet that is discussed over and over in the Manning case. We knew the information was critical, mission-important and not necessary for the general public at their malls. Below, you’ll see what were effectively my area of operations during 2005. Yeah, starting to see why I care so much about internet and military security so specifically now?

Since leaving active duty, I went to college and became a writer. It is through writing that my greatest achievements have been realized. I’ve met people I never thought I would and learned lessons I never would have imagined. In that time, I’ve focused on educating others about the military. From Iraq to what it was like and what it means to be a military veteran, there was so much that needed to be understood. In doing this, I’ve learned a great deal about the conflicts of our world and the dangers we face. Since growing to understand all of this, it’s been a personal mission of mine to explain all of this to as many as will listen. That said, it’s also been among the great joys of my life to build and be a part of a community dedicated to understanding the world, its dangers, and bravely pushing through to live in the world we all want so badly. That said, there is another reason why I have been writing so hard this last week.

A few months ago, my wife peed on a stick and now my life is going to change forever.

This is my daughter Gabi and in July we look forward to introducing her to all of you. Nevermind the blue bear, trust me there was some confusion. That said, because I am about to be a dad, this could be one of my last posts like this where I get to drive my focus towards a single massive project, eating away my time for the benefit of others. A good dad has to provide a future and sharing knowledge pro bono, while an endless source of self-fulfillment, doesn’t give Alex the life I want him to have. I’ve been very lucky where I work to be able give time to my second profession. Where do I work? I’m a teaching paraprofessional in Oklahoma. I work with the kids at our school who make bad choices. In my room they mentorship and discipline, learning to write essays and pick up trash in the way only an obsessive compulsive Marine writer could make them.

That said, being a teacher, let alone a paraprofessional teacher, isn’t all that great. The benefits don’t provide much, and the pay is terrible. According to the Washington Post, Oklahoma ranks 48th this year in Teacher Pay at about $44,000 a year [84]. Yeah, and as a para… I can expect about a quarter of that. Did I mention that my wife is also a teacher? If you would like to know what it is like for our house take a look at the title of this little gem: Superintendent: Budget Cuts ‘Worst Financial Crisis To OK Schools In Decades’.

That said, the last real chance for me to keep writing projects like this is to appeal to people like you. Over the last year and a half, I have been submitting my work through the crowdsourcing website Patreon. If you follow me, you’ve probably seen my little at the bottom asking you to pledge to my campaign. My supporters have literally changed my life and allowed me to do projects I never would have imagined, all the way up to the point where I was finally able to write my own book The Next Warrior. Still, if want to give my son the life I really want, I need more. That’s why I’m going full mercenary, and writing one of my longest answers ever, just to get your attention. If you really like my submissions, I really need your help.

This is a link to my Patreon Support Page: Jon Davis is creating A Military Sci-Fi Novel, Articles, and Essays. Here you can pledge any amount you like and every time I submit an article, post, or chapter to one of my books, you’ll donate that amount to the Jonathan Alexander Davis College Fund and/or Leaky Roof Trust. There is also a monthly maximum that you can elect to make, so you don’t have to worry about me writing fifty articles at a time. The only ones that make Patreon are big articles… kind of like this one.

By supporting me, you also support others. 20% of my donations go to other Patreon users as well, namely other veterans like me. So a donation to me helps others veteran artists as they grow, cope, and share their own experiences with the rest of the world. So once again here’s that link: (PS – Baby/Veteran/Poor Teacher – needs your help) Jon Davis is creating A Military Sci-Fi Novel, Articles, and Essays.

That said, If you’re reading this far, I’m sure you’ve already upvoted, by the way (cough). All kidding aside and with deepest sincerity, I enjoyed every minute of the research and writing that went into it, and hope each and every one of you enjoyed it too. Thank you for reading and sharing.

Semper Fidelis,

Jon Davis

Uncertain Future – XIII – Drones

Do cheap, readily available civilian drones potentially pose a new and unique threat in terms of terrorism?

Absolutely.

I was doing research for a book I am writing on the future of war, and I explored this topic. Since using drones to commit terrorist actions hasn’t really been a thing yet, (Criminals yes. Terrorists, not quite) I decided my best place to research would be to drive down to a local remote controlled hobby shop near where I used to live and just ask a few questions. I had to introduce myself as an old Marine and Sci-Fiction writer before asking any of my other questions, because leading off with, “I’m interested in knowing how I could make a flying bomb.” would have probably not gone over so well. What the guy said amazed and terrified me, more so, his assistant who quickly developed a new respect for his nerdy boss.

What the conversation left me with was a firm understanding that terror drones will be a part of the future of warfare that the military is, unfortunately, going to have just as many problems with as we give to the bad guys. Here are a few of the key take aways that I have developed from the conversation with my friend at the hobby shop and my own experiences in Iraq fighting a counter-insurgency war.

We are taking about VBIEDs – Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices which, during my day, meant car bombs that were either parked or driven to places where they were used. In the future, we might start seeing these things in the air. A few things need to be kept in mind though when thinking about VBIEDs or IEDs of any kind.

1) Payload

The most important element for a terrorist weapon is the devastation it can inflict. During the Iraq War, that devastation was massive. That’s because the terrorists had access for much of the war to unused artillery rounds taken from Saddam’s Iraqi Army after the fall of his regime.

I’ve seen more Humvees leveled by these things than I care to remember. They are seriously massive communicators of destruction, but also, serious limiters of capabilities if we are talking about drones.  Those things weigh around 40 to 80 lbs. Yes, it would be terrifying if one of those dropped from the sky (they are artillery shells after all), but there is no practical way for most drones available today that are terrorists (I’ll get to that in a minute) to carry something like that. Take Amazon’s plan to start droning things all over major cities. They are limited by weight because those adorable little propellers are not going to be able to carry something as massive as an IKEA bookshelf (between 40 to 80 lbs).

That means that the weapons are going to have to evolve, or at least become more potent. They aren’t going to be able to carry massive bombs capable of doling out huge earth shattering explosions. They are going to need to carry smaller explosives. That doesn’t mean they will be less deadly. No, in the future it might be possible to load up pipe bombs, smaller IEDs, loaded with shrapnel in the form of screws, bolts, nails. This weapon doesn’t level buildings or destroy armored vehicles like the above option did, but it has the ability to brutally maim people who are close enough to the blast, making them visual advocates and symbols for the depravity of the terrorists for years to come. Drones carrying these could fly it directly into a crowded restaurant, through the window of a politician’s office, or even over the stands of a crowd at a sports stadium.

2) Cost

Cost is king for weapons manufacturing, as with anything. Terrorists aren’t going to have the multimillion funds that first world nations do to produce highly sophisticated weapons like the Reaper or Global Hawk drones used by the Americans, nor will they have their $80,000 Hellfire missile. Terrorists run on shoestring budgets and they’ve done quite well at it.

Part of my conversation with the hobby shop guy dealt with cost. I had a design for a terror drone and he made me realize just how bad an idea it might be. For example, for the situation above that required a pipe bomb in a stadium, you would need at least a few thousand dollars to make such a weapon. That sounds like nothing compared to the costs of creating the F-35 Strike Fighter, but when you think about the volume that terrorists need to create the terror effect they desire, those costs are extremely prohibitive. Take the below for example. These are estimates on the number of rocket attacks which were delivered from the Hamas terrorist organization.

It can be a lot. Below is Iraq. Terrorists are featured in red.

As I said, when you deal with high volume operations, unit costs can be prohibitive. In the Hamas/Israel example, one of the most used rocket designs, the Qassam, can be built for as little as $800 American. Considering what that can do with it’s 9 pound warhead over a 17 mile range, that’s a pretty good deal.

But to produce a drone, like what we think of as drones that can carry the kinds of warheads we are talking about will be much more. Some tech analysts have stated that the Prime Air drone (Amazon) could run as much as $50,000 a piece to deliver a 5 lbs “package” to anywhere within 10 miles (in under 30 minutes though!). That is way too much for a sensible terrorist to ever consider paying, especially when you consider that if those things are near enough to the ground, they are getting shot down by everything from surface to air missiles to slingshots.

What my colleague instead suggested would be something akin to balsa wood gliders. Balsa wood is an incredibly light and cheap material used for toy planes and RC hobbyists. Taken from the hands of children and old men, though, these tools could be used to some devastating effect. They are made of cheap materials which are widely available. You can even buy them in kits. Once they reach altitude, they don’t have to use the engine for guidance and can glide silently to their terminal destination. And lastly, they are small, made of light materials, and slow moving. I am not an expert on radar, but that scary. It sort of sounds like a large bird.

I’ll provide this as a proof of concept. Note that the vast majority of the cost of this plane goes into its aesthetics and ensuring it can be recovered, both unnecessary for a suicide drone. It’s also important to know that the RC – Remote Controlled – element isn’t necessary. All flight paths can be programmed into modern systems.

3) Complexity

One of the things that has prevented more people from suffering the threat of terrorism is the complexity involved in various systems. Bombs are pretty complicated to build and not just anyone can make one. Since, historically, terrorists have had two main pools of recruiting to choose from, fanatics and the unemployed, rocket scientists have not been easy for the average terrorist leader to come by. Most of the time, a few key bomb masters, such as an Algerian chemistry student who joined against the French forces in the Algerian War, are the leaders of the munitions manufacturing process. When they are killed, they take with them large amounts of the enemy’s capability to do harm. If they don’t leave quality apprentices, then the movement may have been ended with the death of only one man. Usually, those individuals who carry on in the master’s footsteps are less capable in most regards.

