Tech Trends: Swing for the Fences

Aug. 10, 2020
There is much more than chain links when it comes to creating a holistic perimeter security solution
This article originally appeared in the August 2020 issue of Security Business magazine. When sharing, don’t forget to mention @SecBusinessMag on Twitter and Security Business magazine on LinkedIn.

It might appear to be a low-tech topic, but there is much more to hardened security fencing than meets the eye. While many may take a fence for granted – perhaps thinking that simple razor ribbon on top makes for an effective deterrent – there is a lot more that should be considered, including before the structure goes up during the design phase, the construction concept of the structure itself, the ease and surety of installation, and complimentary elements.

My recent education in security fencing – and ultimately, holistic perimeter security – actually begins with the story of two ex-soldiers who know a thing or two about perimeter security.

High-Security Fencing

Mike Saltijeral served as a combat infantry assault marine in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1989-1993. His team first deployed to Central America and then, shortly after, deployed to the Persian Gulf for the war on terrorism. His team’s mission was to scout out secure locations and identify exploitable vulnerabilities in an adversary’s physical location, which was then reported back to mission planners. Of course, assessment of perimeter security was a primary aspect of his role.  

Fast-forward to the completion of his military service, Saltijeral began a civilian career that led to his starting Chicago-based Industrial Fence Inc. (IFI) in 1999. He was convinced that his prior experience had prepared him for applying his knowledge of perimeter weaknesses to offer a set of products and installation services that eliminated the types of vulnerabilities he had been accustomed to finding.

To date, Saltijeral and his team have logged more than two million man-hours installing and manufacturing high-security fence systems. “We felt that it was necessary to far exceed existing ASTM standards for security fencing to provide the type of barrier I felt comfortable with,” Saltijeral says.

Saltijeral adds that he finds it extremely important to eliminate brackets in particular, as they are a potential failure point in explosions and very high wind loads (115 mph or greater). Exposed hardware and rivets are also a no-no in his book, as he has seen exposed screws succumb to insider threats.

Ultimately, Saltijeral believes a fence system should be designed to maximize the delay time before breach to provide added time for an emergency response team to arrive.

IKE Certification

Ike Atlas was a decorated member of the Army Special Forces (Green Beret) until 2015, and during his service, he executed many breaches and penetrations in high risk-high threat areas around the world. Post-military, Atlas has made his mark in site vulnerability assessment, virtual design and training, and high-performance fence testing.

Because of his unhappiness with existing standards and the need he perceived for more stringent test criteria, he developed the IKE Certification – based on the principles of Deter, Detect, Assess, Delay, Respond and Deny – for three classes of adversaries.

Saltijeral shared with me a report on IKE testing that Atlas performed to address North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) requirements on IFI products. The two-day testing ran scenarios deemed plausible for an adversary or thief working alone or with one other person. The limited equipment and tools used were easily obtainable for purchase and are also common to many construction sites. In all, 33 separate test scenarios were documented, employing the use of ladders, bolt cutters, wire cutters, pickup truck, sledgehammer, pry bar, battery-powered grinder, demolition saw, metal pipe and Broco torch.

Results both validated the overall strength of the IFI product and suggested areas for improvement. “A great number of products that I have seen and tested are fairly easily defeated if you know what to look for,” Atlas admits. “Security personnel need to carefully look at the construction of the fence product and insist on independent test results to validate manufacturer claims.”

Holistic Perimeter Security

Both Saltijeral and Atlas discussed with me the need for a holistic perimeter solution that can grow; in fact, Saltijeral expanded his operations to open a sister design and manufacturing company, Perimeter Security Solutions (PSS), to help end-users meet this goal. Atlas eventually partnered with him on the venture.

Elements of a holistic perimeter security solution include embedded fence sensors, video surveillance, auxiliary area sensors, access control for gates and opening, lighting, and solar panels. “Think of the barrier as the base platform for other technology security elements,” explains Adam Stines of PSS. “The key is to have these technologies work in concert with the barrier system to make sure the asset which is being secured does not become compromised.”

These solutions must also be installed without exposed connections and hardware; data and power conductors, if affixed to the fence, must also be inaccessible. One concern that Saltijeral cites is the threat of Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) knocking out a site’s electronics. “If all that is taken away,” he says, “I want that fence to be a strong, effective barrier to entry.”

Design Tech

Dr. Mike Yeager, President of technology consulting firm solstrata Engineering (, also believes it is vital to look at the lifecycle of the installed system, thus enabling users to adapt and grow over time. “Leveraging technology during the design phase helps to ensure the maximum effectiveness of the security solution,” he explains.  

Performing a reality capture of a proposed site using drones, laser scanners and other technologies enables the creation of a robust 3-D model – a digital twin that can validate coverage areas for cameras and other sensors. It also enables virtual team meetings to assess design, subsequent changes and what-if scenarios, while also providing organizations the ability to perform virtual vulnerability assessments, in addition to virtual safety and training, in an immersive augmented reality environment

Editor’s Note: For more on augmented reality and its usefulness as a training and testing tool, see the April edition of Ray Coulombe’s Tech Trends column, “Reality Check,” at

To learn more about Industrial Fence or Perimeter Security Solutions, contact Mike Saltijeral at [email protected] or Ike Atlas at [email protected].

Ray Coulombe is Founder and Managing Director of SecuritySpecifiers and the CONSULT Technical Security Symposium. Reach him at [email protected], through LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter, @RayCoulombe.