Blog – Pinkerton https://www.pinkerton.com Pinkerton is a global leader in security & risk management solutions. Find out how your company assets can benefit from our protective services. Tue, 21 Nov 2017 06:05:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.2 The Interconnectivity of Risk & How It Impacts Businesses https://www.pinkerton.com/blog/interconnectivity-business-risk/ Thu, 09 Nov 2017 10:40:55 +0000 https://www.pinkerton.com/?post_type=blog&p=6115 Noted international economist Klaus Schwab said, “One new reality is global interconnectivity. The most crucial factor in accepting the new reality and confronting its opportunities and risks is our willingness to develop shared norms on all levels.”

We agree.

So when President Jack Zahran considered how to continue the development of the Pinkerton Risk Index, a global Index that measures holistic business risk, which Pinkerton first  launched in 2016, interconnectivity was high on his mind. “There has been a huge convergence and interdependence of how businesses interact regionally, nationally and locally. Seemingly, everything impacts everything else. So we knew the Risk Index had to be a dynamic, ever-changing resource that took this new reality into consideration.”

Zahran and Chief Intelligence Officer Brian McNary explain how the interconnectivity of risk has impacted global business operations and security.

Respect Interconnectivity

There are numerous  examples from the recent past of how interconnectivity affects elements of international business; perhaps one of the largest was the collapse of U.S. financial services firm Lehman Brothers in 2008.

The company, founded in 1850, at its peak had holdings of more than $60 billion and had risen to become the fourth largest investment bank in the United States. However, capitalizing on the housing boom, the firm had become over-leveraged in mortgage origination and, as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis, the company suffered unprecedented losses. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on September 15, 2008, the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history, causing a 500-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

“When Lehman filed for bankruptcy, the ripple effects were felt far and wide,” says Zahran. “The home mortgage industry, commercial loans, money market funds, the stock market, so much was affected by this one action. It really demonstrated how connected everything is today.”

Further, international markets were impacted, placing an  even sharper focus  on the interconnectivity of the global economy. Japanese banks and insurers were hit with nearly $2.5 billion in losses flowing directly from the the Lehman bankruptcy. The Bank of Scotland was exposed to more than $1 billion in claims against Lehman. More than 43,000 individual investors in Hong Kong lost massive amounts of personal wealth, when  “mini-bonds”  backed by Lehman became nearly worthless . The event is widely considered ground zero for the global financial crisis of 2008-09.  

Understanding that global events can affect your business in large and small ways is critical to creating a risk mitigation plan. “You can’t manage risk effectively if you don’t respect interconnectivity” stated Zahran.

Instability Can’t Be Insured Against

What the Lehman example highlights is that seemingly unconnected local events can create widespread global instability and uncertainty.  “A company can obtain insurance  against natural disasters” say Zarhan, “but not against the impacts of market or industry instability. This non-insurable risk area is what the Risk Index addresses. In that type of atmosphere, the threat of financial impacts, and eventual losses, can occur if you are not prepared to mitigate the risks.”

A company with operations on the Gulf Coast of the United States, for example, is likely to have coverage that includes losses incurred when facilities are hit by a hurricane or other major storms.  However, a company based in China that relies on those companies for mission-critical parts may not have considered their own needs to be protected  from these storm impacts. Another company may invest mission critical operations in  facilities located in a politically volatile area of the world. Should a conflict or war break out that shuts down the operations, there needs to be a plan in place to ensure business continuity. If you have haven’t calculated these risks effectively, and proactively, it could have a widespread impact on your company.

Risk Measurement Must Include Probability and Impact

McNary says that there has always been an inherent problem with how companies look at risk. “They tend to look at what’s happening now and in the very recent past,” he explains.  “Companies would react to every fluctuation as if it was going to be the new norm. The reality is that a longer-term view could provide insight into what kind of impact the fluctuations would really have.”

Determining the probability of threats leading to business impacts is at the center of why Pinkerton uses different formula for calculating risk than the traditional one. The old model was:

Threat x Vulnerability x Consequence = Risk

But in Pinkerton’s latest white paper, “Building a Superior Model for Calculating Risk,” we introduce a more effective formula:

Threat x Probability x Business Impact = Risk

In the new formula, Vulnerability is now included in Threat since being vulnerable is a threat. The Probability of something occurring related to the threat is given a lot of weight. In our example above, a company that has operations in areas often hit by hurricanes would give this natural disaster threat a high rate of probability.  And the last element, business impact, is where McNary’s insight about historical perspective comes into play.

“While a company may have a high probability that a natural disaster will impact the business, if they analyze data from the past 20 years they may see that past occurrences didn’t result in stifling losses, just temporary disruptions. This information will then help them create a mitigation investment plan that is in line with the potential bottom-line impact.”

Using the Risk Index

While the Risk Index’s online, interactive map gives companies a global overview of risks, as defined above, the real benefit comes when creating a risk profile. “Our company has transformed how it looks at security by creating a holistic approach that has been adopted by the industry,” say Zahran. “The Risk Index allows us to provide even more analysis using a multi-level approach that goes deeper into risk categories.”

“Many factors go into creating a company’s risk profile,” says McNary. “The Risk Index looks at 60 sub-nodes in which threats could exist and examines them based on historic business impacts.”

Working with a client recently, McNary and his team used Risk Index 2017 to determine where the company should invest its security resources if a potential acquisition was to occur. “The company they were acquiring had multiple operations throughout the world. Each one had to be examined using the Risk Index, which pulls information from a variety of sources, including our own boots-on-the-ground intelligence. The key was determining how any risks would impact the company, its brand and its overall fiscal health.”

In another example, Pinkerton used the Risk Index to help a company standardize how it expressed risks throughout its global operation. “The company had disparate business units that, from a security standpoint, weren’t communicating risks consistently. The Index gave them a structure through which it could collect, analyze and report risk data, giving the C-Suite a full perspective on its exposure internationally. Armed with this information, it could plan security risk management budgets based on real data and forecasting.”

As Zahran explains, the evolution of the Risk Index 2017 is not focused on geo-political rankings like other tools in the industry; it is focused on holistic assessment. “We aren’t telling companies what countries are the safest. While that’s interesting, it’s not always relevant for the business decision. What is important is using the data, which is constantly updated, to provide a comprehensive risk analysis so that they can make an informed decision on resource investment.”

Click here for the full Risk Index 2017 report.

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How to Effectively Manage Holiday Hiring https://www.pinkerton.com/blog/how-to-effectively-manage-holiday-hiring/ Thu, 19 Oct 2017 19:07:58 +0000 https://www.pinkerton.com/?post_type=blog&p=5996 ‘Tis the season to be hiring.

