What are soft and hard targets?
The terms soft and hard targets describe the levels of protection any given critical infrastructure asset or location has. Protection includes physical security and countermeasures in place for any potential attack or natural disaster (International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague [ICCT], 2021). Soft targets typically include the undefended or under-protected open access locations where civilians can be found in significant numbers. According to the International Centre for Counterterrorism, often soft targets have little security, countermeasures, or physical protection and include but are not limited to: transportation systems, places of worship, schools, venues, some funerals, hospitals, colleges, malls, tourist destinations, and stadiums. On the other hand, hard targets typically have physical deterrents, including and not limited to a combination of barriers, armed guards or armed security, high walls, metal detectors, bomb detection, and security cameras. The authors note that securely guarded hard targets often require permission or identification for entry and have limited entry and access points. Hard targets make attacking the assets or location challenging; protection is not only for critical infrastructure defense but offensively acts as a deterrent.
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