What is the Soft-Target and Hard-Target Principle?

How can the Hard-Target Principle help, reducing the risks of becoming a “victim”? Most business travelers are an attractive target for criminals and terrorists. Anyone traveling in a foreign environment often promises to be easy prey. It is therefore not surprising that in many categories of crime, the victims are mainly tourists and business travelers. Pick-pocketing or trick fraud, for example, represent typical offenses that are specifically aimed at people unfamiliar with the location and the country. Locals are well aware of the dangers in their homeland and adapted to them long ago. Unlike travelers from abroad. Without the necessary prior knowledge, the support of experts and appropriate protective measures, they are in many cases at the mercy of criminals.


A soft-target is a person who, due to their actions and/or a lack of appropriate protective measures, is at the mercy of existing risks and thus represents an easy target.

A hard-target is a person who, due to their actions and/or appropriate protective measures, is able to minimize existing risks and thus most likely represents an unattractive target.

Originally, these two terms come from the military and relate to protected and unprotected targets. This consideration was adapted correspondingly and transferred to the field of travel security.

A glance at the world of travelers shows that most of these clearly fall into the category of soft-targets. In many cases, a dearth of security awareness and irresponsible travel behavior lead business travelers abroad to move around like walking targets – a gift for thieves and robbers, scammers and extortionists, kidnappers and terrorists.

It should therefore be in the interest of every traveler to transform themselves from a soft target into a hard target by trying to remove themselves from the focus of criminals and instead directing their focus to other targets. Soft targets are mainly characterized by their lack of security awareness and associated thoughtless behavior. But how do you turn a soft target into a hard target? The starting point is the question of what exactly it is that might make you an attractive object for offenders.

Consider this question from the following four perspectives:


The basic premise for making a traveler a hard-target is qualified awareness-raising.

Protective Measures

Security awareness itself is usually not enough. In many cases the traveler also requires the necessary tools and operational measures to be able to move around safely.


Anyone who is inaccessible to criminals is not a potential target for them. The more difficult or more complicated access to a traveler is, the less attractive they become as a victim.


Anyone who is predictable easily becomes a crime victim. Once you have been targeted by a criminal, predictable action quickly becomes fatal.

Actually, soft-targets represent a great threat for companies – however, the problem is mostly homegrown. If a company doesn’t prepare traveling staff for upcoming business trips in a qualified way and does not take appropriate preventive measures, it contributes to the uncertainty of the travelers and increases the risk of an incident.

Yet travelers themselves also have an obligation. Get information and give assistance in areas where in-house preparations have fallen short. Be cautious and take travel recommendations and security guidelines seriously. Avoid critical situations.

In short: Always be conscious of the risks of traveling and act with caution and foresight. Only then can you make yourself a hard-target.