Take colloquially, the example of Jesse Pinkman.

In the show Breaking Bad, a brilliant chemist, Walter White teams up with scumbag degenerate methhead Jessie Pinkman in a scheme to cook meth. In the early part of the show, it is comical to see how inept Jessie actually is at the science of cooking. Walter bestows his knowledge and by the time that the series ends, Jessie is an expert of cooking meth as good as Walter is.

There is a point to be made here, though. Even at the end of the show, Jessie isn’t as good at cooking than his teacher Walter. Even after a year of intensive training, he is only an expert of cooking Walter’s way. He will forever lack Walter’s expertise in the science of chemistry, which would allow Walter to produce many, many other kinds of recipes, most completely harmless or beneficial to humanity, if he chose. Jessie may know the way he was taught, but could never produce alternative products or where he wasn’t allowed to use quality materials and processes similar to his teacher’s. He can’t improvise like Walter could.

Wow, that was tangential example, but it serves the point that complexity in operations is an extremely limiting factor. You take the few evil geniuses out, then their apprentices are left without the ability to improvise on parts, resources, implementation, or usage because they came into the act of making bombs as a terrorist who only cares about killing and not as a lifelong scientist who then joined a terrorist operation.

Now let’s take that bomb and stick it in a drone. The first obvious problem is that you are going to need people who can build and service drones, something very few people know how to do yet. The information is out there and growing in the RC communities, but it still isn’t a respected art form in the terrorist world. So let’s say we take out a few of the engineers who know how to make the birds fly. That will be a setback for them. Let’s say instead, we take out the guy who knows how to program them on their automated missions. That’s a major setback. Let’s say we take out the guy who knows how to build the warheads. That’s a huge setback because now the other two are demoted down to nerdy RC enthusiasts. Now, let’s say that they have all these geniuses rolled up into one. How replaceable is that guy? How long before he can pass off what he knows? How hard would it be to disrupt the communication networks he possesses? How devastating would killing that one guy  be? Would his people be able to adapt?

Depending on the complexity, not often, but in some cases, yeah. In the case of the Amazon Death Drone, no. What happens if the terrorists are cut off from making the engines that powers the propellers? What happens if the application they use to pilot the drone is brought down? What if the chemical they use to either fuel the thing or build the bombs gets internationally outlawed or embargoed? As I said, will they be able to adapt, or a better question, how many compromises will these people be able to make before the weapon is no longer lethal?

The fact is, terrorists have to keep weapons system as simple as possible or they can’t replicate their processes. For a terrorist organization to work, it can’t revolve around the genius of a few masterminds. It needs to be weapons that can be produced by many people, even those with very little education. Pinkman could keep a drone program up for a while, but eventually, he wouldn’t be able to adapt to circumstances and changes in the environment in the way that Walter White would.

Sorry, I spent way too long making that point. There are, however, alternatives that are simpler than what we normally think of as drones. These methods already have abundant supplies and designs in existence for the would be terrorist to experiment with and provide the flexibility he needs to do terrible things. The hobby shop guy I talked to was really adamant about the balsa wood, enough I realized he’s thought of this before.

What do I see happening?

I hypothesize for my story that weapons like the one pictured above, (yep) may be loaded with apps created with the purpose of using GPS enabled phones to autonomously steer planes like this. Being that DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, isactually funding efforts to make software programming something that is super simple for everyone, this feat might actually not be as complex as think. Thanks DARPA. Once in flight these planes, perhaps a few hundred dollars a piece up to the point, might be capable of being loaded with small pipe bombs or, more practically, napalm. Napalm is any chemical that has two qualities, it is very sticky and it will burn a long time. Napalm is also extremely cheap, made from readily available materials anywhere, and easy to use. There are even recipes all over the internet that will make you sad about humanity. Being that the plane itself becomes part of the warhead using napalm, it will literally be a weapon raining fire from the sky. En masse, that can be a weapon that is devastating, cheap, and easy to use.

Oh, and if you were keeping track, the military definition for this is a cruise missile, but thanks to the advances in modern military technology, available to just about anyone for only $500. Enjoy the future.

Uncertain Future – Part XI – High Value Protection

High Value Body Guards and Military Contractors

Executive security is the industry of protection for VIP and High Value Individuals. While this includes those who specialize in shuttling primped up primadonna starlets like Justin Beiber from show to show, unharassed by throngs of fans, there is a much deeper need for experienced, battle ready security teams.

Due to the attention grabbing nature of these massive catastrophes, many other acts of overt criminal activities have grown in practice, but go relatively unnoticed by those not engaged in foreign policy news. First among these is the threat of kidnapping. While assassination or general acts of terror surely rank high on the list, kidnapping has a special role to play in the story of international chaos that exists today and which will continue in the future.

To understand why this is, one needs to understand how criminal empires and murder crazed caliphates primarily get funding. According to documents discovered following a raid of a prominent ISIS leader [56], the organization is funded massively through the use of kidnapping with the purpose of ransom. CNN and Business Insider investigate further to show the staggering amounts of money generated by these tactics [57] and the rationale for why the act of kidnapping is really such a good idea for such criminal and terrorist organizations. [58]

The kidnapping of Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa rattled the international press for this reason. This time, however, it wasn’t for the sheer barbarity that their fellow news agents were experiencing, (those attempting to report the news in the region are a favorite flavor of victim for the Islamic State, along with female humanitarian aid workers  [59]) but the magnitude of the ransom being demanded. The Islamic State demanded of the government of Japan $200 million for their safe return. Like so many others, this negotiation broke down and both were eventually beheaded in brutal fashion.

ISIS’ rationale seems similar to other terror groups: Kidnappings help raise money and, if ransoms aren’t paid, make a point, such as the groups are not to be messed with and even civilians are in danger.

$200 million is sizable demand and one which could drastically help fund the operations of the terrorist organization, which is currently already expanding its reach internationally as its borders shrink locally. While these two did not turn a profit, others did. The French have denied that they have paid ransoms [60], but according to a New York Times Report [61]they succeeded in buying back the freedom of kidnapped Frenchman from the Islamic State from ISIS. A second group working for a french nuclear firm were also freed by an al Qaeda affiliate in return for money. In perhaps the greatest coup for the terrorist state, 49 captives of Turkish origin were returned, seemingly for no reason at all to Ankara. Those following the report, myself among them, strongly suspect a major payoff for their safe and uneventful return [62]. There are other reports of three hundred Christians being charged more than $30 million for their release. One victim gave in an interview with New York Magazine that his captors forced him to call his family and a friend while he was being tortured, in hopes that his anguished screams would move them to pay the ransom money. [63] [64]

“We were blindfolded and chained, and every day they would torture us,” he said. “They would come in, one at a time, and electrocute us or beat us with anything they could find.”

“But they didn’t kill me because they wanted to ransom me. One time, they made me speak to my family on the phone as they were electrocuting me. Then, they made me call a friend, who told them he would pay.”

However, the practice of criminal kidnapping for profit is not limited to the ISIS threat. Moving to the Gulf of Aden and Somalia in one last example, one only has to recount the story of Captain Phillips.  [65]There, Somali pirates attempted to take an American vessel hostage along with its crew. This practice has become common in the narrow straits between Iran and the Horn of Africa. Massive ships with massive shipments worth billions are capable of attracting huge payouts to the pirates and the warlords who control them from the mostly European companies who control them. In the case of Phillips, though, the problem wasn’t solved by a financial transaction so much so as the extremely potent delivery of precision fire from the muzzle of US Navy SEAL Snipers.

Regardless of the success of the Phillips case, piracy and kidnapping for ransom are not going away. In fact, seeing the financial and propaganda potential for such violations, the value of making such attacks has prompted many, many more. This, perhaps, has only been exacerbated by the American shift in policy that some would say encourages the practice by providing a means for private individuals to pay the ransoms of their friends and families, thus encouraging more like kind kidnappings.

Having said all of this, it is no longer safe for most Westerners to travel to the Middle East, and the growing troubles of the region are only spreading more and more throughout the Islamic world, as millions sympathetic to the ideals of the Al Qaeda and the Islamic State begin to copy their tactics and methods. Still, people still have business to do, so Westerners are still going to go there. This leads to the need for private military contractors (PMCs).

Mention of the practice of PMCs is one that elicits fear and suspicion in most people unfamiliar with how they are actually used. Often, they can’t be mentioned without imaginations of secret mercenary black helicopter events and Orwellian fears of off the books private armies. In all honesty, very few such companies are used for anything other than bodyguards for individuals of extremely high value in the region, rather than elite soldiers willing to kill for the highest dollar. The US State department often contracts with these companies to provide a greater level of security than they can do otherwise with the military for their foreign dignitaries and ambassadors, and the CIA for their foreign case officers. This is outlined well in the opening chapters of the new book 13 Hours – The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi. The book begins by detailing the lives of the contractors involved, both professional and personal. All of those in the book possessed varied military experience, some US Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, and Marines. They may have in their experience sets Master’s Degrees in Criminal Justice, stints as the local police chief, or run warrants as bail bondsmen, and PIs stateside. Other PMCs may come from more diverse backgrounds; internationals with the French Foreign Legion, British SAS, and any number of other places and backgrounds. When I was deployed to Iraq, one team which frequented our Entry Control Point in Al Anbar Province had team members that came from as far off as South Africa, Romania, and Singapore, lead by an English Special Air Service soldier.

