Anti-Terrorism Plan for Small Business
Dave Carlson - July 27, 2007
The purpose of this plan is to provide information for company employees and sub-contract workers concerning how to prepare for and respond to a terrorist attack. Not only is terrorism becoming more common around the world, as evidenced by nearly daily news coverage by most major media methods, but terrorist in general seem to be getting more bold and more resourceful. This plan discusses suggestions for how to deal with various methods of terrorist attack, both before and after the incident. Discussion includes general considerations; chemical, biological, and radiological incidents; explosion threats; cyber terrorism concerns; and hostage taking. The primary emphasis of this plan is for store and warehouse locations, but also addresses considerations for job sites.
The purpose of this plan is to provide information for employees concerning how to prepare for and respond to a terrorist attack involving chemical, biological, or radiological agents. Additionally, the plan addresses cyber attack of the e-commerce system, explosive devices, and the possibility of hostage taking. The primary emphasis of this plan is for store and warehouse locations, but also addresses considerations for job sites.
The primary emergency contact number following an incident is 911. Employees may dial 911 from any company office phone and be connected directly to the local emergency response center. Each employee is responsible for knowing the procedures for contacting the emergency center from their personal phone.
Project supervisors will ensure a company mobile phone is available on each job site and every member of the work crew (including sub-contractors) knows the location of the mobile phone, has unrestricted access to the phone, and understands work site emergency procedures.
Bevelacqua and Stilp (2004) cautioned that evidence conservation is an important issue any time there is an emergency incident (p. 8). Employees will do their best, while remaining safe, to identify and preserve evidence that might help authorities and emergency personnel understand the cause of an emergency incident. Company policy is to cooperate in any reasonable way to assist with investigations of terrorist attacks and emergency incidents.
Many people think “this will never happen to me” when the topic of terrorist attacks comes up. A study by the Chamber of Commerce in a large city concluded that 80% of all small businesses were unprepared for a terrorist attack (Toomer, 2003, ¶ 3). Toomer (2003) quoted Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First, when he noted that “every day businesses fail because they have not planned properly” (¶ 6). It is the policy of management to do its best to plan for emergency situations and provide a safe work environment.
Not only is terrorism becoming more common around the world, as evidenced by nearly daily news coverage by almost every major media method, but terrorist in general seem to be getting more bold and more resourceful. Wilkinson (1999) observed that “every new terrorist generation learns from its predecessors, becoming smarter, tougher, and more difficult to capture or eliminate (p. 15).
A terrorist once said, “I have to be lucky only once, you must be luck every time” (Bevelacqua & Stilp, 2004, p. 10). A good plan reduces the need for luck.
Bevelacqua and Stilp (2004) cautioned that once a terrorist incident occurs, it is too late to plan, since “plans no longer affect the outcome” (p. 23). It is not possible for companies to prepare for every possible terrorist contingency. This plan is an attempt to help employees understand some of the major concerns and possible courses of action to help mitigate the effects of certain kinds of terrorist attacks.
One of the most important aspects of reacting after a chemical, biological, or radiological event will be decontamination to limit casualties (Bevelacqua & Stilp, 2004, p. 101). Whether the event causing contamination is an accidental hazardous material spill or deliberate terrorist attack, the information contained in the following sections will help improve the chance of survival for the greatest number of people involved in the incident.
No significant criminal (including terrorist) use of chemical or biological weapons has yet occurred in the United States. However, acquisition, delivery, and targeting of these weapons are within the grasp of any determined and skilled individual or group. (DiGiovanni, 1999, ¶ 2)
Chemical agents are various types of poisons. Terrorists may employ military chemical weapons or poisonous civilian chemicals. Bevelacqua and Stilp (2004) suggested that commonly found pesticides can be used as terrorist weapons to injure or kill innocent people. Some commercial-grade pesticides originally were used as military nerve agents (p. 26).
One of the most rapidly acting poisons is cyanide (Bevelacqua & Stilp, 2004, p. 32). Cyanide works by inhibiting the ability of individual cells to use oxygen. It is possible for cyanide to cause death within minutes, depending upon several factors.
