Email Shuts Down LA SchoolsAll schools part of the Los Angeles Unified School District were closed on Tuesday, December 15th, after a last minute decision by Superintendent Ramon Cortines. Despite many of the district’s 650,000 students already arriving at campuses and riding the buses, the 7:15 AM closure effectively shut down all educational operations in California’s largest school district; the second largest in the country. The reasoning? The school board received a single, crudely written email claiming to be from a student intent on committing a mass shooting.

A similar threat was received by the New York City Department of Education, but no schools were closed in the area. Despite being the largest district in the nation with 1.1 million students across 1,800 schools, NY Police Commissioner Bill Bratton described the email as a “hoax.”

If you or a member of your staff received an email threatening violence, what would you do?

In many ways, this threat against the LA school system provides a way to put reactions to threats against small businesses and major corporations into perspective. On one hand, there is a city grappling with the aftermath of a shocking act of violence, the attack in San Berardino, and terrified of the prospect of another incident of that caliber. The city put up their defenses.

On the other is New York, a city that experienced the deadliest terrorist attack in human history less than 15 years ago on September 11th, 2001. While threats of terrorism rightfully send immediate shivers down the spines of every New Yorker, Tuesday’s school system incident appeared to barely cause a stir, with Mayor Bill de Blasio calling it “so generic, so outlandish[.]” The city brushed it off.

In an absence of violence and the FBI deeming the threat as not credible, it would seem businesses should be rewarded for displaying a cavalier attitude in the face of threats against them. A business owner may say, “Surely we can’t be expected to respond to every threat, right? That level of scrutiny would slow down our daily business practices.”

Whether you have a business that serves five customers or five million customers, you undoubtedly feel a serious pressure to deliver results and operate without a hitch. Responding to a threat by shutting down services is a massive disruption that can be costly and result in public criticism if nothing occurs, regardless if it seemed like the right decision based on the evidence.

If your company is operating without a User Activity Monitoring system, you will likely be acting in the dark. You have received a threat and have no information about it. The threat, if carried out, could be catastrophic for your employees and your business. Your choices are to make an unguided decision and hope for the best, or, well, make an unguided decision and hope for the best.

With User Activity Monitoring, however, you would have access to a plethora of data to help you and your team arrive at a more informed decision. You’ll have records of all employee emails, both from business and private accounts, as well as internet browsing logs to see if any suspicious websites were visited in recent history. Combine these with behavior analysis reports, that collect information on any unusual behavior or shifts in productivity, and you’ll have significant resources at your disposal to weed through users and identify a possibly rogue employee.

With an instant cache of user data to base a decision from, you may save your business from succumbing to dangerous threats and a potential delay of services. Why take the risk of exposing your business to specific dangers when you don’t have to?