Cover vs Concealment

To cover, or to conceal

That is the question! But the answer is slightly more complicated. In basic terms, it sounds quite easy to differentiate. Cover is anything that effectively stops bullets. Concealment is anything that hides you from someone else's sight. Pretty simple right?...Wrong!
The most important thing you have to always remember: Cover is the one that's going to save you when things take a turn for the worse.
Cover
Cover is something that will not necessarily conceal your location but stop a bullet, or any other projectile being lunged toward you for that matter. Do keep in mind that some forms of cover can also deflect high-velocity projectiles and send them off into the unknown. You do not want to unwillingly send rounds to a teammate or someone else, and you probably will not be able to control this either. And, then there is the initial "kick" it will project onto whatever it is hitting, for example, a thick plate of steel hanging loosely in front of you will stop or deflect an incoming round, but will also probably kick back a bit and still send you off balance or if it is light enough, give you a nice slap in the face! The important thing, however, is to not be penetrated by any projectiles. Think of your bulletproof vest, for example, if you take a round from a 9mm at say 10m out, it will stop the projectile, but the force that was initially behind the projectile is now being spread into the size of your plates and that can leave you with a proper bruise and send you off balance.
It is also dependent on what the bad guy is shooting. Materials that will stop a 9mm or other pistol rounds will likely not stop more powerful rifle rounds for example.
In general, something that provides you with good cover also conceals you, but there are exceptions, like bulletproof glass for example. In the movies you see guys flipping dinner tables for cover or hiding behind some wooden wall while rounds are hitting it with no mercy, and walk away unscathed. That is not a good idea at all! Unless you have a table that's at least as thick as a small tee! And no, the door panels on your vehicle is not likely to stop even a .22 round! Unless you upgrade it with some good quality steel of proper thickness.
The only few things on your vehicle that will properly stop incoming rounds, are the engine, an axle (if it is big enough to hide behind anyway, and a good thickness wheel.
Keep in mind that cover should not limit your maneuverability too much, as you might still need to deal with the threat. You should either be able to shoot from behind it or when the threat changes position, you should be able to change accordingly as well. You do not want to be stuck in a small space and have a threat walk straight to you. The human body can also stop some projectiles, just do not use your spouse for that duty...

Concealment

If it doesn’t stop a projectile, then it is only hiding you. Which essentially is concealment. If you had to quickly hide behind a couch, you are concealing yourself from who/whatever is trying to find you. You know, like when the debt-collector makes a visit and you quickly lock the door, dive behind the couch and wait for him to leave. If he had to fire off a few rounds into the living room, you would likely have been hit behind the couch. Using darkness or shadows to hide in during the night or in poorly lit hallways are also a favorite way to go for criminals. You often do not see them there, but if you had to throw a rock into their direction, you would probably get a reply. Whereas if they were behind cover as well, you would have a hard time to know they are there.
It is just like the camouflage hunters use, they blend into the environment and conceal themselves from the unsuspecting game. Here in SA for example, our police forces wear a kind-off light blue uniform, which is not that easy to see during the night and is not reflective at all.

I often talk about not setting up bright lights facing toward your home, rather than facing outwards toward exterior walls, as that can be a great form of concealment for criminals scouting your home. Just as much as you cannot see a person from behind a flashlight during night time. The same concept applies. See this post to read about lighting up your yard.

Two dead giveaways exploit you from behind concealment: Noise and motion, Heavy breathing is very audible, and shaking from fear tends to shake and rattle lighter concealment, like curtains for example.

Conclusion:

Good cover is not that easy to find, especially when you are inside a building. So for this reason, you will need to utilize the concealment you have access to and move unnoticed to a place with decent cover, or to escape the threat. So if you're thinking about adding some decent cover to your home defense plan, I would suggest adding some bulletproof vest or blanket of some sorts in your safe room. If you do not have a safe room, I suggest you make one! However, adding some simple pieces of furniture, filled with something like solid wood, cement, or plating.

For more on home defense, read here.

Risk/Reward ratio

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Risk/Reward

Now and then a well-protected premises gets broken in to, and no matter what the reason was, someone found a way to break through the security systems. Why is that? Well, honestly, unless you live like a well-protected president (who also gets some attacks now and then), you will never be impenetrable or completely safe from every threat. I am not quite sure what other protectors like to call this, but it generally floats around as the risk/reward ratio. Meaning, if ever the reward that is to be gained is worth the risk associated or even more, then the likelihood of it happening still exists. You implement measures to irritate and keep someone from simply taking whatever they want from you. But, you can never really eliminate the urge of someone eager enough to grab it.