With the holiday season in the United States just over a month away, retailers and other related service industries will soon ramp up their hiring efforts for thousands of temporary positions. All of this recruiting is taxing on the personnel charged with interviewing, screening and hiring the new employees. And while the pressure to speed up the onboarding process is great, Pinkerton’s Marsha Hernandez, Managing Director, and Nancy Alt, Director of Global Compliance, warn that cutting back on due diligence procedures can be detrimental in the long run.

More Hires, Shorter Time

Holiday hiring presents unique challenges for human resources departments; they are required to maintain the organization’s standard hiring protocol while dealing with a significant increase in the number of open positions and applicants. All for employees who may only be with the company for one to three months.

“The HR staff is used to the normal recruiting flow and timelines,” explains Hernandez, “but when they are moving triple or more the volume of applicants through the same process, they need to be very efficient. Having a very good repertoire with their background information provider to ensure all are in tune with the timelines and requirements is critical.”  

Alt adds, “Both HR and Consumer Reporting Agencies, like Pinkerton, are subject to many different regulations, and compliance to these regulations does not change with volume.”

Companies may try to truncate their normal hiring and screening process due to the short-term nature of the position. Hernandez warns  that this is a potentially costly mistake. “These employees have access to products and assets. They have contact with customers and employees. They represent the brand and can damage the company’s reputation just as quickly as full-time employees. Not doing enough to vet these applicants can come back to hurt the company.  Unfortunately this is something we have seen happen all too often.”

Critical Elements to a Seasonal Hiring Plan

Hernandez and Alt recommend that the following elements be included in any seasonal hiring plan. “The goal is to have as much information as you can to make an informed hiring decision, even for temporary workers,” says Hernandez.

  • HR will need to be sure that they have very solid staffing models and know what their average fallout rate is from background checks. This will let them know, on average, how many people they will need to recruit to hit their staffing number for this time period.
  • For each jurisdiction they need to recruit in, they will need to know what are  their typical turnaround time on background reports. They should be able to work with their background provider to get those averages. Based on the answer, they should adjust the recruiting schedule accordingly to ensure they start early enough to get the number of new hires they will need for this period.
  • The company needs to look at their current background  package for their full-time, regular employees and decide if the same background package is necessary for this seasonal position. They need to look at the job position and the risk associated with that position. If they are able to reduce the scope of the package without sacrificing safety, regulatory obligations, etc., then it may be beneficial to look at the scope to reduce the turnaround time of the background report.
  • The HR teams need to know the “Ban the Box” and “Fair Chance” policies where they will be recruiting. The “Box” is the part of an employment application that asks if the applicant has a criminal record. As of August, 2017, according to the National Employment Law Project (NELP), 29 states, the District of Columbia, and over 150 cities and counties have adopted Ban-the-Box or Fair Chance policies. These policies were enacted to force employers to remove the conviction history question from the hiring application to ensure they look at all applicants for their qualifications first, prior to running the backgrounds. Once an offer is made, the company can run a background on the applicant. If a background returns derogatory information, it will be at that time that they can ask the applicant about the criminal history. While these policies ensure an equal opportunity for all applicants upfront, it ends up adding to the turnaround time and cost of recruiting if derogatory information is found later in the interview. This is a critical issue when you are trying to ramp up quickly.
  • Companies need to be mindful that the provisions of the FCRA do not distinguish between full-time and seasonal workers. HR departments need to be disciplined to apply the appropriate adverse action response procedures to avoid costly violations.

In addition, there are many more regulations that the HR Departments must adhere to along with their own hiring policies and company requirements. However, following policies and procedures ensures consistent treatment of applicants and is critical to staying out of regulatory space and lawsuits.

Anticipate Delays in the Seasonal Hiring Process

Another challenge HR teams face in seasonal hiring is that the process for a background investigation can take longer simply based on the sheer volume of applicants that companies try to process during that time. “Retailers, warehouses, delivery services, and others are in peak at the same time,” says Alt. “The courts are inundated with volumes that are substantially more than their staffs are manned to handle. This can cause delays, which should be anticipated.”

When processing backgrounds during holidays, courts are often closed and personnel limited due to holiday vacations. That can affect turnaround times for background checks. In addition, Ban the Box and Fair Chance, if applicable in the State where the applicant will work, extends the process since companies are not allowed to ask the conviction question up front. “These expected delays are one reason some companies give for not following their normal hiring process,” says Hernandez, “but they shouldn’t.”

Red Flags and References

Compliance with HR regulations is a broad area that is constantly changing. There are many different regulatory bodies, federal, state, and local jurisdictions that all have different requirements. To maintain compliance, a company must know all of the regulations that the organization is subject to and to comply with them. There is no shortcut to compliance. While all the rules may differ between regulatory or jurisdictional bodies, companies must be aware of them and follow them, or know that they have the potential to suffer penalties or lawsuits. For example, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumers can file suit against both businesses and individuals for both intentional and negligent l non-compliance..

Keep Background Checks in Mind

So, while maintaining compliance, how can an interviewer determine if a candidate poses a risk? “When interviewing, it’s important to always have a background check in your mind,” Hernandez explains. “People know their own life really well. If something they say doesn’t match with their application, that’s a red flag to be investigated. So, too, is if they can’t answer some basic questions about their professional life like the title of a past position.”

Then, she says, you have to perform the necessary checks, such as contacting references. “Reference checking is one of the most often ignored steps in the hiring process.  Conventional wisdom says that applicants will only provide references certain to give positive reviews, however, the reality can be very different. While checking references can add cost and potentially be time consuming, valuable information can obtained during this process. ”

Hernandez and Alt stress the importance of doing comprehensive background checks on all candidates whether for full-time or seasonal, temporary positions. Though the cost of time, money and resources is greater than a scaled-down hiring process, Hernandez warns that being pennywise can be pound foolish. “The cost of not doing a proper screening and background check can be huge, both financially and to a company’s brand. The peace of mind of knowing you did all you can to ensure the safety of your customers and employees should be worth the investment.”

Related Posts:

“Who Took That? Preventing Employee Theft in Retail”

“Social Screening: What Can You See?

“Corporate Background Checks: Top 5 Errors & Mistakes”

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Why the South Korea Winter Olympics Will Be Business as Usual https://www.pinkerton.com/blog/why-south-korea-olympics-business-as-usual/ Tue, 12 Sep 2017 15:34:31 +0000 https://www.pinkerton.com/?post_type=blog&p=5762 If you are hosting a party, the last thing you want is a neighbor intruding and launching things over the fence, threatening to disrupt the festivities. And while that threat is certainly looming for South Korea as they prepare to host the 2018 Winter Olympics in February near the border with North Korea, Pinkerton Director David Rotger says that South Korea’s security will be the highest quality and the upcoming Games should be business as usual.

