Social Media Investigations and Monitoring for Risk Mitigation Purposes

The use of social media and the way it affects our lives and businesses have brought a new challenge to the security industry and the protective team’s responsibility. It gives the entire world the ability to look into people’s lives with the mere push of a button. Scandals are created, secrets exposed, and lives ruined. In the case of personal security, social media can be used in the advancement of a protective detail; however, one must know how to utilize it properly. Today, we will talk about Social Media Investigations and Monitoring. For those who are not aware of the term, as we utilize it in protection circles, Social Media Investigation and Monitoring is the process by which you can identify what is being said about your clients, a brand they represent, or the corporations with which they are involved and any threats or dangers that may exist in relation to those aspects.

As we sift through different social media platforms and online channels, we must then determine if what is being said has any significance regarding your clients’ reputation, persona, and safety and if there is the need to mitigate any risks. In other words, it’s like setting up an online, social media “net”. This process then helps you discover everything that is being said, written about, or portrayed on social media and determine its relevance to your clients. You can gather information about the ‘’public opinion’’ surrounding your clients, about people or entities who are angry with them for one reason or the other, people who are obsessed with them, or people who are making online threats. SOCMINT or Social Media Intelligence (not to be confused with OSINT) has seen a huge rise in necessity due to the use of social media and a competent protective detail needs to always be informed and social media investigations and monitoring are a huge part of this process. 

Now, let’s see some examples of how social media investigations and monitoring applies in protective services. Let’s say one of the people you are protecting belongs to a large pharmaceutical company and they decided to raise the price of a specific drug, thus affecting the lives and wellbeing of thousands of people. Perhaps another client is involved in a financial institution that quite suddenly makes a significant decision that affects people’s lifetime savings and pensions. You can imagine that there will be a significant number of people who become very angry, and some may want to harm your client. During the recent pandemic, there were a number of “anti-vaxx” groups that were quite vocal and utilized Facebook as one of their many platforms to accomplish their goals. Another example would be the need to discover if there is someone using your client’s name or company to scam others and commit crimes.

We are sure that many of you today are aware of the infamous ‘’Tinder Swindler’’, Shimon Yehuda Hayut, who legally changed his name to Simon Leviev to pretend to be the son of the billionaire Lev Leviev and used his name and company logos to scam people. Although his actions were known since 2017, it was only after the airing of the Netflix documentary in 2022 that the Leviev family found out and filed a lawsuit against Hayut for falsely portraying himself as the son of Lev Leviev, receiving benefits, and committing crimes.

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(Photoshopped image of Shimon Hayut, aka Simon Leviev, with Lev Leviev (Picture: Netflix)

According to Leviev’s family attorney, Guy Ophir, they will now include anyone who has attempted to make a profit from his scam during the next lawsuit. What we can ask is, as security providers, why didn’t someone from the real Leviev family ever discover this scam artist who was extremely public and active on social media as the ‘’son of Lev Leviev’’? Although the real family members were never part of this fraudulent scheme, and it didn’t appear to affect their safety, it did, however, involve their name/brand in a very public and negative way. In other words, it should have definitely been considered as a threat to their reputation. Other people who were harmed by this scam artist were the businesses who did work with them, and their secondary service providers as well. 

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Another interesting case to mention is Elon Musk where he, the actual client, took it upon himself to “solve” the issue and directly contacted the person of interest who had begun posting his private flight details and created the security risk for him and was literally blackmailing him unless the POI was paid. According to media reports “Elon Musk states social-media accounts that track his travel movements are ‘becoming a security issue.” Tail numbers and yacht names of billionaires are increasingly being shared on online platforms and one can track them by having the appropriate app unless significant efforts are made to secure them from the reach of those diligent few. These are some unique specific details that the security team needs to pay close attention to at all times.

Since Social Media platforms are the way people today communicate with each other, we as security providers must keep in mind that this is not always a positive aspect. Perhaps a person or persons will utilize social media to collectively gather people with their same goal or mission, to get together and plan their next move (Example: protesting outside your client’s house or corporation). In this case, you will want to know what is being said online about the person you protect to determine if there is something of extreme necessity to include in your risk and threat assessment and then take protective measures as well as inform their legal department.

As we have all witnessed too many times, it only takes one well-placed picture or story regarding some alleged activity on the part of your client, and it will go viral quickly, truth or not. Staying one step ahead of this type of “attack” has become a crucial necessity in order to protect your client from embarrassment or exposure. One of the most common issues in recent history is when personnel close to the client i.e., family, staff, vendors, and any other secondary customers post pictures, stories, or opinions and subsequently fail to understand the negative effect these types of communications can and will have on the client’s life, business, and the lives of their loved ones.

Why do you need a Social Media Investigations and Monitoring Strategy when you are a security services provider? To summarize we can say:  

1) To identify new threats. 

2) To discover what information about your client is posted online either by himself, the ones close to him, or his employees and evaluate how these affect his safety. 

3) To evaluate a threat (someone is posting online threats directed at your client).

4) To add to your due diligence.

5) To geolocate a picture or a video, sometimes even audio. 

6) To include any findings in your Risk and Threat Assessment (We can never highlight this enough, social media surveys and investigations are now a critical part of your Risk and Threat Assessments).

7) To find people obsessed with or following your clients (stalkers).

8) To identify hate groups or terrorist organizations that may affect your client.

9) To identify people or businesses your client may or may not want to do business with.

10)To mitigate risks from the information found online about the person you protect (How are the pictures of my client used or tampered with and for what purpose?).

11)To identify if someone is impersonating your client or a family member.

12)To find out if your client’s moves/visits/travels are posted online (Exposing them to others who may be in the same hotel, conference room, restaurant). 

13)To identify workplace violence or insider threats indicators.

14)To find out what is the ‘’public opinion’’ regarding your client (Always keep an eye on what is being said about your client and have a strategy to respond). 

15)To determine if a person or persons are utilizing your client’s name or business name in a malicious or unauthorized manner for their own personal gain. (Claiming associations or partnerships, etc.)

How to perform Social Media Monitoring for security purposes? 

First, let’s clarify one important thing. ‘’Googling it’’ is not enough, nor is it the answer. There are a number of search sites that allow for user input thus watering down or contaminating information and it’s accuracy. For those who are not aware, Social Media Investigations and Monitoring is quite a different department of protective services and quite often falls under Intelligence Analysis and Open-Source Intelligence. It requires unique skills and knowledge. One must clearly understand different social media and research platforms and how to use each one of them (and/or in combination) to obtain information. How you will approach each case is different and certainly depends on who your client is, their business, close relations, and/or their public image. This will directly affect the searches and the resources used and for what purpose. It is vital in our current day and age to include SOCMINT (Social Media Intelligence) in your client’s service proposal, no matter how public the person may or may not be. Hiring ten Executive Protection agents and a Residential Security Team is not enough anymore. SOCMINT services are a vital part of your Risk and Threat Assessments (Dynamic Risk Assessments too) and enable your protective detail to function more efficiently. 

For those who can not provide a certified Social Media Investigator for their clients, follow up with these steps:

1)Understand who your client is, his/her background, the threats, where do they stand in political, social, financial sectors.

2)Be aware of any of the latest changes in your clients’ lifestyle, public opinions, and professional decisions. 

3)Be aware of any of their political and social changes. Watch the news from multiple channels. 

4)Familiarize yourself with all close family, friends, staff, and associates and their respective social media footprints.

5)Set up a social media investigation and monitoring strategy. 

6)Have a good understanding of the Intelligence Cycle (How the intel is being collected, analyzed, disseminated, reviewed, etc.).

7)Have a good understanding of the search tools on different platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Reddit, etc.) 

8)Do research on the available search engines and the strengths and limitations each one may have. 

9)Know how to conduct image, video, and audio research and gather intelligence from them.

10)Invest in appropriate platforms for social media investigations and monitoring (Have in mind, NEVER rely on one platform’s result or just platforms’ results. The user/investigator is the main component of a social media investigation). 

11)Download and use appropriate search engines extensions and apps. 

12)Invest time in creating ‘’sock puppets’’ or fake profiles and maintain their persona. Sometimes you may need a profile to have access to different forums or groups without being discovered.