For the CIA and State Department, the go to is the Global Response Staff, an open secret of an organization created after the attacks on September 11th, 2001. The GRS gathers together teams of the best and most experienced operators from within the United States military with the knowledge and experience to be able to covertly guard its most valuable assets anywhere on the globe. What distinguishes these individuals from the common military they appear to be is the benefits package. Some PMCs today take in over $150,000 annually for their work overseas, on average, around three to five times what they could have expected in any given military career doing much harder work. Why they are useful is their flexibility and potency. Small teams deployed to a city can easily intertwine with the area, and adapt to cover any target that needs their level of protection. They can do this, however, without the massive overhead of the slow moving US military and sticking out like a sore thumb in places where Americans already have a hard enough time blending in. While these men (and women) and their skills don’t come cheap, they come without the prohibitive costs of deploying an entire unit of Marines or Army soldiers, which could rank in the millions, assuming an entire base doesn’t need to built for the task.

As Benghazi itself showed, the need for these individuals does still exist, and the threat of kidnapping, assassination, extortion, and any number of nefarious concerns may confront high value individuals at any time. This is why operators, such as those working with the Global Response Staff or other private military contractors will be in extremely high demand by foreign dignitaries of all nations, local government leaders, spies, journalists, and corporate executives who travel abroad, all doing business in places where business has to be done. These are the types of people who don’t want to be recorded in orange jumpsuits, a propaganda tool for murder fiends across the world. What this also means is that over the next twenty years, PMC operators of every brand and color will be in such high demand that they pop up literally everywhere important people can be seen in places where bad things often happen. What’s more, many will be more than the sum of high paid former Special Forces operators. They will be homegrown and specialized to their tasks through courses like the various Executive Protection [66] [67] courses that exist and under instruction by companies such as the American security services training company Academi [68]or the European Security Academy [69]. Both of these firms provide, alongside their training, mission support in the form of human resources, planning, and operational support. Remember that these people aren’t accountants, get creative and realize that that means  more or less exactly what you think it does.

The big change we will see as a result of this will be rather undemocratic shift in politics across the world. As the means of terrorism continues to grow, the need for higher and higher priced body guards to handle the threat will make some very rich people very safe, while leaving many others with little more than a prayer. In the end, expect to never see another photo again of any person of worth in a critical conflict area of the world without a dedicated staff of very skilled warfighters at their sides and at the ready.

Of course, this causes us to ask a very important question, where are all these extremely well paid and well trained operators going to come from?

Uncertain Future – Part IX – Physical Security

Changing gears from cyber security to the tangible world, 2015 saw one of bloodiest years on record since the end of World War II. Terrorism that originated in Middle Eastern conflicts has spread out and is beginning to become commonplace in Europe and even starting to appear, yet again, in the United States. The Charlie Hebdo and November 2015 Paris Attacks, along with a third attempt foiled by the presence of American military veterans rocked Europe as the world mourned for them. In the US, a similar, though far less attack, took place in San Bernardino, California. Between these three major attacks, around 160 people were killed. This, however, pales in comparison to the world-wide effects of terrorism. In total, there were nearly 400 terrorist attacks around the world that we know of [51]. In that, it is likely that more than ten thousand people lost their lives in acts of pure terror. I say pure terror, not to add drama to the point, but to differentiate these acts from the similar acts of violence. Acts of warfare, kidnapping, and social strong-arming are being ignored, as their practice has exploded in the last decade to unestimatable levels.

How this will affect the world in the next twenty years is that people, meaning nations, firms, and individuals, will be taking greater steps towards ensuring their own safety in the event of attack. For many, this will see annual trainings being required at many workplaces and schools. Many are already doing this. In another answer, I described how the last decade of terror and threat of “active shooters” has led to new methods and tactics aimed at empowering the individual victim to better deal with theses threats in a way that mitigates their danger, or when cornered in the worst case scenario, confront and attempt to neutralize the attackers. One such training program is ALICE, controversial in that it actually coaches victims of an active shooter incident to fight back as a very last. [52]

Uncertain Future – Part VII – State Sponsored Cracking

Now that we have thoroughly made it clear that there is no place left safe on the internet for the common individual, or even major corporations and government organizations, what about the governments themselves? What role do they play in this story.

To begin with, let’s talk about Hacking Team. Hacking Team is a company out of Milan that deals in “offensive intrusion and surveillance” capabilities. This includes the ability to monitor communications of internet users, decipher encrypted files and emails, record Skype and VoIP phone calls, as well as remotely activate microphones and cameras on the devices they target. Their primary clients include governments and major corporations, including a few governments with shady human rights records. Basically, they are the most terrifying conspiracy theories on the internet come to life.

Hacking Team are leaders in the growing industry to help governments hack in ways that make the rest of this article look like child’s play. The Hacking Team gives its clients, through use of their Da Vinci and Galileo platforms the ability to do everything from keystroke logging, GPS tracking on cell phones, and extracting wifi passwords, among many other capabilities. [31] Perhaps most interesting is their ability to steal data on local accounts, contacts and transaction histories by decrypting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency wallet files. [32]The tools they use, or rather sell, have been used by governments to… well… you’ve seen the movies. Before you start getting up in arms, you might want to check their previous clients, regimes such as Sudan, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia, and have been accused of being used against activists and protesters in Morocco, Syria, the United Arab Emirates. [33]They even basically serve as the intelligence agency of the Uganda. Some of those relationships landed them in hot water with the UN. To make matters even more frightening, the Italian company maintains two satellite offices within the United States, one in Annapolis and another in Washington DC. That shouldn’t lead people think this relationship buys the US anything though, since Hacking Team is suspected of selling tools to clients in Turkey who used it on a woman in the US [34]and is now suspected of selling their technology to Syria, as well.

What’s put Hacking Team in the news now? Perhaps unsurprisingly at this point, they too were also hacked in 2015. At some point their network was breached and published online – over 400 gigabytes of data. Like I said before, no one is safe.

Hacking Team’s fate, while ironic, only served to open the eyes of millions to existence of real companies whose only profession is equipping governments with the tools to break down any wall, crack any password, end any online uprising, and own our digital lives. For an example, let’s start with something small, like a foreign government hacking into a major American company to determine what media Americans and the rest of the world were allowed to see.

You know, I’ve always wondered if any of the “A movie they don’t want you to see,” advertisements were ever real. Turns out, there was one that absolutely was. In late 2014, Sony pictures planned to release a movie about a talk show host invited to North Korea. Oh, and he tries to assassinate the dictator. It was an okay movie, but honestly, not something you would watch twice on purpose. Where things went terribly, horribly wrong was when Sony pictures suddenly pulled the movie. In the weeks leading up to the release, the North Korean government expressed their “disapproval” of the film. With its ending scene depicting the violent death of their glorious leader, the North Koreans demanded the movie never show… or else. Whatever, we’re Americans, or sort of. Sony Pictures was in America at least. What are they really going to do, bomb us?

No, they didn’t bomb anyone. Instead, what they did was hack Sony Pictures. In that breach, they stole data that included personal information about Sony Pictures employees and their families, e-mails between employees, information about executive salaries at the company, copies of then-unreleased Sony films, and other information. They threatened to release the information, which any of it could have been deadly to the company, from its employee’s information to scripts of movies that haven’t been made. What happened next?

Sony pulled the film.

Not long after, popular demand, and there was a lot of us who now demanded to see this movie, made it available for streaming. Eventually, we were all able to get our fill of the death of the most infamous man alive, but it cost us. The Guardian called the event a massive defeat on American soil and the message was received, international government sponsored hackers can scare Americans into doing whatever they want.

It pissed us off as it introduced a new word into our collective lexicon: Cyberwarfare.

Uncertain Future – Part VI – If the Feds Aren’t Safe, What Makes You?

Ok, so maybe various versions of making people look bad on the internet aren’t nearly as terrifying as legitimate terrorism, but what about the presence of true cybercrime, those who use the internet with no agenda for reform, no desire for publicity, and who 99% of the time, you never knew existed? What about when the threats aren’t out to make you think about some subjective moral wrongdoing, but steal your money and ruin your life. What’s really scary is that no one is safe – quite literally no one. Not even the director of the United States Central Intelligence Agency.

A group of young hackers, using rather unsophisticated methods, broke into the CIA Director John Brennan’s personal email. So that we are all aware, the director of the CIA is the guy in charge of all US spies and one would thing be well beyond the reach of hackers… especially a group of teenagers. Much to the chagrin of the US government, he really wasn’t. This one, however, wasn’t really his fault. The method the hackers used was to implement a tactic that predates modern computing by only a few thousand years. They pretended to be people they weren’t, tricked a Verizon worker and got Brennan’s email password changed the old fashioned way… by lying. The term they used is “social engineering”. While they didn’t find much, they did find were some documents important to him. Then they bragged about it on Wired. While all of us think this one is hilarious, if a story turns up about a few of these kids turning up missing in a couple of years when no one remembers their antics… don’t say this wasn’t foreseeable.

The same group were responsible for this breach also targeted the FBI… because they are just ballsy I guess… and broke into portals used by police and federal agents to share intel. The site is also used to book suspects, and while it isn’t known how much was taken, hundreds of thousands of users may be vulnerable, many already being leaked following the hack.