A study of the potential effects of a terrorist chemical attack revealed that “nearly all population segments believed that the government would withhold full information in order to prevent panic” (Henderson, et al, 2004, p. 226). The study just cited also concluded that “intense emotion regarding the demand for full information was clear and the excuse for nondisclosure as a way of preventing panic was considered unacceptable” (Henderson, et al, 2004, p. 226). Management will do its best to ensure that employees and relevant sub-contractors receive the most current and accurate information available in case of a chemical attack (or any other such traumatic event).
Prior to an Incident
The most important way to be prepared for a chemical attack is to know how to seek assistance. The local emergency center generally is the best point of contact for reporting the incident and requesting help. Call 911 if you suspect you have come under chemical attack.
Colorimetric tubes used with other technology instruments are the type of chemical detection devices most experts recommend. Colorimetric tube devices are hermetically sealed glass tubes containing reagents that react chemically to specific contaminants in air samples (Bevelacqua & Stilp, 2004, p. 88).
If funds are available, the company will consider the purchase of a colorimetric tube chemical tester to detect the presence of harmful chemicals. The most likely location for this device will be on commercial job sites to protect workers and clients from chemical attacks on public locations. Ideally, the company will purchase a tester for use by each commercial work crew.
Following an Incident
If you suspect a chemical attack move away from the area and call 911. When you are in a safe location, contact the company front office to inform management of the situation.
Falkenrath (2001) noted that “chemical and biological weapons—unlike virtually all other weapon types—have physical effects that can be substantially mitigated by a prompt and appropriate operational response (¶ 31). Falkenrath (2001) further stated that “in the case of a chemical weapons attack, this response involves decontamination and medical treatment” (¶ 31).
Bevelacqua and Stilp (2004) asserted that a covert terrorist attack using biological weapons has the propensity to generate more fear than an obvious attack, such as the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center (p. 45). Biological weapons unleash unseen assassins that can spread throughout a localized population. At attack on a local playground could infect hundreds of children directly, creating carriers of the deadly microscopic assassins to further infect thousands of local residents. It could be several days before the first symptoms start to appear (Richards, 2005, ¶ 2).
Biological weapons are categorized by contents, such as bacteria, viruses, and biological toxins (Bevelacqua & Stilp, 2004, p. 45). According to the University of Michigan Health System, some common biological threats are: anthrax, botulism, plague, smallpox, and tularemia (Richards, 2005, ¶ 1). DiGiovanni (1999) also included brucellosis, Q fever, viral encephalitides, viral hemorrhagic fevers, and staphylococcal B enterotoxin on his nefarious list of biological threats (¶ 14). Dr. Richards (2005) emphasized that “it is important to remain calm yet vigilant,” if someone thinks they might have been exposed to a biological terrorism attack (¶ 8).
Prior to an Incident
The most important way to be prepared for a biological attack is to know how to seek assistance. The local emergency center generally is the best point of contact for reporting the incident and requesting help.
Being prepared for terrorist-caused biological attacks is “an essential component of the U.S. public health surveillance and response system, which is designed to protect the population against any unusual public health event” (Khan & Sage, 2000, p. 1). In 2002, the U.S. government established rules in the BioTerrorism Act of 2002 to assist local medical and emergency responders to deal with biological threats (Public Health Security and Bioterrorsm Preparedness and Response Act, 2002).
If funds are available, the company will consider the purchase of a biological monitoring device to detect the presence of harmful biological organisms. The most likely location for this device will be the company shipping room, as a precaution against Anthrax spores hidden in packages received by the company.
Following an Incident
If you suspect you have come under biological attack call 911 and seek medical attention immediately. Decontamination and immediate treatment are the most important efforts you can take to reduce the risk of injury or death (Bevelacqua & Stilp, 2004, p. 115).
