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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
· 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.
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.
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.
-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.
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.
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.
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 urlscan.io. 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.
• 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 thispersondoesnotexist.com, 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: email@example.com, 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. John.firstname.lastname@example.org). 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 (https://whatismyipaddress.com/ip-lookup).
• 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?
3) Best Business Bureau http://www.bbb.org/ (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- http://www.dnb.com/
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 www.skyminder.com (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
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
Besides the damages and the loss of valuables, cash, or assets that have enormous value, some of these victims are going to be scared forever. It is never easy for one to have his/her safe heaven, their home, broken into by others. Knowing that the place you consider the safest is not safe and seemingly anyone can target you, come closer to you, or steal from you, makes the victims feel vulnerable and unsafe and brings substantial levels of anxiety into their daily life. Having your privacy torn from you can leave mental and emotional scars that do not mend.
What’s even scarier is that many of these victims have families, and their children can be targeted as well. And if you think that only celebrities can be victims of having their homes broken into, think again. Many incidents show that other individuals such as C-Suite corporates, businessmen and businesswomen, as well as Royal Family members, have had their homes broken into. Florence Mirsky, Elton B. Stephens Jr, and the former prime minister of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani are just a few examples.
According to Vanity Fair ”David and Victoria Beckham were reportedly “shaken up” after a masked intruder broke into their home while they were asleep. The couple’s West London mansion was burglarized in late February. The pair and their 10-year-old daughter,Harper, were apparently asleep when the intruder broke in upstairs, only becoming aware of the invasion later. In the meantime, the burglar was able to quietly make off with thousands of pounds worth of their belongings. The Beckhams didn’t realize they’d been burglarized until their 17-year-old son, Cruz, came home later that night after an evening out with friends and discovered a ransacked spare bedroom with broken glass from where the window had been smashed in. Cruz alerted his father, who called the police. They then both went looking for the trespasser, but he was long gone by then with their designer goods and electronics.”
Reading all these names (who are just a small group considering the larger picture) you may ask: since they have the money, why can’t they protect their homes more efficiently?
One of the primary reasons is the all too common PROACTIVE vs REACTIVE security stance they take. This unfortunate view has become one of the leading factors in these types of circumstances. Many people, no matter what their financial background or celebrity status might be, will only take action and reach out for help AFTER an incident has taken place. They are convinced, either on their own or by friends and associates, that they don’t need that kind of protection, they’ll be fine, it won’t happen to them…Until it does. Then, some may invest in a close protective detail, but not in a residential security team, and in doing so, will never learn what may be truly necessary. Some interesting residential security facts brought up by the 2022 State of Safety report showed that although Americans believe that crime is on the rise, the use of property protection measures fell 6% between 2019 and 2020, and nearly 40% of American residents don’t use any kind of security measures to protect their home whatsoever.
What is Residential Security?
Residential security is a combination of technological measures, methods, and manpower to ensure the safety and security of a household (lives, valuables, privacy) and the assets and property that lie within its perimeter. Depending on the clients’ risk and threat factors (their security needs), it can be alarm systems, controlled access, guard dogs, physical residential security teams/guards (RST), drone coverage, or any combination of these tools.
A good residential security plan starts with a detailed, in-depth risk, threat, and vulnerability assessment. An expert should visit your residence and do a detailed physical survey to identify any weak points that will make it easier for someone to gain access to you or breach your privacy. The expert will be able to determine the seriousness of potential risks and the likelihood of an incident taking place, either due to what is discovered during the assessment or specific threats you have currently. He/she will consult with you on a plan and give their recommendations (upgrading the locks on windows and doors, upgrading the level of glass security, placing an alarm system and CCTV, hire security guards, etc.) on how to mitigate any risk and/or threat factors and protect your property. They can also identify the response time for first responders and law enforcement and do thorough research on your area’s criminal activities, crime rates/types, and even any known sex offenders’ presence in your surrounding neighborhood. So many families have small children, and knowing the potential risks in the surrounding area helps to mitigate any possible dangers to the children’s safety. During an estate risk, threat, and vulnerability assessment, they look for anything that can be harmful to you or disturb your life. A threat can be anything such as a natural disaster, fire incident, stalking and harassment, privacy violation, smash and grab theft, robbery, vehicle theft, or a serious physical attack such as a kidnapping, active home invasion when you’re home or even murder.
