The Role Of Protective Intelligence In Estate Security

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Estate security is a critical element for corporate executive protection teams and their supporting protective intelligence programs.  We realize that executives spend the majority of their time at the corporate office, their primary estate, as well as various travel destinations.  Two of those are static locations and are often desirable targets for would-be attackers or inappropriate pursuers.

A static target affords the would-be attacker the benefit of predictability in location, and personnel, observing a private estate security team’s standard operating procedures and shift changes, vulnerabilities based on observable patterns, and more.  The good news for security is this is a double-edged sword for the adversary because in order for them to approach an executive or the estate successfully, they are required to conduct pre-operational surveillance — forcing them to venture within eyesight of security, thus becoming vulnerable to detection.

A fundamental piece of the protective intelligence puzzle is the direct observation of potentially malicious activity.  It is well known that pre-operational surveillance can be detected early by agents of estate security services or counter surveillance teams that are switched on and trained to detect patterns of hostile surveillance or other pretext site visits.  Even executive assistants and domestic / household staff often act as the eyes & ears of the security program and can identify anomalies and professionally challenge those individuals that appear out of place.

Estate security systems fulfill a critical protective intelligence function by acting as a static post and base of operations for many protective movements.  Agents charged with providing estate security management can proactively observe, identify, assess, and understand what is normal and can quickly determine an anomaly.  Based on the vast knowledge of the security professionals protecting the estate, they can compare activity at the moment to their baseline, which has been developed over hundreds of hours of observing activity in that specific area.  Using their baseline as a standard, they are able to discriminate between ordinary activity in the environment and that which needs to be investigated further.

Estate security professionals collect an enormous amount of information on various people, incidents, and activities.  Data that is typically collected or observed includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Local criminal activity and trends
  • Suspicious people & vehicles loitering in the area (i.e., what is a known vendor or contractor vs. potentially hostile surveillance)
  • Vehicle license plate data obtained by visual observation or ALPR systems
  • Attempted contacts with the principal by inappropriate pursuers or by those posing as a legitimate business engagement (in-person or via US mail)
  • Heightened interest in the principals, which may be currently driven by media, further escalates the client’s threat profile
  • Corporate-related incident / investigative reports which reference resentful employees and related workplace issues

The amount of data that an estate security program can collect when it operates 24 hours per day for years on end cannot be illustrated in several bullet points. (But our readers already knew that)

Protective Intelligence Challenges in Estate Security

Security intelligence data can be our best friend or worst enemy.  On one hand, it enables protective intelligence analysts and security personnel to discover patterns and relationships between key events, people, and entities.  However, when data becomes unmanageable in size after years of collection, it loses utility (read more here).  What good is security data if it’s a headache for the analyst to sift through?

This leads us to one of the biggest problems we have identified among protective intelligence teams: how does one quickly analyze years of security intelligence data?  How do professionals tasked with providing security for a client know about every piece of information that has been collected over the years in order to determine its relevance now?

Second to the data analysis & management problem, estate security solutions face the challenge of information sharing: is there an appropriate flow of information between groups responsible for the majority of the executive’s security coverage (i.e., estate security + corporate security teams)?

It’s the age-old challenge of information sharing.  Every executive protection team has to find the right balance for their particular situation.  Arrangements of proprietary/contract/hybrid security at the estate, the corporate office, and other sites can make information sharing complicated and restrictive due to the sensitivity of confidential information. Consider the questions below:

  1. Is information sharing between the estate security team and the corporate security team going to reduce overall risk to the executive?
  2. Who will the information be shared with? (liaison)
  3. How will information be shared? (medium)
  4. What is the likelihood/impact of the information being compromised by negligent security practices?
  5. How can a security team ensure that peripheral support departments and staff help by driving more valuable information to the primary data set without also having too much access to that same data?

These are important questions to ask because some of the largest security companies in the US (by revenue) utilize guard force management to support corporate facilities, and the risks of sharing sensitive information with non-proprietary contract “guards” must be weighed carefully.

Those considerations aside, it is a win-win scenario to have open channels of communication between trusted, competent security teams, especially when it comes to sharing important protective intelligence information.  Consider this: if a pursuer makes an approach at the corporate office, there is certainly a heightened probability that they will eventually attempt to make an approach at the executive’s primary or secondary residence — communication between departmental teams is crucial.

Currently, there are a number of solutions offered by data management and incident reporting systems that facilitate information sharing. Their general approach is to make reports readily sharable in print and digital formats using customized templates.  In contrast, more advanced systems allow for sharing of reports within the network based on the user’s granting of permissions to those that need to know.

Estate security is a critical aspect of any protective intelligence program.  Outside of the physical security function it provides for the client, it also serves as a constant source of data collection and analysis related to numerous types of localized threats.  The high amount of activity (innocuous and suspicious) in proximity to high net-worth client estates is never-ending, and this is reflected in the magnitude of data gathered by residential security programs operating 24 hours per day, 365 per year.  The size of data and the need to create channels of communication between security teams with shared objectives presents an obstacle.

….And we will continue discussing how we and our colleagues are tackling these obstacles and others.

Want to learn more about how you can better protect your principals? Take a look at Ontic’s Executive Protection solution.