The world has changed dramatically since the late 20th Century, when most North American businesses and families enjoyed the privilege of viewing terrorism as a tragic phenomenon occurring "over there." The events of 9/11 provided a jarring wakeup call, courtesy of Al Qaeda, that terrorism isn't a threat confined to remote countries. In the 21st Century, dangers are at home and abroad, online and off, in the air and on the ground - a risk to people, brands, companies and nations alike. Current events provide a snapshot of this threatening new reality.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, an American Airlines flight bound for New York City from Barcelona, Spain was evacuated at Kennedy International Airport. Though a telephoned bomb threat ultimately proved a false alarm, the incident is under continued investigation by the Port Authority Police Department, the New York Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
And just in time for the holiday shopping season, Al Qaeda is back in the news. In early December, multiple sources reported "spectacular" plans by the group to carry out attacks over Christmas week. Vacationers and business travelers are on high alert, along with global cities and major airport hubs. The threats are described as "taken so seriously, it came close to leading to an outright ban on all hand luggage."
But it's not just companies and individuals doing business in the air who feel the omnipresence of terror threats this season. Media conglomerate Sony Pictures is reportedly investigating a massive cyber attack on the studio's network in late November. In another reminder that geopolitics and terrorism are becoming twin forces, Sony suspects the North Korean government of hacking in response to a planned film release satirizing dictator Kim Jong-un. The incident slowed worker productivity to a crawl, and cost Sony an undisclosed amount in disaster recovery efforts.
And the seemingly unstoppable cultural juggernaut known as Oprah Winfrey has also been a focus of terrorist activity. The world recently learned that Oprah Winfrey's Chicago-based Harpo Studios was unsuccessfully targeted in a 2009 truck bomb attack plotted by anti-U.S. terrorists. Though both Oprah and her company emerged from the incident unscathed, large companies with prominent leaders, take note. The militants set their sights upon the Big O's empire "because they resented her popularity and power."
Here's the awful truth: terrorist threats are here (there and everywhere) to stay. And as technology diversifies, so will the risks. HUB International's Risk team has developed a wealth of resources designed to help businesses and individuals prevent, prepare for and recover from a wide variety of terrorist events.
And, contact a HUB Risk Expert today to develop a customized plan for your business.