Stanchart Robbery and The Importance of Security Assessments

The recent robbery of $30,000 from Stanchart was big news among my friends, while the countless reminders about being vigilant against terrorist attacks are already relegated as background noise (yawn!).

Stanchart robbery

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There wasn’t even a security guard at the Stanchart branch yesterday when the robbery happened – CCTV enough meh???

This is unheard of in many other parts of the world. Just check out the big guns carried by security officers in Malaysia.

Malaysian security officers

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So why don’t we care about security till something bad happens?

Do we unconsciously assume that Singapore is safe by default?

Just because we have the air force and visible border security, everything inside Singapore will automatically follow a safe standard?

I’ve seen white collar workers leave items more valuable than an umbrella to chope (reserve) seats such as company pass cards, ez-link cards and other forms of ID.

Chope seat with staff pass

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Would the presence of a security officer have prevented the Stanchart robbery from happening?

I posed this question to Mr Kelvin Goh, General Manager of Soverus (a security solutions provider).

Kelvin says that having a trained security officer would have made a huge difference in the situation. 

In the situation at Standard Chartered bank, a trained security officer on duty could have prevented the robbery from even taking place just by being in the bank.

The officer would also likely be able to identify the potential robber as a suspicious person and taken actions to speak to him, preventing the potential robber from even trying to rob the bank.

But security officers don’t exactly have a good rep

Some officers have been known to:

– sleep on the job

– get into trouble if they don’t let dogs into certain clothes shops

– get into fights

– just sit inside the guardhouse pressing a button to raise and lower the barrier for cars

Why don’t our local security officers perform like those higher class security officers we see overseas?

Before we make sweeping comparisons and expect our local jaga (watchman) to do flying kicks Ip Man style, how much do you pay your jaga?

Not more than $2k?

He must also work OT?

And clean up the dog shit in the lift?

And jump into the drain if you accidentally drop your ring inside?

And save your cat which is stuck in a tree?

And handle irate walk-in members of the public?

Security isn’t just a person or simply a CCTV set-up, it’s a system

Having many security officers won’t guarantee your premises will be completely safe.

It’s like hiring soccer players to stand in a line in front of a goal to block Ronaldo on the opposing team from kicking a curve ball into the goal.

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The same way club managers assess the “enemy” and audit their own club’s weaknesses, whoever buys the security system must know whom he is protecting his shop/building/condo/land from, and what are the key security weaknesses.

Did Stanchart do a security assessment of its Holland Village branch?

Were the Stanchart staff adequately protected against robbery or other serious threats?

Who could the staff call immediately upon facing a threat? E.g. were there panic buttons installed underneath their desks like you see in movies? 

Panic button

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Or was there a hidden code of conduct that would alert a nearby staff to activate a series of procedures such as hustling customers discreetly into another room while calling the police?

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Were the Stanchart staff trained to deal with similar security threats? Could they have stalled the robber while activating a silent alarm?

Were the CCTVs’ positions suitable for taking videos of the faces of people who entered the bank and approached the counter?

Everything is easy in hindsight, but that’s what security assessments are for, to plan for contingencies

According to Kelvin, Soverus security consultants do a threat vulnerability risk assessment (TVRA) for clients.

Threat x Vulnerability x Impact = Risk Assessment

Thereafter based on the client’s risk assessment, Soverus can recommend suitable security measures.

Note that no security system is 100% foolproof. 

There is always a risk of a breach involved in any system.

It’s just a matter of what the client can accept in terms of the security measures, his budget and length of contract.

Are you an informed buyer of security solutions?

It doesn’t make sense to expect your security officers will be like Team Alpha in DOTS when you insist your premises must die die have 50 security officers, even if it’s a small compound with minimal human traffic.


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If your security officer wants to be trained to have more useful skills like lifesaving, anti-terrorism and fire-fighting, are you willing to pay more for a better trained person?

And if you are only willing to sign a 2 year security contract and intend to ask for a 10% discount upon renewal, how can you demand top notch cybersecurity with white hat hacking services?

Some condos want every person to be checked at the front gate by the security officer, but refuse to install a revolving turnstile at the side gate because having a passcard-operated gate is enough.

Turnstile

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Without a turnstile, any intruder at the gate can just pretend to have forgotten his passcard and wait for an unsuspecting resident to open the gate for him.

Do we treat security like tap water?

Do we expect security to be a national service provided by the police force and Ministry of Home Affairs?

Or will the Stanchart robbery change our mindset towards how much responsibility we take when procuring our own private security systems?

We’ll see.


Also published on Medium.

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