A Thoughtful, Analytical Approach to NGO Security

Security Maxim

Taleb on risk perception

Sumatran Tiger

It is now the scientific consensus that our risk-avoidance mechanism is not mediated by the cognitive modules of our brain, but rather by the emotional ones. This may have made us fit for the Pleistocene era. Our risk machinery is designed to run away from tigers; it is not designed for the information-laden modern world. Nassim Nicholas Taleb

18th century advice for NGO security officers


Better be despised for too anxious apprehensions, than ruined by too confident security. — Edmund Burke

Security wisdom from ancient Greece


There are all kinds of devices invented for the protection and preservation of countries: defensive barriers, forts, trenches, and the like... But prudent minds have as a natural gift one safeguard which is the common possession of all, and this applies especially to the dealings of democracies. What is this safeguard? Skepticism. This you must preserve. This you must retain. If you can keep this, you need fear no harm. — Demosthenes

Security wisdom from the Arab world

Lion Picture

If you see the teeth of the lion, do not think that the lion is smiling at you. — Al-Mutanabbi

Security wisdom from 1513

Cover of The Prince

Wisdom consists in being able to distinguish among dangers and make a choice of the least harmful. — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

Security wisdom from 1950's SciFi


The universe grows smaller every day, and the threat of aggression by any group, anywhere, can no longer be tolerated. There must be security for all — or no one is secure... This does not mean giving up any freedom except the freedom to act irresponsibly. — Klaatu, “The Day the Earth Stood Still”

Security Begins at the Top

Security must begin at the top of an organization. It is a leadership issue, and the chief executive must set the example. — Unknown. Overheard at a security conference.

Security from the Turkey's Point of View

Hey! He's back with more food!

Consider that the turkey's experience may have, rather than no value, a negative value. It learned from observation, as we are all advised to do (hey, after all, this is what is believed to be the scientific method). Its confidence increased as the number of friendly feedings grew, and it felt increasingly safe even though the slaughter was more and more imminent. Consider that the feeling of safety reached its maximum when the risk was at the highest! Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Rohrbach’s Maxim

mystery gadget in Pakistan

No security device, system, or program will ever be used properly all the time.

Security and Technology Truism

If you think technology can solve your security problems, then you don't understand the problems and you don't understand the technology.

— Bruce Schneier

Getting Disaster Management Planning Buy In

Pasted Graphic

The best way to get management excited about a disaster plan is to burn down the building across the street. — Dan Erwin, Security Officer, Dow Chemical Co.

Excessive Security?

Security is always excessive until it's not enough. — Robbie Sinclair, Head of Security, Country Energy, NSW, Australia

Machiavelli on Risk

Wisdom consists in being able to distinguish among dangers and make a choice of the least harmful. — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

Sound Familiar?

Those of us in security are very much like heart doctors -- cardiologists. Our patients know that lack of exercise, too much dietary fat, and smoking are all bad for them. But they will continue to smoke, and eat fried foods, and practice being couch-potatoes until they have their infarction. Then they want a magic pill to make them better all at once, without the effort. And by the way, they claim loudly that their condition really isn't their fault -- it was genetics, or the tobacco companies, or McDonalds that was to blame. And they blame us for not taking better care of them. Does this sound familiar?But it doesn't have to be this way. We can do things better. We need to stop doing business as usual and start focusing on end-to-end quality. Security needs to be built in from the start -- not slapped on after the fact. — Gene Spafford

Ignorance is Bliss

The confidence that people have in security is inversely proportional to how much they know about it.

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