South Korea is Not Brazil or Greece

Prior to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, threats to the visiting public, athletes and officials were reported for several years. Pinkerton issued many warnings through our daily Insights alert and posted about key threats to Olympic security in a blog post. The issues ranged from an underfunded police force to facilities not being completed on time to the Zika virus. “Perhaps more than any Olympic Games in recent history, the Rio Olympics were rife with security issues that had officials on high alert,” said Rotger. However, the Rio Games went off without incident and were deemed a success from a security standpoint.

Similarly, the 2004 Summer Olympics held in Greece were beset with security issues leading up to the Games. CBS News went as far as to proclaim “Athens Olympic Security a Mess” less than a year prior to their start. The threats stemmed from dilapidated infrastructure, under-trained security staff and disorganization.

But according to Rotger, none of those issues are present for the South Korean Olympics.  “Pyeongchang is a modern city in a country that is very advanced,” says Rotger. “They don’t have the uphill battle that Greece or Brazil had where major work had to be done just to bring systems up to modern levels of functionality. Besides the normal threats of hosting a major event, South Korea doesn’t have the additional burdens other host regions have had.”

Pinkerton’s Risk Index verifies Rotger’s claim. Developed in 2016 with an update releasing this fall, the Pinkerton Risk Index measures the potential risk to business continuity and operations for regions/countries throughout the world based on Pinkerton Risk Wheel. In the chart below, you can see risks in South Korea are low:


Compare that chart to that of Brazil:

And Greece:

And for comparison, here is the chart for the United States (which will host the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles):

There is one risk area in South Korea, however, that stands out as being higher than the others for the country: Social Political risk. And for that, they likely can blame their neighbor to the north.

North Korea Could Threaten Olympic Security…But Unlikely

“There is, of course, the elephant in the room and that is North Korea,” says Rotger. “The international community, business leaders and security officials simply can’t predict what that country may do, if anything, to disrupt the Games. It’s a variable that has to be considered.”

Early on, there seemed to be some indication the North Korea would welcome the Games. As recently as June this year, a co-hosting scenario where select events would take place at North Korean venues was still being considered, though the idea was scrapped due to lack of time to prepare.

Yet ever since the Games were awarded to South Korea, media reports have been warning that the political and military stance of North Korea could threaten the Games. Last week, North Korea tested a missile by firing it over the north end of Japan. Recent messages from North Korea President Kim Jong Un and United States President Donald Trump, communicated through press conferences, official statements and Twitter posts, have escalated the concern.

The North Korean threat cannot be dismissed.  However, these Olympics are similar to other events where terrorism, whether state sponsored or not, is a possibility. The greater likelihood for risk comes from more mundane and predictable sources.

“Typical” Risks Will Come with South Korean Olympics

“What we will likely see in Pyeongchang are the typical risks that come with most big events” Rotger explains. “Top among them will be logistics. The host city is more than two-hours from Seoul, where most people will arrive.” The distance, he says, will create challenges for companies sending dozens of representatives to the Games.

“Keeping track of where everyone is will be difficult since roads will be very crowded and alternate routes will be used.” Rotger also notes that finding places for people to stay, if not done already, will be very difficult. “Companies may have people spread out over a large geographic area, increasing the risk since security measures will be stretched.”

Ginger Happe, another Pinkerton Director who has overseen security for many large scale events, says that it will be important for companies to have a well-constructed contingency plan should something disrupt the Games.

“Companies need to start planning now for what their people will do should disaster strike,” she says. “How will you communicate with all your representatives? How will you get them out of danger areas or out of the country if needed? How will family members be alerted about the status?”

Rotger agrees, noting that while the risk of a large-scale terror attack may be low, recent “lone wolf” incidents, like the one in Barcelona where a single driver plowed a truck into a crowded street, are always possible…and mostly unpreventable.

“People need to know that those events are our new reality. Officials do what they can to prevent them but they are nearly impossible to predict. It’s important that companies and individuals have a plan, especially for communication, if an incident occurs at the Winter Games.”

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Mitigating Risks in the Litigation Process https://www.pinkerton.com/blog/risks-during-litigation-process/ Mon, 21 Aug 2017 11:00:26 +0000 https://www.pinkerton.com/?post_type=blog&p=5548 It’s often said that we live in a very litigious society, where people are suing other people or companies all the time. There are a myriad of circumstances that can expose a person or company to litigation including failed businesses or partnerships, the use of questionable business practices, perceived employment or housing discrimination, environmental or real estate development protests, alleged personal injury and contentious divorce and family matters. These are just some of the variety of reasons companies or individuals may wind up in court. In short, you and your company are at high risk for litigation. For those unprepared to face this eventual litigation, these risks increase in costs and the likelihood of an unfavorable outcome in court.

In this post, Pinkerton Director and former Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Ellen Lemire provides insight into the risks of litigation and two key areas where in-depth investigations are required to gather vital information. “A lot goes into investigating a legal claim or other action, but lately we’ve seen a lot of activity around due diligence and witness location and interviewing,” says Lemire.

Know Thy Enemy

Perhaps “enemy” is too strong a word here, but this oft-used phrase derived from “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu is relevant when preparing for ligation. The full context of the quote is even more applicable:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.
If you know yourself but not the enemy, 
for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.
If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Due Diligence is a key activity that helps to understand the forces a company or individual is up against when faced with the actual or potential threat of legal action. Lemire gives an example of how it helped a recent client.

“We were asked by a real estate development company to help them find out about possible obstructions to their proposed development. Several groups had formed to block the development and the law firm needed to know how  at risk their client would be. We initiated an investigation on several fronts to present a full picture of what was coming down the pike.”

One of the groups voicing their objection were the surrounding property owners. They were organizing a potential lawsuit to stop the development. “The law firm needed to know where their client was vulnerable and the level of resources this opposition group would potentially have. We researched the key players to determine the overall risk.”

Using public records, Freedom of Information requests, court documents, physical surveillance and even social media activity, the team amassed information that could provide some ammunition to diminish or counter the local real estate owners claims and credibility before a judge or jury.

It was also important for the defending law firm to understand where their client, the development company, was vulnerable. “We used the same tools to discover any potential issues regarding the company’s reputation and practices that could come back to haunt them during these proceedings. It’s always good to know what’s out there.”

Lemire also noted the company’s need to keep a tight lid on their own information so that it does not leak out and become part of the other side’s case. “Often, we will use Technical Surveillance Countermeasures to ensure that there are no listening devices or other spying instruments being used in board rooms, hotel conference rooms and other areas where sensitive information is discussed.”

