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Emergency Management Apr 22, 2021

The Business Case for a Modern Threat Intelligence Solution

There are significant differences between threat intelligence solutions that every buyer should understand before selecting a provider.

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If only we could predict the future, it would be far less difficult to plan for it.

The unpredictable nature of their surroundings can humble even the most prepared organizations. Whether it be severe weather, supply chain disruptions, or a world health crisis few saw coming, disruptive events come in various forms and can occur in minutes or over multiple years.

And because the most comprehensive plans still fall short of creating a perfect firewall against these events—the type that impact employee safety, strain operations, and result in financial losses—business leaders increasingly are thinking about organizational resilience using a different measure of success: Speed.

When it comes to emergency preparedness, speed is everything. How quickly can you identify potential threats? How quickly can you initiate a crisis communication plan? How fast is your response?

While there are many ways organizations can improve emergency preparedness —from developing comprehensive preparedness plans to regularly conducting tabletop exercises—the world’s most resilient organizations are constantly looking for ways to accelerate how they detect, validate, and respond to any threat to their people or business.

In this post, we’ll discuss how a modern threat intelligence and risk detection solution can help you identify threats faster and what to look for when evaluating solution providers.

From Risk Monitoring to Actionable Intelligence

Threat intelligence, also referred to as “risk monitoring” or “risk intelligence,” broadly encompasses the practice of using available data sources to detect, mitigate, and respond to threats and unfolding events with the potential to impact employee safety or disrupt normal business operations.

Examples of threats about which a modern threat intelligence solution should provide actionable insights include:

Security & Facility Safety Incidents

Even as remote worker safety is of increasing importance, distributed organizations must account for a wide range of risks that impact facility security and protection—whether they have a single office or a global multi-location business. Examples include:

  • Active shooter incidents: Tragically, active shooter scenarios remain a significant issue in the U.S. and other countries. In 2019 alone, the FBI classified 29 separate shootings spanning 16 states as active shooter incidents.
  • Workplace fires: According to data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a fire is reported somewhere in the U.S. every 24 seconds. Of these incidents, approximately one-third of fires occur in or around structures, accounting for significant loss of life and property damages in excess of $12 billion annually.
  • Civil Unrest & Public Demonstrations: Between 2011-2018, the number of public demonstrations and reports of civil unrest globally doubled, with more than 4,700 non-violent protests and 2,200 riots reported in 2018 alone.

Graphic depicting increases in nonviolent demonstrations and riots from 2011 through 2018

Image Credit: Vision of Humanity

Health & Environmental Threats

From chemical spills, dangerous materials, and pollutants to the risk of infectious diseases in a given region or community, employers must continually monitor employees’ working conditions to reduce their exposure to potential hazards. Some of the most common categories of threats organizations should monitor include:

  • Infectious Diseases & Outbreaks: While the COVID-19 pandemic brought into focus just how disruptive contagious diseases can be to organizations worldwide, it is just the latest example of why pandemic preparedness is essential. As employers and employees alike grow accustomed to the increased risk of airborne illnesses, the ability to rapidly spot potential outbreaks and high-risk areas will continue to grow in importance.
  • Environmental Hazards: From chemical spills and dangerous materials to poor air quality, employers must continually monitor employees’ working conditions to reduce their exposure to potential hazards. The World Health Organization estimates that air pollution causes more than seven million deaths globally every year, with approximately 90 percent of people regularly breathing air that exceeds WHO guidelines for acceptable pollutant levels. As the world’s population grows, health experts anticipate a higher risk to anyone working in locations prone to smog and other air quality hazards.
  • Natural Disasters: From earthquakes and tsunamis to volcanic activity and rapidly developing wildfires, natural disasters can create mass destruction with little notice. More than 1,300 earthquakes with a magnitude of 5 or more have occurred every year since 2000, causing upwards of $3-4 billion annually in economic losses.

Severe Weather Events

Severe weather poses an ongoing risk to businesses of all sizes—no matter the industry or location. With a modern threat intelligence solution, business continuity, HR, IT, facility leaders, and others can quickly see when and where significant weather events are happening. For coastal businesses, threat intelligence may be used as part of hurricane preparedness. Similarly, companies with employees and facilities in the Great Plains may use threat intelligence to initiate emergency communications to employees about tornado warnings, high winds, or other dangerous conditions.