Things to consider when establishing a Residential Security Team
A Residential Security Team is not established just because the client lives or spends a majority of their time at the said estate, a residential security team is placed for the safety of the premises even when the client is not home. Arriving home to find a violent individual in your home awaiting your return is no less disturbing than stopping one from coming in when you’re present in the home. Most clients and security companies focus so much on protective details that they forget the importance of having a proper and balanced RST in place that will make sure the house, your belongings, and your privacy are protected 24/7. Most of the victims mentioned at the beginning of our article could have prevented what happened to them if they had put the needed importance on their RST teams. While a determined criminal might come in when you’re home, most will attempt their task when you’re away from the residence, and a mere security system with cameras only takes great pictures of them getting away, not stopping the loss of assets or the even more frightening possibility of someone waiting until you arrive home.
A Residential Security Team and the Protective Detail teams must cooperate and communicate with each other on a regular basis. They are two departments with the same goal, to keep the family safe. Either when the family is on the move or back at home. We’re highlighting the necessity of cooperation significantly because there seems to be a competition at times between RST and Protective Details teams who don’t share information or report to each other as they should. Remember, as an RST, you have eyes on the property and around it; as a Protective Detail team, you have eyes on the client while in public or away. Many incidents would have been avoided if one team could pass on the information they found to the other. In the end, we all truly want the same thing…A safe and happy client and his family.
The training of your Residential Security Team is crucially important. You must have trained personnel who not only know every inch of your premises and all the needed procedures but also are trained and qualified for the job requirements. Make no mistake, a residential security team member is not just a uniform guard.
RST members are individuals who are responsible for a variety of functions such as:
documenting and reporting
providing real-time information about the surrounding area
identifying suspicious behaviors and reporting them
have a high level of customer service attitude
conduct ongoing threat, risk, and vulnerability assessments
follow up with SOPs
work directly with household personnel, other security teams, and local law enforcement
know how to use alarm and surveillance equipment
can support event security operations
The residential security team is your first line of defense, and when they are truly professional, they can be a deterrent to anyone who may want to target your home.
When you’re vetting your Residential Security Team, there are a few steadfast rules to always keep in mind. Would you allow just anyone to be close to your family and friends? No, of course, you wouldn’t! Then why shouldn’t you be extremely careful during the vetting and hiring process of your residential security team? Known incidents have shown that ‘’strong castles fell from within’’, and many home break-ins have happened due to insider information. When we deal with celebrities or people with specific wealth, insider threat is very real. Many of the break-ins happened because one of the residential security guards either committed the crime or made it easier/assisted the actual burglars. Vetting your security personnel is mandatory, a criminal background check should be done before hiring and be done again regularly at random after the initial hiring. An additional credit check is necessary to assure that your RST members are of sound financial background. There can be no room for any type of bribery or theft of the client’s assets due to an individual’s monetary indiscretion. Driving records are crucial as the RST members may or may not have access to or need to move the client’s vehicles. And as much as it sounds ‘extremist,’ there MUST always be a background into anyone near the children or having regular interaction with the children. The world is no longer a safe place…Unless we make it that way. This is our task…This is our Craft. We have chosen this, and a Residential Security Team is a very necessary asset for the proper 24/7 protection of clients, property, assets, and even their very lives.
If you are interested in learning more about Residential Security or need a Residential Risk, Threat, and Vulnerability Assessment? contact us today at email@example.com
In the corporate world, excellent etiquette means that you know how to act professionally and exercise proper manners in all aspects when engaging with others. You will be able to create a good impression, portray confidence, build strong business relationships, raise your productivity, and prevent any miscommunication issues.
The following link is a great resource for free etiquette training and it covers many sectors such as Corporate, Interview, Clothing, Internet, Email, and other forms and genres of etiquette.