13)Train yourself in link analysis (How to look for connections between people, events, and organizations).

14)Set keyword alerts (In multiple languages in case your client has ties with more than one country).

15)Gather, analyze, evaluate, and report your findings to the appropriate department or leadership.  

As the threat landscape changes every day, we as protection providers must be able to adapt and keep ourselves up to date with additional training. Today’s executive protection agent must also be skilled and knowledgeable in investigations, open-source intelligence, protective intelligence, HUMINT, and have an increased understanding of cyber security. Large corporations have already created their own embedded intelligence departments, while others are hiring threat analysts and OSINT investigations from outside security providers. The rise of protective intelligence, and whatever that includes, is here to stay and we are seeing it more and more through the highly increased number of related job postings every day. 

If you are an Executive Protection Agent and want to learn more on how to utilize Social Media Investigations and Monitoring for Risk Mitigation Purposes, reach out to us.

f you are a service provider and want to add Social Media Investigations and Monitoring for Risk Mitigation Purposes on your service list, contact us to learn about our vendor services. 

Chris Grow

AUS Global Special Services Travel Team

Managing Partner LeMareschal LLC

Denida Grow

Founder & CEO

Athena Worldwide 


Managing Partner LeMareschal LLC

The Art of Brand Management for Close Protection Companies

During our combined 55 years in the industry, we have seen many close protection companies making huge mistakes marketing themselves, either because they can not afford it and do it themselves (and do it the wrong way), or they choose the wrong marketing company/service to represent them and what they intended to portray to the marketable public is lost or misrepresented.

Brand management is a critical component of any successful business strategy, regardless of the industry or niche. The security industry is highly competitive, and building a strong brand can differentiate your company from the competition. Also, brand management is especially important because it can directly impact the trust and confidence that customers have in the company’s ability to provide effective security services. As one of the unique industries that can build their portfolio by ‘’word of mouth’’, how your clients feel about your services is of huge importance. Effective brand management can help close protection companies build trust with customers and establish themselves as industry leaders, setting themselves apart from the crowd.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the key principles of brand management for close protection companies and offer some practical tips and strategies for building a strong and trusted brand.

1. Develop a clear brand identity

The first step in brand management is to develop a clear brand identity. This includes creating a brand name, logo, and tagline that reflects the values and mission of your company. Your brand identity should be consistent across all marketing materials, including your website, social media, and advertising. It should also be easily recognizable and memorable, all the while maintaining simplicity. “Less is more” should be the standard.  While you are choosing your brand identity always have in mind your clientele and ‘’target group’’. What reaches your audience of choice? If you are looking to attract corporate companies or C-Suite individuals, a less ‘’tactical’’ looking brand identity will definitely be more suitable.

Today we have many close protection companies providing very similar services making the competition between them fierce. Are you offering something different? Something unique? Do you have a new or improved method of service? What can you offer or provide that no one else does? If yes, build your brand management around that! In 2002, we saw the need for an agency that would train and provide placement for female close protection agents. And we used that uniqueness to set us apart to build our brand and Athena Worldwide was born. In 2008, after having worked with many UHNW families, we saw the need for a hybrid service that would combine childcare with security awareness and that is how Nannyguards was created. Both of our brands are known and have been operating internationally. 

2. Define your target audience

Knowing your target audience is critical in all brand management. Your brand message should be tailored to resonate with your target audience. Whom are you attempting to reach? Who do you desire to do business with in the future? We see many close protection companies failing when it comes down to this. Many of them believe that they must (or they do) market their services to other security companies. Why would someone attempt to sell a product to its competitor? While that may be acceptable if you are looking for subcontracting opportunities, it is not if you are trying to gain new clients. Simply think, you are trying to advertise your services to companies who provide the same services! Widen your opportunities by expanding your target audience to include businesses, corporations, family offices, luxury travel agencies, luxury transportation services, placement agencies, media corporations, event production companies, etc.

Also, have in mind that your target audience may change due to the latest geopolitical circumstances or threats. For example, many corporations were in need of workplace violence mitigation during the numerous employee layoffs. There were many medical or pharmaceutical corporations that had to hire protective teams for their corporate officers during covid lockdowns. Always think ahead regarding how something that is happening currently can cause effect, thus giving you the opportunity to reach out to new clients. Understanding the specific needs and concerns of your target audience can help you create effective marketing strategies. Another point to keep in mind is that many corporations push services or tell the potential clients what they think the client needs, rather than listening to the perceived needs and concerns of the client prior to making an assessment. 

3. Establish a strong online presence

In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is crucial. Your website should be user-friendly, informative, and visually appealing. It should also be optimized for search engines so that potential customers can easily find your company. In addition to a website, you should also have a presence on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. HOWEVER, always have in mind that each social media platform is different and has been designed for different users. Let’s begin with Facebook as an example.  Having a presence on Facebook may be ok for a close protection company, and many close protection companies already seem to base their marketing budget and efforts on it. But let’s think for just a moment, who is your target audience? Do you really believe that C-Suite personnel or millionaires/billionaires will be found looking for their next security provider on Facebook? Brand strength and recognition amongst the HNW/UHNW circles are critical.

Let’s break down some most used social media platforms:

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn are all social media platforms, but they differ in their purpose, target audience, and features. Many close protection companies rely on them to market their services and confuse the likes and shares with potential future clientele. Maybe one post or picture of yours got 500 likes and 50 shares on Facebook, by people who can’t use or don’t need your services, what does that mean for your marketing? ZERO, absolutely zero! You spend time, and probably money, to advertise, and the likes and shares are not translated to clients. And let’s just break it down further for clarity. Who composes the majority of your “friends” on these platforms? Just because your Uncle Harry and Aunt Gertrude think you’re the most awesome thing since sliced bread does NOT translate at all in terms of the validity of your business or your service quality.

Now let’s discuss some key differences between these platforms:

a.     Twitter is a social media platform that focuses on short-form, real-time communication. Users can share updates (tweets) of up to 280 characters, and these tweets can include text, images, videos, and links. Twitter is often used for breaking news, live events, and conversations on trending topics. It is popular among journalists, politicians, celebrities, and people who want to stay up to date with the latest news and events.

b.     Instagram is a visual social media platform that allows users to share photos and videos with their followers. It is popular among millennials and Gen Z users who use it to share their experiences, showcase their creativity, and connect with like-minded individuals. Instagram also offers features such as Instagram Stories, Reels, and IGTV, which allow users to create short-form video content.

c.     Facebook is a social media platform that allows users to connect with friends and family, join groups, and share content such as photos, videos, and links.

d.     LinkedIn is a social media platform that focuses on professional networking and career development. It is used by professionals and businesses to create a professional profile, showcase their skills and experience, connect with other professionals, and search for job opportunities.

Now as a close protection company, which platform do you feel is best to reach out to your audience and create a strong brand? Most of these platforms do the polar opposite of what we should be doing-posting pictures, names, locations, and assets that do NOT belong to us and we shouldn’t be advertising!

For us, it has always been LinkedIn in combination with blogging, which we will describe soon. We have seen 25% and sometimes more, of our clients coming to us because of our LinkedIn presence.

Have in mind that whatever social media presence you choose to have, you must stay on top of it, with engaging and interesting content that will showcase your audience who you are as a company, the depth of your understanding and knowledge of the field, and what you can offer.

4. The power of Blogging

Blogging is a powerful tool for brand management for several reasons:

a.     Establishing expertise and thought leadership: By regularly creating high-quality, informative blog content on topics relevant to your industry, you can position yourself as an expert in your field. This can help to build trust and credibility with your audience and establish your brand as a go-to resource for information and insights.

b.     Driving traffic to your website: Blogging can also help to drive traffic to your website. By creating valuable, informative content that answers common questions or addresses common pain points your target audience may have, you can attract visitors to your site who are searching for information related to your brand. Any topic that sparks the inquiry regarding further services is valuable.

c.     Increasing brand visibility: Blogging also increases your brand’s visibility online. By creating and sharing blog content on social media platforms, you can increase your reach and attract new followers and potential customers. The more often someone sees a great blog attached to a particular brand name, they will be more and more curious as to who you are and what you are offering.

d.     Improving search engine rankings: Finally, blogging can help to improve your search engine rankings. By creating high-quality, relevant content on a regular basis, you can improve your website’s SEO and increase your chances of appearing in search results for relevant keywords.