Some biological agents, such as Anthrax, are more dangerous than they initially appear. Anthrax is considered by some authorities as the Saturday Night Special for terrorists, because it is relatively easy to acquire and cultivate (Bevelacqua & Stilp, 2004, p. 68). The Anthrax toxin initially creates flu-like symptoms that seem to go away after three days. Without antibiotics, infected individuals usually will get worse and die (Bevelacqua & Stilp, 2004, p. 68).
Urbano (2006) suggested seven basic responses to a bioterrorism attack (adapted from a U.S. Department of Homeland Security publication):
- Remain calm.
- Reduce further exposure.
- Perform self-decontamination.
- Notify authorities.
- Obtain official information.
- Remain in place or evacuate, if instructed by emergency personnel.
- Evaluate need for health care, especially if you have been directly exposed or have symptoms. (p. 90)
Because of the seriousness of biological agents, seek immediate medical help. After a biological attack, immediate medical attention may be the only way to save lives.
In reviewing the history of known intelligence estimates of the threat of nuclear terrorism, several important themes emerge: the proliferation of interest among nonstate actors to obtaining a bomb, the acknowledged ease with which terrorists could assemble a crude nuclear device, the ease with which any malicious actor could smuggle it into the United States, and the continued surprise of the U.S. government that this threat has persisted over a half century. (Zenko, 2006, p. 99)
Terrorism experts agree that it is not a question of if, but of when a desperate group will possess a nuclear device capable of harming a large group of people (Bevelacqua & Stilp, 2004, p. 69). General Eugene E. Habiger, former executive chief of U.S. Strategic Weapons, added his endorsement by saying, “It’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when” (Williams, 2004, p. 167).
Prior to an Incident
The most important way to be prepared for a radiological attack is to know how to seek assistance. The local emergency center generally is the best point of contact for reporting the incident and requesting help. Call 911 if you suspect you have come under radiological attack or if you suspect a radiation hazard.
Following an Incident
Call 911 if you suspect you have come under radiological attack.
The basic rules for protecting oneself from radiological exposure can be summed up as time, distance, and shielding (Bevelacqua & Stilp, 2004, p. 71). The less time you are exposed to a source of radiation; the greater distance you put between yourself and the source of radiation; and the more shielding you can put between yourself and the source of radiation all combine to increase your chance of surviving a radiological attack (Bevelacqua & Stilp, 2004, p. 71-72).
Bombs may be the greatest terrorist threat to the company. Bombs are the weapons of choice for terrorists (Stewart, 2006, p. 2). Explosive devices are inexpensive, simple to build, easy to place, and generally can be constructed out of materials that are easy to obtain (Bevelacqua & Stilp, 2004, p. 11). The most common locations for bombings in the United States are open areas, vehicles, and commercial property. These locations comprise about one third of all bomb locations.
Prior to an Incident
The most important precaution is to avoid suspected bombs. If a suspected bomb is discovered, do not touch or disturb it. Quickly note the location and details about the suspected device then evacuate the area and report the incident immediately to a supervisor or call 911. (Stewart, 2006, p. 23).
Be vigilant around strangers who do not seem to belong in the area. Listed below are some of the characteristics of a suicide/homicide bomber:
If you encounter someone you suspect to be a suicide/homicide bomber, do not try to be a hero -- do not try to apprehend the person or move any object he or she may have set down. Discreetly move back and try to get behind solid shielding. When you are in a safe location, call for security personnel who are trained to deal with the threat or call 911 and report the incident (Stewart, 2006, p. 22).
- May appear nervous, preoccupied, or have a blank stare.
- Appears to be focused and vigilant.
- May be fervently praying to him/herself, giving the appearance of whispering to someone.
- No response to authoritative voice or direct salutation.
- Behavior may be consistent with no future -- unconcerned about receiving purchases or change.
- The subject may walk with deliberation -- but not running -- towards a visible objective.
- Demonstrates forceful actions (to reach a desired target by pushing their way through a crowd or into a restricted area).
- Stiff movements, lack of mobility of lower torso or decreased flexibility (from wearing bomb device -- although backpack devices are increasingly common).
