Webinar presenter K Campbell answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Making Personal Safety a Priority: Lessons for Public Officials, Criminal Justice Professionals, and Victim Advocates. Here are just a few of his responses.
Audience Question: Are there certain times when a security person SHOULD be dressed to “blend in” rather than be in a suit and tie? What are the Pros/Cons?
K Campbell: Decisions on when security personnel should be dressed to “blend in” can depend on how comfortable the protectee is with the visibility of a high-profile protective detail. Regardless of a protectee’s recognizability, the protectee might not wish to draw attention to themself—for any number of reasons. For example, he or she might wish to be perceived as an “everyman” or “everywoman” or “down-to-earth” and thus opt for a low-profile or covert detail. In these cases, “blending in” would be appropriate for all or most of the protective team.
Recognizability can also influence the type of protective operation. For a protectee who is is not well known to the general public (e.g., a high net worth individual or an employee who is a potential target of workplace violence), the security team might recommend a low-profile or even covert detail.
The main pro of a high-profile protective detail is its ease of execution. All executive protection agents can perform high-profile protection (and it is always the default for those who have little to no training in executive protection). As implied above, the con of high-profile operations is the attention it often brings to the protectee.
The main con of low-profile or covert protection is the limited number of protectors who are trained and experienced in these types of operations. It takes considerable training and skill to accomplish low-profile and especially covert protection.
Audience Question: KC – I hear ya about having body guards, but I’m a victim advocate who works with victims of domestic violence… they can’t afford private security. How do I help my clients become safer, using the theories you’ve just taught us?
K Campbell: You can help your clients become safer by first helping them understand the risks; conduct a simple risk assessment with them. The main risk factors can be any abuser warning behaviors such as firearm ownership or alcohol misuse by the abuser, previous attempts at strangulation (odds of homicide increase 750% for domestic victims who have been previously strangled), the two weeks after leaving a relationship, evidence of stalking, and directly communicated threats. Unlike threats directly communicated to public officials, there is a high correlation between threats directly communicated to abuse victims and actual attacks.
In terms of managing/mitigating the risk, victims in the high-risk category should inform their employees. Organizations with good security and safety policies (many organizations don’t have any such policies) actually encourage this self-reporting, in order to mitigate against potential threats at the workplace. Women comprise 40% of the victims of Type 4 workplace violence (violence committed in the workplace by someone who doesn’t work there but has a personal relationship with an employee).
Also advise victims to vary routes and times if possible. For partners who have left an abusive relationship—especially a high-risk relationship—arriving and leaving work and home at the same time without any variation increases those victims’ vulnerability. In terms of cyber/online privacy, the three cyber actions discussed during the presentation (especially the password manager and two factor authentication) will make your clients safer. Additionally, your clients should know how to disable GPS/location on their smartphone, and use encrypted messaging apps like Signal and Wire (this requires the person with whom they wish to send messages to also have these apps). Often, abusers surreptitiously gain access to their victims’ accounts and phones. This article is an additional resource: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/blog/domestic-abusers-can-control-your-devices-heres-how-to-fight-back/
Audience Question: We have several people in our office that – who aren’t public people (they’re not a judge or a prosecutor) –but based on the cases they’ve worked or are working, are worried about their safety. Are there some simple things they can do to make themselves just a little safer?
K Campbell: Like the situation above with the domestic violence clients, understanding the risk is the first step. Remember we humans are terrible at assessing risks, including risks to our safety and security. For example, there’s a possibility the risk profile of some staff members isn’t as high as it might seem. In other cases staff members might underestimate their risk. In terms of mitigation, measures outlined in the previous answer, especially varying travel routes and times, will be useful. If there is a safety concern, staff members should vary arrival and departure times at work if at all possible. They should also be extra vigilant in and around their vehicles. Be aware that staff members who work at courthouses or with prosecutors might be at risk of becoming “collateral damage” victims at work. This risk is highlighted by the deaths of three prosectors at courthouses (all in Texas), and the fact that between 1995 and 2015 judges were the third greatest risk for a successful attack on public officials (although at lower risk of being attacked than all non-governmental figures together). These judges were more likely than politicians to be attacked at work.
I also highly recommend opting out from primary data brokers (PDBs)/distributors and people search sites. PDBs/distributors pay for and or collect data on people. PDBs/distributors then sell that information to people search sites. I suspect that most, if not all, doxxing (publicly revealing previously private personal information about an individual or organization, usually through the Internet) of public heath officials during the pandemic were facilitated by information on people search sites. PDBs/distributors include LexisNexis, idiCore, and IRB. You might have to provide justification for opting out to those aforementioned PDBs/distributors. Other PDBs include Acxiom, CoreLogic, Oracle, and Epsilon. People search sites include White Pages, Family Tree Now, Spokeo, and ThatsThem.
Audience Question: What was the name of the VPN software you mentioned? Are there additional things we should do to protect our identities or safety online?
K Campbell: I’m reluctant to recommend specific VPNs, but the VPNs that appear on many top VPN lists include Nord VPN, IVPN, ExpressVPN, Mullvad, and Proton VPN. The most important thing to remember about VPNs is to avoid free VPNs (with the exception of Proton VPN). Companies that run free VPNs have to make their money somehow, and they do this by selling your data—which defeats the purpose of using a VPN. This article is helpful in narrowing your choices and learning more about VPNs.
In addition to the products and practices outlined in my previous answers, I recommend not using What’sApp—in fact, I recommend deleting it, Facebook, and Facebook Messenger from your phone. I also recommend submitting a credit freeze request to each of the credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, etc.). A credit freeze, which is free, locks your data at the credit bureaus until you authorize its release. It prevents identity thieves from accessing information from your credit file.
Audience Question: Are there any books, documentaries, or websites you would recommend where I can learn more about keeping myself or my clients safe?
K Campbell: I would need to know more about your clients to better tailor this answer, but I recommend some government resources such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. For example, its STOP.THINK.CONNECT.™ Campaign includes resources for individuals and even a product on how to talk to children about online security. The CISA YouTube channel includes videos geared for individuals. The FBI also has a useful page focused mostly on cyber/online privacy. I also recommend Restore Privacy and Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.
Feel free to follow Blue Glacier’s Twitter and Linkedin social media accounts. We often post tips on physical security and cybersecurity, especially in our #WednesdayWisdom and #FridayFactoid posts. We also plan to publish more blog articles focused on individual and family safety and security.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Making Personal Safety a Priority: Lessons for Public Officials, Criminal Justice Professionals and Victim Advocates.