In summary, blogging is great for brand management because it can help to establish you as an expert in your field, drive increased traffic to your website, expand your brand’s visibility, build relationships with your audience, and improve your search engine rankings. By creating valuable, informative content that resonates with your target audience, you can strengthen your brand and attract new customers OR media agencies over time. And we all know that being mentioned by a magazine or TV channel due to the performance of your security services can lead to better brand visibility and new clients. We have never paid for an advertisement, and we have had many inquiries from big media outlets to either interview us or mention our story and services.

Now, have in mind, blogging needs time and commitment, it needs you to keep a sharp eye on what is or can be the most interesting topic of the day or week that revolves around security and create great engaging content out of it. What are the people looking for? What services do they need? How can you be a perfect fit to increase your client base? 

5. Focus on customer service

Customer service is an essential part of brand management for close protection companies. Providing excellent customer service can help build trust with customers and establish your company as a reliable and reputable provider of close protection services. Make sure your employees are trained to provide exceptional customer service and that customer feedback is addressed promptly. Always make sure you keep in contact with your clients and run surveys or send emails to ask how they are finding your services and if there is something to correct or take care of. LISTEN to your clients! These are not services for you, they are provided by you for them! What do THEY need? How can you improve to care for them better? Use the feedback to correct or improve your services. Mistakes happen but it will show great leadership skills and that you care for your customers if you fix whatever is wrong. Use feedback from customers to identify areas for improvement and to address concerns. Positive customer feedback can also be used as a marketing tool to showcase the quality of your services. Remember customer feedback can be a valuable tool in brand management and upgrading/improving services and products. What you think is needed may not be needed at all…Listen!

6. Consistently deliver quality service

Your brand is only as strong as the quality of service you provide. Consistently delivering high-quality close protection services is essential in brand management. Make sure your employees are vetted, well-trained, and equipped with the latest technology and equipment. Also, remember your employees can be your brand ambassadors! And don’t forget to regularly evaluate and improve your services to meet the changing needs of your customers. Keep this important point in mind: You would rather have one or two solid, well-run contracts to whom you provide amazing service and products (These customers will tell their colleagues all about you), rather than a dozen sloppily run contracts that are flailing due to lack of quality and poor customer service. (They will also tell all their colleagues about you…And it won’t be good!)

7. Leverage customer feedback

In conclusion, brand management is essential for close protection companies looking to establish themselves as industry leaders. By developing a clear brand identity, defining your target audience, establishing a strong online presence, focusing on customer service, consistently delivering quality service, and leveraging customer feedback, close protection companies can build a strong brand that differentiates them from the competition and builds trust with customers.

Do you have questions? Feel free to reach out to us!

The Grows

Denida & Chris Grow bring a combined 55 years of international experience in the Protective and Intelligence services. They are based in Seattle, WA, and run their companies LeMareschal, Athena Worldwide, and Nannyguards

We are giving away 2 full Scholarships!

We are giving away 2 full Scholarships! Donate to our “Bodyguards for Kids” Fundraising Event and enter to win an Executive Protection Specialist Course offered by Independent Security Advisors LLC, or a Surveillance Driving Course offered by Optimal Risk Group Ltd!

Not only will your donation be making a change and helping children in need, but it is also your ticket to our virtual educational event, and what a line of speakers we have! Plus, it is your ticket to our raffle prizes! Thank you to our donors for their generous offers on the scholarships! You are truly bringing our industry together!

“Bodyguards for Kids” the first annual fundraising event for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is now officially open and ready to accept your donations. Join us for our two-day virtual educational event as we are hosting 17+ subject matter experts from different countries.

Why participate?
1) Your donation is helping children in need and making a difference in their lives, first and foremost!
2) Your donation is your ticket to our educational event where, for only $39, you will have the chance to learn from 16+ Subject Matter Experts.
3) Your donation is also your ticket to our raffle prizes for a chance to win an Executive Protection course scholarship, books, and other great prizes!
4) This event will unite the security industry. No matter where you stand, no matter how you feel, this is for the kids…Do it!

We have also created multiple options for an individual or a company to contribute, participate in our event, and get highlighted as an Individual or Corporate Sponsor.

Minimum donation for individuals to be listed as event sponsors $250.
Minimum donation for companies to be listed as event sponsors $500.

For detailed information about our event, educational courses, speakers, and their bios please visit:
After your donations, please contact us at to be sent the event zoom invitation or to be listed for one of the above sponsorships options.

And don’t forget this event is for the kids! Let’s bring awareness about our industry and the human side of Executive Protection!

”Bodyguards for Kids” Fundraising Virtual Event for the children of St. Jude

We have amazing news to share with you and we need your support.

We are creating Bodyguards for Kids, a virtual networking and educational fundraising event that will take place every year, and 100% of all donations and event fees will go directly to the children of St. Jude’s. We want this event to serve two purposes: To gather as many donations as we can for the children who so need our help, and provide valuable instruction that our attendees will profit from as well.

Bodyguards for Kids

There will be virtual classes by industry leaders, networking opportunities, and raffle prizes with books and scholarships. At the moment, we need your help as we are finalizing raffle prizes, and are looking for more corporate recruiters for our “Ask a Recruiter” panel, a unique opportunity for all those looking for work in our Craft, to ask the questions regarding interviewing for positions.

We have also created multiple options for an individual or a company to contribute and participate. As time progresses, there will be updates with the event link, donation goals to be reached, and we will announce when you can start donating/book your event participation and the final speakers’ list with the timetable and event itinerary.

The date is set for March 18 and 19, 2023. In times when our industry peers are all going in so many different directions, let’s make this event something to remember and bring us all together as one for a good cause, medical assistance, and support for these young children.

The following attachment will provide some information for you. If you have questions, want to offer a book, a scholarship, a product/gear, or submit your interest to help, please reach out to us at

We at LeMareschal and NannyGuards would like to throw a HUGE thank you to the following colleagues who first answered the call for our project: Dr. Mary Beth Wilkas Janke (speaker and book copies), JD Elkin (speaker), Lauren Wygant (speaker), Kelly Sayre (speaker and book copies), Kristin Lenardson (speaker), Shawnee Delaney (speaker), Colin Tansley (speaker), Fred Burton (speaker and book copies), Alex Mac (speaker), M. George DeBusk, MD, MSc, FACS, FCCP (speaker), Michael Julian, CPI, PPS, CSP, A.L.I.V.E. speaker and book copies), Mike Roche (speaker and book copies), Andreas Venetis (speaker), Nathan Ackerman (speaker), Daniel Constanza (speaker- “Ask a Recruiter” panel), Matthew Parker (scholarship), Jon Moss and the Circuit Magazine (media sponsors and membership prizes), and the very amazing Phelim Rowe (event moderator).

”Giving Back The Stage” Project – Presenting Christina Lekati

This has been a project I have wanted to do for a long time. As a woman in the security industry, I have had the pleasure and the honor to have worked alongside some amazing female professionals from different parts of the world and security fields. Personally, I have been blessed with my networking contacts, developments, and public exposure. I feel like I owe a lot of my brand’s success to my relationship with my network and other colleagues.

That is why I have decided to “Give Back the Stage” to a different woman every month. Women don’t tend to be very public about their stories, their achievements, and their struggles. So every month, I will be using the power of my networking platforms and connections to promote and bring awareness to a specific female in the security sector. My goal is to help them grow their own brands, connections, and publicity by showing their stories and sharing them with my network and contacts. I learned a long time ago that success comes not only from hard work, dedication, and keeping my standards up, but also from having the right connections. And what these connections taught me is that sometimes by simply asking, you will be given an answer, some much-needed help, a tip, a new introduction, and sometimes, even a job offer.

Please join me in this effort and welcome these women, invite them to your professional network and reach out to them if their services align with what your organization or clients may need. If you know a woman who must be on this “Stage”, please reach out to me and send me a recommendation.