- May shave his or her head or have a short haircut. A short haircut or recently shaved beard or moustache may be evidenced by differences in skin complexion on the head or face. (This may be done to disguise appearance or to be better groomed when going to paradise.)
- May smell of unusual herbal/flower water (to smell better when going to paradise).
- Clothing may be out of sync with the weather. The perpetrator may wear excess clothing to hide the device (devices generally are concealed within an article of clothing worn close to the body, such as a vest, belt, or jacket).
- Clothing is often loose -- clothing may give the impression that the body is disproportionately larger than the head or feet.
- Backpack, bag, luggage, or briefcase may be carried.
- The bomber may be holding a push-button or toggle switch to detonate the explosives. Alternate manual devices include a pull-type wire leading to the main device that triggers the detonation.
- Many devices have a backup trigger system, such as an electronic timer, pager, cell phone, or bobby-trap type switch. (If the attacker is killed, apprehended, or attempts to abort the attack, an accomplice or supervisor may remotely trigger the device.)
- The device will likely be filled with ball bearings, nails, screws, nuts, or other small metal pieces. Dispersal of these fragments is the primary “kill” mechanism of the suicide/homicide bomber. (Stewart, 2006, p. 22)
The Detroit Police Department recommends nine questions when faced with someone who calls on the phone with a bomb threat (Johnson, 2002, p. 9-10). Ask the person who called with a bomb threat the following questions:
- When is the bomb going to explode?
- Where is it right now?
- What does it look like?
- What kind of bomb is it?
- What will cause it to explode?
- Did you place the explosives?
- What is your address?
- What is your name?
Johnson (2002) acknowledged that some of these questions may seem silly, but answers to any of the questions could save a life or result in the arrest of a terrorist bomber (p. 10).
Stewart (2006) identified some of the characteristics of an explosive device. Watch for these indicators that an unknown object might be a bomb:
Following an Incident
- Unusual device attached to a container or cylinder of flammable material.
- Unusual or misplaced mailing containers leaking oil or with wiring attached.
- Abandoned vehicles or vehicles that do not appear to belong in the area.
- Strong chemical odors.
- An unusual or out-of-place container.
- Obvious bomb-making materials: blasting caps; nitroglycerin; dynamite; other explosives; bags of high nitrogen fertilizer; wire or clock timers; pipe with fuse or electrical wires.
- Unattended packages or packs hanging on hooks in restrooms. (p. 23)
All bomb scenes, especially if they are part of a terrorist attack, should be treated as if they contained secondary devices or additional harmful material. It is a common practice for terrorists to leave other explosive devices or harmful chemicals to claim additional victims from those who go to the assistance of original victims (Bevelacqua & Stilp, 2004, p. 102).
If you are injured in a bomb attack do your best to render self-aid. Try not to move away from the area yourself (unless you are confident the area is safe or feel your life is in greater danger by staying).
If you witness a bombing and want to help, reconsider your decision before moving into the damaged area. Depending on the situation, it may be best to wait until someone with a monitoring device scans the area to ensure it is safe for unprotected workers to function in the area (Bevelacqua & Stilp, 2004, p. 102).
The greatest cyber threat to many companies is a successful attack on the company web site, especially anything that disrupts the online e-commerce system. A significant portion of the company’s income is derived from the website. Richard Clarke, former Administration Counter Terrorism Advisor and National Security Advisor, anticipated that the intended target for terrorist cyberattack would be to cause economic damage (Rollins & Wilson, 2005, p. 6).
Office servers and workstations are at risk from viruses and other dangerous software, frequently called malware (malicious software). Malware is “any software designed to cause damage to a single computer, server, or computer network, whether it's a virus, spyware, et al” (Moir, 2003, ¶ 2).
Prior to an Incident
One of the major difficulties with a cyber attack on a computer system, versus physical attack, is determining who is attacking the system. Generally there also is no way to know the why, how, or from where the attack is originating (Cordesman, 2002, p. 22). Because of these difficulties, it is important to take every reasonable precaution to prevent or lesson the impact of a cyber attack.
