Forecasting security threats for 2012

Risk management firm details potential threats for the new year


With every new year there comes a renewed sense of optimism and hope for the business landscape. Will this be year that unemployment figures finally start to turn around? Will banks begin lending in greater numbers? Also with a new year, however, there comes a set of risks, both new and old, that could greatly impact corporate security.

Risk management services firm iJET recently released a forecast for the 2012 security landscape and as could be expected, economic instability at home and abroad tops the firm’s list of threats with the continuing European debt crisis and the development of movements such as Occupy Wall Street.

"We see these economic stresses continuing through 2012 to be the catalyst that’s going to generate continuing social unrest as people react to the loss of additional jobs," said iJET President Bruce McIndoe. "The other thing we see is the potential for is Occupy Wall Street and the possible splintering of those groups into more radical factions that may take more direct action and become more of a threat than we’ve seen out of the Occupy movement to date."

Among other threats forecasted by iJET that could threaten businesses globally include:

- The continuation of last year’s Arab Spring movement leading to more uprisings and instability in Middle Eastern nations.
- New leadership in countries such as Iran, Egypt, China, and Mexico that could lead to increased tensions in those nations.
- Increasing political discontent in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam following massive flooding in 2011.
- A potential escalation of kidnappings and terrorist activities in several African and Middle Eastern regions including the Sahel region (Nigeria and the Sudan) and the Islamic Maghreb (Tunisia and Libya).
- And, global health issues and ongoing food shortages that could lead to various humanitarian and disease crises.

McIndoe said he sees the current social unrest in the Middle East as "multi-generational issue" and that moving forward there will probably be cyclic social actions meaning that there will periods of calm followed by more discontent for years to come.

"We see a continuing ebb and flow of social unrest in many of these counties, even in those that haven’t seen that level (of discontent) to date," he explained.

The issue of piracy and the taking of ships and their crews for ransom is also expected to continue and could also spread to some other parts of the world.

"We have oil and gas developments being planned right now off the coast of Mozambique and when you start having more traffic and more assets, we see piracy moving further south from the Gulf of Aden," McIndoe added. "They are going to go where they see an opportunity to make money. They’re spreading further and wider looking for opportunity. The other issue is will there be a re-insurgency of piracy in other countries due to global economic issues?"

While this global set of threats may seem like a daunting challenge, McIndoe said that there are steps corporate security managers can take to mitigate their risks such as establishing an indicator system to help evaluate these threats.

"These issues are not going away anytime soon so businesses need to learn to manage these situations and how to manage through them," McIndoe explained. "They need to do that now so that it’s not in the heat of emotional interpretation, but will be more thoughtful indicators they can watch for and make more consistent decisions rather than just reacting."