The woman to whom I am giving the Stage for this month is Christina Lekati. Now many are not aware that I am the child of first-generation immigrants who moved to Greece in 1991. So, with Christina, we don’t share only our psychology studies, but also we share the same language (Greek) and were raised in the same country. When I started my first steps in Executive Protection in Greece back in 2002, security was something new, not to mention females in the industry which were almost nonexistent. It is a pleasure and an honor to see more women from Greece doing so well and have expanding their careers in other countries as well.

Christina is a psychologist with a long history in the field of cybersecurity. Being raised by a cybersecurity expert, she came in contact with the bright and dark sides of the internet from a very young age. Growing up, she got involved in projects that were often beyond her age, giving her an edge in her own knowledge and understanding of cybercrime.

Before long, Christina had identified that social engineering security was a very intriguing field for her. Her calling was to help as many people as possible protect themselves from scammers, fraudsters, or more sophisticated social engineers. Her background and degree in psychology helped her understand the mechanisms of behavior, motivation, and decision-making, but also manipulation and deceit. It also helped her break down, analyze, and better understand the steps attackers use when they target humans and the psychological triggers they use. She found out that all of us have universal psychological tendencies and weaknesses that threat actors exploit on a regular basis. However, each of us has individual triggers that an attacker can identify and exploit in tailored attack scenarios. She applied all those learnings in her work with Cyber Risk GmbH where she serves as the main developer of the social engineering training programs. Those programs intertwine the lessons learned from real-life cases and previous experiences with the fields of cybersecurity, psychology, and counterintelligence.

However, there is another element that interplays in defending any individual or organization from cyber threat actors. That is Christina’s second passion: open-source intelligence (OSINT). She has been also running the Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) vulnerability assessments for organizations or high-value targets through Cyber Risk GmbH.

Being committed to sharing knowledge and helping others, Christina is an active Advisory Board Member at the OSINT Curious project, contributing to the international scene of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) with the latest news, updates, and techniques on collection and analysis. The OSINT Curious Project is a source of quality, actionable, open-source intelligence news, original blogs, instructional videos, and live streams. They try to keep people curious about exploring web applications for bits of information or trying out new techniques to access important OSINT data.

Due to her work and insights on social engineering attacks and open-source intelligence, Christina is frequently invited as a speaker to cyber security events and conferences. Among others, she has presented at the SANS OSINT Summit, SEVillage at DEF CON, and Hacktivity and keynoted several cybersecurity events around the globe. She has also been interviewed, featured, or provided articles in major German newspapers, including “Der Spiegel”, “Die Zeit”, “TAZ”, and the Heise magazines.

If you represent an organization and are interested in learning more about defending against social engineering and the psychological elements involved in human hacking, send her a message on LinkedIn. If you are organizing an event and would like to invite her as a speaker, reach out to Christina for a presentation or speech. For those of you in the security industry who want to learn more about the fascinating world of OSINT, social engineering, and Cybersecurity, you can follow Christina’s articles on Medium and Linkedin.

#christinalekati #osint #osintcurious #cybersecurity #cyberdefense #socialengineering #psychology #sansosintproject #cybercrime #counterintelligence #osinttraining #humanhacking #givingbackthestage #givingbackthestageproject #executiveprotection #closeprotection #securityservices #securitycompany #securityprofessionals #securitymanagement #socmint #femaleempowerment #linkedinthoughtleader #womeninsecurity #femalebodyguards #thoughtleadership #networking

Operational Communication for Close Protection

In the world of security operations, one of the most critical areas is communication, which involves constant cooperation and vital information sharing between top-level executives, their respective EA/P/A, the GSOC team, company employees, vendors, and agents working on the ground. Now, if you have been working for any reasonable amount of time in our industry, we are sure that the majority of you have experienced situations where the operation and security of everyone involved has been negatively affected by poor communication, inconsistent communication, or even the complete lack of communication. How information is being shared, what kind of information is being shared, and how/when it is documented is a skill one will quite often learn more readily outside the traditional ‘’EP Schools’’. Considering the fact that many security operations involve a huge number of people and different companies/vendors creating a hierarchy level, coupled with the fact that many companies have a tendency to be highly secretive with the information regarding the operation, you begin to understand how failing to communicate properly will not only create more risks but also will create day to day complications that don’t allow for a smooth operation. This is something that will not only be experienced by anyone secondarily involved, but also by the very protectees themselves. Keep in mind that your clients need peace of mind as well, and they shouldn’t be bothered or have their daily schedule negatively affected by your lack of communication skills or the resulting issues that ensue.

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Communication tools

There is a common misbelief (Hollywood and action entertainment are all too often to blame for this) that all EP operations have agents using radios and other high-tech gadgets. In all actuality, the majority of EP agents are required to appear either low profile or not given a radio based on client proximity so they must rely upon and use their cellphones for a majority of their detail communication needs. Using your cellphone may seem like an easy tool and really quite convenient, but there is a downside, and it should also come with specific warnings regarding the pitfalls that come with it’s use.

Currently, for your operational needs, in order to communicate, you will need some form of a publicly available chat app. Some of the most utilized and popular platforms are Signal, Telegram, Wickr Pro and Threema, to name a few. The majority of our colleagues have used and are still using WhatsApp, even though the app has been reported for multiple data breaches and leaks, as well as ‘’system shutdowns’’, leaving many colleagues panicked and scrambling to rapidly find an alternative communication system. But no matter how serious the issues that it presents, WhatsApp seems to be yet another example of the phenomenon where people get so accustomed to a product and do not want to change because change means you have to learn to use something new from the ground up and start again. We have had serious resistance from other companies we provided services to, as well as our clients themselves, when we asked to use a different and more secure platform. In the end, we and our agents agreed to use WhatsApp as per our clients’ request for them; however, we were utilizing other platforms privately between our own agents. When you are using a third-party App such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, etc., keep in mind that you will never be in control of the safety of the information you are sharing. Never. None of these apps are or ever will be entirely safe. So, when you are deciding, choose carefully based on who has fewer privacy issues, who is the creator (country), who your client is in relation to the creator (can the creators of this app be targeting your client?), what are your operational needs and always make sure you stay on top of the latest changes (social-political, geopolitical as well as company changes) that may affect the risk to your client. There are also paid work chat apps or business apps created for the workplace and personal messaging that promise a safer environment but again, one must take into consideration the fees and accessibility. (Who is paying when there is /more than one company involved and who IS involved, i.e. contractors, employees, 2nd parties, etc.).

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And the available functions and capabilities of each platform need to be vetted thoroughly as well. What are your needs or requirements? Will you be using large group chats? Will you and any size group be able to utilize voice texting? Will you be able to send small packets of information through the groups that you set up? (Pics of critical POIs, BOLO vehicles, onsite venue pics for inbound teams or advances, etc.) These are just a few of the features that operational teams use all the time and finding the right platform for your team’s needs and unique requirements is very important. No one operational has any desire to have any more apps or sites open at once on their personal devices than is absolutely necessary in an effort to try to manage a detail. Less “moving parts” is always better, if possible.

Information flow

During a protective operation, there is information that is crucial and must be passed among the parties involved (as per their responsibilities) and the agents on the ground. For numerous reasons, some individuals who are assigned as an operation manager or contract manager seem to be apprehensive about asking the necessary questions of the client or the people assigned to act on behalf of the client. This apprehension, quite often, is caused by their own insecurity in what they want to ask, fear of a negative response to their request, or the simple fact that they do not know what to ask. Insecurity in what to ask is a skill acquired by time in grade. As we spend time in our Craft, it’s almost impossible not to learn what the correct questions or inquiries would be. Fear of a negative response can be associated with the desire for acceptance or to have the client like them. We all know that what is best for the client’s safety and family security may not exactly be what THEY want…Be prepared to patiently and thoroughly explain the reasoning behind the questions and the resulting decisions. And for those who don’t know what to ask, stay tuned we will share a template one can use as one sees fit for his/her own needs.

When you receive a request to provide protective services, you must ensure that any/all specific information that is necessary for that detail’s success is obtained from the client right away and is passed along immediately to the agents on the ground. How many of us have found ourselves working on short gigs and know nothing or very little about the client? Sometimes even the very basic information that pertains to the gig itself? While we all know that clients can change their minds about what they want from second to second, there is specific information that still must be passed to the agents. This is an inherent need to set your team up for success. Period. Being able to plan ahead, run successful advances, and lower the risk levels, or even eliminate them altogether, means you must have as much information as you can and communicate it properly.

