The OSINT Connection: Intelligence in Executive Protection

As investigators, we often find that there is a significant disconnect between what less-informed security managers THINK can be discovered during the course of an online investigation versus what ACTUALLY can be discovered. This two-part series from Ami Toben and Travis Lishok gives an appropriate account of how online investigations inform operations on the ground and vice versa. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. And when used in combination with each other our protective operations have a great advantage.

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On Threat Information Sharing within the Protection Community

In the protection industry, the topic of threat information sharing has not entered many of our industry dialogues, which is overdue. Although information sharing is no easy task for our organizations, we cannot ignore the fact many potential threat actors we investigate may target multiple public figures over time. Therefore, it makes sense to consider sharing our investigative insights with the broader community, which will likely encounter this same potential threat actor – giving our colleagues broader visibility of threats, saving them investigative resources, and potentially saving lives.

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Protective Intelligence Trends as We Enter 2019

In 2018, we saw continued evidence of how vulnerable our organizations truly are to the threat of violence (specifically shootings). Currently, various news sources estimate that the number of deaths in 2018 from “mass shootings” (3 or more deaths) is between 80 and 209. Regardless of where the true number falls in this range, we can say with certainty that these numbers are similar to those of 2017 (approximately 112 deaths) and all of us in the asset protection industry have an opportunity to improve the practices of our security programs.

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How Protective Intelligence Can Prevent Armed Assaults

The first step in working to prevent any type of attack is to understand how such attacks are conducted. This pertains not just to the tactics and techniques used in the actual attack but also to the planning process that must occur before the attack can be launched. Viewing attacks as the result of a discernible planning process — what we refer to as the terrorist attack cycle — and then breaking that process into its distinct phases and tasks makes it possible to identify times during the attack cycle when those conducting it are vulnerable to detection.

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The Versatility of Protective Intelligence

In this light, the guiding principles behind protective intelligence can be applied to a much wider range of use cases outside the typical realm of just protecting public figures, CEO’s, and High Net Worth Individuals. Having decades of experience in this arena, we see the benefit of deploying protective intelligence initiatives in various sectors, including corporate security, loss prevention, educational campus safety, religious community centers, and more. In fact, as the number of violent incidents increase, we have determined that so does the noise, chatter, and unhealthy behavior that led up to the event.

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Protective Intelligence Resources

This month, we thought it would be good to share some of our favorite resources that a security professional can use to stay sharp. We are often asked by our clients and colleagues what literature or ongoing education we consume in order to follow trends relating to protective intelligence. Our typical answer is that it’s a relatively sophisticated and multifaceted topic, and it should be broken down into several categories, as we have done below.

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Active Shooter Situations & Why Your Organization May Need a Protective Intelligence Program

Protective intelligence is the only way that you can be offensive in your approach to protective security – at Ontic Technologies, we refer to this as “Threat Hunting.”  The best protective intelligence teams in the world make their own luck by influencing workplace factors, rather than allowing workplace factors to impose their will on them.  The more proactive one is, either in the field or behind a keyboard, the more information they find – which then becomes actionable intelligence.

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Part II: An Introduction to OSINT Research for Protective Intelligence Professionals

In the previous article (Part I), we discussed the context around open source intelligence (OSINT) research – how OSINT fits into the intelligence cycle, the explosion in social media use, and background information about the internet & browsing.

In this second half of the series, we will now discuss tools and concepts that are central to the duties of an OSINT researcher. Highlighting these tools and concepts serves two purposes for readers. First, it brings useful research methods to our attention.

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Part I: An Introduction to OSINT Research for Protective Intelligence Professionals

What makes OSINT research so important to protective intelligence professionals is that it’s not only a tool for us to use for good, in collecting information to support decision makers, but also a potentially malicious tool to be used against us (and our organization’s assets). Having a basic understanding of OSINT supports our proactive assessment of threats, and it also supports our assessment of OPSEC/information related vulnerabilities of our own organizations.

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The Role of Protective Intelligence in Estate Security

Estate security programs 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 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 in the moment to their baseline, which has been developed over hundreds of hours of observing activity in that specific area…

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