In the second decade of the 21st century it became clear that the security dimensions generally accepted earlier are undergoing transformations and changes at a level which provokes a general overview and significant completion of all previous scientific opinions in this realm. The globalization boosted up by the technological and technical changes transforms the everyday life of the mankind in every segment of the security opening new opportunities both for the individuals and the communities and – at the same time – resulting a new spectrum of challenges to respond what the societies of the world are absolutely not prepared. The changes are so fast that they erode all the responding mechanisms elaborated and applied to face the previous challenges.

The lack of reactions has serious consequences leading to the reduction or significant harm of the feeling safe. Once it happens, it consequences are extremely complicated and severe. They concern the field of law enforcement science and have interdisciplinary impact in the field of culture, economy and politics. Beside this it can be a starting point for deep, wide and very dangerous social processes.

A complex structure of the security and its sub-systems has been formed for today at international, national and institutional level where the interaction of the components has a more and more direct and strong character. The notion of security has been changed for the 21stcentury; it has become wider and more complicated, so “there is a consensus among the expert that the security should be interpreted in a complex way taking into consideration many factors[2]while it also includes the necessary tasks for its achievement. This fact makes more and more difficult to define what is security because the researchers of the notion “did not define or do not define what security really is, but they define what’s lack is security.[3]

As the security dimension changes the threats appear in new forms in the new circumstances. Subsequently, the adaptation to these new conditions has become one of the most important actual tasks from the point of view of the individuals and the communities. The way of the adaptation is learning i. e. the process acquiring the necessary knowledge enabling the individual to find the appropriate answers to the new challenges. The learning process in the realm of security is called developing the mentality based upon the security awareness which had been having different forms throughout the history: “the efforts thwarting the threats to the humans’ security have a long historic past.[4]The process of learning the way of thinking based upon security awareness can contribute to maintain the feeling of security and safety in the society what is an indispensable condition of maintaining for long time the democratic political systems formed in the Western cultures.

The base of security awareness: the security and the feeling safe

The way of thinking based upon security awareness has its beginnings at the beginning of the human existence The human living as part of the nature as individual and as a member of a group acquired the forms of behavior and modalities what had to be observed to stay in life and safe in the rough world surrounding him or her. During this socialization process the humans learned what kind danger the natural phenomena and the fauna meant for them devaluating the security. The responding mechanisms emerged during the learning process helped the humans to maintain the security and safety for longer time forming thus a stabile society able to develop.

One of the basic but nevertheless sufficient conditions of being organized as a society is the individual and collective feeling safe without what the existence like a community loses its sense. The content of the feeling safe cannot be described without knowing what security means. The meaning of this notion develops parallel to the mankind. According to the actual classification the following six groups – and many sub-groups – are the aspects where security appears:

  • political;
  • environmental;
  • economic;
  •  IT;
  • social;
  • military.

Based upon the accumulated sense of the content of the dimensions mentioned above the general meaning of the security can be defined. Practically it is nothing but the quiet, safe, unthreatened, harmless status where the life and its conditions are in a situation where the chance that disturbances or threats can emerge does not exist or it is minimal.

Once the individual or the community perceive the situation where the surrounding conditions do not threaten them i.e. he or she is in safety or with other words the situation is secure, so they will be able to make efforts to maintain or to achieve this status. Following this logic the security awareness is based upon the recognition of threat or the absence of threat. If the distinction of the difference between the two statuses is conscientious the demand of forming the individual self-protection and of collective protection processes and the need to implement them automatically appears. It is important to state that facing the threat and its recognition does not go on in the same time in the whole society. Some individuals meet threating situations earlier other may meet them later or never therefore the latter cannot assess these situations as threatening. Due to the emerging asymmetries the individuals forming a society can be split up in the following groups:

  • isolated from the chance of emerging any threat;
  • persons who do not recognize the threat yet;
  • persons recognizing the threat but they do not have any concept to respond to it;
  • persons having responding mechanism to the threat giving security.

The chance to minimize the anomaly within the society in the field of security has a better perspective when the number of those persons having responding mechanism to the threat giving security i. e. having a way of thinking based upon the security awareness, is higher in the given system.

It is obvious, the higher is the proportion of people thinking according to security awareness principles in a society the stronger is the all-society feeling safe what in its turn contributes to the stability of the given political system through diminishing the fault-lines in the society.