Now, the information flow definitely has two sides. Because the agents on the ground are reacting in real-time during any situation, they are actively aware of new information that must be passed on to the GSOC or the assigned person in charge. It must be done on a consistent basis. This is critical for operational effectiveness. But we all know “that” agent who will put every, little, minute bit of information that he/she may think it is relevant to the task. Always keep this in the back of your mind…While you are communicating with your fellow team members or passing vital information to your GSOC, keep it brief. Short and to the point. Only the facts. K.I.S.S. is the acronym that suits this best…

Briefings and De-briefings

I don’t believe that we can accurately highlight enough how important briefings and de-briefings are in our line of work. It seems that more and more, only a handful of companies or team leaders are utilizing them properly or using them at all. This lack comes from a basic laziness in people who want to merely save time (Even though you can keep them short if you keep them on point and factual) and/or the absence of needed information. If you have nothing to pass on to your agents, why have one, right? Wrong. You, as a team lead, are not the only one who may have information that needs to be brought to the group. Allow team members to speak and ask questions so that later issues are avoided.

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Communication Briefings are designed to provide necessary information about a client, the detail, events or occurrences and how they all interact, in a quick and effective way. They can also inform your agents about the SOPs, how to carry on specific instructions or corrections/encouragements to how they are performing or changes required to perform their duties. Everyone involved will hear about current risks and key threats in the areas they will be operating and will all be on the same page.

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De-briefings are equally important as it gives the team the opportunity to again share any information they gained through the day, identify any issue, discuss risks, possible POIs, improve communication between the team members and provide any additional support or guidance depending on the situation. It may also include discussions about changing tactics for the next day of operations as required due to new informational input gathered. And if there is truly nothing to report at the end of any time period, take the opportunity to boost morale and congratulate the team on a job well done. Remember, while we work very hard to stay out of sight and not draw attention to ourselves, this in no way means that we don’t need encouragement from time to time.


After being in this industry for a combined 54 years, we can both tell you how important documentation is (And it will save your position [And your posterior] one day!). If you are an EP agent and part of the team, it doesn’t matter if you have been sending your information and communicating with your fellow team members, your TL, or GSOC during the day. At the end of each shift, or the end of the operational day, you MUST keep a daily report. Your own daily report. In simple words, your own ‘’diary’’. As much as we have been discussing communication during this article, this is the most important form of communication that you can possibly use. It literally is your communication with the future. We know, that sounds a bit “out there”, but hear us out. At any one point in the future, you may be called upon to recount a day, event or occurrence that is critical and it could very well be the difference between safety or an unsafe condition…contract or no contract….Employment or unemployment…Some little detail that will be the deciding factor between simplicity and severity.  And the very fact that you kept an intricate record of your daily operations will be the one factor that makes all the difference in the world. The reason is, the information you (or that has been circulated by others during the shift) may or may not have reported or documented, or the incidents or special client’s requests of that day that may or may not have been registered will be absolutely dependent on the accurate reporting and documentation that you and your team kept. As part of our job is preparing and preventing the worst, keeping your own diary/documentation means you are protecting yourself and the decisions you or your team made at work if you ever are questioned or called in for explanations. It will help you to tell your side of what happened and why you made the decisions you made, what were client’s requests or TL requests, and how you responded. The easiest way to do this is by sending yourself an email at the end of your shift. Besides the information you would obviously include, you will have (because of the e-mail) the time and date also registered.

Ever since there was ever more than one of us in proximity to one another, there is one undeniable fact…To survive, we MUST communicate. Every deciding moment in history has been built around communication. Banners, signs, signal fires, telegraph messages, the Pony Express, Morse code, Enigma, emails, burst satellite…All based on the need for and the understanding of communication. In our Craft, we must be the true professionals and with this requirement comes the critical need to convey what we know, what we’ve seen, where we’ve been…The list goes on. Now, we know that this article only covers the basics when it comes to the subject of communication, and we realize that. But for those of us in our Craft, these points that we have made in this article are several of the “little things” that come up all too often in any detail AND they are the most frequently abused, ignored, and neglected aspects of what we consider to be a crucial part of any successful operation in close protection. How we communicate. For once we can smoothly, eloquently, accurately, safely, and quickly disseminate information properly, all the other aspects of our task will fall into place.

The Grows

Denida & Chris Grow bring a combined 54 years of international experience in the Protective and Intelligence services. They are based in Seattle, WA, and run their companies LeMareschal, Athena Worldwide and Nannyguards

”Giving Back The Stage” Project – Presenting Venessa Ninovic

This has been a project I have wanted to do for a long time. As a woman in the security industry, I have had the pleasure and the honor to have worked alongside some amazing female professionals from different parts of the world and security fields. Personally, I have been blessed with my networking contacts, developments, and public exposure. I feel like I owe a lot of my brand’s success to my relationship with my network and other colleagues.

That is why I have decided to “Give Back the Stage” to a different woman every month. Women don’t tend to be very public about their stories, their achievements, and their struggles. So every month, I will be using the power of my networking platforms and connections to promote and bring awareness to a specific female in the security sector. My goal is to help them grow their own brands, connections, and publicity by showing their stories and sharing them with my network and contacts. I learned a long time ago that success comes not only from hard work, dedication, and keeping my standards up, but also from having the right connections. And what these connections taught me is that sometimes by simply asking, you will be given an answer, some much-needed help, a tip, a new introduction, and sometimes, even a job offer. Please join me in this effort and welcome these women, invite them to your professional network and reach out to them if their services align with what your organization or clients may need. If you know a woman who must be on this “Stage”, please reach out to me and send me a recommendation.

The woman to whom I am giving the Stage for this month is Venessa Ninovic. Her LinkedIn profile came to my attention through her educational posts and articles, which I have been following for quite some time. Seeing how well-skilled she is in the OSINT sector, I invited Venessa to co-write an article with me, which she gladly did. During this process and our communication, I got to know more about her, her professional background, and her willingness to share her knowledge with others and help new practitioners.

Venessa is an Intelligence Analyst from Sydney Australia, who works in the law enforcement industry, a field that she truly loves. When she’s not doing work, she is contributing to the intelligence community in multiple ways. This led to her being awarded the AIPIO Emerging Intelligence Professional of the Year in 2022. She publishes blogs (@intel_inquirer on Medium) to share knowledge and give back to her field. She covers unique topics in the open-source intelligence (OSINT) space like deepfakes, dating apps, and drones. She also presented at the SANS OSINT Summit early this year to a worldwide audience about the impacts of deepfakes and how to detect them.

Recently she was a guest blogger on OSINT Curious, discussing the significance Strava can pose for OSINT, and wrote a joint article with me about the Job Scams in the Security Industry. She has also been featured in podcasts, including the Layer8 Podcast talking about dating app investigations, and the SitRep podcast discussing potential issues deepfake satellites may cause for analysts. Knowing how difficult it can be for job hunters, Venessa mentored a university student who was studying criminology and has also provided career advice for those wanting to enter the intelligence field on the Justice Dialogue. Sharing the importance of OPSEC and privacy online, she also presented to university graduates providing tools and tips for listeners.

For those of you in the security industry who want to learn more about the fascinating world of OSINT, you can follow Venessa’s articles on Medium and Linkedin.

The importance of observation skills for Executive Protection Agents

Today, we would like to analyze a very important skill for EP agents that is not being addressed or taught in EP schools but is extremely important. Presently, as we have all seen, there is a lot of talk about prevention and proactive measures but less talk or none at all, regarding what it takes to actually prevent a situation and how one can train to improve these skills. For an agent to be able to prevent a situation, he/she will need to have sharp observation skills.

Observation is part of human nature and, as a protective measure, has been practiced by our ancestors for survival, but as we are living in big cities and in a world more dependent on technology, many have lost their observational skills and/or become desensitized.

In his book, The Gift of Fear, Gavin de Becker wrote in 1997 about the importance of educating security professionals on being more observant. Later, in 2007, Joe Navarro wrote in his book that whoever doesn’t have the skills to observe properly will not be able to ‘’read’’ the person he/she has in front of him.

