262,000 suspicious mail items in 2021.   6,300 threats  —  are you prepared?

Download our Annual Mail Security report.

2021 Annual Mail Security Report

RaySecur’s Chief Security Officer Will Plummer analyzes trends from known mail incidents in 2021.

The objective of the report is to summarize key statistics from official data sources to frame the problem, while also providing accurate and timely information on current threats.

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Analysis of Global Mail Security Incidents

RaySecur unveils its latest mail security report, containing valuable insights for mail and physical security teams.

In 2021, several hundred mail-borne threat incidents became public knowledge. RaySecur compiles data on these to provide security leaders with actionable insights to help inform effective security strategies.

This report presents an analysis of the publicly-known mail-borne attacks in 2021, within the broader context of official USPIS and ATF historical statistics.

Download the Report

Executive Summary

RaySecur annually catalogs all mail-borne threats reported to the media to capture the growing incidence of mail threats across the globe.  

The ability to mitigate and manage risks is a critical success factor in any organization’s security strategy.  In today’s environment executives are faced with a rapidly increasing number and types of security vulnerabilities.  

In addition to presenting summary statistics individual cases are highlighted to provide further details relevant to the security practioner.  We hope you find this report informative , and more importantly it helps inform and mitigate mail-related risks to you and your organization.

The most recent 2020 reports on suspicious mail and packages that elicited a response by the ATF and the USPIS detailed:

0 K
Suspicious mail items
0 K
Mail incidents reported

The effects of COVID lockdowns, vaccination mandates, and other societal stressors continue to reshape the threat environment on a daily basis.

The public-domain 2021 data and reflects an upward trend, although official numbers have yet to be released.

Several of these incidents required significant responses and, as a result, are changing how organizations manage future threats.

In 2021, the first reported threats occurred after the January sixth attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The continued controversies related to COVID-19 vaccines saw laboratories and vaccination facilities worldwide receive suspicious packages and white powder threats intended to shut down production.

Target locations for mail threats spanned businesses and government offices to private residences, as witnessed by threats sent to U.S. government leaders, despite prior security screening.

89% of dangerous mail attacks involved letters or parcels small enough to fit in a curbside drop box, based on the aggregate data compiled from the public-domain sources in 2021.

Of these threats, white powders, including drugs, were the most prevalent, being found in 54% of dangerous mail items.

2021 Mail Security Report White Powder Increasing.
White powder threats on the rise

Substances ranging from deadly to benign, all capable of triggering a response.

  • Anthrax
  • Ricin
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Baking Powder

U.S. Government Data: Historical Context

The primary sources of official data on dangerous mail attacks and hoaxes are the USPIS and the United States Bomb Data Center (USBDC) managed by the ATF.

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USPIS Inspectors

400 in Dangerous Mail Investigations Unit, focusing exclusively on mail threats.

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Daily Mail Threats

Responded to by USPIS & ATF, on average.

The USPIS and ATF catalog incidents differently, and the methodology for reporting even within the same agency may vary from year-to-year. Complicating matters further, many of these events do not make it into the media.

Nonetheless, these sources serve as an indicator for the prevalence of mail threats and the magnitude of their impacts across the United States.

Most incidents intended to cause workplace disruption

Letter or package bombs usually target specific individuals. Placed threats however, are generally intended to disrupt workplaces and injure indiscriminately.

Bomb threats may target either individuals or organizations. Revenge is the motivation that most often triggers each of the three types.

2021 Mail Threat Statistics

The following statistics are compiled from the 250+ dangerous mail incidents that occurred in the United States and were reported in the media in 2021.

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Injuries reported in U.S.
COVID- 0
Mandates source of unrest

These events represent a small fraction of the total, many of which are handled internally, or are reported to law enforcement but do not make it into the public domain.

Not only was there a rise in dangerous mail incidents,
but also highlights changes in threat trends. In 2021, letters containing written threats rose 34%.

In addition, 2021 saw 20 dangerous mail related injuries, the majority were due to powders or drugs including fentanyl, Suboxone, and unidentified powders.

The prevalence of powder threats and drugs, including fentanyl which is deadly even in small quantities, is alarming as most mail screening in government and private sectors is conducted using X-ray scanners. Due to the low mass of powder in the letter, these threats can evade conventional X- ray screening methods.

2021 Key Statistics

Effectiveness

0 %
Caused a response

Delivery Method

First Responders

Substances

Top 5 States

1New York10%
2Texas9%
3Pennsylvania7%
4Georgia7%
5Alabama7%

Top 5 Countries

1Europe35%
2Asia30%
3Oceana17%
4Canada/Mexico14%
5Africa3%

Suspected Substance

1Ricin19%
2Anthrax18%
3Other Drugs18%
4Marijuana/THC11%
5Unknown7%
6Cocaine6%
7Fentanyl5%
8Methamphetamine5%
9Other5%
10Suboxone3%

Download the Full Report

Analysis of Global Mail Security Incidents

RaySecur unveils its latest mail security report, containing valuable insights for mail and physical security teams.

In 2021, several hundred mail-borne threat incidents became public knowledge. RaySecur compiles data on these to provide security leaders with actionable insights to help inform effective security strategies.

This report presents an analysis of the publicly-known mail-borne attacks in 2021, within the broader context of official USPIS and ATF historical statistics.

Download the Report