In our latest interview with expert Nick Barreiro, Chief Forensic Analyst of Principle Forensics, we discussed the security risks from any/all social media platform postings and how someone can obtain critical information from your pictures. If you haven’t watched the interview yet, please find it below
According to Vice’s latest article, authorities have been following Instagram profiles of the women related to, or involved with, Russian oligarchs to obtain information about them, their holdings, accounts, and locate assets to seize/freeze by merely identifying and following the weakest link who posts the most. These women who act like ”influencers” or social media celebrities are looking for publicity, but they now represent a significant threat to the security of the individuals they’re around and expose them to unwanted scrutiny. ”Oligarchs themselves rarely use Instagram to accidentally crack open a window into their high living. Rather, it’s the people partying with them: A stepdaughter, an ex-wife, or in the least one infamous case, an escort.” Read the full article here.
Our interview with Nick Barreiro, Chief Forensic Analyst of Principle Forensics is available online. It was a pleasure, for us, to have this opportunity to discuss with Nick the ever popular subject of ”Don’t post pictures from your details, business trips or your clients and their ‘toys”. A subject that has been brought up for discussion hundreds of times and by many diverse colleagues, and even today there seems to be two categories: Those who say there is nothing wrong with it and it causes no threat or harm, and those who are against it and have been preaching it for years. Our new subject matter expert is a certified Audio/Video Forensic Analyst and the founder of Principle Forensics and he discussed with us how easy it is for someone to draw valuable information from your online posts, videos, audio, or pictures. We talked about photography risks, audio/video risks, discreet investigations involving recorded evidence, and why the issue is still critical even if you have the client’s permission to post your pictures with him or the fact that you have stopped working for said client. Nick will welcome any questions but he is not on social media so if you have a question for him to answer, you can email us and we will forward it and follow up with you. He has also offered to do a second interview where we can open it up to participants who can ask questions. So, if you are interested, let us know.
”Children are especially vulnerable to kidnapping as their natural inquisitiveness can be exploited by kidnappers and pedophiles and most nannies or drivers are not security trained, also many kindergartens and schools have very low standards of security. And most parents think that something as horrific as having their child kidnapped will never happen to them… But is does happen, and in such cases prevention is far better than hoping for happy endings that the chances are, will not materialize.
Most people think of kidnap for ransomsituations when we discuss kidnapping but another type of domestic kidnapping is where an estranged parent will take a childthey do not have legal custody for. These situations can become very complicated if the child is taken to or is in another country, as the local laws usually take precedence. The Hague Child Abduction Convention is the international law that tends to be used for child custody disputes but how this is interpreted at local levels is another thing. A single parent may have custody of their child in U.S. or Western Europe, but if their ex-partner is a citizen of say an Asian or Middle Eastern country and manages to get the child there, the local courts will most probably give them custody.” read the full article HERE
Performing close protective services for a public figure is a tedious task, to say the very least. It’s not easy and requires a great deal of skill and experience in dealing with crowds, fans, and media. You may think pushing people away or being physically overpowering is an accepted method, but you would be very wrong. Not to mention you will be 100% responsible for any injuries to the person that you pushed to the ground or roughly handled irresponsibly. “Hey, don’t shove me, man,” someone said. “You just knocked a man over!” one person said. A man with a camera can be seen on the ground in the video. Another man helped him up as the Smollett entourage moved forward without missing a step”…..read the full article in The Western Journal.
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.
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.
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.
Are you aware of HELP online courses? The HELP online courses cover various human rights related topics, reflecting the different areas of work of the Council of Europe. Although the primary target group of the Council of Europe HELP courses are legal professionals (judges, prosecutors and lawyers), some interdisciplinary courses may involve other professionals such as security personnel.
This has been a project I have wanted to do for a long time. As a woman in the security industry, I had the pleasure and the luck to have worked along with 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 brands’ success to my relationship with my network and other colleagues. That is why I 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, success comes not only from hard work, dedication, keeping the 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, help, a tip, a new introduction, and sometimes 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 first woman to whom I am giving the Stage for this month is Kelly Sayre. Kelly is the Founder and President of The Diamond Arrow Group, a company that builds women’s self-confidence with realistic tactics and tools to help them live life safely and on their own terms. Her refreshing angle on women’s safety emphasizes non-physical, proactive situational awareness techniques that recognize and avoid threatening situations before they happen. With a grounded approach and high energy, Kelly works with law enforcement, nonprofit, corporate, and youth organizations on emergency preparedness, situational awareness training, and personal safety. She is a frequent speaker at national events and a guest on global podcasts.