2015 saw attack after attack like these, and some of the most massive breaches to internet security the world has yet seen, all with little other incentive than stealing money, stealing information, and extortion. Like my fictional spy from the future, there are many who profit heavily from the information you keep secret. Over the course of the last year, it is estimated that some 70% of the US population experienced some form of cyber attack and over 2.1 billion internet users worldwide.   In a Verizon Study of 90 Security breaches, there were 285 million data exposures. Unsurprisingly, attacks are getting much more advanced, with hackers sometimes using multiple attacks simultaneously to succeed in a breach, such as malware, brute force, and SQL injection. Furthermore, 74% of the attacks were external, meaning that 26% were executed from within the companies we are trusting with our data.  [21]In a related vein, but just as disturbing, we are now seeing more breaches being discovered by employees than outsiders. Traditionally, these sorts of attacks were discovered by feds or other companies detecting the irregularities. [22] Now, it is much more likely that when you’re breached, you’ll be the first to know… which for some of us, isn’t that comforting.

Depending on how you look at this, it could either be welcome news or utterly terrifying. On the one hand, this means that internal security is at least able to grow to the point that they become aware of their own breaches. On the other hand, it means that the number of breaches, and all the possible avenues of failure have become so numerous, that no government agency can possibly be aware of the threats anymore, let alone protect us from them.

The next troubling discovery, this one from the 2014 report, was exactly how big the hacking business is. In spite of the whole last section of activities by groups such as Anonymous, malicious hackers working with financial motives still account for some 60% of cyber crime. Corporate spying, those seeking intellectual property and trade secrets accounted for some 25% (up from previous years). Those hackers who were not set on serious crimes (you know, for the lulz) or hacktivists with some ideological agenda, in spite of all the news, accounted for next to nothing. [23]That means that in spite of internet hacktivists publicised achievements, the vast majority of illicit attacks happen for no other reason than to rob of us of something precious.

Some of the biggest of these hits last year:

  • Excellus Blue Cross/Blue Shield – 10 million records lost including names, birth dates, social security numbers, mailing addresses, financial accounts, and claims information [24]
  • Anthem Health Insurance – Access to 80 million current and former customers names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and income data [25]
  • Experian – 15 million T-Mobile customers names, addresses, birth dates, drivers’ license ID numbers, and passport numbers. Encrypted Social Security numbers were also stolen, which may provide some measure of safety, but the company warned that encryption may have been compromised [26]
  • Scottrade – 4-6 million customers contact details compromised [27]
  • CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and Costco – millions of customers’ credit card, email, postal addresses, phone numbers, and passwords. [28]
  • Donald Trump’s hotel chain – many thousands of guests’ credit card data [29]

Several people probably noticed that last line and thought to themselves, “Ha, that will show the asshat.” Well, we need to think about that one again, don’t we? Who was hurt by the breach at Trump hotels? Innocent people. Really think about who these people are who are hurt; people who slept at a place. Imagine yourself, really just you, getting a hotel anywhere in the world, never really thinking about the guy whose name is on the side of the exterior wall and if one day he may potentially run for President of the United Freaking States. No, you just slept in a place and now your information is floating around the internet by people who are trading it for money. So to those who are getting their lulz right now from finding out that the “Orange carpeted clown” got pwned (“laughing hard at the misfortunes of Donald Trump” for those not accustomed to the vernacular of the lower internet), you’re real a-holes.

To illustrate this point, as shown already, some the biggest breaches didn’t steal money directly. The big payoff was information. Hackers who can get access to data about real people, not just one, but millions of people at a time, are the biggest scores in the illicit industry of online invasion. Stealing a whole database with customer or employee names, birthdays, SSNs, or any other useful private information can open the door for those people to be targeted later for individual attacks. These attacks may be for money, or they can be for more information, perhaps even national secrets, incriminating information for blackmail, or worse. Often, this information is collected and merged into larger databases, where users are profiled and where that which is stolen can be used against them in some of the most terrifying ways imaginable later… like a hack on the Internal Revenue Service.

The IRS is a common target of hacking. As the central collection agency for all taxes of all people of the United States, it is one of the largest gold mines ever created. In 2015 it suffered the largest breach in its history. It acknowledged that hackers had gained access to view more than 300,000 previous tax returns. They did this through a tool made available by the IRS called “Get Transcript”. Get Transcript allows users to view old returns. The safety in this system is that it requires numerous layers of identifying information to access Get Transcript and view those old returns. The types of information needed: names, social security numbers, birthdates, addresses – the very same items stolen from the other hacks mentioned above. This means that the hackers were able to make one of the largest internet heists in history, only through access of stolen information, gathered, collected, and organized by other hackers in a cyber black market where your information is the most valuable and most traded commodity there is.

Relying on personal information — like Social Security numbers, birth dates and street addresses — the hackers got through a multistep authentication process. They then used information from the returns to file fraudulent ones, generating nearly $50 million in refunds. [30]

That means that each of the victims were hacked not once, but twice. The big takeaway from the 2015 IRS Hack is that there is growing evidence of the existence of something we are all afraid of. Databases out there that are growing day by day, where cells of each of our data are collected and merged without our permission or our knowledge, and that these databases are being traded by people across the world, with no good intention for us. This leads many to believe in a future decades from now which has no secrets, where all of our information is direct and open to the public. For those of us with bank accounts, street addresses, or children, that’s not the idealistic image of an open society that some would paint. The fact is, we live in a state of danger everyday because of the secrets we entrust to others. In the next few decades, for companies to remain viable, they are going to have to prove they can be trusted with our information. More so than this, if we ever want to feel safe again, perhaps the most valuable enterprise in the future of internet security might not be the next guy who is able to steal our information, but the first guys who figure out how to get it back.

Uncertain Future – Part IV – Doxxing

The Gamergate scandal didn’t end at name calling, though. Several key individuals suffered far more than the traditional effects of the average internet rabble. Along with threats of rape and murder, which are disturbing, but easily dismissed given the safety that online anonymity provides, there was another threat, one which pierced that veil of safety and put the power directly in the hands of the mob.

Doxxing.

Doxxing – from documents – search for and publish private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the Internet, typically with malicious intent.

“hackers and online vigilantes routinely dox both public and private figures.” [11]

During Gamergate the ugly side of the conflict saw the threat, “We will dox you,” begin to surface for the first time. Doxxing, as the definition states is when online users attempt to publish personal information about other users, celebrities, or public figures against their will. This personal information ranges from your real name to private email, banking information, and anything that hackers can get hold of. Once one member discovers it and is able to publish it, the fear is that it may lead to future attacks, such as flooding email accounts with harassment emails via a botnet attack, or worse, people literally able to knock on your door.

And this is exactly what happened to the internet’s Queen, Felicia Day.

Day commented that she had thus far remained silent on the issue of Gamergate to fans and the media, including over 2.3 million Twitter followers at the time, not because she wanted to or didn’t care, but out of fear of getting doxxed  – and seeing her personal information become public knowledge on the seedy parts of the internet.

“I realised my silence on the issue was not motivated by some grand strategy, but out of fear that the issue has created about speaking out. … I have tried to retweet a few of the articles I’ve seen dissecting the issue in support, but personally I am terrified to be doxxed for even typing the words ‘gamer gate’. I have had stalkers and restraining orders issued in the past, I have had people show up on my doorstep when my personal information was hard to get.”

This was posted on her personal blog, in a post titled simply The Only Thing I have to Say about Gamergate. [12]She was immediately attacked online and doxxed. Felicia’s experiences in the past have included direct encounters with stalkers, empowered by knowledge about her that they shouldn’t have access to. Others, such as one of the women central to the beginning of Gamergate, Anita Sarkeesian a game designer who also makes videos explaining misogynist tropes in gaming, were far more disturbing.

According to Time, Sarkeesian, had to flee her home because of violent threats. She was even forced to cancel a speaking engagement at Utah State University after an anonymous person sent a letter to the school administration threatening to massacre students if she spoke. “I will write my manifesto in her spilled blood, and you will all bear witness to what feminist lies and poison have done to the men of America,” the letter read.

Now, perhaps, we are getting the reason that anonymity is something of a concern for security analysts. With abilities such as doxxing, which is just one among many possible issues that internet users face, those who use the internet, or everyone, is going to need to learn to deal with some new and very profound threats. In the way that we prepared ourselves for active shooters with things like A.L.I.C.E. training, training is going to have to be done to teach people how to protect their personal information from slippage, the military term for unwanted dispersal of sensitive information. If we don’t take that initiative,I’m afraid of an internet where anonymity creates a world where there are no activists. Many who have read and follow my work know, if nothing else, one thing about me; I am super American. I like that I have this right and freedom to speak up and speak out, but at the point where living room vigilantes are able to threaten the safety of women for complaining about big tits in video games, along with anyone who happens to listen… I’m seriously afraid of a world twenty years down the road. That anonymity grants protection for criminal acts is something we should very seriously be concerned and something the leaders of the internet need to seriously consider when they list their values. As was mentioned before, to quote Goya, “fantasy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters.” That said, don’t be surprised if in your next annual security briefing, you see the “Dox” for the first, but not the last time.

Uncertain Future – Part III – Online Harassment

Beginning in August 2014, a the hashtag #GamerGate [6] began to form. It was began by groups of video game enthusiasts on differing camps of the politics of gaming. Those on the side of Gamergate gave the stated purpose for it to be combatting political correctness, censorship, and poor journalistic ethics in video game reporting. Specifically, many organized their efforts to target several female members of the gaming community for attacks against the genre norms and values. In retribution, these women and commenters denied the ethical basis and condemned the affair as misogynistic, which then led to reprisal attacks from across the internet world.

