Managing Editor, IFSEC Insider

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James Moore is the Managing Editor of IFSEC Insider, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry. James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Insider, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
December 6, 2022


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Mail screening

Increased security at public buildings in Spain as PM and Ukrainian embassy amongst those targeted by letter bombs

Security has increased in Spanish public buildings as a series of letter bombs have been sent to ‘high profile targets’ including its Prime Minister, with one having exploded in Madrid’s Ukrainian embassy on Wednesday.

Spain-MadridCity-22The first incident, which happened on Wednesday 30 November, resulted in orders for other Ukrainian embassies to “urgently” increase their security measures.

An employee has been taken to hospital for treatment with ‘light injuries’, according to reports. No one has so far claimed responsibility, though there is speculation that it may relate to Spain’s support for Ukraine in its ongoing war with Russia. Police said the letter had been addressed directly to the Ukrainian ambassador in Spain.

Since then, however, a series of additional letter bombs have been discovered, with Spain’s Prime Minister, its Defence Minister, and the US embassy thought to be among the targets.

According to a source speaking to Reuters, they were all sent in brown envelopes and comprised loose gunpowder with an electrical ignition mechanism.

The incident has raised security alerts across corresponding Ukrainian embassies and throughout public buildings in Spain.

It has not yet raised its terrorism threat level, while the audiencia nacional, Spain’s highest criminal court, is leading an investigation into the matter.

Mail screening measures

Do the events also underline the importance of mail screening measures? The mail route into an organisation or public buildings remains a preferred method for anonymously targeting individuals, requiring little resource or risk from perpetrators.

The UK’s Centre for Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) offers advice to the industry on the method of attack via a resource kit to raise awareness of postal security, alongside the PAS 97:2015 Mail Screening and Security – Specification. Though the standard was last updated in 2015, it aims to help organisations identify and implement appropriate mail screening and postal security measures to minimise the impact of items of mail that represent a threat.

CPNI advises that frontline security staff, mail handlers and security managers should work with other colleagues to raise awareness of the existence of the risk.

Jason Wakefield, Sales Director at mail screening specialist Todd Research, commented on the news:

“When designing security for any building, often mail screening can be an afterthought. Huge amounts of money can be spent by updating CCTV, access control and intruder systems when the reality is you could go to a DIY store, spend £10, and come out with enough equipment to build a device that looks credible enough to close a building down.

“Over the years, peoples opinions on mail screening has become very blasé, with the typical saying ‘It won’t happen to me’. The fact is if you are a high profile Embassy or Government department then you are a genuine target for mail born attacks. It is therefore imperative to include mail screening as part of your annual threat review of your building and security equipment within.”

Just last year, mail screening security specialist, RaySecur, announced $13million in funding to accelerate its MailSecur imaging technology that is designed to detect and intercept mailroom threats, said to be in use by several government agencies.


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