While a due diligence investigation provides a wealth of background information, witnesses can also play a key role in litigation support activities…if you can find them.

You Have to Find Them First

Witnesses can provide key testimony in court cases but, you have to find them first. And notis often not an easy task, but requires access to  investigative skills that most companies and law firms don’t possess.  “We had an assignment once regarding a big accident that took place between two cargo trucks,” Lemire explained. “The law firm representing one of the company’s involved knew there were many eyewitnesses. However, the potential witnesses were  truckers who travelled cross-country  on a daily basis. Finding them was going to be a big challenge. We were successful because we had a national network of associates that could assist in the investigation.”

Not all witnesses are “good” for a company. That is a big part of the witness interview: determining if they will provide positive or negative testimony regarding a company or individual. “Finding the witness is one thing,” says Lemire. “Knowing how they will present their account of the situation is another. We are hired to discover who would be beneficial witnesses and who to avoid. It sometimes boils down to demeanor…are they telling the truth and do they seem trustworthy. And you can only find that out via face-to-face interviewing.”

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Lemire says that litigation support is a rapidly growing part of Pinkerton’s business. “It’s a natural fit for our company since we are the world’s first detective agency. We’ve always had experienced investigators and now we have them throughout the world. As global companies get involved in litigation that spreads across many nations, that network is a critical benefit.”

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Why Embedded Security Provides A Different Level of Protection https://www.pinkerton.com/blog/embedded-security-provides-different-protection/ Wed, 19 Jul 2017 11:00:12 +0000 https://www.pinkerton.com/?post_type=blog&p=5362 Some companies have the time and resources to create extremely competent security teams that understand their company, the mounting threats being presented in our increasingly connected world and methods to mitigate these risks.  But many companies simply don’t have the necessary amount of time or resources. Despite their best efforts, building an international, national or even regional security team is no easy task. But with the use of embedded security, companies can achieve a different level of protection almost overnight.

In 2012, Pinkerton introduced the Pinkerton Dedicated Professional (PDP) service to address this very problem. And as our Vice President James McClain explains, the demand for the PDP service has been growing rapidly ever since.

What is a PDP?

A Pinkerton Dedicated Professional is someone hired and trained by Pinkerton that works exclusively for one of our client companies. The PDP is an embedded security employee working at the company just like the client’s  full-time employees. Immediately the client benefits from the PDP because the Pinkerton professional  brings with him/her Pinkerton’s global network of intelligence gathering and “boots on the ground” knowledge garnered from the  thousands of other Pinkerton professionals around the world.

“Security needs change almost constantly,” explains McClain. “What might have worked a year or so ago could be ineffective now. So, having someone, or several people, within your company that have the latest intelligence and tactics can make a critical difference.”

How a company benefits from hiring a PDP is best demonstrated through a recent example. A healthcare company brought in a PDP for executive protection. On the surface, that would seem a somewhat routine security operation that could be handled in-house. But as we explained in a recent blog post, there are several modern challenges with today’s executive protection.  The employees requiring security services were travelling internationally and visiting emerging markets. The company did not have the resources to provide the type of security these global activities required.

“The PDP was a supplement to their existing security force,” said McClain, “and was armed with intelligence gathered in-market as well as through media and other sources so that protection protocols could be put in place to mitigate risks.”

The Operational Impact of a PDP

As we’ve noted already, the biggest benefit to a PDP program is that it includes the experience Pinkerton has built over the past 150+ years along with its global network of resources. But there are many operational benefits as well.

The hiring and training of a PDP is Pinkerton’s responsibility. This frees a company from having to spend time and resources recruiting, and then training, new personnel.

“Not only are we experts in security but, we are also skilled at finding the best available security personnel for the task at hand,” explains McClain. “We know what a client needs and we know what to look for in a PDP to match the skillset with the assignment.  That cuts a lot of time out of the recruiting process so a company has someone in place much faster than the traditional in-house hiring route.”

Also with a PDP in place, company staff can focus on their core business and not be burdened with having to operate a security network, which for many companies just isn’t possible. “Monitoring trends, staying up-to-date on the latest technology used in security, developing new security measures based on ever-changing situations and implementing new risk mitigation programs can be a monumental effort,” McClain explains. “Many companies don’t have the personnel or expertise to manage it so they opt to work with an outside firm where security is the core business. ”

PDP Case Study

We recently published the following case study which outlines a recent PDP program for a client. Highlights from that case study include:

The Situation

A new leadership team immediately recognized large inefficiencies with the management of their guard force. With each facility executing contracts for security guarding services, the company was unable to take advantage of the cost-savings that consolidated regional and country-level contracts could provide.The need to create efficiencies from guard force management paved the way for exploring third-party solutions. Leveraging expertise in effective guard force management on a global scale justified the decision as cost-neutral spend.

The Solution

Pinkerton proposed the utilization of Pinkerton Dedicated Professionals (PDPs), fully-dedicated embedded security resources at the local facility level to drive operational continuity. The company could now access a global network of trained, vetted professionals who operationalize centralized corporate risk management strategy across the large footprint of over 500 locations in 180+ countries. Choosing PDPs vs. sourcing Direct Hires was an easy decision to make. There was a lower cost of talent acquisition and, by relying on Pinkerton’s institutional knowledge of risk management best practices from servicing thousands of clients worldwide, it provided our client the opportunity to focus on their primary business.

Recent Trends Increase PDP Needs

“Companies operate in a world today where so much is interconnected,” says McClain. Global supply chains are impacted by technology. Brand protection can be challenged by the “dark web” and social media. Executives are travelling to dangerous but emerging markets.

“No longer is security a matter of ‘guards and gates.’ Executives want to know, with up-to-the-minute intelligence, where the company and its employees are at risk. And, they want someone at the table who can help create plans to minimize those risks now and for the long-term.  That need is driving much of our recent PDP engagements and I see that continuing for the foreseeable future.”

Driving this growth is a special PDP program involving dedicated intelligence analysts that can provide strategic direction and full-scale planning for the implementation of security plans that match company goals. “We put a Pinkerton at the planning table along with the other executives,” says McClain. “Today’s business environment requires a strong synergy between business goals and security planning. The PDP analyst will understand a company’s core business, learn its short and long-term goals and work with internal teams to create a security plan that aligns with company objectives.”

