May 19, 2023


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Behavioural analysis

Lessons from IFSEC: Why security technology is only as good as the people using it

Tavcom Training’s Shaun Hilton talked about how staff need to be trained properly to recognise suspicious behaviour and respond appropriately at this year’s IFSEC. Chris Price reports from the session. 


Shaun Hilton presenting at the IFSEC 2023 Tech Talks Theatre

Providing security solutions is a much broader topic than just the actual technology involved. Of key importance is the training of an organisation’s staff members to improve their skills so they can recognise potentially suspicious behaviour and, if necessary, act upon it.

That was the theme of Tavcom Training’s Security Management Tutor Shaun Hilton’s talk on enhancing technical security solutions with behaviour analysis at London’s IFSEC show earlier this week.

In the discussion, Hilton – who had a successful career in the Metropolitan Police – recognised that while there’s a ‘huge expectation from suppliers to develop shiny new products’, staff need to be trained so they can use the technology to the best of their ability.

“If we put all of our budget into new products how are we going to manage how these products are used?” he asked.

One area where people need training is to use the masses of data generated by technology solutions in order, for example, to benefit an organisation’s sales. Another is to recognise suspicious behaviour from video surveillance footage.

During the presentation Hilton showed a video featuring people queuing up at a security desk and invited the audience to identify the individual engaging in suspicious behaviour.

Staff training and engagement essential to successful tech use

He said that one of the problems that occurs without adequate staff training is that ‘people use their biases to make decisions which aren’t necessarily good decisions’.

“Everyone’s heard the saying that ‘first impressions really count’, but in security you need to rely on facts rather than impressions,” said Hilton. “Age, culture, gender aren’t factors that should determine whether someone is guilty of committing a crime,” he added.

According to Hilton, engaging with people in authority – such as border guards or policeman – can trigger ‘stress and anxiety’, triggering people’s ‘fight or flight mode’. He pointed to how one person in the video shown to the audience held his neck, looked around and shifted uneasily from side to side as all possible indicators of suspicious behaviour.

Asked about whether AI could remove the need for humans to spot this kind of behaviour, Hilton admitted it could help but said that staff were still required to determine how to interact with a particular individual, if at all.

“Behaviour analysis may not be necessary if your organisation is not going to interrogate individuals,” he said. Conversely, if it does interrogate them, then staff need to be trained in ‘hostile reconnaissance techniques’ in order not to escalate a particular situation or adversely affect an organisation’s reputation.

He said it was ‘important to remember that the vast majority of the public were completely innocent.’

Concluding the talk, Hilton highlighted that staff costs are a major outlay for any business and that staff members need to be ‘brought along with you in any technical security implementation’.

“We need to ensure they are a fully trained team which helps them to do their job properly and also aids staff retention too.”


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