Kelly is trained in FEMA’s Community Emergency Response Team program, the Department of Homeland Security’s Active Shooter Preparedness Workshop, and Texas A&M Extension Service’s crisis communications. She is a member of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals, TeamWomen, FEW, and the Tri-County Humane Society. Kelly lives in Minnesota with her husband, children, and a 190-pound Great Dane.
I met Kelly some months ago, although I had her as a LinkedIn connection, I never had direct communication with her. One day Kelly called me and asked if I would be willing to read her book and give her my feedback, which I gladly did. It was refreshing to see another woman who actually gets it when it comes down to personal safety. Talking with her further I found out that the reason she decided to write the book and get a different approach in teaching other women how to be safe, was the fact that for years, Kelly saw women’s self-defense courses were focused on handling physical altercations, while domestic violence advocacy has circled around helping women who are already in abusive relationships. Meanwhile, the statistics on violence committed against women have remained stagnant for decades.
According to Kelly, there is a better way of handling these issues. Women have unbelievable intuition skills. They notice when a loved one is “off.” They feel the vibe or energy of a place. Their amazing instincts help them take care of others. What if they could use these natural abilities to enhance their situational awareness and avoid a physical fight? What if they could learn to recognize the red-flag behaviors and get out before the violence starts?
Now, they can! In her book, ‘’Sharp Women’’, Kelly Sayre breaks down ways for women to deal with everyday situations using their best self-defense weapon—their intuition. In this book, they’ll discover how to sharpen their natural skills, build a solid plan to protect themselves, and move forward through their life with confidence. One of the reasons Kelly wrote this book was the fact that she approached the topic as an everyday woman. And when she looked for answers to the questions she had on how to increase her situational awareness, as an everyday woman, the resources were scarce. There were no options for training outside of the law enforcement and military communities and some martial arts instructors. She found two books, and while she found both excellent resources, they were both written by men. Kelly decided to do more research and gain more experience with this new information and wrote the book to share what she has learned to date, from a female perspective, having experienced a lot of the scenarios she talks about firsthand.
Safety doesn’t happen by accident….
As a female in the security industry for two decades and as a martial arts athlete since my early childhood days, I had the opportunity to sit in many ‘’self-defense’’ and combatives classes. As an experienced woman and athlete on the training mat as well as the security professional working in real-life scenarios in different environments, I found most of these teachings were ‘’irrelevant’’, ‘’insufficient’’, and ‘’unrealistic’’ especially when delivered to women who had never practiced any kind of close contact fights or knew anything about safety. And here is this writer who had put down her questions, did her research, and put together a great book that can teach an everyday woman how to be safer. A book I truly feel can be useful to my daughters or mother. In simple words, with research and real scenarios and examples, Kelly has managed to put together a useful guide of how to be A Sharp Woman.
If you are a woman interested in learning more about how to be safe, grab her book or send her a message on LinkedIn with your questions. If you represent an organization or school reach out to Kelly for a presentation or speech.
Bias is a topic that many industries like to avoid, and the security and intelligence industries are no exception. However, there is a profound need to discuss biases in regard to the security industry and when educating security practitioners and intelligence analysts. When the subject of biases has been raised in the past, the majority of commentators cannot seem to agree, in fact, they will often argue against the existence of biases and/or why there is a need to discuss them in the first place. In this article, we would like to address the topic of bias – what bias is, who has biases, are biases wrong, and what types of biases there are. Then, we will highlight WHY it is important for security professionals and intelligence analysts to be able to identify their biases and address them, and, then, we will share HOW one can identify his/her biases.
Now before we start, there is one thing on which we can all agree: As a security professional, you don’t only make assessments about incidents or places, but also about people. Keep this in mind as we proceed further, we will come back to it.
4. any deviation of a measured or calculated quantity from its actual (true) value, such that the measurement or calculation is unrepresentative of the item of interest. —biased adj.
