A Thoughtful, Analytical Approach to NGO Security

Vacancies - NGO Security Positions - Afghanistan and Kenya

Christian Children's Fund is looking to fill a security officer position based in Taloqan, Afghanistan. Fluency in spoken and written English, Dari and Pashto is required.

CARE International is seeking an NGO security intern to work in the Africa Security Office. It should be a great opportunity for someone seeking to enter the NGO security field.

The Globe and Mail "Talking to the Taliban"

"Talking to the Taliban" is a unique look at the attitudes and motivations of the 'average' rank and file Taliban fighter. This six part video series is based on standardized interviews of 42 Taliban insurgents conducted in five districts of Kandahar province, Afghanistan. Topics of discussion ranged from their motivations for fighting, their world view, relations with Pakistan and their views on suicide bombing. This is a view of the Taliban that is stripped of the myth, mystique and misunderstanding.

globeandmail.com: Talking to the Taliban

Vacancy - Security Advisor for InterNews - Afghanistan

Internews, a USAID funded media development INGO, is seeking a security advisor for its program activities in Afghanistan. It looks like an interesting position for someone looking to broaden their NGO security experience.

If you are interested and meet the criteria forward a cover letter and resume to 876-in (at) internews (dot) org, placing “Security Advisor-AF-rw” in the subject line.

Breaking NGO IT with Low Tech - Suggested Readings

Discussion (here and here) regarding Bruce Schneier’s recent post on security mindset combined with recent interesting posts from friends regarding NGO IT security issues (here, here and here) has me thinking. It seems to me that social engineering, rather than a purely technological attack, is still the easiest route into most NGO’s networks. There is no need for anything too complicated. Most aid workers are somewhat trusting and helpful by nature making them easy targets for even relatively inexperienced social engineers.

Kevin Mitnick’s book, “The Art of Deception - Controlling the Human Element of Security” is a great introduction to social engineering. Kevin Mitnick was one of the world’s greatest hackers. He gained great notoriety for his ability to penetrate telephone and computer networks seemingly at will. What surprised many is that it wasn’t sophisticated technology that allowed him to do it. It was his ability to con or ‘pretext’ people into giving him the information he needed to access their systems. As he explains in the book the human factor was security’s weakest link.

Hint: If you search for “Kevin Mitnick The Art of Deception.pdf” Google you just might be able to find a free copy of Kevin’s book floating around the net.

To further develop your security mindset check out "No-Tech Hacking" by Johnny Long. Its a sample chapter from "Techno Security's Guide to Managing Risks for IT Managers, Auditors and Investigators". Johnny has since turned the chapter into a book in its own right. In the freely available sample chapter he covers tailgating, faking ID cards, lock bumping, shoulder surfing, dumpster diving and other low tech means of gaining forbidden access.

Happy reading and don't blame me if it keeps you up at night.

A Calmer Look at Fitna, the Movie

Viewed by some in the Islamic world as symbols of western influence INGOs are vulnerable to the sometimes violent backlash over perceived insults to Islam. Attacks on INGO compounds after the release of the now infamous Danish cartoons and the erroneous TIME magazine article claiming that an American military prison guard had flushed a copy of the Quran down a toilet highlight just how vulnerable we are. Most physical security measures cannot survive a sustained assault by hundreds of angry protesters. Host country security personnel are generally reluctant to open fire on their fellow countrymen nor would most INGOs want them to. Frequently underpaid and undermanned security forces may lack the breadth and depth required to protect all the potential targets in their country. All of which begs the question of how do organizations whose security relies primarily upon acceptance maintain security when they are no longer accepted?

Unfortunately I don't have any easy answers but I am hoping the following clip by Radio Netherlands Worldwide will help cooler heads prevail if the Geert Wilders 'Fitna' film is released. The version below is in English but there are Arabic and Indonesian versions as well. Link to these, email copies to friends, show them at your next staff meeting and maybe, just maybe, we can counter some of the hype and propaganda that Geert Wilder thrives on.

Very rarely has a film sparked off as much pre-release controversy as Dutch MP Geert Wilder’s ‘Fitna, the movie’. Even without knowing what’s in it, 'Fitna’ has got the world asking questions. Questions about the man who made it and his motives, about the country he lives in where his film is allowed. Questions about that country’s government – which issues warnings about the film but does nothing to stop it. And questions about the position of Muslims in The Netherlands. The central character in this film is also struggling with these questions, and decides to travel to The Netherlands in search of answers.

In Case of Emergency - ICE

In Case of Emergency (ICE) is a program that encourages people to enter emergency contacts in their cell phone address book under the name "ICE". This enables first responders, (paramedics, firefighters, police officers, and of course NGO security officers) to quickly search an unresponsive victims phone for the ICE contact who can identify the victim, provide emergency medical information, and next of kin details.

Of course this is not a panacea. It comes with the usual caveat; you'll need to adapt the system to your local context and your organization's methodologies. For instance it might not be appropriate in Afghanistan where Taliban supporters have been known to search the phones of passers by for foreign names. However, with a little bit of adjustment you should be able to use this idea to help ensure the safety and security of your staff.