To learn more about a PDP program, see below for several resources:

Case Study: Embedded Personnel Instrumental in Manufacturing Firm’s Security Transition and Ongoing Operations

Case Study: Dedicated Analysts Navigate Clients Through Political Protests

Benefits of Pinkerton Dedicated Professionals (PDP)BENEFITS OF PINKERTON DEDICATED PROFESSIONALS (PDP)

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Active Shooter Response Plan https://www.pinkerton.com/blog/active-shooter-response-plan/ https://www.pinkerton.com/blog/active-shooter-response-plan/#respond Wed, 28 Jun 2017 16:12:14 +0000 https://www.pinkerton.com/blog/active-shooter-response-plan/ Recently, five people were killed by a gunman in New Mexico. Just two days prior to that, a San Francisco UPS employee killed three co-workers before killing himself. Earlier in the same month, five people lost their lives before a gunman shot himself to death in Orlando. The frequency of these tragedies, three in just three weeks, indicates the real threat that exists that people could find themselves in an active shooter situation.

In 2014 during an unfortunate series of tragedies in that year, we published the active shooter response plan below to help people be prepared. We have updated it and present here again.

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As the United States Department of Homeland Security states: “. . . there is no pattern or method to the selection of victims by an active shooter, and these situations are by their very nature unpredictable and evolve quickly.” In the same way we have no control over a natural disaster, there is no way to prevent an active shooter situation. However, there are ways to lower the risk.

SHOOTERS ARE A THREAT BUT YOU CAN LOWER THE RISK

Every company (and by extension their employees) is vulnerable somewhere, in some way, to threats and risks. Threats are often out of a company’s control and can pose an immediate danger at any time. Risks, however, are what make your company vulnerable to those threats. Risks are the elements that can be controlled if the company is made aware and has a plan to mitigate. For example, if a company does not have a sign-in procedure for employees, vendors and guests, there is a greater risk that someone intent on harm can enter company property. Where your company is most vulnerable to these threats can be  determined through a comprehensive risk assessment, after which a plan can be created and implemented to reduce those risks.

It is common for people to assume that an active shooter risk assessment is something that should stand on its own. However, this is far from the truth. Determining where you are vulnerable during an active shooter situation should be a subset of a workplace violence assessment which is part of a larger emergency and disaster response plan.

PREPARATION MINIMIZES RISKS

The emergency and disaster response plan establishes, in detail, the necessary actions that should take place during an emergency situation, of which the  active shooter threat is an example. Having and then implementing a plan is critical during and  an emergency situation. For example, the notification time standard in an emergency situation is less than one minute. Therefore, the ability to communicate quickly and successfully is essential. To ensure successful communication, multiple systems should be considered. Public address systems, telephone trees, mass text messaging, email, or call systems are just a few of the ways to effectively announce imminent danger. In 2007, school officials at Virginia Tech were criticized for being slow to communicate the threat of an active shooter on campus. Technology has improved since then, with more ways to communicate including social platforms such as Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook Messenger and advanced mass-email/text systems that can distribute up-to-date development instantly. The key is that people know which platform or platforms to use for priority updates and that messages are delivered in a timely manner.

At the first announcement of danger, all employees should already have a familiarity with the protocol to follow. This means that all employees should have a basic understanding of the response plan as part of their training. Depending on their position and location relevant to threat areas, different people within the company, such as security officials, should be given additional information and instruction. This hierarchical distribution of information ensures that the entire company will be well prepared in an emergency.

PRACTICE FOR SUCCESS

Once your plan is created  it is essential to practice implementation. Recurring training and exercises should be standard within any company. It is not enough to have an annual fire drill or tornado warning practice. There is a high value in training to reveal areas in which the team must improve. For example, what if the individual assigned to initiate the telephone tree is not in the office? Does the second in charge know where to begin? What if a shooter has taken hostages? Do you have a system for knowing, at any given moment, who is in the building? Questions such as these will get addressed in a training situation.

Remember the saying: “You will react the way you train.” In the movie “Captain Phillips, ” which was based on a true story, the crew reacted slowly and without urgency to the approaching boats, which they would soon discover were filled with Somali pirates. By the time they took the threat seriously, it was too late. As you initiate training exercises, stress to the trainees the importance the training has as a way to save lives, including their own. While workplace violence and active shooter situations are very rare, a company must take the necessary steps to plan for the worst case scenario since there is no way to predict when a situation will arise. Don’t be caught off guard!.

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How to Layer Security for Large-Scale Events https://www.pinkerton.com/blog/how-to-layer-security-large-scale-events/ Thu, 08 Jun 2017 19:30:17 +0000 https://www.pinkerton.com/?post_type=blog&p=5023 For Pinkerton Director Eric Rose, large scale event security has been on his mind for several years. “People haven’t been taking security at events like sporting contests or concerts seriously enough,” he explains. “I’ve felt for a while now that it was only a matter of time before something bad happened.”

And sadly, it did. While we were working on this post, a topic Rose suggested months ago, tragedy struck in Manchester, England. A bomber killed more than 20 people at a Ariana Grande concert. And for Rose, it cast a spotlight on an industry that needs to dramatically alter how it considers security at events like these. “Event security just can’t be a budget line item or a box that gets checked,” says Rose. “Security must be at the forefront of any event planner’s mind as a critical element to the event’s success.”

A Show of Security Force is Not Enough

According to Rose, security at events has been traditionally handled by local law enforcement and/or hired off-duty uniformed officers. Simply alerting the authorities that an event was taking place and having them present was considered ample security. “The mindset was that if you have enough uniformed officers present, that alone would be enough of a deterrent to thwart any plans to disrupt the event.”

But the reaction to a visible security force is akin to a speeding driver seeing a police car and slowing down. The problem is that once the police car is out of sight, the driver resumes speeding. “Posting police at a venue only handles the issues that are right in front of them. Yes, they are a deterrent and they can certainly react to situations and maintain order. But more is needed to prevent incidents from occurring in the first place. Pinkerton recommends a layered approach.”

Layered Security Combines Multiple Tactics

Layered event security means that several tactics are used, some of them clearly visible and others behind the scenes, to provide protection to event attendees and staff.

Law Enforcement

“The first layer is law enforcement,” says Rose. “A venue absolutely needs to have highly visible officers that not only deter crime but assure attendees that security has been addressed. If an incident takes place, they will play a critical role in crowd control while helping to clear the crime scene so that an investigation can take place.”

Private Security

The next layer is private security and Rose says the key issue is intelligence gathering and doing a full security risk assessment. That takes place far in advance of the event. “We will look at past attacks of similar events, learning all that we can about where vulnerabilities were that allowed the incident to occur. We will also use our global network of resources to monitor current events to determine if anything would be a trigger for a possible attack. We then communicate all that information to our team that has ‘boots on the ground’ so they can act on the intel.”

With a private security force, it’s unlikely  event attendees will know they are there. And that is by design. “When our team is on the ground, they are there gathering information that can be shared through the security detail. An undercover agent can get much closer to suspects and monitor their movements, reporting to others as needed so that a plan to suppress a potential attack can be made.”

