Canadian Security Magazine

ASIS president outlines major challenges facing security professionals

Neil Sutton   

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Dave Davis, the 61st president of ASIS International, opened the organization’s annual conference Monday with an address that urged security professionals to be leaders in difficult times.

Orlando, the city hosting ASIS’s conference this year, was the site of a terrible tragedy earlier this year when a gunman took the lives of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub.

“As recent events have demonstrated, we are facing an unprecedented threat against the world’s soft targets,” said Davis at the conference’s opening ceremony. “These attacks tear at the fabric of communities where the world’s citizens work and play.”

In response to the Orlando shootings and other terror-inspired tragedies around the world, ASIS launched a “Security Week” to coincide with the conference, offering best practices and free resources to small businesses who wish to learn more about security, safety and preparedness.

“It is incumbent upon us as security professionals to give back to the communities that support us,” explained Davis during his address. “What’s driving this increase in attacks is the confluence of self-radicalization, social media, violent extremism, mental illness and other factors.”


Davis also spoke of challenges facing security professionals when it comes to preparing for worst-case scenarios, particularly when they are so unpredictable and random.

“It is now becoming more difficult, as in the case of the Pulse nightclub gunman, to ascribe specific motivation for attacks. We need to call upon our skills as security professionals — observation, investigation, interviewing, and due diligence — like never before,” he said.

Davis also reflected on security’s relatively new role in combatting the ever-increasing presence of cybercrime. He said that traditional security professionals will find themselves increasingly accountable should their organizations experience a cyber-breach. According to Davis, ASIS research indicates that few security departments are ready for these challenges in terms of providing a holistic approach that can “deal with cyber, physical, personnel and information risks.”

The Internet of Things should also be on every security professional’s radar, he said, and “opens incredible risk, which is only hinted at in news stories.” Davis cited recent examples where benign hackers have been able to demonstrate their ability to access the internal systems of aircraft and cars.

Davis also reflected on the changing world of work, where Millennials are increasingly part of the labour force and will occupy an estimated 50 per cent of roles by 2020. “We have a duty to get them up to speed. You will have to work to keep these highly mobile workers engaged and demonstrate that their talent is valued.”

Women, traditionally underrepresented in security, are coming to the forefront, said Davis, and filling more senior leadership roles. Women are “more transformative, collaborative and empathetic than their male counterparts,” said Davis. “Their day is coming.”

The ASIS International Seminar and Exhibits continues through Thursday.

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