The roots of the debate began as a progressive pull to make  females in video games less… um… genetically improbable babes.

Designers and other feminist gamers argued against the exploitive nature in which females were depicted in many games, showcasing outrageous body types, and surfacing new controversies like “Same Armor/Same Stats” and “Less Armor/More Protection”.

So yeah, anyone who argues that is pretty much arguing, “I want more boobs! Don’t take away the boobs!” Granted, in the defense of the status quo, some interesting arguments did come out  deeper than merely, “Save the boobs!” Many Gamergates, argued that coming down on developers was a legitimate attack on free speech, while others decried the very nature of political correctness for gaming. Perhaps the best I had yet heard gave a rather remarkable feminist appeal by asking whether a very popular, and famously buxom, character from the 1990’s should be “reduced” for the upcoming remake. The argument there was that to retool, some said sensor, a character which is already well known on account of her body type is an attack on anyone who legitimately has that body type. In this case, it sends the message that simply having large breasts or long legs is wrong, and something to be ashamed of.  [7]

I honestly didn’t know if I just heard a masterful counterargument supporting both sides of the controversy from the feminist perspective or simply some grade A BS. Regardless, many of the feminists dismissed such views outright, some retaliating through the absolute attack on what it meant it meant to be a “gamer”, coinciding the meaning with being synonymous with misogyny. This, as it should surprise no one, led to a greater and greater tit-for-tat assault on both sides. More joined the Gamergate cause simply in opposition to the radical feminists among those who in over the top demonstrations, stated that all those who don’t agree with the narrative of the feminists were misogynistic, and eventually homophobic, racists, and bigoted.

That was wrong, but what happened next disappointed many as conversation wasn’t the only thing that came out. Users operating, mostly anonymously via sites like Reddit, 4Chan, and 8Chan, began attacking against leaders on both sides taking the stances that games need to redirect. The attacks eventually grew to threats, including the threat of rape and murder for many of the feminists, and threats to have get many of the Gamergaters fired from their real world jobs. Most of us were surprised it got as bad as it did as fast as it did. I wondered why so many gamers became so visceral in their attacks against activists in the industry, or even just their defense of the boobs. I, along with much of the rest of the gaming community with large internet followings, just wondered with surprise how it got that bad.

And that is what is really scary about online security threats like these. People online can get really mean, hateful, and even cruel. I’m not talking about calling you an “asshat” cruel. I mean subjecting people to the constant barrage of hate that results in  IRL (in real life) ugliness. There is even a hashtag going out on snapchat called #TBR. For those of us blessed not to work with children on a daily basis, you’ve probably never heard of #TBR, but it stands for To Be Rude. Literally, it is nothing but children being hateful to one another, insulting one another in “secret”, via Snapchat. Snapchat is a novel tool for kids because it allows sharing of content that will “delete” after a predetermined time or number of views, and only to those you choose. I suppose this may be useful to revolutionaries fighting against totalitarian regimes, but mostly kids just use it to post pictures of themselves naked and be monsters to one another. It sort of explains the ghost icon, though; a hint of secrecy.

Now where this fits into the GamerGate controversy was that we didn’t just see children acting like children. We saw adults acting very maliciously with the intent to cause fear and psychological harm, with the intended purpose of manipulation. By most accounts, that’s terrorism. What made normal, boring actually, twenty and thirtysomething year old gamers turn into, well let’s call it what it was, terrorists is a question we all need to answer, but it is probably the same reason kids use snapchat to post hateful videos instead of Youtube.

Not getting caught.

In both cases of Snapchat or #Gamergate, the offenders function behind a wall of protection from authority. For middle schoolers acting badly, it is really no different than any other time when mean girls said mean things when no teachers were around. With #Gamergate, we saw something very different. Grown adults behaving online in a way they never would in the real world. Many attribute this to the anonymous nature in which they gathered, communicated, and executed their “operations.”

Anonymity on the internet is an important thing if for no other reason than to understand how people act when functioning under the guise of anonymity. Dr. John Suler is a Professor of Psychology and has written on the subject of online behavior. In his paper The Online Disinhibition Effect, Suler argues that those on the internet are able to disconnect from their normal behaviors and can frequently do or say as they wish without fear of any kind of meaningful reprisal. An example being most Internet communities, even one such as Quora which uses real names. The worst kind of punishment an offender can expect for bad behavior is being banned from interaction. In practice, however, this serves little use; the person involved can usually circumvent the ban by simply registering another username and continuing the same behavior as before [8]. Suler calls this toxic disinhibition.

CB radio during the 1970s saw similar bad behavior:

Most of what you hear on CB radio is either tedious (truck drivers warning one another about speed traps) or banal (schoolgirls exchanging notes on homework), but at its occasional—and illegal—worst it sinks a pipeline to the depths of the American unconscious. Your ears are assaulted by the sound of racism at its most rampant, and by masturbation fantasies that are the aural equivalent of rape. The sleep of reason, to quote Goya’s phrase, brings forth monsters, and the anonymity of CB encourages the monsters to emerge.

Suler’s work was a brilliant synopsis, but we on the internet need a simplified version. “John Gabriel’s Greater Internet F***wad Theory” was a posted comic strip by Penny Arcade. The post regards reflects the unsocial tendencies of other internet users as described by the online disinhibition effect. Krahulik and Holkins, Penny Arcade’s creators suggest that, given both anonymity and an audience, an otherwise regular person becomes aggressively antisocial. [9]

How this relates to security is obvious to those who have experience it. The internet can feel like an unsafe place sometimes. The internet can be an unsafe place sometimes. Looking to the long term effects of bullying that are being better understood every day [10], sometimes I wonder if this place I’ve called a second home is a place I want my kids to play on. Most of us who are active on this playground understand this as the status quo, but in the future of internet security, the debate will center around the freedom to be private and the freedom to be anonymous. Many fear, given precedence, what may happen under this veil of anonymity. I can’t help but agree that his is a rational concern for many. Sometimes the internet comments go far beyond words or threats, which carry lasting psychological damage to some of the victims, but transforming to very legitimate real world threats. What this will mean for the future is that companies is deciding what kind of culture they want to deal with. For the internet to stay the internet we want to be on, we may see more companies adopt guidelines like Quora’s, with it’s real names policy and Be Nice Be Respectful Policy, a place where people feel welcome and safe to exchange and interact.

Uncertain Futures – How Safe Will You Be and How Security Will Change in the World of Tomorrow

I’m starting a multipart series on what are the biggest ways in which the world will be be different 20 years from now, with a key focus on how changes in the security fields will impact all of our lives.

When you ask most people what the groundbreaking “X-factors” of the future will be, they’ll say many wildly bold, exciting, and optimistic predictions of a future not far from us today. So far, answers to that question have ranged from technological leaps in machine automation, biotech, robotic swarms, and 3D printing; to social evolutions such as the conversion to all credit economies, an end to diseases, the post-scarcity, and new levels of international individual equality. Yet more promise better governance via more openness, and even a possible end to war through an even more interconnected world. Of course, others are going the other direction with predictions of diseases we haven’t yet discovered, or worse, haven’t yet invented. Some warn weapons too terrifying to detail. Others have echoed cautionary tales against the possible destruction of us all through climate change, energy crisis, nuclear devastation, and now to add to the list… radical religious fundamentalism.

As I examine the answers I wonder to myself what the odds of any one of these outcomes may be. Some seem well thought out, bringing in insights from brilliant minds. Some are simply ridiculous. I am left, however, with one surreal and terrifying truth… at least a few of them will be right. Some of these predictions, wild as they may be, will come true. The sad thing is, we aren’t really sure which ones. All we can be sure of, is that there will be change. Change, however it happens, is the one certainty among all this speculation.

Change will most certainly come, but it won’t come alone. After great change, there is always a period of disruption. Disruption is often used in Silicon Valley to symbolize the moment one company strikes it rich by finding an unknown vacuum to fill, a need to satiate, or dismantling an inefficient system. For many others, it is the fear that automation will leave them and millions of others out of a job and no hope to fill it. To some governments, disruption means a protest of thousands of angry and jobless people turning into a riot, or even a full blown rebellion. Disruption may be in the creation or destruction of entire industries, or as has been the case very recently, entire regimes. Most of the world has already experienced a decade pass where we feel less safe, less secure, and less sure that some catastrophic event won’t destroy our lives in the blink of an eye or the click of a mouse. Likewise, many millions have already felt the effects of change destabilize their nations with ramifications that will echo for years to come. Many of the other answers to this question have illustrated why, whether they intended to or not.

Consider a case study in change and disruption that was the Arab Spring of 2010. Then, new technology gave way to empowering the youth of several nations with information. A wave of democratic energy swept across the region. Caught in this wave were dictators over nations like Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria. The world watched in amazement as millions upon millions flooded streets to demand change. To them, change indeed came. In several nations, reforms are taking root, and dictatorial regimes have been replaced, if not ousted entirely. Millions are indeed living freer lives.

But…

At the same time, today there are three nations currently gripped in struggles of civil war, numerous uprisings already violently crushed, millions already killed, and many tens of millions of people displaced from their homes both nearby and across the world. Worse yet, chaos and anarchy in the region formed in the void of power that once existed under the despots who ruled there. In that void grew medieval death cults bent on absolute devastation and the full scale disruption of the Western world, for no other reason than that the West needed to be disrupted. Today, news of the Middle East centers only on one word – Chaos.