We can come to the conclusion that the way of thinking based upon security awareness is a complex process going on in interdisciplinary frames which content is in permanent change due to the multiple impacts emerging inside the given social system and in its surroundings.

Quite often the actors of the political system of any country are vitally interested in spreading as wide as possible the mentality of security awareness because this is the way of indirect rising of the level of their political legitimacy. Once it is true the governments of different countries consider it proper to elaborate and implement wide-range centralized security awareness programs including as many segments of the society as possible taking into consideration the up-to-date challenges. Tailoring the security awareness programs to the renewing challenges is a must.

What is said above is proven by the most important security challenge, the terrorism what is nothing else than „a violent and ruthless technique of intimidation[5], in relation to what it was stated „the methods of the terrorist organizations are in a permanent interaction with the tactics elaborated and used by the national and international organizations and services countering them.[6]It seems to be present the permanent and fast flexibility in the field of security challenges the same as the renewing threats because “in the asymmetric struggle against terrorism and more efficient methods shall be applied to be successful.[7]Following the previous thought due to the permanent changes of the societies and the challenges in the circumambiency and also to the fact that “the threat never disappear it just changes the form[8]the permanent renewal of the mechanisms applied to maintain the security and the programs aimed to learn these mechanisms is indispensable. The methods used successfully under previous circumstances can be useless under the new conditions, they can fail, so it is important to be aware of that every service and individual working to strengthen the security of any society shall act to reinforce the mentality of security awareness thus serving to the completion of the security of the whole society.

In the majority of the developed Western democracies the security awareness programs have a several decade-long past. These programs are implemented in two dimensions, in state-organized frameworks or by specialized private enterprises. In general terms these programs are mostly dealing with cyber security but the segments dealing with other aspects of security is growing. The success is guaranteed due to the unconditional trust of the civilians and the decision-makers of the institutions and the private enterprises as well toward the organizers and the presenters of the security awareness programs, among them the law-enforcement agencies and the secret services. Although there are no exact statistics, with a low percentage of probability to mistake we suppose that in the countries where security awareness programs with different contents and topics are implemented for longer period, the relations between the institutional system of the political establishment and the social actors is rather consolidated, better balanced, there are less fault-lines and the stability and legitimacy of the system is stronger.

Investigating the security awareness programs it is important to see that the governments – being political actors – carry out a sui generis state-building activity when implementing these programs. At the same time this process goes against that what Fukuyama said about the primary task of the contemporary politics: “it cuts back the power of the state legitimated by the voters to diminish the role of the power of the state.[9]During the planning of the state-run security awareness programs certain centralization takes place where one of the primary criteria is to keep the balance between security and freedom. These programs have an important role in the formation of the contemporary preventive counter-terrorism embracing a national and supra national level of thinking and acting. Aiming to the exaggerated security – due to the measures limiting the freedom – can have a negative repercussion among the citizens because they can have a feeling that they will be deprived a part of their freedom and squeezed into undesired frames. In this case the regulations instead of having a positive effect they will cause a negative one. As a consequence, the exaggerated security measures will not upgrade the feeling safe but launching another factor of uncertainty will have a counter-productive effect.

Security awareness programs in Hungary

The way of thinking based upon security awareness does not have a long past and usually is related to the field of informatics specially the data- and information security. At the same time as we have already seen, the security awareness is more complex notion and it has a wider interdisciplinary content which covers the full gamma of scientific subjects for the 21stcentury.

The actual Hungarian etalon is the „Awareness Program” of the Office of the Constitution Protection what mostly meet the requirements mentioned above to an initiative aimed to form the behavior based upon security awareness.

The ongoing security awareness programs are not uniformed at all and even less they are sufficient to prepare the society to face the challenges of the contemporary world. It is clear the demand of learning the methods and mechanisms of protection against the new threats and challenges like the terrorism. Due to the tendencies of the international security and parallel to the new threats the clear signs of the demand of security awareness have appeared in different segments of the Hungarian society.


During the past decades „the traditional state has come to a crisis as a consequence of the process of globalization, the transformation of the world order, the boosted-up financial and economic processes, increased social tensions and reduced national sovereignty.[10]Today it is a clear and legal expectation that the responsible governments of the states shall make all the necessary efforts using all disposable means to approach to the maximum security possible today including in special fields and to be prepared to the new challenges. The security challenges have become very complex and their emergence has changed basically the tasks to be done by the political elite, the government and the institutions as soon as possible because the people urge the fastest responses. Therefore the governments are also “expecting immediate responses to the new threats and hazards[11]on behalf of the experts.

