Uncovering Security Jargon

Every trade has associated jargon- words that define the tricks of the trade. In the world of security risk management there are, of course, a plethora of terms that we use on a daily basis. Three terms that need to be standardized are some of the most important terms in the game: threat, risk, and assessment. Let’s start with threat; it is the foundation of the other two. In every facet of life there are things that have the potential to inflict damage on a person or their property- the mere existence of this potential would be considered a threat. Threats exist all over the world, but this definition changes when we talk about the threats that exist in the parts of the world that we exist in. When local threats intersect with our vulnerabilities the result is a risk. Think of a risk as a threat with the potential to directly impact you.  In the world of security risk management one of the most important things we do at Riley, is to assess risk. To better understand the concept, let’s think about a wildfire in California. 

Security Risk

There is always the potential for a wildfire to occur in California during the summer, in recent years this has become a regular occurrence. This regularity means that, with certainty, we can say that there is a threat of wildfires in the state. But what if that threat had the potential to impact our neighborhood? This elevates the threat to a risk; if we are in California, and California has a threat of wildfires, this means that we are at risk. The threat always existed, and the risk was created from our geographic location. So the threat exists, and our locations determine our risks, what happens now? Now, a team of analysis creates an assessment to better understand specific risks and threats in a given location. Assessments come in all shapes and sizes, but there are two types that we focus on. There’s the threat assessment, which we call an Area Threat Assessment, this type addresses potential threats in a given location. An analyst does extensive research into the location, and from there determines what poses a danger to potential travelers in the area. The next level up from this is a Security Risk Assessment, which then takes threats and applies them to a person’s situation in that specific area. The Security Risk Assessment identifies specific risks, and the mitigation measures which can be taken to reduce both the likelihood and the impact of the risk.  Simply considering the definition of the word “threat” and understanding how it could affect you leads you down the path to better safety. What else can threats set the foundation for? This blog runs with the intention of addressing multiple real world, modern topics. All of which can be better understood when analyzing them through the lens of a threat or risk assessment. Current affairs can be a confusing realm to navigate, and as they are current affairs they could pose a potential threat. The lens of a risk assessment could illuminate what current affairs truly are, their brevity, and what risk they pose to the general populous. With ease of access to information on current affairs, it is not hard to form my own hypothesis on what I believe the risks of current affairs to be. The test comes when I apply the information and produce a conclusion, how serious are the headlines discussed in the news? How accurate are our perceptions on topics to be addressed, such as terrorism or pandemics? Subsequent postings in this blog series will have hypotheses that I have formed regarding current affairs, and I will use my threat assessments, risk assessments, as well as the bountiful data at my disposal to put these hypotheses to the test.