Cool as McCumber
How Not to Respond
For those looking for a crash course on
what not to do in the wake of a serious
security breach, there could be no better
case study. Here are some key takeaways
for security professionals:
By John McCumber • After a serious incident such as
this, don’t run out and try to tell your
constituents that your security program
ithin hours of Umar Farouk worked just dandy. Whom are they going
Abdulmutallab’s attempt to bring to believe: you or their lying eyes? Any
down Northwest Flight 253 on explanatory caveats you place on your
Christmas Day with his “Fruit of comments at a later time will sound fatu-
the Boom” underwear, we were ous and label you a butt-covering fraud.
treated to a parade of public officials from the Security breaches happen. Own up to any
President of the United States down to function- shortfalls or mistakes.
aries in federal agencies trying to explain away • If you’re not yet sure of all the facts,
the incident as an aberration. Background facts say so. Saying there was no “smoking gun”
began to dribble out of the dead-tree media over only to have the steaming six-shooter sud-
the week following the botched attack showing denly appear on the Jumbotron behind
these pronouncements to be at best, ill-advised. you makes you appear incompetent. If you
For an administration that went immediately to don’t know, simply say so.
the podium asking America not to jump to con- • If you’ve had your job for more
clusions in the wake of the shocking Fort Hood than month, don’t blame the guy who
murders, erroneous conclusions were being prof- “Abdulmutallab was had the gig before you. Laying the rap
fered while we were still escorting the shaken on your long-gone predecessor does
passengers off the aircraft. hardly an ‘isolated not instill confidence in your abilities.
Abdulmutallab was initially painted by the
administration as an “isolated extremist” who
extremist’... Not only Perhaps they dumped the guy before you
because you claimed to be able to do a
had managed to sneak explosives past the stan-
dard screening process, The Washington Post
was he trained by a better job. Now is the time to prove it.