If you want additional videos like the one above W. David Stephenson has done a number of videos at least one of which I have used before. You can find out more at his website or at his YouTube channel. Don't be put off by the Homeland Security 2.0 label he uses. His short videos are intended help empower ordinary people during times of emergency or disaster.

The Security Mindset

Bruce Schneier has an interesting article, "Inside the Twisted Mind of the Security Professional", that takes a quick look at the security mindset and whether it is innate or a skill that can be taught. I always enjoy Bruce's writing but in this case it is the links he provides to a 'computer' security course at the University of Washington that have me the most excited. Despite the fact that it is billed as a computer course the course blog is full of entries of interest to anyone honing their security mindset. Student security reviews range from soda machines to airport security. Well worth the read.

Vacancy - NGO Security Trainer - Nairobi, Kenya

CARE has an opening for an NGO Security Trainer in Nairobi, Kenya. the NGO Security Trainer will provide specialized, coordinated and focused security management support and training to NGOs operating in Somalia.

Vacancy - Director ANSO - Afghanistan

Welthungerhilfe is still seeking a candidate to fill the position of Director of the Afghan NGO Security Organization.

Minimum Requirements:
- Masters Degree in Social Sciences, International Development, International Relations, Political or Security studies or similarly related field
- Solid background in NGO senior management (min 1 year at deputy/director level)
- Solid donor/contract management experience (ECHO plus others) including proposal writing, reporting, modifications and budgeting
- Strong understanding of donor policy environment
- Minimum 12 months in Afghanistan and demonstrable familiarity with the setting
- Minimum 5 years in post conflict/emergency environments
- Strong international and national staff management experience
- Exemplary command of English language

- Experience in an inter-agency coordination role
- Solid understanding of NGO safety and security priorities and practices
- Experience in a high profile, public role
- Solid public speaking and presentation skills
- Excellent diplomacy and liaison skills
- Exemplary organization and prioritization skills

If you are interested send a covering letter and Curriculum Vitae to Thomas Gies.

For more detail on the postion go to the original ReliefWeb Post.

Urgent Vacancy - Security Consultant for Short Assessment Mission - Somalia

The Emergencies Department of Save the Children UK is urgently seeking an experienced Security Consultant for a field assessment mission in Somalia. If you are interested or if you believe you know someone who is interested, please contact David Wightwick for more information.

Pakistan: Shifting Targets?

Has the World Become a More Dangerous Place?

Is the world a more dangerous place to live now than it was ten years ago? How about a hundred years?

According to this first video the answer is yes. In it the University of Hawaii examines the complex issues of armed conflicts, peace-keeping operations and humanitarian relief with the input of former UN and government officials, humanitarian aid workers and PKO experts.

In "A Brief History of Violence" Steven Pinker argues the opposite. His data suggests that we are living in what might very well be the most peaceful time in human history.

So who is right here? Is the world safer? How do our cognitive biases shape our perceptions of the risks we face now versus those faced by our ancestors?

Islamabad Bomb Kills Turkish Aid Worker

On Saturday, a bomb blast at the Luna Caprese Italian restaurant killed a Turkish aid worker and wounded eleven others. According to reports a British diplomat and the Italian owner of the restaurant were among the injured.

It appears that the bomb was planted in the outdoors eating area and was not the work of a suicide bomber. Luna Caprese was popular with expats as it was one of the few restaurants in Islamabad to serve alcohol.

Time has more details here.


Posts on Patronus Analytical have been a little sparse lately as we've been busy relocating from Sri Lanka to Afghanistan. It wasn't exactly an easy move but hopefully things should be a little more settled now and I should be able to resume regular (or at least semi-regular posts).

Vacancy - NGO Security Officer - DRC

CARE DRC is having a difficult time finding a qualified NGO security officer for Goma, North Kivu, DRC. The position requires fluency in French. Proficiency in English and/or Kiswahili is desirable. You'll also need at least five years experience working with NGO's and demonstrated security skills. If you would like to apply for the position please send me an email (there is a contact me link at the very bottom of this page) and I'll send you contact details.

Vacancy - UN Security Officer - Pakistan

There is a security officer vacancy with UNICEF in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Vacancy - Security Coordinator IMC - Afghanistan

International Medical Corps is seeking a Security Coordinator for Afghanistan. Along with the usual security officer skills they are looking for someone with one to three years experience in Afghanistan.

ReliefWeb has more details here.

Disarming Afghans

This short AlJazeera piece outlines largely unsuccessful disarmament efforts in Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, any disarmament effort is likely to fail as long as average Afghans feel that the government cannot provide effective security for their families and communities.

Vacancy - Security Advisor - Bandah Aceh

The American Red Cross is looking for a security advisor for its Tsunami Recovery Program in Bandah Aceh, Indonesia. This is a leadership position so demonstrated leadership skills are required.

UN Helicopter Crash in Nepal

According media reports ten bodies have been pulled from the wreckage of a UN helicopter that crashed in bad weather in Nepal. The helicopter was returning with UN arms inspectors from a camp in Eastern Nepal.

Somewhat surprisingly there seems to be some confusion as to how many passengers were on board. In my experience with UN helicopter flights passenger manifests were checked repeatedly. At the time it I thought it was annoying. Now it just seems prudent.

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