There are a few key words from the definition — predisposition, against, tendency, preference”. Keep those words in mind when thinking about how they affect the threat assessment of a security professional. While you do that, think of a scenario when a security guard has to assess, either by observation or by interviews, any visitors in the area for which he/she is responsible. That security guard believes that women are less likely to commit a crime (bias) and, during his/her threat assessment, he/she misses the fine details that a woman is, in all actuality, a terrorist. You think perhaps this couldn’t occur? Well, it has actually happened. In July 2017 in Mosul, a female suicide bomber, holding her child in her arms, managed to walk by security guards and detonate her bomb.
The security guards, instead of being observational and watching her hands (in which she was holding the detonator), just saw a mother with her child. Many people see women as weak and incapable of committing acts of terror, especially one who is carrying her own child. This is not the only incident when ‘’miscalculation of threat or of threat actors’’ was catastrophic.
Before we answer that, ask yourself, “Are there people, things, or ideas you like better than others? Are there places/events where you feel more comfortable than others?” We are sure your answer to these questions is “yes” and that is because all humans have biases. Some biases are passed to us through evolution and some are learned through socialization and/or direct experience. One must understand that biases serve a purpose. Simply put, because the human brain has the tendency to categorize information, people, events, experiences, etc. during his/her learning and development process, the brain will connect the new information and people to past experiences. Once that is done, the brain will respond to it in the same way it does to other things belonging to that same category. So, by putting people with similar traits into a specific category, one believes that everyone else in that category must be the same. Biases are not limited to race, gender, ethnicity, religion, social or political groups but many characteristics may be subjected to one’s biases such as physical appearance, sexual orientation, educational level, profession, etc.
Are biases wrong and racist?
When discussed, the majority of people tend to disregard biases, believing that even acknowledging those biases will label them as racists. The first mistake when talking about biases is when someone considers someone else good or bad based on his/her biases.
According to Matt Grawitch, PhD‘’Biases make decision-making easier by giving us a starting point, an initial prediction, or a “leaning of the mind” regarding which choice to make. We anchor our original judgment in the biased conclusion and then adjust it based on supplemental information.’’
Having biases is not necessarily bad, wrong, or racist. In fact, we’ve discussed that biases improve the decision-making process and help the human brain to categorize new information. We could say that since biases help us simplify information processing, they basically function as rules of thumb that help us make sense of what is happening around us and make faster decisions.
However, biases can become bad and even dangerous when we treat or judge someone unfairly or when the accuracy of the decision is of the utmost importance, such as behaviour or threat assessment. In addition, what can make a bias shift from ok to “bad” is when an individual allows their biases to influence their decision-making process in such a way that they allow those biases to affect someone else in a negative fashion by either being unfair or causing a miscalculation in the threat level.
Not being able to recognize and address our biases can lead to neglecting or discounting information that would be valuable for our job functions. Information that we process and use to make decisions can directly affect a risk/threat and vulnerability assessment, an interview with a suspect, the analysis of intelligence and data, or the use of link analysis in putting together an intelligence report. In these situations, biases can become a systematic thinking error that can cloud our judgment, and, as a result, impact our decisions, thus rendering our final product limited or even useless.
What types of biases do people have?
People can have conscious biases (biased attitudes toward specific ideologies, events, groups of people, etc. that we are aware of) or unconscious biases (biases we are not aware of, cannot control, are difficult to access and can quite often influence our actions more than conscious biases).
In one of her articles, Kendra Cherry mentions that ‘’some of our cognitive biases are related to memory. The way you remember an event may be biased for a number of reasons and, that in turn, can lead to biased thinking and decision-making. Other cognitive biases might be related to problems with attention. Since attention is a limited resource, people have to be selective about what they pay attention to in the world around them.’’
If you are aware of a biased attitude, it is more likely and consciously possible for you to be able to address it during your decision-making process. However, the unconscious biases are the most ‘’dangerous” ones since it often takes specific training and study of yourself to be able to identify that you have them. Here, Carly Hallman is listing 50 types of unconscious biases. Have a look and see how one or more of them can affect your decision-making process.
Fundamental Attribution Error: We judge others on their personality or fundamental character, but we judge ourselves on the situation.