For best results,  private security would  act as the overall coordinator of the layered approach, keeping all parties informed of developments, while monitoring intel gathered from multiple sources. “At Pinkerton we take a holistic approach to how we manage event security,” says Rose. “Ideally, we are at the table very early on in the event planning process so that we can influence how the event logistics are addressed that could affect security. We work with law enforcement, venue management, event planners and promoters, performers, presenters and their security forces, ancillary business operators like parking lots and concessions, so that we address as many vulnerability points as we can.”

Technology

Advances in technology have both helped and hindered security in the past 20 years. Social media, as an example, has given security teams a way to learn about disruptive plans being devised by criminals. Teams can set up a “geo-fence,” which focuses social media monitoring to a specific geographic area, to look for messaging that could indicate an attack is being planned. However, technology has also sped up how fast those attack plans can be enacted since communication is nearly instantaneous, making it hard for security teams to stay ahead. Overall, though, Rose believes that the strategic and effective use of technology has advanced security efforts greatly.

“It’s easier than ever to communicate with our team who, at an event, could be spread out miles apart,” he explains. “If we learn a key piece of information from our intel gathering, we can now text that out instantly so that the whole team has it. We can communicate and act as fast as the criminals can.”

Intel Gathering and Surveillance

A critical layer to providing security at a large-scale event is the constant gathering of new information through ongoing surveillance. “Situations change in an instant,” says Rose. “It is critical that there are dedicated surveillance personnel who are trained to look for suspicious activity and report their observations.” Rose and his team recommend elements such as bomb-detecting dogs, undercover agents, rooftop surveillance teams and even drones, if permitted, to get a full picture of the event scene. The goal, he says, is to expand the perimeter of security for a venue beyond just the venue and immediate surroundings.

A Change in Culture is Required

More than any new or improved tactics, providing a high level of security for large scale events in today’s world will require a change in the attitude and culture found among venue owners and event promoters, according to Rose. ““It’s just not prudent to maintain a ‘It won’t happen here’ attitude when it comes to security. Security can’t be the first line item reduced when expenses get too high. Today’s security is complex because so are the threats.”

Rose says a culture shift like the one that took place in the air travel industry is required for large scale events. After the 9/11 attacks, airport security changed dramatically. Imagine telling someone prior to those attacks that before boarding a plane they would have to remove their shoes and belts, they would not be able to bring liquids larger than 3.5 ounces and that they should plan to arrive 1.5-2 hours prior to departure due to security checks. But today, the industry culture has changed and those rules are the accepted norms.

Recent terrorist attacks, like that in Manchester, have cast a spotlight on venue security but Rose says operators need not concentrate as much on why attacks occurred. Rather, he says, they should focus on how.

“Motive is not the major concern for security teams. Our concern about these recent attacks is how did they happen? Where were the vulnerabilities and why were they there? What systems and tactics might have prevented them? These are the questions that need to be asked far in advance of any future event so that risks can be mitigated before they become reality.”

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Understanding the Risks of the Dark Web https://www.pinkerton.com/blog/understanding-dark-web-risks/ Thu, 25 May 2017 16:27:55 +0000 https://www.pinkerton.com/?post_type=blog&p=4925 The Dark Web. It’s a term some are familiar with, but far more are not. Yet its effect on business is being felt internationally, even as recently as this month with the WannaCry ransomware attack on hospitals throughout the world, which we analyzed in a special Insights Report on ransomware. Perhaps you remember the hype about Bitcoin many years ago and how that internet payment system was going to change everything. Think it died off? Think again…it has become the main currency of the Dark Web and ransomware.

If you are confused by all of this, you are not alone. According to Pinkerton Vice President Stephen Ward, “So many companies we work with have little or no idea what the Dark Web is…but they should. The impact it is having on business is widespread and companies have been slow to shore up vulnerabilities, leaving themselves exposed to major business disruptions.”  

What is the Dark Web?

Definitions vary, but essentially the Dark Web is a private part of the internet that uses encryption tools that allow users to move through it anonymously and, if they choose, conduct business. What kind of business? “A lot of the activity is in illegal products and services,” Ward explains. “Initially, weapons and drugs drove much of the Dark Web activity. But, more recently, trade secrets, product designs and other critical information have made it on there. It’s something companies need to be aware of and have plans for mitigating the risks.”

There has been a lot written about the Dark Web so, we will provide the following links to get caught up to speed:

The Dark Web’s Impact on Business

“The days of the Dark Web being focused only on guns and narcotics are over,” Ward says. “The growing trend is the sale of Intellectual Property for profit, and that should have many companies concerned. However, our experience so far is that it does not….until they talk with us and we show them how easy their proprietary information could become available. That gets their attention.”

Ward noted that product designs are hugely popular, especially with nefarious manufacturers looking to release the next high-tech gadget on the market before the real manufacturer’s launch date. “We know of an electronics manufacturer that had been preparing a product launch for months, under what they thought was tight security. But the design showed up on the Dark Web, it was purchased, and counterfeits started hitting the market before the genuine product did. Shareholders were made aware of the situation and the stock price dropped at a time when the company had hoped for big gains. That’s how serious the Dark Web can be.”

Advances in technology have made it even easier for that type of situation to be repeated across nearly any manufacturing segment. Computer Assisted Design (CAD) plans are regularly shared electronically within a company and even with third-parties brought on to help with product development. This provides many opportunities for leaks to occur. Furthering the problem, the advent of large-scale 3D printers has made it easy for those plans to turn into real products.

According to Ward, many companies have invested in personnel and technology to troll online auction sites like eBay and Amazon, looking for their proprietary information and products being offered. But they fall far short when it comes to the Dark Web.

The Flow of Information on the Dark Web

The Dark Web is as tangled a connection of sites and information as the normal web is. How does information get on there? Who puts it on there? Who buys it? And how does it result in counterfeit product production? According to Ward, these are all good questions that many companies simply aren’t asking.

“I am surprised that when I bring up the Dark Web to many companies, they have no idea about it and its potential impact to their business,” he explains. “When I explain the flow of information and how relatively simple it is, they are pretty shocked.”

The Flow of Dark Web Information

The Leak: The first thing that has to happen is someone has to leak, either intentionally or otherwise, the intellectual property information. “And that just takes one disgruntled employee either at your company or a vendor your company uses,” says Ward. “That person decides to market your information and the Dark Web is a good way to do that anonymously.”

The Offer: The person who is the leaker then puts the offer of the design or sensitive information out on the Dark Web with an asking price. But how do they find someone willing to pay it? “Finding a buyer is pretty easy,” says Ward. “There are people who do little else but troll the Dark Web looking for trade secrets, especially related to big brand companies. They will go as far as to proactively post offers to pay for any proprietary information from certain companies, hoping to encourage an employee or vendor to make the information available.”