From Hungary’s point of view it is primordial to have successful, modern and easy-to-implement responses to the new kind of security challenges of the 21st century. These solutions have to contribute not only to the security of our country but to the security of the whole European community and through this to the universal security of the mankind. It is necessary to underline that the majority of the Hungarian society is still consisted mostly of those who “do not recognize the danger” or who “recognize the hazard but do not have a concept in response”. Seemingly, it has vital importance to launch and operate a centralized training program of security awareness which has to have the widest coverage of the society to draw the attention of the masses to this problem and to teach them the responding mechanisms.



BÁCS Zoltán György (2017): Miért nincs „magányos farkas” Latin Amerikában? Arc és álarc 2017/2-3. pp. 191-200.

BODA József – BOLDIZSÁR Gábor – KOVÁCS László – OROSZ Zoltán – PADÁNYI József – RESPERGER István – SZENES Zoltán: Fókusz és együttműködés: a hadtudomány kutatási feladatai. Honvédségi Szemle 2016/3. pp. 3-19.

BODA József (2007): A terrorizmus rövid története és az ellene való fellépés lehetőségei. Rendvédelem-történeti Füzetek XIII. évf. 16. sz. pp. 46-51.

FUKUYAMA, Francis (2005): Államépítés. Századvég Kiadó. Budapest, 2005.

HANKISS Ágnes (2017): Vékony jégen. Arc és álarc 2017/1. pp. 83-100.

KERN Tamás (2010): Katonapolitika: prioritás vagy nem? Egy kormányprogram margójára. Nemzet és biztonság 2010/5. pp. 74-83.

PADÁNYI József (2015): “Az aszimmetrikus hadviselés során alkalmazandó eljárások, eszközök és módszerek”. Hadtudomány 2015/1-2. pp. 81-82.

RESPERGER István (2017): A válságkezelés kicsit másképp. Nemzetbiztonsági Szemle 2016/3. pp. 28-48.

STUMPF István (2006): Új államépítés. In: Gombár Csaba (szerk.): Túlterhelt demokrácia. Századvég Kiadó. Budapest, 2006. pp. 76-77.

VIRÁNYI Gergely (2013): A biztonság-fogalomról másként. www.pecshor/periodika/XIII/viranyi.pdf (Accessed on 26 Jan 2018)


[1]Senior lecturer, National University of Public Service, Institute of National Security, Hungary, 0000-0002-5498-0855 (ORCID – Open Researcher and Contributor ID kutatói és közreműködői azonosító)

[2]KERN Tamás (2010): Katonapolitika: prioritás vagy nem? Egy kormányprogram margójára. Nemzet és biztonság 2010/5. p. 76.

[3]VIRÁNYI Gergely (2013): A biztonság-fogalomról másként. www.pecshor/periodika/XIII/viranyi.pdf (Accessed on 26 Jan 2018)

[4]RESPERGER István (2017): A válságkezelés kicsit másképp. Nemzetbiztonsági Szemle 2016/3. p. 29.

[5]BODA József (2007): A terrorizmus rövid története és az ellene való fellépés lehetőségei. Rendvédelem-történeti Füzetek XIII. évf. 16. sz. p. 46.

[6]BÁCS Zoltán György (2017): Miért nincs „magányos farkas” Latin Amerikában? Arc és álarc 2017/2-3. p. 191.

[7]PADÁNYIJózsef (2015):“Az aszimmetrikus hadviselés során alkalmazandó eljárások,eszközök és módszerek”. Hadtudomány 2015/1-2. p. 81.

[8]HANKISS Ágnes (2017): Vékony jégen. Arc és álarc 2017/1. p. 95.

[9]FUKUYAMA, Francis (2005): Államépítés. Századvég Kiadó. Budapest, 2005. p. 14.

[10]STUMPF István (2006): Új államépítés. In: Gombár Csaba (szerk.): Túlterhelt demokrácia. Századvég Kiadó. Budapest, 2006. p. 76-77.

[11]BODA József – BOLDIZSÁR Gábor – KOVÁCS László – OROSZ Zoltán – PADÁNYI József – RESPERGER István – SZENES Zoltán: Fókusz és együttműködés: a hadtudomány kutatási feladatai. Honvédségi Szemle 2016/3. p. 6.