Book Review: Surveillance Zone
Surveillance Zone: The Hidden World of Corporate Surveillance Detection & Covert Special Operations. By Ami Toben. Published by CreateSpace; available from amazon.com; 176 pages; $13.99.
Too often, security books read like how-to manuals. Ami Toben avoids that trap in Surveillance Zone: The Hidden World of Corporate Surveillance Detection & Covert Special Operations. Toben gets the mix just right, offering personal narrative, professional strategies, and client relations.
His journey, which took him from the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) to Japan, Canada, and the United States, helped shape him into a corporate security consultant. He makes the case that international experiences are a force multiplier in the security business. Protective intelligence requires a keen understanding of human behaviors in context. The younger Toben often found himself in foreign settings where, lacking native language skills, he depended on the ability to discern micro-behaviors. He writes, "If you can't understand people, you can't fully understand how to assess and mitigate security risks."
Per the title, the book focuses on surveillance—hostile and mobile surveillance, as well as surveillance detection. It recognizes how involved and demanding surveillance can be, especially when protecting a principal or infrastructure.
A chapter titled "Circles of Security" contains parallels to ASIS's Protection of Assets' layered approach. Toben adds an "intelligence circle" that provides a threat-focused context to overall strategy, looking at each threat's attributes (description, motivation, capability). In corporate security, the added value of finished intelligence reporting remains the exception; thus costly physical security systems and operations investments are often made without a reasonable estimate of the threat an organization faces.
Toben has written an entertaining and informative book. He's refreshingly honest about who he is and how he found himself in the security consulting field. Young professionals looking to get their foot in the door will find it useful. And seasoned pros with tradecraft training will learn something, too. Toben's personal insights and observations add a dimension often lacking in traditional industry works.
Reviewer: Anthony McGinty, CPP, is a senior intelligence analyst with CSRA Inc. contracted to Los Angeles International Airport. He retired as a detective from the Washington, DC, Police Department's Intelligence Division. A retired U.S. Marine Corps Reserve lieutenant colonel, he is a member of the ASIS Global Terrorism and Political Instability Council.