The TorchStone Watch in 2022
By TorchStone VP, Scott Stewart
At TorchStone Global we view our team as one part of the larger security community diligently endeavoring to keep people and organizations safe.
The members of our team have broad experience and a well-informed perspective. We have benefitted greatly from the knowledge and lessons passed down to us by our mentors and peers over the decades, including many of those who helped professionalize the art and science of security.
We in turn seek to give back to the community through the articles we publish on The TorchStone Watch. We view The Watch as our way to share and add to the reservoir of knowledge and lessons learned that can benefit all of us.
We also believe that the best way to ensure collective safety and security is for everyone to play their part. Thus, we consider The Watch as a means to help people who are not security professionals understand how bad actors work, and to provide them with tools they can use to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.
Whether in person or over social media, we’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of positive feedback we’ve received for the material published on The Watch. It is gratifying to know that people are reading the material we are producing and are using it to train their security teams, educate their workforces, and help keep themselves and their families safe.
As we enter 2023, here were the ten most-read articles from The Watch in 2022.
Number 10: Understanding Kidnapping Threats
The first in a six-part series, Understanding Kidnapping Threats, describes the different types of kidnappings and their motivations. Subsequent installments in the series examine a specific type of criminal kidnapping focused on the attack cycle involved and ways to detect and interdict attack cycle behaviors to prevent them.
Number 9: Countering Insider Threats and the “Little Hook”
One of the most effective techniques used by intelligence officers to recruit insiders as spies is known as the “little hook.” As the name suggests, the little hook is a subtle approach that is used after a recruitment target has been identified and as the intelligence officer works to develop a close working relationship with the target during the recruitment process. Rather than just openly pitching the target for recruitment at once, the little hook involves asking the target for information that is not particularly sensitive or classified to establish a relationship before formally recruiting the target and pressing for more sensitive information.
Number 8: Messing With Their Heads: Manipulating and Detecting Hostile Surveillance
Most hostile actors have very poor surveillance tradecraft and are not difficult to identify as they conduct surveillance prior to an attack. But in addition to watching for hostile surveillance, there are other tools individuals and security teams can employ to place additional pressure on those conducting surveillance and force them to reveal themselves.
Number 7: Detecting Hostile Surveillance
Crimes don’t just appear out of a vacuum. They are the result of the attack cycle and the pathway to violence, and those planning crimes are vulnerable to detection as they progress through these processes. The activity that most exposes hostile actors to detection is surveillance, and every criminal act involves some degree of surveillance. Most criminals have poor surveillance tradecraft and can be detected as they conduct surveillance if the target is looking for them.
Number 6: How to Practice Sustainable Situational Awareness
Situational awareness is simply paying attention to what is happening in the environment around you in an effort to identify and avoid potential threats and dangerous situations. Many hold the mistaken belief that situational awareness is only something that trained law enforcement and intelligence officers can do, but nothing could be further from the truth. Situational awareness is more a mindset than a highly refined skill, and anyone can practice it if they have the will and discipline to do so.
Number 5: The Importance of Understanding the Attack Cycle
The attack cycle is an important concept because it provides a useful reference for investigating or analyzing past attacks. However, its most important function is to provide a framework protective intelligence practitioners can use to understand, identify and detect behaviors associated with an imminent attack to prevent the attack from being launched. Identifying attack cycle indicators and behaviors is an important proactive tool in the protective intelligence kit.
Number 4: Understanding and Countering Stalkers
Stalking is a prevalent problem and nearly 1 in 6 women and about 1 in 17 men in the U.S. report that they have been victims of stalking at some point in their lifetime. Not all stalkers are the same, and understanding the different motives of stalkers and how they manifest themselves can help individuals and security teams to detect, prevent and mitigate the harm they can cause.
Number 3: Protecting Yourself From Mass Public Shootings
Mass public attacks still only represent less than one percent of the total number of homicides, but their increase is significant and brings with it serious implications for personal security. In these mass public attacks, the perpetrators, whether terrorists or criminals are targeting places or events—and the crowds at them—rather than specific people. Because of this, people who happen to be at that place or event at the time of the attack will have very little ability to spot the assailant as he progresses through the early phases of the attack cycle. This means that people must shift how they think about the attack cycle, and their personal safety, in order to protect themselves (and others) against such attacks.
Number 2: Protective Intelligence Case Study: The D.C. Mansion Murders
This deadly home invasion was the result of a decade-long process in which Wint had harbored and nurtured a grievance, thought about conducting an act of violence, and then planned and prepared for the attack. A study of this case reveals several important protective intelligence lessons.
Number 1: Where the Attack Cycle Intersects the Pathway to Violence
Like the concept of the attack cycle, the pathway to violence is a useful framework protective intelligence practitioners can use to understand, identify, and detect behaviors associated with an intentional or targeted attack. These two tools help protective intelligence practitioners understand the behavior and indicators assailants exhibit before an attack, allowing it to be detected and thwarted.