Editor's Desk


Apr-May COVER“Decay Theory: (psychology) a model of forgetting which assumes that memories fade and will gradually be lost if they are not occasionally refreshed.”

– McGraw-Hill Science & Technology Dictionary

Security works when nothing happens. Or is it, if nothing happens security works? The spotlight is shone most commonly on security only after an event – and then it is likely to be seen as the cause and the solution. Much like safety, security must be near fully functional for best prevention and affect – any lapse will raise the risk and may allow a trigger event to form. Known as ‘Security Decay Theory’, security lapses over time due to complacency, only to decay to the level of triggering another event. Security is then reviewed, tightened and left to decay again, over time until the next event. And so it continues.

In the 13th year since 9/11, the circumstances of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 have been a phenomenal event to watch unfold – and as captivating in the unknown and yet to be reported events as 9/11 was in the first days and weeks. Our condolences to the families involved and they are at the forgotten core of this incident. Unlike to many of us watching the news, this event is real in emotion only to them and those directly involved.

Once a catastrophic mechanical failure was ruled out, the first days naturally involved a spotlight on aviation security and the risk of hi-jacking – expect changes in passport security? Maybe. As the search continued into the first and second weeks, it also allowed extra discussions on global surveillance capabilities, international cooperation of military assets and search and rescue practices in extreme environments. The tragedy will continue to be subject to extraordinary in-depth review and learning. We hope to assist in that journey and your opinions and contributions are welcome. At the time of writing, the search and rescue is hopeful of a recovery 2,400km south west of Perth.

More decay? We take a slightly different look at the Australian Electoral Commission’s (AEC) loss of 1,370 Senate votes in WA and the subsequent inquiry by the renowned, former Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty AO APM. With reference to the security decay theory above, one would have thought a reasonable security risk assessment would have been conducted by the AEC prior to the election – much like a safety assessment would be conducted prior to a builder commencing construction. Did they have a security advisor? During a recent parliamentary hearing, chair of the parliamentary committee overseeing electoral matters, Victorian Liberal MP, Tony Smith, asked whether the 2013 election was the biggest disaster in the AEC’s history – to which Acting Head of the AEC, Tom Rogers, said; “You asked me at the start whether I thought it was the most catastrophic issue that we have dealt with, and indeed it is.” So why then, had the AEC not foreseen a reasonably foreseeable event and why was a security assessment not conducted? Part of the problem, I would argue, is because the security profession is not shouting loudly enough about how important security risk management has become in the modern world. The loss of 1,370 votes has resulted in a AU$13M–$20M loss from new election costs – let alone the reputation of our most fundamental democratic process! Does that highlight it enough? It is appropriate for the AEC Commissioner and WA State Manager to have resigned. Despite Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, telling businesses to rely less on Government – the security sector continues to need better regulation – and it is the Australian State Governments responsible for regulating the industry. In my view, it remains the Government’s framework that is directly responsible for restraining improvements in security awareness, training, standards and regulation. Opinions are welcome and we will take the opportunity to report on the Federal Government’s May budget, in comparison to 2013 election policies that would benefit the security industry.

More importantly, in this issue, we feature a significant article by Dr Robyn Torok, concerning the ‘battle for hearts and minds’ in Syria. As the war continues into its fourth year, both sides need to sustain the battlefield with fighters. The conflict has evolved its use of propaganda and recruitment methods and Australia has already seen a number of nationals killed in action, including an Australian soldier. Dr Torok explains how Australians are being recruited in the first instance. This is the first of a two part article which is a troubling, but necessary read.

In support of Dr Torok, we have other highly informative articles on regional affairs in the Asia Pacific and national critical infrastructure, through to frontline issues of active shooter situations, unmanned vehicles, India’s wildlife smuggling trade, conducting vulnerability assessments and a special cyber security series with an insight into firewalls, passwords, mobile forensics, cryptography and encryption. Enjoy!!!

Stay tuned with us as we continue to explore, educate, entertain and most importantly, engage.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Cubbage


Executive Editor


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