Self-Serving Bias: Our failures are situational, but our successes are our responsibility.
In-Group Favoritism: We favor people who are in our in-group as opposed to an out-group.
Bandwagon Effect: Ideas, fads, and beliefs grow as more people adopt them.
Groupthink: Due to a desire for conformity and harmony in the group, we make irrational decisions, often to minimize conflict.
Halo Effect: If you see a person as having a positive trait, that positive impression will spill over into their other traits. (This also works for negative traits.)
Moral Luck: Better moral standing happens due to a positive outcome; worse moral standing happens due to a negative outcome.
False Consensus: We believe more people agree with us than is actually the case.
Curse of Knowledge: Once we know something, we assume everyone else knows it, too.
Spotlight Effect: We overestimate how much people are paying attention to our behavior and appearance.
Availability Heuristic: We rely on immediate examples that come to mind while making judgments.
Defensive Attribution: As a witness who secretly fears being vulnerable to a serious mishap, we will blame the victim less if we relate to the victim.
Just-World Hypothesis: We tend to believe the world is just; therefore, we assume acts of injustice are deserved.
Naïve Realism: We believe that we observe objective reality and that other people are irrational, uninformed, or biased.
Naïve Cynicism: We believe that we observe objective reality and that other people have a higher egocentric bias than they actually do in their intentions/actions.
Forer Effect (aka Barnum Effect): We easily attribute our personalities to vague statements, even if they can apply to a wide range of people.
Dunning-Kruger Effect: The less you know, the more confident you are. The more you know, the less confident you are.
Anchoring: We rely heavily on the first piece of information introduced when making decisions.
Automation Bias: We rely on automated systems, sometimes trusting too much in the automated correction of actually correct decisions.
Google Effect (aka Digital Amnesia): We tend to forget information that’s easily looked up in search engines.
Reactance: We do the opposite of what we’re told, especially when we perceive threats to personal freedoms.
Confirmation Bias: We tend to find and remember information that confirms our perceptions.
Backfire Effect: Disproving evidence sometimes has the unwarranted effect of confirming our beliefs.
Third-Person Effect: We believe that others are more affected by mass media consumption than we ourselves are.
Belief Bias: We judge an argument’s strength not by how strongly it supports the conclusion but how plausible the conclusion is in our own minds.
Availability Cascade: Tied to our need for social acceptance, collective beliefs gain more plausibility through public repetition.
Declinism: We tend to romanticize the past and view the future negatively, believing that societies/institutions are by and large in decline.
Status Quo Bias: We tend to prefer things to stay the same; changes from the baseline are considered to be a loss.
Sunk Cost Fallacy (aka Escalation of Commitment): We invest more in things that have cost us something rather than altering our investments, even if we face negative outcomes.
Gambler’s Fallacy: We think future possibilities are affected by past events.
Zero-Risk Bias: We prefer to reduce small risks to zero, even if we can reduce more risk overall with another option.
Framing Effect: We often draw different conclusions from the same information depending on how it’s presented.
Stereotyping: We adopt generalized beliefs that members of a group will have certain characteristics, despite not having information about the individual.
Outgroup Homogeneity Bias: We perceive out-group members as homogeneous and our own in-groups as more diverse.
Authority Bias: We trust and are more often influenced by the opinions of authority figures.
Placebo Effect: If we believe a treatment will work, it often will have a small physiological effect.
Survivorship Bias: We tend to focus on those things that survived a process and overlook ones that failed.
Tachypsychia: Our perceptions of time shift depending on trauma, drug use, and physical exertion.
Law of Triviality (aka “Bike-Shedding”): We give disproportionate weight to trivial issues, often while avoiding more complex issues.
Zeigarnik Effect: We remember incomplete tasks more than completed ones.
IKEA Effect: We place higher value on things we partially created ourselves.
Ben Franklin Effect: We like doing favors; we are more likely to do another favor for someone if we’ve already done a favor for them than if we had received a favor from that person.
Bystander Effect: The more other people are around, the less likely we are to help a victim.
Suggestibility: We, especially children, sometimes mistake ideas suggested by a questioner for memories.
False Memory: We mistake imagination for real memories.
Cryptomnesia: We mistake real memories for imagination.
