GSOCs And Artificial Intelligence Give Businesses A Predictive Edge In Identifying Threats
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- May 01, 2018
There are a lot of amazing things to say and write about Allied Universal. For starters, these security professionals are headlong into predictive analytics, and WOW, what a difference it makes in providing security services to the customer. They have also deployed their first robot— more about that in a minute.
Predictive analytics is a tool now used by Allied Universal. If it sounds pretty cool, that is because it is. It encompasses a variety of statistical techniques from predictive modeling, machine learning, and data mining that analyze current and historical facts to make predictions about future or otherwise unknown events.
Predictive analytics is an area of statistics that deals with extracting information from data and using it to predict trends and behavior patterns. Often the unknown event of interest is in the future, but predictive analytics can be applied to any type of unknown whether it is in the past, present or future. For example, identifying suspects after a crime has been committed, or credit card fraud as it occurs.
The core of predictive analytics relies on capturing relationships between explanatory variables and the predicted variables from past occurrences, and exploiting them to predict the unknown outcome. It is important to note, however, that the accuracy and usability of results will depend greatly on the level of data analysis and the quality of assumptions. It very well may depend upon the expertise of staff who analyzes such information.
“This gives us the ability to predict—using information collected from thousands of sources, analyzed to offer meaningful intelligence,” Sherman Brawner, southwest regional director of Allied Universal’s Monitoring and Response Center (MaRC), located in Richardson, Texas, said. “It is this information that provides actionable data that offers threat awareness and helps us protect our customers.” Predictive analytics takes awareness and information to the next level, allowing decision makers to work in real time and make appropriate decisions.
“Predictive analytics lends itself to risk mitigation, and that’s where it’s at today,” said Jim Chiacchia, director of Global Security Operations Center (GSOC) and situational awareness services at Allied Universal.
The information gathered isn’t just for decisions to be made right now, but Chiacchia said this information is often gathered by customers making long-term business decisions, regarding safety and security around the globe, including the safety and security of employees stationed throughout the world.
So, where does this information come from, who gathers it and who really cares?
First, those people living and working in the C-suites care and are extremely concerned with the information scraped from the Internet. Consider the Internet as an iceberg. Let’s say 10 percent of that iceberg is visible to an ocean going vessel. That means 90 percent is well hidden underneath the water line. This is the Dark Web. This is the part of the Internet where unseemly and shady things are taking place. This is the part of the iceberg where bad things occur.
“This is where we scrape for information for our customers so they are on the front end, and know what is ‘happening’ before it happens,” Brawner said. “A huge percentage of what happens on the Dark Web is associated with illegal or illicit activity. Our goal is to use every tool available, including machine learning, to keep our customers secure. These threats are very real; and can rattle anyone from small businesses to Fortune 100 companies and their employees.
“In our security operations center, we use tools to collect information and review the data with a security risk analyst. This allows us to be proactive to the risk indicators that we find.”
There is an abundance of information on the Dark Web, and the trial comes with being able to distill down all the information gathered, and make sense of it. For instance, prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941, there was a lot of information or traffic but there was not the ability to distill all that information to a concise point. That has changed today with tools that allow basic algorithms to function in machine learning and the ability to spot and define risks.
Now the security motto may well be: See something, say something, do something.
Predictive analysis plays a key role in everyday living as well. A great example may well be at a shopping mall where a store employee sees something a little bit out of order in the mall area, but does not want to be identified. That employee is now able to share visual information without being revealed, and in real time. The employee observes someone taking pictures of children at the mall, which seems out of place. An alert is posted, and the man is picked up for questioning. As it turns out, this was an actual event, and a predator was identified.
“There is no doubt that innocent lives were spared from the future actions of a known criminal perpetrator that day,” Brawner said. “This is a tool that Allied Universal uses, and in this case, the mall was a customer and able to respond accordingly.”
Brawner also shared an experience of predictive analysis where a couple of robbery suspects went into a mall store and assaulted the store staff and took cash and merchandise. A robot was deployed to the mall at this time and was able to capture a list of cell phones in the area. The robot was queued to advise security staff when any one of those numbers were found in the mall area again. Sure enough, the analysis worked perfectly and one of the suspects was arrested at a later date. Allied Universal partners with robot manufacturer Knightscope, as well as Robotic Assistance Devices’ technology, both based in California.
MAKING THE CITY SAFE
Allied Universal has introduced a safe cities program, in which it allows downtown businesses, and in particular clients among them, to share input and results of situational awareness information. It was the result of a program that began in the New York City area and has been introduced in several subsequent cities, including Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas and the Washington, D.C. area.
“Eighty percent of downtown Dallas is covered by Allied Universal security services and its onsite security officers, so we are poised with our technology to be able to share information if something were to happen,” Brawner said. “As technology evolves, so will our ability to communicate more effectively, using social media can provide exceptionally quick information we can collect, analyze and act upon with our GSOC tools.”
With more than 150,000 employees, Allied Universal is one of the largest employers in the United States. The company is well known for its guarding services but is quickly evolving into a technology resources firm. They have 20,000 client sites in North America. The Dallas Monitoring and Response Center was acquired about four years ago from the Thrive Group and has about 80 staff members working around the clock in its security operations center (SOC).
The staff is still growing in the Dallas location, and there is plenty of room for expansion in the 24,000 square foot facility, which also is moving forward to help some clients establish their own outsourced GSOC at the MaRC.
This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of Security Today.