Insights




Unleashing the Power of Predictive Analytics: Transforming Risk-based Decision Making with Data

March 28, 2024
In our work as expert witnesses and investigators we have noticed that rigorous, quantitative evaluation of security threats and other related risks is almost always absent in feasibility studies and other formal evaluations of the viability of large projects and investments. Insofar as these risks are considered, the risk assessment methodology tends to lack depth and reliability, in comparison to..

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Forecasting Russian options after Ukraine (January ’24 update)

January 2, 2024
“Intelligence services of several European countries have started to [examine] a possibility of attack on their territory from Russia… Even those countries that were not in the USSR.” President Volodymr Zelensky, 1 January 2024. In this short article we summarise the scenarios that emerge from our net assessment of Russia’s military options after Ukraine. We think this forecasting exercise is useful in..

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Expert AI – Competence Without Comprehension?

December 20, 2023
When we founded Cygnus a few years ago one of our core ideas was to combine the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence with human expertise to provide better answers to complex questions about risk. Cygnus advises organizations on how to respond to complex risks arising from geopolitical instability, conflict and collusion with bad actors, and we act as security risk experts..

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Emerging Eco-Terrorism and the Threat to Infrastructure

August 7, 2023
How well protected is critical infrastructure in Western Europe against serious threats like sabotage? We recently conducted a detailed study of this question, which produced some worrying results...

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Forecasting Russian options after Ukraine

May 4, 2022
The Russian perspective is a factor consistently either missing or under analysed in Western reporting on the war in Ukraine. Yet, it provides useful insight into why Russia has acted as it has and what it might do next. Modelling Russia’s next steps using scenario-based methods may seem like an obvious approach to forecasting the future trajectory of the conflict,..

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Assessing security risks: selecting the right tool for the job

April 20, 2022
The security risk assessment, or security vulnerability assessment, can be a useful tool, but its misapplication is also one of the bigger long-term problems I’ve observed in security management. The reason for this is that many security practitioners don’t understand what methodology to use in different circumstances.  Another related problem is that an SRA is a fairly complex undertaking if..

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How calculated risk-taking in mining can help the world transition to a more sustainable future

March 29, 2022
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the West’s response look set to change the very architecture of the global energy system, forcing governments to rethink even recently formed assumptions on the availability of fossil fuels – and fast. Against a backdrop of looming net-zero targets, the pressure on Europe in particular, to find new ways of meeting its growing energy demand,..

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A better way of doing analysis

March 18, 2022
When was the last time you enjoyed reading a long security risk assessment or political risk report? Or even found one particularly useful and used it as a basis for making big decisions about project feasibility? In my past life as the head of consulting for a political risk firm, I spent too much of my time trying to rescue..

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What being an expert witness taught me about consultancy

January 12, 2022
A few years ago, I was asked to act as an expert witness for a government in an international arbitration case at the World Bank. The value of liability was hovering around $ 13 billion at the start and the case was eventually settled for about $ 9.5 billion. This kind of work wasn’t something I sought out or even..

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Kazakhstan and the limits of risk prediction

January 7, 2022
The January 1st edition of The Economist has an interesting graphic entitled The year in probabilities: the implied chance of happening in 2022. There’s no mention of Kazakhstan. I turned to the Europe news section, and the Asia section too, just in case, but it doesn’t seem to get a mention there either. It isn’t just The Economist that missed..

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