How is it still possible?

We have to remember that skills can be learned by anyone willing to learn them. Perhaps not always by the conventional manner we are used to, but either way, a skill can be learned. Many “masters” of their crafts become masters in the first place by developing beyond the conventional ways.

So, with that mouthful out of the way, here is what I mean. In reality, if I have to get or take from you what I so desperately want or need, especially when I have no other choice, I will be motivated enough to get it. And in that case, whatever means you have put in place to prevent me will be vulnerable to my motivated mind. I will most likely figure out some ingenious or perhaps absurd way to pass your measures and get what I want.

I like to call it the Risk/Reward ratio. But whatever the real term is for our industry, It simply means that if my reward is worth the effort, I might just take the risk.

I can think of various ways I have defeated some security systems and things I have seen in the industry, and for obvious reasons cannot mention them here. As I am always confident that just as we protectors are utilizing the internet, social media, and various skilled courses to enhance our capabilities, so are those we fight against. Many wolves amongst the sheep.

Closing off:

So, closing off, I hope it is clear to you that not any measure is impenetrable, think about how the enemy adapts, how technology advances, and how the sheer willpower of one man can change and revolutionize our industry. If an army is in my way, will 2 armies behind me defeat them? If an alarm system is in my way, will something be good enough to defeat it? Face it, we can never, ever be complacent. If you are wondering how to plan around this, then please read here.

Till next time, keep developing.

Risks VS Threats

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Risk, Threat, and Vulnerability

Before any security detail can be put in place, you first need to determine the risks and threats that are present in your area of responsibility and the vulnerabilities they are open to. So, to start, it is very important to know the difference between risk, a threat, and vulnerability. I do however have to start by saying, this is just my explanation of how I see and measure Risk, Threat, and Vulnerability. You will indefinitely meet more people with more elaborate definitions or even some who sound quite the opposite of what I am going to attempt to explain in this post. So keep an open mind and try to KISS it. (Keep It Simple Stupid).

Here goes:

Risk: Risk is the potential for an unwanted result. For example a financial loss, loss of life, emotional trauma, or disruption of activities.

Threat: A threat is that occurrence or event that leads to, or causes the unwanted result (Risk). For example damage to infrastructure or property, murder, traumatic event, or sabotage. These events can happen by nature, the lack of maintenance, wear and tear, or it can, of course, be inflicted/implemented by a person.

Vulnerability: A vulnerability is a specific flaw or weakness in a system or a design in general. Such as someone with an allergy, it is not necessarily a risk on its own, as long as it is avoided. It can, however, be exploited by a potential attacker and used as a method of attack.

A quick example:

You have a nut allergy (Vulnerability). A long-standing business partner wants to eliminate you by exploiting your allergy (Threat). If he is successful in his covert operation, you will most likely lose your life (Risk). So, for you to survive, you will have to devise a plan to test your food and drinks, or even anything that may enter your bloodstream. A habit of chewing your pen (Vulnerability) may even be used, by applying some peanut oil on the pen.

So you can also see that some vulnerabilities can be used in conjunction with another, to achieve a less suspicious attack. One can get quite creative once you learn to exploit vulnerabilities and determine the risk it carries.

A proper risk assessment can tell a very definitive story. Once you make the connections, you will know where to focus your attention and do what is necessary to avoid the risk. Some risks will require more attention than others, depending on your mission results.

Perhaps you are not a security operative or into Risk-Management, and you wonder how this methodology can help you in normal life?

Picture yourself driving down the street on your way home. Looking around, you notice a bunch of everyday things, like people walking on the sidewalk, some garbage bags alongside a bin or two, a few potholes in the road and here and there a tree leaning over to the side.

What can this simple picture tell you? What if someone slips and falls off the sidewalk right in front of your car? What if he is drunk and deliberately walks in front of the car to draw your attention? Did you compensate for that? What if one of the garbage bags is half-way on the road, forcing you to swerve into oncoming traffic? Same with the pothole, or it can also cause a tire to blow and force your vehicle to collide into oncoming traffic? And what if that tree starts to fall right as you attempt to drive past it?

Conclusion:

It's a simple equation, anything that can cause a negative outcome (Threat) when coupled with asking "what if", can lead to a Risk. Some more severe than others. So it's evident that a risk is something that could happen, and a threat is a likelihood with which that same thing can happen.

If you would like to read more advanced terminology and explanations, I suggest you visit: https://protectioncircle.org/2017/01/27/threats-and-risks/