The threat of terrorism around the world is evolving rapidly. Organisations don’t need to be the target of an attack to still become its victim.

Those organisations that recover best from a serious event are the ones that rigorously plan, prepare and test for these possibilities through appropriate staff training and risk mitigation strategies.

Attendees at the Aon Advanced Risk Conference 2018 in Melbourne heard how the overall global terrorism threat level is rising and the methods employed were changing, meaning traditional protections may no longer be sufficient.

The regional director of crisis management for Aon Asia Daniel Bould told the audience that – according to Aon’s 2018 Risk Maps – in the past year 17 countries had their terrorism risk ratings escalated, including North Korea and South Korea, while only six were downgraded.

And despite the Islamic State having lost territory in Iraq and Syria, it had become more prominent in South East Asia, including through the declaration of a new caliphate. Many terrorist hotspots are active in the region, particularly in the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand, and could become a bigger issue should containment efforts fail and local terrorist organisations began to project their power.

He also stressed that political upheaval also presented challenges, such as the recent elections in Malaysia, where the unexpected result led to a halting of all infrastructure projects.

“Which just shows with political risk you must analyse, but you also have to prepare for the worse case, and that is through indemnification,” Bould said.

Importantly, he said an evolution had taken place in terrorism methods, away from vehicle-born explosive devices and mass shootings to lone wolf attacks.

“It’s what we are calling the weaponising of everyday life,” Bould said. “Islamic State and Al Qaeda to a certain extent are putting huge efforts into teaching these lone wolf wannabees, or individuals who want to cause mayhem, what kind of weapons they should select. We are almost at the stage where there is a jihadist open online university.”

He stressed that Australia was not immune from the threat of international terrorism, particularly in terms of lone wolf attackers being groomed through online channels.

This means that for organisations that are seeking to insure their operations from terror-related disruption, terror-related insurance based on property damage is no longer appropriate, with policies that are triggered based on bodily harm being more appropriate.

For the Australian-based beverages company Coca-Cola Amatil, protecting the organisation and its people from terrorism and other threats also included extensive scenario training.

Coca-Cola Amatil’s group manager of security, fraud and crisis management Ray Armstrong stressed the importance of rehearsal exercises. He also emphasised that getting buy-in from senior executives was critical but said for his company this was easily achieved as safety was recognised as a high priority across the organisation.

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Strategies to minimise your risk

While the threat of being caught in a terrorist incident was statistically unlikely, there are still strategies a person could do to ensure that if something should happen, they could minimise their personal risk, particularly in crowded situations.

“Put your cell phone away and be aware of what is around you,” Bould said. “And if you identify something suspicious, be that a bag or an individual, move away or go tell somebody. And I always keep to the fringes of crowds. Because if there is ever an incident, people panic.

“But ultimately you have got to trust your gut. If you don’t feel that something is right, move out of the area or tell someone.”

Understanding your international exposure

If your organisation has operations, suppliers or customers overseas or your employees travel overseas for business, it is important to understand the risks they might face. Visit the 2018 Risk Maps website to understand these exposures and operational risks you may face in challenging geographies.

Alternatively, speak to one of our team about your exposures and the solutions available.


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