threat-based securityNot long after the events of 9/11, a couple of my colleagues were driving back to L.A. from Vegas. The topic of conversation in the car turned to anti-terrorism tactics. One colleague, formerly with the IDF, had done a stint with El Al airlines. In Israel, threat-based security is de rigueur if not simply a matter of self preservation. A solid understanding of terrorist methods of operation is at the heart of this approach. Indicators are derived from those terrorist MOs and form operational profiles that are the basis of the security assessment. Although objects and situations may be profiled, usually security officers profile behaviors and activities.


For example and simply put, a threat-based security officer is concerned not so much with finding a weapon as he is with who has the weapon and why. A knife carried in a suitcase is relatively benign once and if the security officer confirms that the knife owner has no bad intent, is not a threat. My colleagues concluded that U.S. security methods could benefit from a different approach, especially now that terrorism had irrevocably arrived on U.S. soil.


Two of the main elements of the methodology they envisioned were (1) using profiling to conduct an assessment based on specific indicators (as described above) and (2) being proactive as opposed to reactive. Instead of waiting for an incident to occur, and then working to prevent its Re-occurrence … surely it would be better to anticipate possible attacks or events, in order to prevent them altogether. Better to make a potential target undesirable from a security standpoint, to deter would be terrorists and criminals in the first place.


Most students who have taken Chameleon’s Predictive Profiling training, even the doubters, come to appreciate its efficiency, effectiveness and logic. Security executives who have revamped their procedures to use these proactive methods end up with security teams who are more effective and show less attrition. In some European countries, Predictive Profiling has taken hold as the gold standard of security.


Thus has grown Predictive Profiling for security, born over a decade ago, somewhere on the road through Barstow. I hope this method’s reach continues to grow, on the road to smarter security.

threat based security


  1. Dorene on November 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    I took a Predictive Profiling class earlier this year and the methods did make total sense. I had many “ah ha” moments and wish more security was done this way.

    Dorene T.

  2. Robert Russell on November 9, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    I am sitting in the Ben-Gurion Airport, after having spent a week in a “living laboratory” studying the proactive threat assessment methodology in Israel. This has been the opportunity of a lifetime! Studying M.O. and Suspicion Indicators in a classroom is interesting, but watching/experiencing in real-world operational environments is an experience like no other. For those considering enrolling in the next Homeland Security Laboratory, go for it!

    Job well done, Chameleon Team!

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