Science and Technology of Counter-terrorism

by Mark Rowe

Author: Carl Young

ISBN No: 978-0-12-420056-2

Review date: 28/11/2023

No of pages: 512

Publisher: Butterworth Heinemann - Elsevier

Publisher URL:

Year of publication: 01/04/2014


Science and Technology of Counterterrorism Measuring Physical and Electronic Security Risk



Explosives are easy to come by and can do damage – but how much damage? And how do we protect against explosives, particularly if delivered by vehicles?

An American book delves into the science and technology of counter-terrorism. It’s an impressive work useful for the corporate head of security besides the technical guy. It covers CCTV, access control, biometrics – the problem-solving equipment – with the risks, of electronic breaches and terrorist destruction. The New Yorker Carl Young gets the balance right between the theoretical and the practical. He gives us the maths, physics and civil engineering reasons behind everything from bollards, x-ray detectors and anti-blast film on glass to motion detectors. As building owners in Manchester and London learned only too well from the IRA bombing campaign on the British mainland, even if your site is not aimed at by a bomb, it can be damaged and may need evacuating. This book if you are interested in designing out crime is of wider use than the title may suggest. For instance, the author goes into mathematical detail and come up with an equation about how many security officers are required in a busy or empty hallway to respond to a threat.

Particularly relevant too is the chapter on convergence of electronic and physical security risk. A cultural divide between physical and IT security practitioners can no longer be used to justify ‘security silos’, Young argues. As a bank’s data housed in a data centre may be the business’ ‘keys to the kingdom’, you may seek to harden the perimeter and control access; but what if people authorised to enter do something stupid or malicious (such as politely let in a stranger)? In other words, controlling access and identifying authorised staff are only part of the risk story. While you might quibble that site protection is easier if you are building from scratch, Young understands well the dilemma between going for quantitative (lots of cameras) and qualitative (managing risk, and accepting some risk) answers. He does urge the need for rigorous thinking about risk, to solve problems. “The ultimate goal is to develop enough insight to make an informed decision on risk in light of competing security priorities and restricted budgets.”


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