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Houdini had it easy.

Harry Houdini, the great escape artist of the early 20th century, amazed audiences the world over with his ability to get out of any place or space, no matter the barriers. His feats were impressive, but they pale in comparison to the challenge of getting hundreds or thousands of people quickly and safely out of a building during a crisis.

Businesses must develop their own amazing escape routines and train employees to perform them under pressure whenever events demand an emergency evacuation. In this month's cover story, "Taking the Easy Way Out," Lawrence Mark Cohen looks at how UK, companies stage this Houdini-like action. Among the issues addressed are training, communications, assembly points, and coordination efforts.

In "Mitigating Circumstances," Kevin M. Nixon, CISSP, looks at the need for risk assessment and mitigative contingency planning in the context of information systems. The article discusses what questions need to be considered--such as what would happen if the company's e-mail goes down for a number of days because of hacking or if there is an extended power failure and whether there are processes in place for a timely relocation to another facility or for other appropriate measures. The author also looks at how a company can assess asset criticality and determine acceptable downtime and how it can develop escalation plans for dealing with problems ranging from minor to critical.

While protecting all employees is essential, companies also have to address the special protection needs of executives. These issues are addressed in two articles: "Protecting Spirited Leaders," by Robert L. Oatman, CPP, looks at how good executive protection programs can free executives to concentrate on business; and "Making Home a Safe Haven," by Nicholas A. Smith Jr., CPP, shows how corporate security can help the company's executives get the right level of protection for their homes and families.

Also among this month's features is a case study on school security and an article examining shoplifting trends and policies. The "Viewpoint" looks at the need for businesses to do much more to merge information and communications security with the traditional physical security function. The monthly departments on news, technology, and legal developments round out this month's informational offerings--all tools you can use to get the job done.

As the news reminds us daily, these are trying times for everyone, especially for those charged with protecting assets, personnel, and information. Houdini had it easy. He only had to get out of tight spots of his own devising.
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Title Annotation:Editor's Note
Author:Harowitz, Sherry L.
Publication:Security Management
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Oct 1, 2003
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