Clustering Illusion: We find patterns and “clusters” in random data.
Pessimism Bias: We sometimes overestimate the likelihood of bad outcomes.
Optimism Bias: We sometimes are over-optimistic about good outcomes.
Blind Spot Bias: We don’t think we have bias, and we see it on others more than ourselves.
WHY security professionals and intelligence analysts must address bias training?
As a security professional or intelligence analyst, seeing what biases are and how they can significantly affect us, do you see how important it is to recognize and address them during the decision-making process? Do you see how biases can affect your risk and threat assessment, information gathering and analysis as well as behavioural assessment while you are conducting a first interview with a visitor, suspicious person, etc.?
We will give you an example. During the Manchester arena attack investigation, one of the security guards claimed that he did feel something was “off” with one of the terrorists but he was uncertain of how to approach and ask questions (first interview of a suspect) because he was afraid he was going to be labelled a “racist’’.
Being trained in how to recognize and address your biases will not only help you to make a better decision but will also give you peace of mind and confidence knowing that you are approaching and properly interviewing a person whose presence seems to be unjustified and/or suspicious. You will be able to clearly gather more information and assess the risk without feeling that you are merely racially profiling that person. You will also build more awareness of the subjects with which you hold biases and that awareness will lead to more choices. More choices will lead to a more ‘’open mind’’ and allow you to seek further information before you make a decision.
Now that we have discussed the many aspects of biases, what they are and how they can affect your decision-making process do you want to test yourself and find out what biases you have? You can use one of the many online tests available, the Implicit Association Test (IAT) created by Harvard.
This will help you assess and better identify all that biases you or your staff may have that can affect risk and threat assessments as well as intelligence gathering and analysis. In addition, your staff’s performance and how they interact with others to make sure their decision making will be as accurate as can be ascertained from the information provided and not just from their own personal biases.
If you are an individual interested in receiving training in biases or you represent an organization looking to train your employees in this very much needed and important topic, please reach out to us.
One of the biggest misconceptions for new Executive Protection practitioners is that they have an innocent and naive belief that they will land the best client, the one who is aware about what Executive Protection is, the one who is very active and physically trained, the one who will be following up with security directions, the one who will care about his/her agents’ wellbeing and the one who will be easy going and friendly.
Yes, the perfect client does exist, but it may take you quite some time in your career to get one, if at all. Considering clients have their own character traits, let’s talk about those clients who, day to day, are facing a physical disability such as paralysis, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, or even a semi-permanent injury. And remember, being simply advanced in years may have a substantial affect on their movements and therefore create some unique challenges in providing protective services for them.
The German Politician Wolfgang Schäuble has been bound to a wheelchair since 1990 after an assassination attempt, actor Michael J. Fox has been fighting with Parkinson’s disease for decades and actress Selma Blair has been living with multiple sclerosis since 2018. What all these famous people have in common is also a protective detail and Executive Protection Agents providing services for them. So have you ever wondered what an EP agent must take into consideration when he/she is hired to provide services for an individual with physical limitations or disabilities? While the primary goal remains the same, ‘’Protect the Principal’’, the way in which you are achieving it may be a little bit different in these types of situations.
First of all, do your due diligence and get informed on the specific circumstances that surround your prospective client. There are a number of crucial items you should know. Medical condition, abilities/inabilities, current medications, private physician info, etc. The more you know, the better you will be when providing services for them.
At your first meeting, ask them about their needs and if they have particular expectations from you. Ask about any specific instructions for their care day to day.
Consider how much time it takes for them to go from point A to B and plan/design scenarios around having to evacuate them (with or without the wheelchair or any walking aids).
Learn all about their specific wheelchair functions and movement (Or any walking aids).
Always ask permission before jumping to help, especially when in public or in the company of other people. Don’t assume that they may always want or need your help. At this point in their lives, they can feel that an enormous amount of their personal freedom has been stripped away.
Always keep in mind, people with disabilities are still people and they still have a great many things they like or want.
Be patient and polite when offering any help. Don’t try to rush them. What for you may seem easy, for them may be hard, painful or even seem impossible.
Recognize and respect their personal space and time. Yes, even a person who needs assistance to move around and depends on you will still have need of his/her own personal space or time.