This isn’t to say that change is necessarily a bad thing, nor even that the disruption that change brings is evil in itself. It is just acknowledging that change happens, and that where change occurs, not far behind it, disruption is sure to follow. Finally, where disruption takes place, as we have seen in Middle East, instability is sure to follow, as well. It is this instability that leads to the crises which we hear about daily, and this instability that creates an ever widening gulf between where are today and the world we envisioned for it twenty years ago. Furthermore, as we experience yet more change, the kinds of technological, social, and political changes highlighted over and over throughout this question, instability will build upon itself, sometimes making way for progress and improvements, but other times, most of the time, preparing the ground for the kinds of horrors that only come from the vacuum where order once existed. It is in these environments desperation happens, and the kind of dangerous actions take place which only further dismantle everything. We see a model of this in Syria, where a desperate leader does unspeakable things to his people, to stop rebels and religious fanatics, all empowered by modern technology, both military and civilian. From the chaos of that nation we have seen yet more chaos spread far beyond when millions fled to Europe, bringing with them terror hidden as one of the refugees.

For this reason, the real “X factor” won’t be any one technology or suite of technologies. It won’t be an idea or a revolutionary act of governance, nor will be the culmination of one single ideological movement. The real “X factor” will be how we deal with all of these changes that are sure to come. How do we deal with change which could come from any source, at any time? How can we continue our operations when others fall into chaos? How do we guarantee safety when we have no guarantees on what tomorrow will look like? The world will change, but it will be the people who can adapt to that change that will survive it the best. Those people are going to be the ones who protect themselves, their communities, and their assets. As others fail and a little bit more chaos is built, these groups and individuals will be those who provide the long term stability needed and become anchors in ever changing worlds. For that reason, the true “X-factor” in the future will be the force, in all its forms, that allows the most positive change for the greatest numbers of people, while preventing the kinds of negative change that pulls us all a little bit closer to the abyss.

The factor, is security.

But wait, security isn’t something that is “possible.” It is everywhere around us already. While I would agree, this answer will seek to explain just how good our security needs to be in the future, and how it has failed us today. More so than this, I want to show all the needs we have for security already, and how improbable it is that we will live in perfect peace in the next twenty years. Internationally, 2015 saw a surge in terrorism born from conflicts in the Middle East. Attacks in Paris, one at the beginning and again the end of the year, along with another in California, woke many in the West to the present threat that exists when terrorists inspired by jihad overseas are brewed at home. The year also saw tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of individuals hacked in some of the largest information attacks in history. Going beyond this, privately operated drones are now being empowered not only to deliver mail to our doorstep, but to look right in on our lives, as well. What this means for today is a desperate scramble to attempt to find a new normal which we can all feel a sense of peace. What it will mean in the next twenty years is a complete change in the way we see the security industry, and scale which we deal with it in our daily lives.

The rest of this series will be dedicated to listing some of the ways the security industry will need change, and how those changes will affect off all of us. Perhaps more than the question asked, this answer will leave you realizing one truth. Anyone can handle when something goes right, and some new technology makes your life better, but who is going to be left when everything goes to Hell?

Escape From Terror – A Guide to Getting Out

Given no other information than that there is a shooter or an active terrorist attack, one in which the attackers didn’t kill themselves in the beginning, there is a lot you can do to maintain your own survival and the survival of others.

Stay positive

I know it sounds flippant to start off with “Stay positive,” but this is literally a guiding principle taught in the United States Marine Corps Recruit Manual and is part of the US military’s SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) schools to train Marines, Army, and even Navy SEALs and other Special Forces survival in the harshest of situations. The overriding theme of that first section is that in horrifying situations, much like those of this question, the number one life saving mentality is to stay positive so that you don’t panic. A panicked mind does not make smart decisions. Furthermore, maintaining optimism maintains the belief that survival is possible. When one believes they will be all right in the end, really believes it, their instincts work to support their mind toward maintaining their survival.

Note that I didn’t say that you should tell yourself, “Don’t panic”, because saying “don’t panic” doesn’t actually prevent people from panicking. It’s just something they do in movies to add intensity. It doesn’t help in real life. You do need to stay positive. Most people panic from a flood of many things happening at once. People hear shooting. Someone else screams. A flood of people start moving. Children get separated from parents. More screaming. You should remember to stay calm, not by saying, “stay calm”, but by saying things like, “It’s going to be OK, I know what to do, I will be all right.” Keep repeating affirmations to yourself like this to ensure that you actually do stay calm and remember everything else you need to do to get to safety.


After staying positive, an acronym currently being used to train students, teachers, and businesses on how to handle terror events and active shooters is ALICE.

  1. Alert
  2. Lockdown
  3. Inform
  4. Counter
  5. Evacuate

ALICE is a tool used to keep victims and staff aware of their options during what is called an “active shooter event” and is also useful advice if are involve in an act of terror. It quickly guides you through the important decisions you may need to make. It is important to understand the ALICE acronym is not meant to serve as a sequential list of steps to follow, but to serve as a guide for understanding your role – which it is important we understand isn’t determined by you, but by the shooter or terrorist – in surviving the encounter and aiding others to do so, as well. Depending on where the shooter is in relation to you, you have several different responsibilities to ensure your own safety and help you escape, as well as that of others. In relation to this question, most of the steps involved do not involve interacting with the shooter – in fact, they specifically attempt to avoid it.

Alert

The first is that you witness the event taking place. It is important to remember that, as members of a civilized society, we are all the responsible in some way during a threatening situation to preserve as many lives as possible. Even if you aren’t trained to do much, or aren’t in a position to physically help, the information you know may be vital to others when added to their own. Consider this someone who, from a safe distance, saw someone enter the building with a weapon or acting in a suspicious manner. Perhaps this person saw or heard an explosion or can hear shooting off. This person has the responsibility to stay safe (by not entering the dangerous area) and alerting police or any other official. The information you saw and reported could be compiled with others to help ensure that hundreds who aren’t safe are able to escape who don’t have the benefit of your point of view. Your testimony may also help provide key evidence after the fact, as well.

Lockdown

If you aren’t in the immediate presence of danger, and if warning is given, people should attempt to take a Lockdown, ready stance. If you are very near the threat and a known secure means of escape already exists, then you should always escape first before attempting Lockdown.

Lockdown allows small groups time to create as defensible a position as possible. The average response time for police is somewhere around 14 minutes to produce first responders to a scene of a violent incident. This in no way is a failure of police, but just a reality of having very few people responsible for the safety of very, very many and never knowing where a situation might happen. For this reason, those who are alerted to the presence of danger are asked to Lockdown, in an effort to gain some security during the time when it isn’t known if a safe escape route exists and when first responders have not yet arrived on the scene. Lockdown drills are performed by most schools already, though this is typically the extent of the exercise. They do this by locking all doors, both exterior and interior, and barricading those doors before taking a position in a darkened room, away from visible sightlines of any windows and in a defensive posture.

By defensive posture, this means that students or anyone caught in a terror environment where a terrorist or shooter currently isn’t, such as a room behind a locked door, are to try to use whatever means necessary to provide them with cover and concealment. Concealment is anything that will prevent an enemy from seeing a target, like a curtain. Cover is the military term for something that can conceal you from a threat and be used as a source of shielding in the event that you’re shot at. Once the students are in the most covered and concealed location they can create in a timely manner, they should stay vigilant, and stay prepared to move to escape or react to a forced entry by the shooter.

This is an effort to create a “safe space”, not meant to say that it is perfectly defensible, but as a primary fall back point for all students and individuals to retreat and seek shelter in the event of terror until an escape route can be secured. A terrorist’s goal is to cause as many casualties as possible. That said, if the terrorist or shooter remains a threat after the initial attack, they will often be deterred by obstacles like locked doors, instead looking for easier targets. In this event, creating barriers between a shooter and potential victims often ends the threat of a direct confrontation, before it starts. That said, having a secondary fall back position, in case it seems apparent that a shooter is set to enter your safe space, is a good idea if one is available.

Lockdown is not the same as hiding. We have seen examples of those involved in shootings attempting to make use of whatever concealment they have to hide from the attacker. This includes hiding under tables in the room they are in or in unsecured rooms, then staying put there for several minutes during a massacre. In the Columbine attack, students who hid under tables when it became known that an event had begun were eventually found and murdered. Any defensive position can be overcome by a determined adversary. For that reason, do not get too comfortable in your relative safety, but always remember that your primary goal is escape, not defense. Always be looking for information that will be help you get away from

Inform

Someone in the room should be communicating with police and emergency personnel, both to tell them what you are witnessing and to have a link with information from the outside. During lockdown, communications may be disrupted, or it may not be advised to broadcast escape information while the shooter is active. This isolates victims, which can be deadly. For that reason, it is important for someone in the room to keep an active communication line to the police in the event of an emergency. Most police departments are equipped to handle overflow traffic in the event of a major emergency.

My personal advice is that the person on the phone shouldn’t be the person charge, be it a teacher, the boss, or whoever takes charge of a situation. They need to be in charge of leading the students in whatever circumstances take place from then on. If specific instructions need to be given, than the leader can be given the phone, but generally, the leader’s job in this instance is to keep the rest of the room calm and prepared. Communicating with the outside takes the leader’s focus away from the room and away from what is going on outside their safe space. The communicator needs to calm and level headed and able to communicate; the type of person who can decipher what is important for police and the leader to know and what to communicate. For high school, a student who is calm and reliable should be able to communicate with emergency response and relay important information to the teacher. Most middle school classrooms should, as well. For elementary and primary schools, the teacher unfortunately needs to be the one responsible for many roles.

