Target Hardening

Target hardening or mitigation is a process wherein a building is made into a more difficult or less attractive target. It does not necessarily mean the construction of an impenetrable bunker, although this would be the extreme case of target hardening.

To stop a terrorist or physical attack on a building is very difficult; any building or site can be breached or destroyed. However, the more secure the building or site is and the better the building is designed to withstand an attack, the greater the odds are that the building will not be attacked or, if attacked, will suffer less damage.

Terrorist select sites based on their value as a target. Some high-value targets would be iconic commercial properties, symbolic government buildings or structures likely to inflict significant emotional or economic damage.  A common method to evaluate terrorist threats is to analyze five factors:

  • Existence - Who is hostile to the assets, organization or community of concern?
  • Capability - What weapons have been used in carrying out past attacks?
  • History - What has the potential threat element done in the past and how many times?
  • Intention - What would the potential threat element or aggressor hope to achieve?
  • Targeting - Do we know if an aggressor is performing surveillance on our buildings or buildings that have much in common with our organization's?

Knowing the expected threat or hazard capability allows us to integrate that knowledge with specific building and site information by conducting a vulnerability assessment.

A vulnerability assessment is an in-depth analysis of building weaknesses and lack of redundancy to determine mitigations or corrective actions that can be designed or implemented to reduce vulnerabilities. The extent and depth of the analysis will depend upon the size and function of the building and organization.

Some examples of recommended security measures based upon building/employee size are:

10 employees; 2,500 sq. ft.; low volume public contact

  • High security locks
  • Intercom
  • Peep Hole (wide view)
  • Lighting with emergency backup power

11-150 employees; 2,500-80,000 sq. ft; moderate volume public contact

  • Entry control package with Closed Circuit Television (CCTV)
  • Visitor control/screening
  • Shipping/receiving procedures
  • Guard/patrol assessment
  • Intrusion detection with central monitoring
  • CCTV surveillance (pan-tilt-zoom system)
  • Duress alarm with central monitoring

151-450 employees; multi-story facility; 80,000-150,000 sq. ft.; moderate-to-high public contact

  • Guard patrol on site
  • Visitor control/screening
  • Shipping/receiving procedures
  • Intrusion detection w/central monitoring
  • CCTV surveillance (pan-tilt-zoom system) 
  • Duress alarm with central monitoring
  • Controlled utility access
  • Annual employee security training 

Target hardening includes security considerations that are routinely provided including perimeter fencing, site lighting, parking and drop-off design that supports access and security considerations and landscape design.

The building interior must also be included in target hardening plans. Consideration should be given to both interior and exterior gathering places. Public toilets should be in secured areas. Offices of essential officials should be placed so that the occupants cannot be seen from the street or public areas. Where possible the offices should face courtyards, internal sites and controlled areas. Windows should be glazed. Staff should be used for security observations.

Other areas warranting target hardening include:

  • Controlled access at entrance(s)
  • Lobbies, mailrooms, loading ocks and storage areas
  • Utilities (generators, fuel systems, sprinkler systems, water supplies)
  • Heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), and air filtration systems
  • Windows
  • Elevators
  • Stairwells
  • Public address and other communication systems
  • Control centers