Andreas Venetis, who had been studying the application of body language for decades, conducted his own research on how security professionals can highly benefit by applying body language techniques. He wrote regarding these techniques in his thesis,” The contribution of body language in dealing with terrorism and crime: A comparative analysis of international cases” which is also included in the National Library of Police in London. He uses many case studies and examples from which one can gain substantial knowledge.

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(A woman suicide bomber walks past soldiers, the trigger in her right hand (Al-Mawsleya TV)

Why is observation so important? First, we must clarify that observing is significantly different from seeing. Just because you see something or someone doesn’t mean you observe it or them. Observation is a cooperative mental blending of visual and thought processes. The difference between seeing and observing can be crucial for a security detail. Being able to observe properly, one will be capable of identifying any early risk exposures and thus take appropriate safety measures.

Having good observational skills means you know what to look for and the how, when, and where’s to look and then interpret properly what you see according to your position and client. No matter how much visual information you have, it means nothing if you don’t know what you are seeing. If you cannot make a judgment, a prediction based on what you have just observed and how that can affect the safety (and smooth operation) of your client and your team, then your observation skills are lacking. And quite often, many newer agents forget that an important aspect to always be mindful of is what you AREN’T seeing. What is missing from the scene they are observing, perhaps certain aspects of behavior missing, lack of street or local traffic, or cultural/customary expectations that are strangely absent. Another thought is to always be mindful of the day or date. Some events or behaviors you expect will not be present on certain days, whereas others that are restricted or observed only on certain days or times will be an awkward surprise if you are not properly prepared or informed.

Good observational skills can help you not only in identifying suspicious people and behaviors but also can help you in these examples:


Being the problem-solver or troubleshooter everyone appreciates, starts with identifying the source of the problem in the early stages and then taking the correct action to solve it.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the analysis of available facts, evidence, observations, and arguments to form a judgment. And the ability to think critically often relies on observation skills to accurately realize and comprehend what is happening around us.

Interpersonal Intelligence

The ability to understand and interact effectively with others (public, team members, client) and, again, observation is the key component because of the need to monitor others’ behaviors.

Andrey Karlov, Russia's ambassador to Turkey, moments before his assassination

Andrey Karlov, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, moments before his assassination

But how can one learn how to observe properly? We can probably agree that society has taught us to pay attention and observe others in a wrong way or even, not at all. First of all, in everyday life, we are literally encouraged to look away from life and focus on a little screen in front of our faces. We should always be in a heads-up position and pay close attention to all that is occurring in real-time all around us. We, as humans, focus too much on facial characteristics rather than hands. If you are a security professional, hands should be the first thing you are observing. Is the person holding anything that can be used as a weapon? Is the person holding something that is unusual for the environment, or do the person’s hands look tight or tense? (Making a fist is the first sign of someone who is either under a lot of pressure and trying to maintain self-control or someone who is being ready to attack in some manner). Also, if you ask women and men to describe what they observe in someone else, women will focus on different characteristics than men. (And yes, sometimes they will give you more detailed descriptions than men!).

Observing properly means that you have a full understanding of your role, your environment, your client’s security needs, the risk factors and that you can read people and their behaviors based on these. And as all these factors have the potential to change quickly, you must also be able to ‘’reset’’ your observations and reactions just as quickly. This is the primary reason that these skill sets must be repeatedly and constantly challenged and refreshed because if one requires too much time to think, the critical moment may very well occur before any proactive security measures can be implemented properly and the client/team will then be in jeopardy.

In 2015 I found myself for the first time working in India, a totally different and new world for me. After my driver picked me up from the airport and we were on our way to my apartment, we stopped at a gas station. As the driver was fueling the car, I decided to get out and stretch (after all, I had been flying for many hours). I saw a young woman get off a scooter and stand next to me. What primarily made the ‘’red light’’ go off in my head was the fact she had a backpack (which looked heavy), and she had a full-face scarf. Now, what I didn’t know was that this was a very frequent image for the foggy area of Mumbai, but it wasn’t common for me, so I had to re-train my observation skills according to my new environment.

Observation, like any other skill, can be improved with practice. Start observing people and how they interact with each other. In your daily life, get in the habit of always asking the who, what, when, where and why’s as you move about, on your way to work on the transit bus/train, at the park, in a coffee shop, in an event, at a town square, etc. What stands out? Why? What DOESN’T stand out? Why not? What belongs? What is missing? The questions will certainly keep your mind busy, but they will definitely begin to sharpen your observation skills and adaptive reactions or solutions to events, people, and things that are happening all around you.

Tips for improving your observation skills:

1)     Know your client, your environment, and your safety risks.

2)     Establish your baseline.

3)     Self-observation (Are you focused on your job, or is your mind wandering?) You drastically lose your awareness as you become increasingly self-absorbed or self-focused. Stay in the moment!

4)     Watch hands, watch hands, WATCH HANDS! Then body core, face, and legs. Is anyone carrying anything that can be used as a weapon or beginning to gesture a violent movement in your client’s direction?

5)     Less cell phone time.

6)     Focus on the necessary task.

7)     Focus on body language. Body language can be an amazing asset in identifying pre-attack indicators.

8)     Improve your concentration.

9)     Identify and block any distractions.

10)  Less cell phone time.

11)  Pay attention to details or be aware of what might be missing.

12)  Observe how people interact with each other and try to make stories about what is happening among them.

13)  Less cell phone time

14)  Learn more about different environments, cultures etc.

15)  Keep notes of your observations.

16)  Maintain critical thinking during the observation process.

17)  Put information and people into categories as you notice them.

18)  LESS CELL PHONE TIME. Wait, did we mention that already? This has become the primary reason for the lack of observational skills and continues to numb and desensitize people to all that is occurring around them. You will always have down time later to look at your phone and wander off into Cyberland. But it is NOT the time when your senses need to be at their most sensitive and when the client needs you most.

Some examples or signs of unusual behavior or activity:

·        Inappropriate clothing for the season/time and place circumstances and consideration

·        Elegant / strikingly different clothing for the surrounding location

·        Jacket/coat during summertime

·        Long sleeves that conceal the palms of their hands

·        Protrusions in the sleeve, the back, or the chest

·        Excessive nervousness /shaking hands /touching the face

·        Sweating / flushed

·        Involuntary motions

·        Apathy/gazing

·        Adjusting items under clothing

Observation skills are something that you hone over time. Practicing, looking for things out of place, excessive, or even missing, will make you increasingly aware of what does and does not belong, what is normal or what is out of the ordinary. As you continue to practice these methods, you will find that very little escapes your observational skills, and in time, you will be able to quickly glance and make a lifesaving assessment when moments count.

The Grows

Denida & Chris bring a combined 54 years of international experience in the Protective and Intelligence services. They are based in Seattle, WA, and run their companies LeMareschal, Athena Worldwide and Nannyguards

LinkedIn Profile Optimization for Security Professionals

Security professionals can benefit from optimizing their LinkedIn profiles. If you have been job hunting for the last two years, you are aware of how many hiring companies are including your LinkedIn profile link in the application process. Have you ever wondered why?

LinkedIn has changed and evolved in the last few years. Today, it’s not only a professional networking platform but also a place where someone can find educational and valuable information (articles and posts), they can exchange opinions, and learn from other professionals so they can stay current with the latest industry trends.

According to Statista, LinkedIn is the seventh fastest growing brand across the globe in 2022.

Here are some interesting statistics from the Influencer Marketing Hub

-LinkedIn is a great place to find decision makers, As of late 2021, the platform claims to reach more than 65 million business decision-makers and making it easier to find customers by searching either their name, position, or company.

-20% of investors say that it’s the best platform when you want to learn about a topic.

-55% of decision-makers use thought leadership to determine which organization to work with.

-Your employees are 60% more likely to engage with posts from coworkers and 14 times more likely to share your organization’s page content and news.

-LinkedIn received a total of 4.4 billion visits from April 2022 to June 2022. This works out to an average of just below 1.5 billion views per month.

-It is a great recruitment tool, as of December 2021, there are more than 180 million US workers with profiles on LinkedIn. What’s more, over 97,000 companies use it for recruitment purposes.

-According to Pew Research Center’s Social Media Use in 2021, almost a third (28%) of adults in the United States use LinkedIn.