Key things to be aware of at all times, but particularly in lockdown:

  • Know the source of danger
    Where is the threat? Know where the danger is coming from. Is this person shooting actively? Are they on the move? In which direction?

    Maintain your wits and try to assess what actually caused the threat. Don’t take more than a few seconds on this. Don’t take more than a few seconds on this. This doesn’t mean you create a doctoral thesis on the threat’s relationship with his mother. Where is it that you get the instinctive reaction that the threat is coming from? Don’t look at which way people are running, or running from. Numerous accounts exist of people, usually in panic, running directly toward the danger, in some instances leading others as well. This isn’t their fault. They just lacked the training to know what to do. From there, you have a few options that you need to consider.

  • Find the exits
    Attempt to get away from the immediate danger. Find the nearest avenue to an escape as possible. It may be a better idea to lockdown and stay where you are, but either way, you need to know where the danger is and what avenues you have to escape. Again, time is key, a few seconds at most to find the exits.
  • Arm yourself
    At my school, when we practice for one of these lockdown drills every student has at their disposal a stack of books and other objects to throw or use as weapons. The Marines call these weapons of opportunity and they are any tool you can use to help you defend yourself if you directly encounter the threat. Once you find a tool to use, keep it with you until you have successfully escaped.

Escape/Evade/Evacuate

I’m going to go out of order and talk about escape before counter. As I have said, the ultimate goal of any terror event should be to escape the situation. This needs to be repeated for emphasis. The goal should not be for individuals to stop the shooter, but to get to a safe area. Everything else listed in this answer is strictly in the event escape is deemed more unsafe than staying put, or the shooter has removed the option to escape.

Most of the people who become victims do so very early on. Either they were very close to the terrorist when they began their attack,0 or they were isolated because they hesitated in their movements, or found themselves pinned in and immobilized. Once you find the exit, you should be going there. There shouldn’t need to be thinking about which exit may be closer, or which exit may be jammed or what if there is someone waiting at the exit… just run. A person should be far enough ahead that you can’t get pinned in the event of a wrong turn.

If a shooter is in the open, such as an attack on a mall, one should attempt to get away from the immediate danger as fast as possible. Don’t call the police immediately, just get to a safe location. Immediately seek cover and concealment by staying low, out of eyesight. Remember that concealment is anything that will prevent an enemy from seeing a target and cover is anything that can both conceal a potential victim and will help deflect or absorb incoming rounds fired at the them.

From there, one should remember always to know the source of the threat and find the exits.

Knowing this, a person should find the nearest avenue to an escape as possible. Where is the nearest exit? Can I reach it while staying behind cover and/or concealment? If you know the source of danger and you know the route to the exit, watch for hardened obstacles to keep between you and the threat. A hardened pillar or support beam can be a good source of cover, as can a large desk or wall. A large fountain, a car, the corner around a turn; anything that is hard and large should be a goal of someone to keep between them and the threat. It’s important not to get pinned behind cover, and to just think of it as a temporary obstacle to keep between you and the threat until you reach the exit or safety. Again, time is key, a few seconds at most to find the exits. As soon as possible, make for the exits.

This is also why keeping in contact with police is so vital, primarily if you aren’t in the open and in a lockdown situation where your escape is determined by information you can’t know because it is outside your room. Keeping communication lines open, even if you are silent and just waiting for information to be given to you, lets police and rescue know where you are, which lets you know when it is safe to escape and by what means. Most likely, there will never be a need to encounter a shooter. This is because, once a shooting begins, entire towns shutdown to ensure that the event is taken care of as quickly as possible. For that reason, those who don’t begin an attack in a safe place need to find the safest place possible, fortify, call for help, and prepare to evacuate when it is safe to do so.

By prepare to evacuate, I don’t mean find a safe place and stay there forever. An element of static defenses, those that don’t move or change, i.e. our barricades or locked doors, as I said in the previous section, is that a determined adversary can and will overcome them. Think about if a shooter is searching for one particular person, like that bully, mean teacher, their child, ex-spouse, or their boss. If that person was the motive of the attack, then obstacles won’t deter them. They might slow them down, but not provide true safety. This is true of muggings, burglaries, terrorism, or military combat. Most of the time these are deterrents that force a shooter on, hoping to find an easier target, however, if a gunman is set to defeat a certain barrier, for any reason, they will attempt to do so. Given enough time, they will defeat it. This is why staying in a state of Lockdown throughout the duration isn’t advised.

We can see an unfortante proof for this from the Virginia Tech Shooting of 2007. There, 32 students were killed and the majority of those were traced to a single room. A professor locked the students in the room, similar to a lockdown, but wouldn’t let them leave even when an opportunity was available. The shooter eventually overcame the lock on the doors. The room had no exits and he then proceeded to kill first the teacher, then everyone else in the room. From this lesson we see that a lockdown is necessary, but not a perfect defense. While we must lockdown, we must also prepare for an escape as quickly as possible. Making a plan out of staying put is itself, a danger.

Some guidelines to remember during an escape:

  • Move quickly
    Most of the people who become victims do so very early on. Either they were very close to the shooter when they started or they were isolated because they hesitated in their movements, or found themselves pinned in and immobilized. Once you find the exit, you should be going there. There shouldn’t need to be thinking about which exit may be closer, or which exit may be jammed or what if there is someone waiting at the exit… just run. Stay far enough ahead that you can’t get pinned in in the event of a wrong turn.
  • Use cover
    Cover is the military term for something that can conceal you from a threat and be used as a source of shielding in the event that you’re shot at. If you know the source of danger and you know the route to the exit, watch for hardened obstacles to keep between you and the threat. A hardened pillar or support beam can be a good source of cover. A large fountain in the middle of a food court, a car, the corner around a turn, anything that is hard and large should be a goal of someone to keep between them and the threat. Don’t get pinned behind cover, just think of it as a temporary obstacle to keep between you and the threat until you reach the exit.
  • Avoid traveling along walls
    Bullets travel along walls. I don’t know why, but a bullet that is fired at close to the same angle of a wall will ride the wall and stay very close to it. From what I have seen, they can do this a while. Try to stay at least six or so inches from the wall if you can.

Counter

If a terrorist or gunman enters your safe space, or if he pulls a weapon in the middle of whatever you are doing, say during a class period, work, or, just passing by they have left you with no time to prepare. You have to accept that the gunman has removed all good options from you and that you’re now left with very few alternatives. All your remaining choices boil down to basic human responses to fear. You have probably heard of “fight or flight”, and that is what I am talking about, but there are more and each choice has very different ramifications depending on the circumstances. They are flight, freeze, submit, posture, or fight. Before I continue, we need to consider these five basic human responses to fear and how they would manifest themselves in an active shooter or terror environment.

  • Flight – generally speaking, if you can, fleeing is the best option. That said, as a teacher, fleeing isn’t always an option. For example, in my classroom, which is virtually identical to all the other classrooms in the Middle School, High School, and Elementary, there is only one door. The windows are also shatter resistance, designed to prevent an intruder from the outside getting in, but also preventing students from being able to break out, as well. ( They are actually designed for storm debris because far more people are killed by tornadoes where I live than the violence of this question.) There is only one entrance to the room, and therefore, only one exit. While the ultimate goal of being in an event is the escape the situation, and most of the time, an avenue is available… frankly, sometimes we don’t have that as a real option.
  • Freeze – Freeze is a common response to panic educing situations. For many, it will be the default response. There is a saying, made most famous by the United States Navy SEALs, but common throughout the United States armed forces: “One doesn’t rise to the occasion, but falls back to their training.” This means that if a person is not trained, or have not prepared themselves to recognize and respond to a stressful situation, they will likely fail in that situation.

    A person who freezes, or fails to take any action in the presence of an active terrorist will be an easy target. Shooters aren’t targeting specific individuals usually, at least not long into the shooting. If they are attempting to right some injustice, the shooting eventually turns indiscriminate, where shooters are attempting to not find specific targets of opportunity, those that aren’t actively seeking escape, or using cover and concealment. This obviously isn’t the best solution, but not honestly the fault of the victim. A person must be trained to recognize and prepare for the possibility of violence and have a plan on how to act. If they don’t, they default to the freeze state.

  • Submit – submit refers to complying to the shooter’s demands. This is the hostage scenario. Hostage takers bargain with victims for compliance. They offer safety in exchange for control of the situation. For active shooters, those involved with terrorist attacks, school shootings, and workplace massacres, this is not common. They aren’t interested in a prolonged engagement and may not even care if they get out alive. Typically, these events take place, from beginning to end in less than 12 minutes, that being the amount of time it would take a dedicated shooter to either run out of ammunition, be brought down by police, or as often as is the case, end the encounter by taking their own lives.

    Therefore, it isn’t common for shooters to make demands that will keep people alive. Typically, they are there for a set purpose of inflicting causalities. For that reason, in the event of an active shooter, it is extremely unlikely that giving into the shooter by following any of their demands will ensure survival. In the Umpqua Community College Shooting, this is what students did. The shooter began by first executing the teacher of the room before making demands that all Christians in the room make themselves known by standing. The classroom full of students did as they were instructed and several who stood, were then executed.

  • Posture – Posture is creating the appearance of threat without actually being a threat. Imagine boxers before a fight, trying to look intimidating to psyche out the other opponent. This is an attempt to psychologically dominate an opponent during a fight, in the hopes that it makes them easier to deal with.