Methods used to protect a business against cyber-attack are the same as protecting from any other malicious attack. The primary differences between a terrorist cyber-attack and any other malware is the who and why of the attack (Cordesman, 2002, p. 22). Employees of OFS will comply with the following protective measures (Sullivan, 2007, ¶ 1):
Following an Incident
- Ensure anti-virus and anti-spyware software is installed and kept current on each server and workstation. The software currently installed on the workstations will automatically update itself every evening. At least once per week, check the date of the most recent update to ensure the software is current.
- Do not disable the firewall software installed on workstations. If you not able to access a Website required for the job, contact your supervisor for guidance.
- Do not disclose passwords to any OFS systems.
- Follow established scheduled back-up procedures.
- Do not install browser task bars or software not previously approved by the IT department or department manager.
- Allow automatic operating system and software updates to install.
If you suspect your workstation has been attacked by a hacker or malware, stop using that workstation, unplug the network cable (the cable on the back of the computer that looks like a telephone line), and contact your supervisor. Supervisors will contact the appropriate person in the IT department for resolution.
It is beyond the scope of this plan to go into details of how the IT department will handle each incident. The IT department will follow accepted industry practices to take appropriate action to recover from and report a cyber attack.
Hostage taking is a traumatic event for hostages and those who are close to the people who were abducted. Loss of personal liberty violates one of the three basic human rights identified Thomas Jefferson in the U.S. Declaration of Independence: “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” (Jefferson, 1776, ¶ 2).
The beginning of this section offers some suggestions about how to avoid becoming a hostage. If avoidance fails, the tips offered at the end of this section may help save the lives of anyone who is the unfortunate victim of terrorist hostage takers.
Prior to an Incident
It is best to always travel with a partner or fellow worker and let someone know where you will be going. When traveling to a project sight, ensure the front desk knows when you leave the warehouse and when you arrive at the project site. Follow project checklists for before, during, and after the day’s work to ensure the right people know your daily status. Listed below are some suggestions from FOX News (2003) about how to avoid terrorist hostage situations:
Following an Incident
- Use your instincts; if a situation appears suspicious, leave the scene.
- Don't become complacent; never let your guard down, no matter where you travel.
- Don't rely solely on the government to provide you with crisis or threat information -- do your own research, too.
- When traveling abroad, don't advertise your corporate affiliation or title on luggage or other items.
- When traveling overseas, stay in an American chain hotel; security is usually more stringent.
- When in a foreign country, don't advertise that you're American by speaking loudly, holding up maps, exchanging currency at airports, showing American flags, etc…
- If ever a hostage on a plane, never make eye contact with captors, speak unless spoken to, or do anything to bring attention to yourself. (¶ 1)
Being taken hostage is a traumatic event. Normal reactions are fear, denial, and withdrawal. One of the most important things to remember if you are taken hostage is that “you are only of value to them alive, and they want to keep you that way” (Nwanna, 2004, p. 84).
More than 85 percent of hostage situations in the United States are solved through negotiation (Smith, 1999, ¶ 23). Krebs assured potential hostage victims that there is a 95% chance of surviving a hostage situation physically unharmed, if the victim remains calm (Krebs, 2003, p. 67). Your primary objective is to stay alive -- evaluate every action in light of the fact that you may be risking your life if you do not follow procedures listed below.
If you observe a hostage incident be cautious about taking matters into your own hands. Call 911 and explain the situation. Cooperate with legal officials during the investigation and follow their instructions.If you are the victim of a hostage incident your best defense is passive resistance. Remain calm and cooperate with your captors -- do not do anything to cause them to perceive you as a threat. Nwanna (2004) emphasized that it is important to regain your composure and organize your thoughts a soon as possible after capture. Behaving rationally will increase your chance of survival (p. 84). Maintain a positive attitude about your chances of release. “The more time that passes, the better your chances of being released alive” (Nwanna, 2004, p. 84).
The following tips for hostage survival were compiled by an anonymous source. Even though the source cannot be identified, the tips are worth serious consideration if faced with a hostage situation:
- Avoid resistance, sudden or threatening movements. Do not struggle or try to escape unless you are certain of being successful.