While weather-related information is widely available from sources like the National Weather Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and countless private storm tracking services, enterprise threat intelligence solutions take this a step further by providing a longer-term view of emerging weather, often providing several days advance warning on large storm systems. Additionally, by connecting weather information to the location data, these solutions can pinpoint potential risks, such as the number of impacted employees and facilities within the forecast area so that businesses can make informed decisions about safety precautions or work shortages.

Organizational Benefits of a Threat Intelligence Solution

As discussed, there is no shortage of risks for which organizations must account to meet duty of care obligations and ensure operations run smoothly. Unfortunately, conducting around-the-clock, manual monitoring of all events occurring close to employees and company assets strains most organizations’ financial and human resources.

For that reason, purpose-built threat intelligence solutions are rapidly becoming the preferred option for businesses that want to improve situational awareness and accelerate their emergency response.

Here are a few key benefits of using a third-party threat intelligence solution:

Speed of intelligence

Condensing the time between detection and response is critical not only because of the significant impact on human safety but also for business continuity and protecting the bottom line. In fact, a recent Forrester study found that organizations that improve emergency response by 30 minutes per incident experience higher revenues. By eliminating many of the manual aspects of risk monitoring, threat intelligence solutions can drastically accelerate critical event identification, enabling those responsible for initiating emergency response to make informed decisions about mitigation strategies.

Information accuracy

There is no shortage of open source intelligence data about what’s happening around the world. However, making sense of this information and verifying its accuracy is an entirely different problem. Determining the veracity of information is just as important as capturing it in the first place. By using human-vetted threat intelligence, organizations can more easily curate data from thousands of distinct sources, filter out the noise, and pinpoint the most relevant information to their employees and business—all in a matter of seconds.

Faster time to action

As Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky once said, “intelligence alone is not nearly enough when it comes to acting wisely.” This is particularly true for information that impacts an organization’s ability to protect itself from a rapidly developing threat. By integrating a modern threat intelligence solution with an emergency communication system, businesses can vastly accelerate access to information, ensuring stakeholders and impacted employees are aware of critical events as quickly as possible.

"Intelligence alone is not nearly enough when it comes to acting wisely."

Automatic impact assessments and alerts

Once you’ve solved for how your organization will identify threats and verify the accuracy of the information used, you need to know where to direct resources. A threat intelligence solution can help expedite this by providing useful context and a visual depiction of each threat’s impact radius, enabling you to prioritize assisting individuals and locations at the most significant risk.

By integrating employee data from an HRIS or Active Directory, organizations can tie threat intelligence to static or dynamic locations to know exactly who is impacted—even when employees are traveling or not in their typical work environment.

Questions to Ask Potential Threat Intelligence Providers

Now that we’ve established some of the reasons why organizations might invest in a threat intelligence solution, you will want to understand the differences between various solution providers.

When evaluating threat intelligence solutions, here are a few questions to ask to ensure you understand each provider’s capabilities as you assess which best suits your organization’s needs.

Questions to ask when evaluating threat intelligence providers
  • Can the provider share real-world examples of how quickly intelligence is provided relative to other information sources?
  • Does the provider offer human-verified intelligence?
  • Does the provider offer 24/7/365 coverage?
  • Does the provider integrate with a mass notification system, HRIS, and other business systems?
  • Does the provider offer an API?
  • Can the provider automatically alert impacted employees concerning nearby threats?
  • Can the solution automatically calculate the impact of any threat using your people and location data?
  • Does the solution provide a way for administrators to visualize various threats by category or severity?

By asking these questions during your evaluation process, you’ll begin to understand how each provider approaches risk monitoring and threat detection, as well as how quickly this information can be disseminated to those that need it most.

Stay Ahead of Critical Events

The ability to rapidly identify, verify, and respond to threats should be a critical component of every organization’s business continuity and emergency preparedness planning.

With a comprehensive threat intelligence solution, like AlertMedia, you can drastically improve situational awareness, accelerate response times, and safeguard your people and business from whatever comes next.

To learn more about how AlertMedia delivers fast, accurate, and comprehensive intelligence to thousands of organizations, listen to this podcast with our VP of Global Intelligence or download our product guide.

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