(What’s it like on the front line supporting the firm’s clients?  What are the challenges the firm’s experts help senior business executives, general counsel, board members and other decision-makers address?  Welcome to ACTION WEDNESDAY.  Every Wednesday, the Front Line Blog publishes a new case study.)

Security Awareness: A Chief of Staff Sets the Agenda

Hillard Heintze had just completed a comprehensive risk, threat and vulnerability assessment of this U.S. senator‘s activities – at work, at home and at leisure. Two weeks after receiving the final report and its more than 20 recommendations on improving the senator’s security, his Chief of Staff took up one of the report’s key findings. “Let’s move forward on this,” he said. “I agree with your counsel. We need to raise the level of security awareness among all of the senator’s staff.”

The Mind of the Attacker

At the Chief of Staff’s request, Hillard Heintze conducted a high-level briefing for the senator’s “inner circle” and various support teams.

First, we explained the primary risks to the senator and outlined the core activities central to operational security. Then, as background on establishing an appropriate protective strategy, we introduced the group to the “mind of an attacker” – the latest research and its implications for the identification, assessment and management of persons posing a threat to another. Finally, we outlined a set of actionable prevention-oriented protective best strategies that each individual on the senator’s teams could undertake immediately and, in a coordinated manner, over time.

Core Protective Capabilities Considered

This discussion actually met the objectives of the senator and his Chief of Staff in two ways. As intended, it helped increase security awareness among the staff. It also served as an introduction to many of the core protective capabilities that Hillard Heintze recommended be considered, particularly as his re-election campaign began to gear up in earnest.

Unplugged: The Project Manager’s Perspective

Support teams for political figures or high-profile leaders like this particular client are often surprised at how many core security practices that a highly visible public figure should be following cost little or nothing to implement.

And that’s the value of awareness. You can conduct advances for every speech, deploy plainclothes counterintelligence personnel at every major engagement and ensure that the drivers are both armed and expert in evasive driving techniques.

But if you don’t know to use extra care when shopping for high-end items to avoid being followed home, you remain – unnecessarily, I might add, – at a higher level of risk.

 The ACTION WEDNESDAY Tool Box: Two Key Take-Aways

1.  Think of “security awareness” as a tremendous “force multiplier”:  When security awareness is shared across a team, prevention increases geometrically, and risks decline.

2.   Protective security – and how much to engage – is a personal choice:  Given the same risks, threats and vulnerabilities, at-risk leaders, dignitaries, celebrities and executives make widely different choices about protective security.  What drives the decision?  Different approaches to balancing risk, privacy and convenience.

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