To Save and Protect: Independent Security Study Does Both

How safe and secure do your employees feel? They might be harassed or threatened by co-workers or visitors, or exposed to some other type of workplace violence. Or maybe your CEO has received threats from a customer dissatisfied with your organization’s product or service. From C-suite to entry level employees, you must be committed to security as a 24/7 objective.

What is great security—and how do you know if you have it?
You might know what great music sounds like or great pizza tastes like, but do you know what great security looks like? Great security follows best practices to successfully protect your people from any hazards they might face in the workplace.

And great security is achieved through a security assessment that helps you understand what you have and benchmarks it with best practices and other organizations who are doing it right to determine what you need. A security assessment ensures that physical, technical, procedural, and personnel security measures are working together to protect your people, property, and assets.

What is an independent security study and why do you need it?
Especially if your organization or CEO is high profile, a security assessment must look at security across the enterprise, like transportation, private residences, personal protection, and other activities related to your executive protection (EP) operations and corporate security (CS) program. That’s when the assessment becomes the foundation of an independent security study (ISS). Not only will an ISS protect your employees, but it will also evaluate EP and CS, and how well you identify, assess, and manage threats to individuals and the organization itself. Plus, the ISS allows your organization’s leadership to avoid unnecessary tax liability as it relates to executive protection.

You can’t conduct the study yourself—that’s why it’s independent.
An important part of the IRS compliance is that the study must be done by an outsider—that’s why it’s independent. In other words, you can’t conduct your own assessment. The net result of the ISS conducted by an independent consultant is an evaluation of your personnel, programs, policies, technologies, operations, and current security environment to identify areas of strength along with opportunities for improvement.

Benchmarking, United States Secret Service, and IRS compliance—a dynamic trio.
Your EP might include air travel, airport protection, ground transportation, and a traveling protective detail to ensure the safety of company executives, especially if they travel internationally. The IRS taxes the gross income of those executives for transportation security costs—unless you can show a bona fide business-oriented security concern for the protection provided. An ISS meets the necessary requirements for the IRS to avoid this tax, saving your CEO money.

Does the CEO travel to countries with known terrorist activity? Does a driver transport the CEO from home to work and back? Does the CEO travel by private plane? The ISS dives deeply into your EP operations to document current measures and offers industry best practices to mitigate threats and strengthen overall security.

By working with The Lake Forest Group, you optimize the value of this outside relationship through benchmarking and extensive experience. Because of our varied client list, we can connect you to best practices that transcend industries so you can learn from organizations you would rarely have contact with otherwise. And as I assess your CS program and specifically EP operations, I will rely on my experiences as a Secret Service agent who protected the President and First Lady in the President’s Protective Detail, investigated threats to the President, and identified risk in a variety of locations, circumstances, and appearances.

Leveraging the USSS methodology in your ISS, we evaluate your:
• EP operations, including drivers, vehicles, corporate or private aircraft, airport locations and personnel, risk level where the executive travels, advance and traveling details, and any additional activities designed to safeguard your CEO and select executives
• Physical, technical, procedural, and personnel security at corporate, residential, and transportation-related properties
• Coordination with internal stakeholders including HR, facilities, security, finance, and legal to maximize communication and risk management effectiveness across departments
• Cooperation with external stakeholders to support security initiatives, including local first responders, open source and social media analysts, and response monitoring station personnel

A holistic strategy guarantees your security is greater than the sum of its parts.
As we conduct the ISS, we look at each element of your security environment at corporate properties, private residences of executives, and locations, equipment, and personnel that support air and ground transportation. Because each part of EP is intrinsically interrelated with another and EP in turn is inherently connected to physical, technical, procedural, and personnel security measures at every location and in every function, your ability to protect your executives as well as your employees depends on a holistic security strategy.

The ISS ensures that holistic security strategy as we offer strategic considerations to enhance existing measures. It also complies with IRS requirements to validate employer-provided transportation for business-oriented security concerns and overall security programs and specifically exclude those costs and items from the executive’s gross income.

Spotlight on Residential Security

The tragic murders of the Savopoulos family and their housekeeper in Washington, D.C. unfortunately show us how high net worth people are at risk to be targets of potentially violent crime. As of today, two persons of interest have been identified—one is a former employee and the other suspect a current one. As the facts continue to surface, we won’t be surprised to learn that this was premeditated, coordinated, rehearsed, and conspired by at least two individuals and possibly others. The main suspect has an arrest record that includes harassment, concealed weapons, theft, and violating an order of protection. The other suspect has bounced around from job to job, was fired by his previous employer, and had been recently hired to do odd jobs for the family. The checkered pasts of these two individuals fit the characteristics of what we see in many insider threat cases. An arrest record, unstable work history, job terminations, and access to weapons are some common denominators. And where these two subjects previously crossed paths provides pieces to a puzzle that has ultimately landed them as suspects in the torture and deaths of innocent people.

Executives Benefit from a Residential Security Assessment

After conducting countless residential security assessments for senior-level executives of major corporations, I have found the number one concern of these individuals is the personal safety of their families. In order to deliver the highest value possible to each engagement, I uniquely tailor the project to best serve my client by beginning with a framework for the assessment that is extremely flexible and adaptable to the environment. The structure then follows a developed and still evolving outline that leverages more than 30 years in the law enforcement and security fields and is based on four main pillars: 1) physical security, 2) technical security, 3) network security, and 4) procedural security. These assessments include an on-site security survey of the residence including the building, property, and its outer perimeter; the risks, threats, and vulnerabilities potentially impacting the safety and security of the home along with the occupants and guests; countermeasures and strategies for risk transfer, avoidance, mitigation, or acceptance; and detailed risk mitigation considerations.

A Prime Example of Insider Threat 

In 2008, the Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) and the CERT® Program (CERT) of Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute collaborated on the Insider Threat Study (ITS) in the cyber security realm. The study focused on employees who committed illegal or unauthorized acts against organizations using a computer, system, or network, such as theft of intellectual property, fraud, and acts of sabotage within critical infrastructure sectors. This research found that current and former employees carried out insider activities in nearly equal numbers, many of these individuals had prior arrests, and a specific work-related event triggered the actions of most insiders—all of which are eerily applicable to what has been uncovered in the Savopoulos case.

How You Can Protect Your Home and Family 

So what can we learn from this incident to help prevent future tragedies? First, whether you’re the founder of a multi-million dollar company or a private homeowner, you need to know the people you come into contact with every day and, more importantly, have access to your home. Your list might include landscapers, cleaning ladies, nannies, dog walkers, and contractors, to name a few. Before any of these people set foot on your property, you have to ensure their backgrounds have been properly screened by their employer. If they are sole proprietors, they must provide proof of passing a background check and establishing legal residency, if applicable. These checks should not be more than three years old and should include, at a minimum, criminal history, civil litigation, and drug testing.

A professional and comprehensive residential security assessment will evaluate the technical, physical, and cyber security measures of your home. When you follow the recommendations of the key takeaways, you will not only help safeguard your home and family from a preventative standpoint, but you will also have a planned response and recovery to any type of nefarious event occurring on your private property. Corporate leaders need to be aware that danger is not only found in the workplace or while travelling abroad; it can also occur in their own backyard.