Editor’s Note: Why Vigilance Matters
In March 2020, Interpol launched Operation Pangea in coordination with 90 countries worldwide. As part of the effort, authorities seized more than 30,000 counterfeit surgical masks and uncovered 2,000 Web links to unauthorized or counterfeit products related to COVID-19, including antiviral medication, Vitamin C, food supplements, painkillers, and antibiotics. The operation resulted in 121 arrests, as well as the seizure of €13 million ($13.3 million) in potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals and 37,000 unauthorized and counterfeit medical devices. Operation Pangea also dismantled 37 organized crime groups.
The operation was one of several programs recounted in a study Pandemic Profiteering: How Criminals Exploit the COVID-19 Crisis, published by Europol.
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“Criminals have quickly seized the opportunities to exploit the crisis by adapting their modes of operation or developing new criminal activities. Organized crime groups are notoriously flexible and adaptable, and their capacity to exploit this crisis means we need to be constantly vigilant and prepared,” wrote Catherine de Bolle, executive director of Europol.
In another case outlined in the study, a cyberattack crippled Brno University Hospital in Czechia after local officials declared a state of emergency due to a COVID-19 outbreak. The attack forced the hospital to shut down its IT network, postpone critical surgeries, and send emergency patients to another facility.
In April 2020, the FBI warned of several fraud schemes circulating in the United States. The FBI noted that “bad actors are selling fake COVID-19 test kits and unapproved treatments through telemarketing calls, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits.” The scammers promised free medical care to obtain “personal and health insurance information, including…dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and financial data.”
A distraction does not have to be as serious—or as global—as the COVID-19 pandemic. Any distraction will do.
In this month’s cover story, “While You Weren’t Looking,” author Anthony Hurley, CPP, PCI, PSP, notes that a distraction does not have to be as serious—or as global—as the COVID-19 pandemic. Any distraction will do. Hurley writes that “…natural disasters regularly disrupt operations, whether they occur with little notice—like derechos, earthquakes, or tornados—or advance warning, including hurricanes or typhoons. Critical incidents have similar divisions; human-caused accidents like train derailments or incident-triggered civil unrest can be unexpected, while other events like parades, sports events, or festivals can be planned months in advance.”
Preparing for such events can be time-consuming, Hurley warns. He further notes that “security’s unsung success may cause people to question why the extra efforts were necessary, but security teams should not be deterred from staying vigilant.”
Vigilance is a crucial aspect of preparedness. But security professionals do not have to remain vigilant alone. At GSX 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia, 12-14 September, prepare for evolving risks, address emerging threats, and learn more about cutting-edge technology with more than 180 educational sessions and additional learning opportunities in the Exhibit Hall. Be prepared for crisis. Learn alongside your peers at GSX 2022.