Since threats posted on social networks began to spike in 2012, Soteria Intelligence has been closely tracking a wide variety of threats ranging from threats aimed at schools to terrorist activity, and what we’ve found is alarming. In particular, the most vulnerable targets are the least prepared.
Looking at data we’ve compiled, there is at least one social media threat against K-12 schools per day in the United States and high schools are usually the target. And of the threats against high schools, a disproportionate amount are posted on Twitter. All in all, looking at the industry as a whole, educational institutions have received more threats online than any other type of organization (corporation, venue, etc.).
In some instances, threat actors post veiled messages in an attempt to elude to violence but not directly state intentions of such. We’ve seen this with disgruntled employees, celebrity stalkers, etc. On the other hand, many of the threats posted against high schools are direct in that they include statements like “I’m going to shoot up the school” or similar phraseology.
The scariest part is that many times threats of this nature are seen by fellow students or concerned parents then proactively reported to school administrators or police as opposed to being identified and acted upon immediately. You have to ask yourself this: Can we rely on threats to be proactively reported in a timely manner each and every time? And, if they aren’t reported, what will happen?
The fact is, schools [unfortunately] have limited resources and must do the best with what they have at their disposal. They don’t have large, highly skilled security teams or state of the art security operations centers like Fortune 100 companies, yet they’re the biggest target of all.
In this day and age, it’s imperative for schools to leverage the power of social media to identify potential threats on the horizon before they reach the front door. There have been enough school shootings with signs on social media beforehand to know that something has to change. As students evolve with advancements in technology, so must schools.