    I can’t imagine a worse idea in a terror situation. Shooters are obviously unbalanced people, so attempting to intimidate someone who, because of their weapons, is in an obviously tactical advantage seems, to me, to be suicidal. Furthermore, I can only imagine it further enraging an active shooter, so that, once they are done with whoever tried to appear intimidating is dead, the rest will receive an even more relentless assault.

What is currently being taught, in these danger close circumstances, where escape is not a timely or possible solution, is to fight, some would say attack, the attacker.

The idea here isn’t to combat an attacker one-on-one armed with only a book or stapler against a gunman. It has been shown, however, that working as a group, a number of victims can overcome an attacker and, if nothing else, minimize the harm which he could inflict.

In the instance of a single attacker against a room full of individuals, the presence of massive amounts of common items being thrown to assault, en masse, is the key defensive element. This means that a person doesn’t need to be a martial arts expert, or spend countless hours in training and exercise to prepare for the event. It also doesn’t require that any one individual has the physical and mental capability to disable the shooter. The act only requires coordination of many people moving very quickly. This doesn’t end the threat, but is intended to stun the attacker long enough for the students, once again en masse, to swarm the attacker, ground him, and hold him until others are able to evacuate or hold the attacker until police are able to intervene. Through swarm tactics, which is how they are literally termed in some ALICE training, the groups of potential victims are able to maximize their collective survival by overwhelming attackers.

During this time, students are encouraged to use “weapons of opportunity” or “improvised weapons” in their own defense. “Weapon of opportunity” is a term used from the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program and other self-defense programs, which basically means any common place item which can be used a weapon. The Marines train to fight, in the last resort, with sticks, rocks, and anything else which may be available to them. For a classroom or office setting, this translates to books, staplers, tape depressors, and even chairs being used as throwing objects or even blunt force items. It is also advised to keep on hand pepper spray and a very good improvised weapon is also the fire extinguisher. The cloud is both stunning and disorienting, and the canister itself is an extremely blunt object which can be both deadly and easily used as a club. The fact that any good classroom or office should have fire extinguishers available anyway, makes this one of the best self-defense tools for this question.

There is practical rationale to this tactic that is, as well, based on military combat psychology. The term is violence of action.

[The following is an excerpt from SEAL SURVIVAL GUIDE: A Navy SEAL’s Secrets to Surviving Any Disaster, written by Former Navy SEAL and preeminent American survivalist Cade Courtley.]

Violence of action means the unrestricted use of speed, strength, surprise, and aggression to achieve total dominance against your enemy. I’m repeating this to drive home the concept that any fighting technique is useless unless you first totally commit to violence of action. Don’t be afraid to hit first, and when you do, hit hard. Remember, you are fighting because this is the best and only option. Pull the trigger — because you are in a battle for your life! Your instincts, assessment, and situational awareness have told you that you are in mortal danger. You don’t know the other person’s intentions fully, and you never can. What you can do is survive — it is your right to not be killed or harmed by another person. As with most things survival-related, fighting has its own set of priorities that need to be addressed at lightning speed.

Stories of violence of action successes are well documented in the military, showcasing how lone soldiers or Marines pushed back or dominated enemy forces when they were very much outnumbered. In an active shooter scenario, however, a single person will almost never be able to dominate an aggressor because of the presence of their gun. Working in conjunction with an entire classroom, all working to stun, disorient, and then hold down an enemy until help arrives, would have the effect of violence of action. As a seasoned shooter myself, I don’t know how I could manage to carry on an attack while simultaneously dodging a barrage of non-lethal items. As a teacher, I was extremely pleased with this approach because it addresses the danger involved in Lockdown only training, in which a static defender is always the victim to violent attackers.

If you feel this is a terrible idea, I agree with you. It does put those attacked in momentary extreme danger. It is very, very hard for me to say this, because, to me, these children aren’t statistical, but faces with names and it terrifies me to think of them being in harm. Yet, I know that for this to even be considered, they were already in extreme danger. It’s just very hard for us to imagine it that way. I also know that statistically, though some may come to harm if more organizations implement ALICE type group defense, more of these rampages will have ended before a shooter has a full 14 minutes to blow away anyone who he sees. The long term reality of this is fewer children and innocent people will die. This is particularly true of the children in the room, those who have had the choice to hide and wait taken from them. If history is our guide, these children have faced the cruelest and most unforgivable odds of all, being trapped face to face with an active shooter. Grimly speaking, they are most benefited by fighting back for their own lives.

We see this example too, demonstrated recently by actions of military veterans who took part in ending shootings or aiding others in their escape. The first of these examples is Chris Mintz.

Image courtesy of Chris Mintz – UCC Shooting Survivor.

Chris Mintz is the current man of the hour. Mintz is a 10 year veteran of the United States Army, but became national news when he protected classmates in a shooting rampage at the local community college he was attending. According to eyewitnesses, Mintz ran at the attacker and blocked a door to a classroom in the attempt to protect fellow classmates.

According to a student witness Chris

“ran to the library and pulled all the alarms. He was telling people to run. … He actually ran back towards the building where the shooting was. And he ran back into the building.”

While attempting to stop the shooter Mintz was shot an incredible seven times. He was rushed to surgery, and is now on the road to recovery and a normal life, but will require a great deal of recuperative care. To repay his heroism, a gofundme was set up for $10,000 to go toward his medical expenses. That fund is currently just over $800,000. What Chris’ heroic acts showed was how a dedicated person can slow down and prevent a shooter, making it possible for others to survive and, just as importantly, that this act itself is not a death sentence.

A better example comes from the recent attack aboard a train between France and Belgium. There, a terrorist opened fire on a train wounding a few of the passengers. Onboard the train were National Guard Specialist Alek Skarlatos, a recent Afghanistan veteran, Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, along with a civilian friend Anthony Sadler. They earned international praise for stopping nothing less than a full on terrorist gunman in the middle of what amounted to a holiday vacation.

“My friend Alek (Skarlatos) yells, ‘Get him,’ so my friend Spencer (Stone) immediately gets up to charge the guy, followed by Alek, then myself,” Anthony Sadler said in an interview with CNN.

Stone received injuries during the fight between the Moroccan born gunman, armed with an AK-47 rifle, a pistol, several clips of ammunition and a knife. The Americans wrestled him to the ground after he opened fire. In the end, he was hog tied and, though one of the heroes received superficial injuries, no one, not even the shooter, was killed. No better example currently exists for the argument that active defense is necessary in ending the threat posed by an active shooter or terrorist.

While both of these events center around veterans who placed themselves in harm’s way while in civilian roles, what they did isn’t something that requires one to be a military person to do. In these specific cases, it was just people who believed they could control the situation, who knew how to react to danger, and who were, at least instinctively aware that the collective’s survival was most ensured by the group fighting back.


I know that it is hard for many people to accept this idea. ALICE training is highly controversial because, when it is implemented in schools, it asks teachers to encourage kids to work together to take on lethal and murderous shooters in certain, very limited, situations. No one feels this as much as I do. This has been one of the hardest articles I have ever written in the last six years of writing online. As a teacher, it’s painful for me to accept that this is even something we need to prepare for. I had to stop and gather myself several times when the thought passed through my mind of my kids (students) being put in this scenario. As a Marine, however, I know that our actions are often determined by those who want to do us harm. Sometimes, a terrible idea, such as leading a group of children to assault a deadly attacker, is the only option left to you.

I know that if this information becomes commonplace enough, many innocent people are going to make it out all right, who otherwise wouldn’t. Furthermore, when those people who are thinking about attacking schools and workplaces, or committing acts of terror see similar actions foiled in the first few minutes by groups of individuals before they turn into massacres, they wouldn’t see the sinister glory in it. They wouldn’t be able to dream of suicide after committing massacre or death by cop. Instead, they might even face prison. Their goals would be worthless.

Furthermore, ALICE initiatives take away the helplessness of the victim, and let’s them know that they have options and responsibility in their own survival, as well as the survival of others. This knowledge is empowering in that it lets them know that the power doesn’t just revolve around the attacker, but that they have agency in the matter, as well. I know in my heart that if the people who attack others like this were to become more afraid of the victims, than the victims are of them – school shootings, gun massacres, and vile acts of terror would disappear.


In Summary, two brief lists to remember:

ALICE

  • Alert – notify people around you and authorities of the problem.
  • Lockdown – secure yourself in a location so it’s hard for a terrorist to get to you and those nearby.
  • Inform – continue to keep authorities apprised of the situation and know your surroundings.
  • Counter – if you have no other options, confront or interrupt the attacker.
  • Escape/Evade/Evacuate – if you can escape the situation safely, then do so.

And the other:

  • Stay positive – A calm and collected attitude of optimism avoids panic, maintains clear thinking, and the preserves belief of survival.
  • Know the source of danger – Where is the threat? Know where the danger is coming from and stay away.
  • Find the exits – Attempt to get away from the immediate danger. Find the nearest avenue to an escape as possible.
  • Arm yourself – Anything can be used as a weapon. Make yourself as dangerous as possible in the event you are forced to defend yourself.
  • Move quickly – Never plan on staying still. Always be prepared to move and quickly get to where ever it is you need to go.
  • Use cover – when on the move, move from one strong point to the next, never staying in open longer than is needed.
  • Avoid traveling along walls – Bullets travel along walls. Try to stay at least six or so inches from the wall if you can.

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