Don’t ‘’over-do it’’, let them breathe from time to time. You do NOT have to be in the room every waking second.
Always be prepared to make adjustments or accommodations to make their life easier and look for ways to develop methods to better assist them.
Always take into consideration their special needs (physical and medical) when you have to visit venues, attend events, travel into other countries, book a hotel room, make dinner reservations etc. Have in mind, not many countries are as progressive as we are when it comes to customers with physical disabilities. Having a highly-skilled advance agent who can plan these details accordingly is a great advantage in these cases.
Ensure that someone from the team is ahead of you, taking care to be sure there is a clear path for your client to enter or exit with the wheelchair or walking aid, wherever you may have to go.
If there is no threat, give them their time and have patience while moving to discourage pressured or awkward moments.
In the event of an imminent moment of threat or danger, have you planned ahead and are you, or a group of you, capable of lifting that person up properly and assisting in a quick and safe evacuation?
Be quite careful of your language both while in the presence or in the absence of your client. While many professionals are aware which words can be offensive for a person who has a disability, some may accidentally offend someone without meaning to. When you work for people with disabilities you want them to feel respected and empowered. In order to accomplish that, simply place emphasis on someone as the person first, by name, and then, only if needed, mention the disability if logistics would require it to avoid embarrassment or frustration
Now let’s talk about clients who are dealing with mental health disorders, which are the most common issues an Executive Protection agent may have to deal with and can be hard to detect unless you are told or you are quick to recognize.
Most common reported names and examples (as per their public confessions):
Elon Musk – Asperger’s Syndrome
Chrissy Teigen – Postpartum Depression
Demi Lovato – Bipolar Disorder
Steve Young – Social Anxiety Disorder
Donny Osmond – Social Anxiety Disorder
Michael Phelps – ADHD
Dan Reynolds – Clinical Depression
Leonardo DiCaprio – Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Daniel Radcliffe – Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Lady Gaga – PTSD
Adele – Postpartum Depression
Prince Harry – Severe Anxiety during royal events
Chris Evans – Social Anxiety
Jim Carrey – Depression
Why it is important to be aware of your client’s mental health disorders? Because what they are dealing with affects the way they see life, you, threats, others etc. Just by simply being aware, you enable yourself to make the necessary adjustments in how you approach them, interact with them and how you provide services to them. Imagine the client who goes into a full panic attack when walking through and dealing with crowds or the client who suffers from dementia and you have to introduce yourself for the 100th time.
Although we highly emphasize the importance of creating and maintaining a medical profile for your client and keeping the involved agents apprised of this information, not many companies practice this. Until you are informed about a disorder or medical malady by your supervisor, predecessor or the client himself, it may take you quite some time with dedicated personal observation and study to discover what you are dealing with. Again, do your due diligence to find out what the condition is or may be. If you can consult with a therapist, do so while always maintaining the utmost discretion and confidentiality. In a case where this may not be possible, an easy way to find more information is by using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the handbook used by health care professionals as a guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders. The book contains descriptions, symptoms, and other criteria for diagnosing mental disorders. However, as with “Googling” your symptoms on the internet, one must be very careful of how to use this handbook and the information it contains.
How you approach your clients who may suffer from mental health disorders is very important and can help by creating a healthy relationship and a positive protective detail while avoiding conflicts and awkward or embarrassing events.
These are some key points to have in mind:
During a crisis moment, pause, stand back and assess the situation before approaching. What you see on initial approach may not be as it appears.
Be careful with your tone, speak slowly and in a calm manner. You, your tone and your body language have an enormous effect on the situational outcome.
If need be, introduce yourself again, explain why you are there and ask how you can be of assistance.
If they appear disoriented, reassure them, remaining calm yourself. This will have a drastic effect on their mental status as well.
Listen to what they would like and respect their wishes if possible.
Do not rush them, create space and give them their time.
Make sure you are providing a quiet and discreet place for them, if needed, kindly request that all other people present exit to allow them a few minutes of quiet.
Remain calm and have patience. Listen, don’t speak…Sometimes a willing ear is all that is required to assist in a peaceful outcome.
Try to identify the cause of their respective triggers and reduce any noise levels and confusion.
