We have received far more interest in our executive security services in 2022 than in years past. However, we find with each inquiry that many people do not know or understand what executive security is all about. For instance, does it mean:
- Hiring security guards to escort an executive wherever they go?
- Physically shielding someone from danger?
- Bringing in a personal chauffeur, trained in protective services?
- Adding lights and security cameras to their home or office?
Executive security is all of these – but much more. It is an extraordinarily complex and personalized service. What works for one executive may not serve another.
To better understand executive security, let’s start with some history and definitions. The U.S. Secret Service developed executive protection programs in the early 1970s. Security professionals learned these procedures and then created their own programs.
Also called “close protection,” executive security provides protection services to people who may be at high risk because of their social status, wealth, notoriety (politician, celebrity,), or affiliation. Sometimes simply associated with an organization can put someone at a higher threat risk.
There are four fundamentals to consider when discussing executive protection:
Executive security requires a risk assessment.
Earlier, we mentioned that executive security is very personalized, and what works for one executive may not necessarily work for another. A risk assessment will help determine individual needs. For instance, it will ask and answer questions such as these:
- Do the executives travel a lot for business?
- Do they travel to dangerous places regularly?
- Where do they live? What is the crime rate in the area?
- What kind of attacks are they most vulnerable to? Ransom? Physical? Kidnapping? Cyber-hacking?
- Do they have a partner and/or children?
Executive security requires convincing.
Many executives are unhappy that their company or organization requires executive security services. They resent that how they live, where they live, what their family does, and what the executives do at work and during their free time must be scrutinized. Further, they often believe “it can’t happen to me,” says Peter Franklin, a subject matter expert with TAL Global. “But it can happen. Many executives over the years have been targeted, harmed, or kidnapped.”
Executive security requires a personal technology review.
Any electronic devices an executive uses for work must be highly secure. Very often, an executive uses the same smartphone for home and work purposes. That can put the executive and their family in harm’s way and open the door to an array of cyberattacks. Work devices should be separate from home devices.
Moreover, executives must be taught how to protect themselves regarding technology. Do they know what a phishing email looks like? How about a whaling attack, a more sophisticated type of phishing attack? *
Executive security requires rules.
As noted, many top executives are unhappy when they find out they must have executive protection. “This malaise often increases when they discover some [of the] rules they may be required to follow,” says Franklin.
- Someone else will determine when, where, and how they travel.
- The protection service determines whether, when, or where they can go jogging, bike riding, to a gym, golfing, or many other activities.
- If they drive their cars, the car may need to be “advanced.” Anyone who services the car, cleans the car, travels in the car, even where it is parked, must all be checked out first, to ensure the vehicle has not been compromised.
- Security personnel may accompany the executive on all family outings and activities.
Many organizations pay remarkable sums to protect their top people. For instance, it has been reported that Facebook pays over $23 million annually to protect its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.
You might ask why they pay so much. There are many reasons, but one we call the “queen bee” reason. For many organizations, losing their top person may cause the entire organization to unravel. Ultimately, keeping that person – the queen bee – safe, is worth untold millions.
As always, we value your feedback, which helps us shape our perspective on recent events, security, and the services we offer.
Chief Executive Officer
*Phishing and whaling attacks trick people into disclosing confidential information.