Initial Buyer: Once a buyer is found, a transaction is conducted. Now we get to Bitcoin. The very nature of the Dark Web, where many illegal transactions take place, lends itself to Bitcoin, which is a currency service set up to protect the identities of those using it. Therefore, someone buying product designs will pay via Bitcoin so they cannot be traced to the transaction.  But many times, these initial buyers are, in reality, resellers. Their role is to find and secure the information from the sellers who, as in the case with a disgruntled employee, are not normally engaging in this activity. The resellers are looking for opportunities like this and then once they secure the information, use their network to sell the information at a higher price to the ultimate buyer.

Ultimate BuyerThe ultimate buyer is one who will actually do something with the information. This could be an individual with a 3D printer, a covert manufacturer that will make many of the product quickly, or even a competitor looking to get an advantage. But perhaps one type of buyer is most surprising. “Ironically, the final buyer of the leaked design might wind up being the company who designed it in the first place,” says Ward. “They are willing to pay the price so that they get back that which they lost and prevent a major problem. It’s the basis of ransomware schemes on the Dark Web. Of course, the sellers don’t care who buys it, only that their price is met.”

Mitigating the Risks of the Dark Web

According to Ward, most companies are not sophisticated when it comes to mitigating the risks of the Dark Web and ransomware. “It’s common that manufactures will outsource some of the work to an outside vendor. But, they haven’t taken the time to really investigate that vendor to determine if their security protocols are up-to-date and enforced. Vulnerabilities at a vendor puts your company at risk, too.”

Ward and his team recommend a security audit be conducted on any vendor who will be entrusted with proprietary company information. This includes looking into their hiring practices and how they screen employees to prevent Intellectual Property theft. Ward additionally recommends a:

  • Review of the vendor’s security plan and protocols
  • Audit of the company’s physical security operations
  • Fingerprinting of key vendor employees
  • Full review of the vendor’s cybersecurity risk mitigation systems
  • Monitoring of Dark Web activities at least 90 days prior to product launch, looking for designs/specifications for purchase
  • Continued monitoring of the Dark Web at least 30 days after launch to prevent a flood of “knock offs” in the marketplace

“As your company evolves, so should your security needs and solutions,” Ward says. “Too many companies either don’t know about or don’t concern themselves with the Dark Web. That’s a mistake that is proving costly, as recent news like WannaCry demonstrate. Criminals on the Dark Web can be caught because they usually make a mistake. But a company needs to commit to a plan that is dedicated to this type of mitigation.”

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Key Tips for Executive Residential Protection https://www.pinkerton.com/blog/executive-residential-protection-tips/ Wed, 03 May 2017 12:05:01 +0000 https://www.pinkerton.com/?post_type=blog&p=4748 It’s not easy being an executive these days. Not only are they responsible for budgets, P&L, employees, shareholders and a myriad of other responsibilities, but increasingly they find themselves at risk – personal risk. Traditionally, executive protection details are usually assigned to executives at their workplace, or when they’re traveling on business or attending an event. More than ever executives are requesting protection when at home or vacationing. Chris Morton, Director, provides some insight into this trend and some key elements to executive residential protection.

Executive Risk “Off the Clock”

“We are getting more requests for residential protection than I’ve ever seen,” says Morton. “One reason is that executives are more accessible in today’s connected world. It can be quite easy to find out where an executive lives or is staying, where they might be vulnerable to an attack, who their family members are, and other personal information.”

Armed with this information, those intent on doing harm may opt to enact a plan that targets executives when they may be less on guard, such as at home or when travelling with family. And even when an executive is not the target, threats still exist, as recent terror attacks in Istanbul, Paris, Orlando, and Brussels demonstrate. Company leaders are realizing they are never “off the clock” when it comes to threats and are looking to be protected 24/7. Companies are willing to make this investment primarily to safeguard their employee and family members but also to avoid an incident that could have deep impacts on the company, its reputation and financial stability.

Assessing an Executive’s Risk Profile

Stalkers. Paparazzi. Disgruntled employees. Angry customers. Political protesters. Kidnappers. Terrorists.

Executives live with these threats, in a variety of forms and risk levels, every day. One CEO may be the leader of a company that opened a new manufacturing facility in India, where labor forces have created an unstable and often violent atmosphere. Another may have been forced to close several retail locations, resulting in large-scale layoffs. And another may simply have voted “for the wrong guy” in the eyes of some people in the public. Religious affiliation, nationality, financial wealth and a host of other reasons exist for why someone may target an executive.

“We use a holistic approach that starts with looking at the executive’s history,” say Morton. “Are there any known threats, such as a stalker of the executive or a family member? Has there been a situation that may have created disgruntled employees or upset customers? The executives will tell us what they know, but it’s a Pandora’s box out there. We go pretty deep and always find something they didn’t know about.”

Social media has become an invaluable source of finding threats. People will often use these platforms to air their grievances or rally others in protest against an individual or company. “They also let us know what they know,” says Morton. “We will find postings that have an executive’s family members’ names, a photo of a hotel where the family is vacationing or information about the school a child attends. It can be quite scary for an executive once we report the amount of personal information people know. It gets their attention.”

Also important to assess is the neighborhood and surrounding locales in which the executive resides. Knowing what crimes have taken place and any trends that would indicate an escalated risk is important. Expanding the review to neighborhoods on the border, of the one where the executive has a home, helps with assessing the situation. “Neighborhoods change. Someone may have settled in a home 10-15 years ago and figured they had chosen a safe location. But nearby areas may have seen an increase in crime that needs to be factored in when determining the best residential protection plan.”

Another key element is screening the access people have to an executive’s home. Maintenance staff, landscapers, constructions crews, child care providers…all of them need to be vetted via background checks as another layer of protection and risk mitigation. “Even deliveries don’t get through until we’ve reviewed them. We use the protocols recommended by the Post Office to do initial screening of packages and if something seems off, we will get the package scanned.”

Actionable Intel Aids in Protection Planning

Executives are faced with daily threats, both known and unknown, and they change all the time. An agent providing protective services needs current and reliable information so they can act to prevent incidents. Pinkerton’s Global Corporate Intelligence Service monitors information sources, including agents on the ground internationally, so that the most up-to-date information can be used. For example, had an executive chosen to travel with his family last week to Paris, immediate news of the police officer shooting would have been provided to the assigned agent so that the executive could be instructed on what to do as the situation was unfolding.