- Make a concerted effort to relax. Breathe deeply and prepare yourself mentally, physically and emotionally for the possibility of a long ordeal.
- Try to remain inconspicuous, avoid direct eye contact and the appearance of observing your captors' actions.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages. Consume little food and drink.
- Consciously put yourself in a mode of passive cooperation. Talk normally. Do not complain, avoid belligerency, and comply with all orders and instructions.
- If questioned, keep your answers short. Don't volunteer information or make unnecessary overtures.
- Don't try to be a hero, endangering yourself and others.
- Maintain your sense of personal dignity, and gradually increase your requests for personal comforts. Make these requests in a reasonable low-key manner.
- If you are involved in a lengthier, drawn-out situation, try to establish a rapport with your captors, avoiding political discussions or other confrontational subjects.
- Establish a daily program of mental and physical activity. Don't be afraid to ask for anything you need or want -- medicines, books, pencils, papers.
- Eat what they give you, even if it does not look or taste appetizing. A loss of appetite and weight is normal.
- Think positively; avoid a sense of despair. Rely on your inner resources. Remember that you are a valuable commodity to your captors. It is important to them to keep you alive and well.
Every captivity situation is unique, but experts suggest several successful behavior patterns for survival during an extended hostage situation.
- Try to establish some kind of rapport with your captors. Family is a universal subject. Avoid political dialogues, but listen attentively to their point of view. If you know their language, listen and observe; and if addressed, use it [the captor’s language].
- Plan on a lengthy stay, and determine to keep track of the passage of time. Captors may attempt to confuse your sense of time by taking your watch, keeping you in a windowless cell, or serving meals at odd hours. However, you can approximate time by noting, for example, changes in temperatures between night and day; the frequency and intensity of outside noises—traffic, whistles, birds; and by observing the alertness of guards.
- Maintain your dignity and self-respect at all times.
- Manage your time by setting up schedules for simple tasks, exercises, daydreaming, and housekeeping.
- Build relationships with fellow captives and with the terrorists. If hostages are held apart, devise ways to communicate with one another. Where hostages are moved back and forth, to bathrooms for example, messages can be written and left. However, do not jeopardize your safety or the safety or treatment of others if attempting to communicate with fellow captives seems too risky.
- Maintain your physical and mental health; it is critical to exercise body and mind. Eat food provided without complaint: keep up your strength. Request medical treatment or special medicines if required.
- Establish exercise and relaxation programs. Exercise produces a healthy tiredness and gives you a sense of accomplishment. If space is confined, do isometrics. Relaxation reduces stress. Techniques include meditation, prayer, and daydreaming.
- Keep your mind active: read anything available. Write, even if you are not allowed to retain your writings. If materials are not available, mentally compose poetry or fiction, try to recall Scripture, design a house, even “play tennis” (as one hostage did).
- Take note of the characteristics of your captors and surroundings: their habits, speech, contacts; external noises (typical of city or country); and other distinctive sounds. This information could provide very valuable later.
- If selected for early release, consider it an opportunity to help remaining hostages. Details you have observed on the terrorists and the general situation can assist authorities with a rescue. (Nwanna, 2004, p. 84)
A terrorist once said, “I have to be lucky only once, you must be luck every time” (Bevelacqua & Stilp, 2004, p. 10). A good plan reduces the need for luck. This plan discussed suggestions for how to deal with various methods of terrorist attack, both before and after the incident. Discussion included general considerations; chemical, biological, and radiological incidents; explosion threats; cyber terrorism concerns; and hostage taking.
The best reaction to a terrorist event is to remain calm and seek immediate assistance from the appropriate responders. The most appropriate immediate response by workers to most of the incidents discussed in this plan is to call 911. Company management is dedicated to doing everything within its capability to ensure employees and sub-contract workers have a safe working environment. Each member of the company team must remain vigilant in watching the backs of fellow workers to help prevent or mitigate a terrorist attack.
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