Keeping their triggers in mind, always take appropriate measures while travelling or attending events to eliminate awkward moments or embarrassing circumstances.
Know your limits and recognize the difference between what you feel comfortable handling and when it is time to ask for a professional intervention.
Never forget, you are NOT their therapist but their Executive Protection agent, concerned about their wellbeing.
If you are interested to learn more and being more prepared, there are many Psychological First Aid or Intervention to Crisis classes available online.
Dealing with someone who has physical disabilities or mental health disorders is no easy task, no matter how well prepared you are, and especially when you are facing it from the aspect of an Executive Protection agent. However, when you have done your due diligence, sharpened your client awareness skills and made all the required and necessary preparations, you can achieve calmer details with very few calamities and avoid unneeded conflicts and give your client security, confidence and peace of mind.
Understanding that the people you interact with, provide assistance to or the very person you are directly protecting, is in pain, stressed, fearful, angry or extremely confused, etc and being able to recognize these moments and have a plan of how to deal with it properly, will help soothing these anxious and difficult behaviors at the earliest possible stage providing a stable, professional platform from which to provide services.
We are just now learning of and reading about the allegations of two personnel, one a security agent and the other an estate manager, who were previously employed by the household of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. As the two former employees have begun to file their respective lawsuits against the billionaire couple and their family-related corporate entities, we must finally face the uncomfortable conclusion that these incidents have actually occurred and that similar circumstances have been happening for some time all throughout the world and seem to be dramatically increasing.
“We were told to ‘keep our mouths shut and forget about it’ so we would not labeled as ‘trouble makers’”…We were told, ”He had a bad day”…We were told, ”Do you know who that guy is?” in an effort to intimidate us and make us wary of speaking out. We were told, “What happens here, stays here.”
The truth is, no matter who one is (Or imagines himself/herself to be) or what kind of a day he/she supposedly had, no one has the right to, or should be forgiven for, insulting you, bullying you or sexually harassing you. During my 19 years in this industry, I have personally experienced or witnessed many quite similar cases. I have quit details because of a constant atmosphere of harassment.
Can I ”take it”?. Just because you may be able to deal with this type of situation doesn’t mean in any way that you should allow yourself to be put in that situation any longer. So, yeah, I can “take it”, but I do not have to, nor will I any longer.
Discrimination can be when you are told you can’t do the job just because you are a woman. Discrimination is, quite often, when your team members do not trust your skills and see you as a liability or another person to be protected. Discrimination is when they believe that due to your origin or your religious beliefs, you can not be an ample protector. Discrimination is also when your opinions during briefing and debriefing aren’t given a chance to be heard cause you are seen or quietly labeled as ”Not good enough”.
Harassment is not only when someone is being inappropriate directly to you, but also when they think they can use vulgar language or behave inappropriately in your presence because they don’t think you feminine enough, you’re “Just one of the guys” or they seek to shock you. Harassment is also when they ”accidentally” touch you or parade around semi-naked or naked in front of you at the compound. Remember, harassment takes on many forms and can happen in many ways.
Bullying is another issue that is all too prevalent. This can occur when your team lead or supervisor judges you based on your gender and blame you for everything. Bullying is being informed that your side of the story doesn’t matter.
Bullying is also being an ass to someone merely because of what position you hold. In a recent chat with a colleague, he brought up a name, with whom I had a personal experience. When I told him how he treated his employees and, most importantly women, he said ”That is weird, he has never done anything like that to me”…Well, of course not. Because, primarily, you are a man and secondarily, these people act accordingly to their perceived level of power.
So when someone is being harassed, bullied or discriminated against, take a moment to sit down and listen to them. Just because it hasn’t happened to you doesn’t mean it is not happening to others. If you are the one being harassed, bullied or discriminated against, have in mind you do not have to just ”deal with it” or ”forget about it”. Don’t allow it to begin in the first place. Set your standard and expectations right from the beginning. Expect professionalism and respect from your colleagues and give them the same in return. Keep documents, report it and if needed, seek legal help. If you are a company owner or someone who makes these types of decisions, seek further training on the subjects for all your employees. A well-organized team can and will unravel quite rapidly and unexpectedly in these types of circumstances and no one wants that to occur. There are plenty of free training programs on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.