The internet, especially social media, once again plays a big role in helping keep protection details up to date. Clearly, the web is an endless source of information, both real and erroneous. Pinkerton can create a custom intel dashboard that can be accessed by agents 24/7, specific to issues and situations relevant to their assignment. Filtering that information so that reliable intel gets to agents in a timely manner is critical to reducing risks to executives.

Choosing the Right Protection Personnel

Protecting an executive while home with family or travelling on vacation puts an agent in close proximity to an executive’s personal life. While the executive understands the need for the protection, in practice it can seem somewhat intrusive. It is important to assess their needs, how much visibility they want from the assigned agent and what the age/gender/personality of each family member is.

“We provided residential protection for an executive who had children in their 20’s living at home. It was determined that an agent 10-15 years older would be appropriate for a sense of maturity that gave the family peace of mind while also commanding respect from the young adults so that instructions geared toward their own safety were followed.”

Trust is a big factor and has to be established quickly between the executive, their family and those assigned to protect them. Choosing the right personnel for the assignment by matching the situation with the agent’s experience and personality is critical to establishing that trust. “It may be the biggest challenges of an executive residential protection engagement,” say Morton. “It’s why we consider many factors before assigning personnel.”

Today’s executive threats may seem global but they exist right at home, too. Unfortunately, these threats don’t end with the executive, but apply to those they value most… their families. As the risks rise in an increasingly threatening world, it is no surprise that residential protection is rising right along with them.

Learn more about Executive Residential Protection

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Modern Challenges for Executive Protection https://www.pinkerton.com/blog/modern-challenges-for-executive-protection/ https://www.pinkerton.com/blog/modern-challenges-for-executive-protection/#respond Thu, 13 Apr 2017 12:25:21 +0000 https://www.pinkerton.com/?post_type=blog&p=4549 When many people think about executive protection details, they picture large, imposing men wearing dark suits, sunglasses, a concealed weapon or two, and a communication earpiece. It wasn’t too long ago that this stereotype often matched with reality. But today, this bodyguard-type image of executive protection has evolved dramatically, as Pinkertons Kevin Cox, Managing Director, East Region & Canada and Eric Rose, Director, can attest. Today’s executive protection professionals require a working knowledge of technology tools, an understanding of international cultures, politics and current events, and increased situational awareness skills in a dynamic world presenting  constant threat.

Technology is Transforming Executive Protection

We’ve written often about how access to information, and turning it into actionable intel, has increased in importance, as technology has made information more readily available. Unfortunately, that holds true for those looking to do harm to executives/VIPs. According to Eric Rose, “Ten years ago, a stalker would have to work pretty hard to determine the travel plans of the target. Today, the internet makes tracking a person much easier, which in turn makes our jobs that much more challenging.”

Cox agrees and says that it’s not only the executive who can expose private information. “We had an executive travelling to France recently who did not want his visit noticed by the media. He was quite careful not to publish any travel photos or details. However, a family member innocently posted information about the trip via social media. The media were waiting at the airport when the executive arrived.”

A major shift for executive protection professionals is that they have to be technologically savvy enough to make use of the latest data and information tools. No longer can someone claim “I don’t do Twitter,” or “I only know how to use my phone to make calls and check email.”

“An EP detail can’t have a weak link, someone who doesn’t have the most up-to-date information,” says Rose, “and today, that is delivered in real-time via phones and tablets. You can’t rely on old-school techniques because the ‘bad guys’ certainly aren’t. It has changed the profile of an executive professional and you simply have to be comfortable with technology.”

Today, women make up a larger part of the security workforce, people with computer skills are in high demand and specialized skills that are focused on knowledge rather than strength are more valued. “We certainly favor brains over brawn these days,” says Rose.

Globalization of Travel

Whether it is expansion into growth markets, needing to address employees in distant countries or meeting with key stakeholders to plan the company’s future, executives are travelling internationally for a wide number of reasons. And, as Cox explains, they are travelling more than ever.

“Years ago, the C-suite didn’t travel much but today, that’s changed. And many of them have to travel to unstable regions because business growth demands it. This increased risk means that executive protection teams have to prepare in advance and increase their situational awareness on the ground.”

Cox cited Turkey as example of a country seeing many more executive visits. “A few years ago, we might have had three or four executive protection assignments in Turkey per year. Now, it’s more like two per month. The increased frequency requires that we be vigilant in collecting current information.”

Work protecting an executive during a trip starts long before they leave. Advanced intelligence gathering has to take place so that situations can be anticipated and risks mitigated. Intelligence regarding protests, civil unrest, terrorist activity, weather conditions, recent crime rates and other elements all go into creating a travel plan that maximizes safety.

“It is common now for our team to aid in an executive’s travel itinerary so that risks are considered and dealt with proactively,” says Cox. “Last year, we had a client that was meeting key partners in Istanbul. The day before the trip, the attempted coup d’etat took place, sending the region into turmoil. The executive, and those he was meeting, still wanted to have the meeting. We had to present all the risks to them before they agreed that postponing the trip was the wisest move. Years ago, we likely wouldn’t have been a part of that discussion.”

Lone Wolf Terrorism Eliminates Safe Zones

Over the past several years, high-profile terrorism attacks, such as those that took place in Paris and Brussels in 2016 and Stockholm in 2017, have occurred at an alarming rate. The result is that “safe zones,” places where one could be reasonably assured of safety when travelling, are virtually non-existent. This puts more pressure on security teams to protect employees when they are travelling to anticipate situations. “Our Global Risk Group’s international network is constantly gathering data and information to update our in-the-field people about different destinations,” explains Rose. “When an  attack takes place, it’s so important to get a stream of up-to-date information pulled from a variety of sources that our field team can rely on to make recommendations.”

Criminals and terrorists are collecting data, too, and then using it to organize. Social media has played a very large role in helping terrorists recruit members and carry out complex plans by virtue of being able to communicate in real-time with those carrying out attacks. Twitter gets a lot of the press for being the “go-to” platform for these activities but Rose says that the more obscure platforms are more frequently being used. “Twitter is the low-hanging fruit of chatter monitoring. The more advanced organizers are using less familiar platforms so that they can communicate without risk of messages being intercepted. It requires that teams learn what these preferred platforms are so they can monitor them and provide advance warnings.”

“Terrorism today can be carried out by one person looking to make a statement and cause chaos,” says Cox. “What it requires of executive protection teams is that they are keenly aware of the situations around them at all times and, armed with advanced intel, are anticipating worst-case scenarios so that they can react if one were to come to fruition.”

The challenges for today’s executive protection professionals are in many ways greater than ever. Proper training is a key element as is a strong desire to stay up to date on the latest techniques that can be used to keep assigned executives protected. “Gone are the days of details being just ‘guys with guns,’” says Rose. “It’s a whole new world and requires different skills.”

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