-The platform has listed over 58 million companies and 120,000 schools.

Most importantly, your LinkedIn profile can be the foundation for your personal branding as a security professional. Less than 10 minutes a day on LinkedIn can bring more leads to you than spending hours on other social media platforms (that are not designed for professional networking) or spending thousands of dollars on social media marketing companies who do not know your industry, therefore, your target group and what they want to hear.

When I started my career in 2002, I was a female in a highly male-dominated industry, living in a country where security was at it’s inception and, more specifically, women in the industry were something entirely new. Through this specific platform, I managed to network and reach out to colleagues and companies in other countries where, previously, I wouldn’t have been able to make my presence known. Through the content I began putting out, I managed to brand myself and my services. Almost 25% of my work and contracts are the result of using this platform.

Many underestimate the use of LinkedIn, however, If used as it’s intended, the platform can help you take your career to the next level. Personal Branding can be a very powerful tool to make you stand out and differentiate yourself from your other colleagues. People should see the value of being connected with you, and LinkedIn can help you achieve that.

Here are some simple steps that you may find helpful:

• Use a professional profile picture by following your industry’s standards (what can be accepted as a profile attire and pictures for someone who is in the fitness or show biz industry may not be acceptable for someone in the legal, finance, or security industry). Profiles with photos are considered more genuine. Don’t forget your background photo, it works as the second visual element of your profile.

• Use the headline to describe you in few words, what do you do and what are the primary attributes or skills that you want people to remember you having?

• Pay attention to your profile’s summary, it is very important you have one. This is your chance to put your words to work and describe how your skills can set you apart from others.

• Be creative with your profile summary and use words such as open-minded, problem solver, accountable, task-oriented, flexible, etc.

• List your skills, your education, and your professional experience (Please remember confidentiality and do not mention clients’ names).

• Grow your network. A major mistake I see security professionals do is they limit their network to only professionals who are within their industry. However, your network should be ANYONE who can be in contact with potential clients. Think outside of the normal. Family Offices, Household Agencies, Wealth Management companies, Legal and Financial institutions, nanny providers, etc.

• Be informed on the latest news about upcoming leaders and founders in the FinTech arena, and add them to your network. While they may not need your services today, they may tomorrow.

• List what services you offer that can boost your visibility in search results.

• Take a LinkedIn skill assessment. This usually presents as an online test, and statistic shows that profiles with verified skills are 30% more likely to be hired.

• Request and give recommendations for your colleagues. A solid support structure is the building block of your “community.”

• Share relevant industry content, news, and research surrounding studies you are involved with and also other fellow professionals’ articles as well.

• Post articles, stories, and relevant threads, that appear in publications and blogs that mention you or your company by name. By using this feature, you can draw attention as a subject matter expert.

• Follow relevant professionals in the industry. Be more active if you like their posts by liking, commenting, and sharing their content.

• Create your OWN CONTENT. We can never address how important this is and how helpful it can be to your personal branding. Being someone who adds his/her own thoughts, expertise, and questions will help you to be seen as a valuable connection. The more interesting and educational the content you share, the more you establish yourself and your expertise among others in the industry. And while you do that, do not forget the importance of engaging with your audience. Pay attention to their feedback and comments. Respond to them, have a professional debate regarding subjects but never allow yourself to be drawn into an argument that is nothing more than a troll-hunting expedition. A wise person once told me, “Never engage in a mud-slinging competion…NO matter who wins or loses, you’re both covered in mud, and no one comes out looking pretty.”

If you want to distinguish yourself as a thought leader in your niche and create your brand name as a Security provider, LinkedIn should definitely be a part of your marketing strategy.

Denida Grow

Protective & Intelligence Services

LeMareschal LLC

Athena Worldwide


Nannyguards has been selected by the Leaders Network team at Meta

We are very happy and quite proud to announce that Nannyguards has been selected by the Leaders Network team at Meta to showcase our success story. It has been a tough road and many long hours since the very first day Nannyguards was created and we feel extremely blessed to share our work and heartfelt passion with some amazing professionals who have since joined our team. Dr. Mary Beth Wilkas Janke (Psychology), JD Elkin (Cyber Security Awareness), Kelly Sayre (Situational Awareness) and Chris Grow.

Want to learn more about Nannyguards? Visit

Job scams in the security industry

Lately, there have been a lot of reports from colleagues regarding job scams within the security industry with scammers posing as recruiters or hiring companies’ employees offering a job and requiring candidates to pay fees using the justification of a training costs, work visa, travel expenses, background checks, etc.

Keep in mind that there are many people desperate to get a job and support their families, as well as the fact that they are operating within an industry that in many countries has no standards and is not regulated by official governmental authorities. This leads to a trend of less than honest people who find an easy way to expand their fraudulent activities and rip off our colleagues.

‘’ Fake Job or Employment Scams occur when criminal actors deceive victims into believing they have a job or a potential job. Criminals leverage their position as “employers” to persuade victims to provide them with personally identifiable information (PII), become unwitting money mules, or to send them money.’’ April 21, 2021, FBI Warns Cyber Criminals Are Using Fake Job Listings to Target Applicants’ Personally Identifiable Information

Types of known scams used against security professionals

• Advanced Fee Fraud or 419 Fraud

     In the security industry, this is a form of fraud where scammers posing as recruiters or hiring companies’ employees offer you a job and require you to pay them some of the fees associated with training, work visas, travel expenses, running background checks, etc. Typically, they offer you a very attractive job placement, with good money and great benefits. Some of them can be monitoring your online networking profiles and can ‘’read’’ your work needs and offer you a package according to what they discover about you. When you put a ‘’Open to Work’’ banner on your LinkedIn or a post saying you are looking for a job, be sure scammers are monitoring you. After they contact you, they start extracting your personal information from you. What they hope to obtain is your full name, bank account details, PayPal information, Social Security Number, driver’s license, and generally any other information they can use to get money from you. After they have gained your trust, they tell you that you qualify for their job, but in order to proceed, you will need to send them some money for either visa applications or criminal background checks. Some of them will require you to join and pay for one of their training courses, seminars, or conferences to be considered for hiring.

• Employment/ Career scams

Employment and career-related scams include companies trying to sell you products or services attempting to collect your personal information to sell to a third party who will then try to market their products/services to you.

• Career Consulting Scams

You may be contacted by “career consultants” who are impressed with your qualifications and would like to represent you. In addition, you will have to pay for their marketing, resume writing, resume reviews, or other career-related services.

• Recruiting Scams

Recruiters may contact you saying that they have clients with positions that you could be qualified for, though they don’t have any current openings. However, they then offer training sessions to purchase that will enhance your candidacy. They want to sell you their products/training but there is no guarantee of any employment.

• Bait and Switch Scams

With this scam, you apply for a job, and you get called for an interview. During the interview, you discover that the job you applied for doesn’t exist (or all positions are filled), and the company tries to draw your interest to a completely different position. ‘’When a company is hiring for jobs that nobody wants, bad benefits, less money, or horrible working conditions, they believe they may be able to more readily convince someone to take the job if they discuss it with them in person, so they mislead you about one job until they get you in for the interview and then talk to you in person regarding the other job’’.

• Phishing Scams

    In this type of scam, you get an email saying a company has clients with open positions that you could be qualified for, even sending you the description of what could be a legitimate job opening: “Your online resume has recently come to my attention. I am impressed with your qualifications. A client of mine needs to fill an opening, and because of your previous experience in the executive protection industry, I believe you might be a solid match. In order to see the full job description, just click on the link below or paste it into your browser’s address bar.” Sometimes you are also given a code to enter. What’s happening is this: You are directed to a link on a website, where you fill out a form with your contact information and other personal information. This is an attempt to collect your personal information, either to sell your services or information to a third party or, even worse, you just opened your door to a virus being downloaded to your pc. If any links are sent to you by a potential threat actor, search for them on This website may indicate whether it is malicious.  

Other common scam tactics to look out for:

• Is there a sense of urgency? If yes, consider it a red flag. Legitimate companies and recruiters won’t push you to accept a job offer in an urgent manner.

• Pay attention if they are using attractive words and offering you the job of your dreams.

• Be careful if you get asked to pay for any equipment and send it to the address they require for ‘’software installation’’.

• Even if the company exists and they have a registered domain and a website up and running, you are emailing back and forth, and after some time, they ask you to pay them…stay away!

• If a recruiter asks to divert the messages to an encrypted application like WhatsApp, Skype, or Telegram, this is of concern and could be indicative of a scam.

For example, view the job application scam below, derived from Reddit. ( ).

• If you have only spoken to one person in the company over the phone and have yet to meet or view anyone face-to-face (even virtually), this could be a scam. Most interviews have several individuals present at the interview stage or in the second round of interviews.

• Scammers may primarily use phone calls and messages as a means of communication, especially if they are impersonating a CEO or recruiter online. It would be worthwhile to ask for a video chat instead, so that you can cross-reference the images online to the person you are speaking with. There has also been an increase in deepfakes used in video chats like zoom, with a recent article recommending that you ask the individual to turn their head to the side to determine if they are using this technology to impersonate others.

‘’According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), 16,012 people reported being victims of employment scams in 2020, with losses totaling more than $59 million. In 2020, Texas reported 1,720 victims reported $4.5 million in losses. There were 69 victims in El Paso totaling $721,600 in losses. As of March 5, 2021, 2,349 victims had already reported $5 million in losses nationwide, 244 victims in the state of Texas with a loss of $1.5 million. In El Paso, there were eight victims reporting $31,928 in losses. Midland/Odessa reported 10 incidents in 2020 totaling $71,500 and zero complaints in 2021. The average reported loss was nearly $3,000 per victim, in addition to damage to the victims’ credit scores.’’ Read the full press release here.

How to validate a recruiter?

When you want to properly validate a recruiter or a company employee, there are some simple steps to take where you can put your open-source intelligence (OSINT) skills to the test. You can gather information on the company that they claim they represent. It will probably take you a few minutes to get the general idea by searching online public sources. Start by looking carefully at that person’s LinkedIn account because, in this day and age, almost every professional has one. Do they have any activities (comments, posts, articles), or do they have any recommendations? Does their profile look real? Note that if the recruiter has a premium LinkedIn account, that does not mean that they are not a scammer. Look through their followers/following, see if there are other individuals in that company and whether these profiles look real, because if not, that might be a red flag.

  • Conduct OSINT on the recruiter/individual if you have suspicions. Unfortunately, scammers use common names to make this process difficult, so look for any identifying factors you can find on their LinkedIn. For example, if George Smith from Greece is offering you a role, you can do a Boolean search on Google with the following: “George Smith” “Greece”, or “George Smith” “Company”. Look for their other social media profiles and their digital footprint. If no results show, that may be of concern.
  • Do a reverse image search on the profile picture, this can be done by saving/downloading and uploading the image into a search platform. It is helpful to use different platforms as this can generate different results, including Google, Yandex, Tineye etc. If the image search does not provide any results, question yourself if the image convinces you. For example, would a woman with very provocative attire work for a professional law office or banking institution? Challenge your gut. It is also worthwhile to become familiar with deepfake images of people who don’t exist from the website, and to understand their features, as a profile image on LinkedIn could be derived from this website. 
  • Do research on the email provided/linked with their account. Does the recruiter’s e-mail address match the name of the company? Typosquatting is a term for a social engineering attack that uses misspelled domains in email addresses, so double check the spelling of the company. Is it a personal e-mail address? Search the email address in Google and Epieos, and see what results are found. Companies never use free email provider services like yahoo, Gmail, etc., and they are very easy to create. Say, for example, someone is presented themselves to you as Mr. John Adams, recruiter of our company LeMareschal, and the e-mail he provided you was:, he is a fraud!
  • Additionally, when receiving an email, it may appear as “Amazon” for example, but ensure to also look at the email itself to examine the domain and email stem (eg. This is another known phishing tactic scammers use.
  • If they give you a phone number, do some research on that too. Even a simple Boolean search may showcase other posts by victims stating that they have been scammed. If you feel comfortable, call them and ask relevant details questions about the role, see if they know the answers.

For OSINT beginners, OSINT FRAMEWORK can be a great place to start with. It is a collection of OSINT tools to make your data and intel collection task easier and faster. The tool is used mostly by security researchers.

How to validate a company?

• Does the company exist? Where is it registered? Does the company operate in the country of your recruiter?  

• Who runs the company?

• Do research on the company’s reputation on the web, forums, etc.

Some scammers will use a name for a fake company that is very similar to a real company, so when you do your research or ask around about the X investment or IT company, people will tell you it does exist. Some will go to great lengths and create an actual website and have a registered domain (in most cases, they have it under a private registration). OSINT searches of the company, and deep diving into the company website can be valuable, we recommend you do the following:  

• Check the domain name by placing the company website in the Domaintools Who Is Lookup website, see who the registrant is, when it was last updated, and if it matches the company’s name. Is the website up and running or does it lead to an ‘’under construction’’ page?

•To search for the business website IP address, place the website into VirusTotal and the details section will provide you with an IP address (a string of numbers). You can then search for the address through IP Address Lookup, and it will provide you with a location (

• Look up the company website using waybackmachine, to see previous versions of the website, are there notable changes to the contact details, location, names, design or the about section?

• Several companies have social media profiles. Look into the differing profiles they may have, when were these profiles last active/created? Look into the history of the profile, the spelling of posts, terminology used and if the posts correspond with your knowledge and thoughts of the company.

• Pay attention to the company name and the job they are offering. There are only a few major and well-known companies that hold ‘’good positions” especially overseas.

• Look for individuals on LinkedIn who are currently in that specific role or team, inquire about the role and ask questions. They may even reveal that they are not in the process of hiring at the moment.

• Start asking your colleagues and your network contacts if they know or they have heard anything about the company and the person who contacted you. Raise questions asking for more information about them in security-related forums and networking places, and then carefully evaluate every answer you get.

• Keep a record (Excel works fine for this) with companies you have applied to before, so if you get contacted by a company you haven’t applied to, they may be frauds, and they probably got your e-mail information from different forums or networking places. How many cases do you know where people were contacted out of the blue by the hiring companies asking them to apply for a position with them?

• If they are claiming the company operates in a foreign country, call the embassy in that country, and ask them. The consulate office registers every company originating in its own country operating overseas (especially when it comes to security and protective services).

How to run a simple and quick background check on a business?

1) Use the free web tools (search engines,, Company’s pages on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook)

2) Use Government Agency Resources (public records, court cases, business state registration and licensing,, Chamber of Commerce, Export Bureau International Fraud Report

3) Best Business Bureau (Better Business Bureau makes company information public to consumers and applies an A to F grade to each company. Their core services include business ethics, truth in advertising, fraud prevention, consumer education, business education, and dispute resolution between consumers and businesses.)

4) Start looking for an online reputation, complaints against it, credit history, and legal background. The most innovative company to provide business information is Dun and Bradstreet, which created a DUNS number–a nine-digit identification number-

5) Determine what industry the business falls under and conduct a search for the governing agencies.

6) Search county court records, including property tax records. Your county court has public records available to search the company and its principals if they are involved or have been involved in a lawsuit.

7) Get a business credit report and background report (available from Dun and Bradstreet, Experian, Smart Business Reports, Equifax, and Lexis Nexis, fees range per report).

8) For foreign companies you can use (which supplies online credit and business information on more than 50 million companies in 230 countries).

Sometimes when you investigate people, the information will lead you to companies, and when you investigate those companies, your information will lead you to individuals, always compare and run information on both. Make sure you NEVER provide them with your personal information!!! If you don’t know someone or can’t check on them, do not give them any of your information!!!

What to do if you run into a job scammer?

1) Do not reply to their e-mails or texts.

2) Do not give any of your personal information.

3) Do not send any payment or buy anything for them.

4) Inform your colleagues/networking contacts for that company/contact.

If you still don’t know and need help, reach out to us!

By Denida Grow


Venessa Ninovic

Bio: Venessa Ninovic is an Intelligence Analyst working in law enforcement and has experience investigating fraudulent activity and threats online. In her spare time, she writes blogs about OSINT/SOCMINT, and intelligence analysis, sharing her knowledge to give back to the community. 

You can follow Venessa’s blog here & follow her on Twitter @intel_inquirer