Acme Private Equity Partners (not their real name) had been dodging critics for years. One of the more successful middle-market firms in their region, they found themselves in the crosshairs of anti-capitalist groups who attacked their business model. Acme tried a variety of strategies – from engaging in a discussion to ignoring these groups – but found itself facing increasingly strident rhetoric from critics.
When several partners became aware of chatter that seemed to be turning violent, they decided to seek expert advice.
An evolving danger and…
At the recommendation of their attorneys, a corporate intelligence and security firm was called in and immediately began a deep dive into the antagonist organizations. Already familiar with the organizations in question due to years of experience tracking extremist groups, this security firm uncovered which individuals were truly concerning through a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) tools and human analysis of the forums these groups utilize, as well as the chat rooms they frequent on the Dark Web.
As the security firm whittled down the number of individuals of concern, one person stood out. His violent rhetoric and promises to take action distinguished him from others. When he talked about disrupting an upcoming event Acme was hosting for hundreds of attendees, the security firm sprang into action.
Liaising with event security, the firm provided photos of the individual in question and briefed the team about the particular threat to the client’s chief security officer and their legal team. Local law enforcement and the FBI were also notified through long-standing contacts at the security firm.
How to react accordingly
On the day of the event, the individual in question was spotted attempting to blend into a protest group outside. With security now covertly tracking him, he was seen trying to enter a side door. After marshaling their forces, the security team confronted the individual, who was clearly deranged and was armed with a pistol. They detained him until law enforcement arrived. Ultimately, Acme’s event went off without a hitch, their attendees unaware of the danger that had been neutralized.
Interestingly, the extremist rhetoric against Acme cooled afterwards, as if this antagonistic community understood that Acme wouldn’t stand idly by as its business and staff were threatened.
The threat landscape evolves over time with technology and societal controversies. We find ourselves in a highly polarized era with the political world more fraught then ever and the echo chambers of social media amplifying disinformation and dangerous voices. These details have exacerbated the threat landscape and empowered groups and individuals to pursue extremist agendas. Businesses and high-profile individuals need to evolve with these threats to make sure their fundamental operations and their staff are kept safe. Anything less than that is negligence.
Tools to manage risks have also proliferated along with the threats. AI has created amazing ways to help identify keywords and the individuals using them to highlight violent rhetoric. Other technologies extrapolate outcomes and scenarios that at-risk people and organizations should be aware of.
What it takes
While these tools are modern wonders, they are of little use unless they are paired with experienced humans who can interpret them and plan risk mitigation strategies to keep people and businesses safe.
Some individuals and organizations are obvious targets. Celebrities, politically affiliated lobbying groups and nonprofits, as well as pharmaceutical companies have all been targeted for years by unhinged individuals and adversarial organizations. But as society continues to atomize, other companies have been pulled into the threat landscape. Manufacturers of consumer goods might find themselves a target based on political donations, a comment from the CEO that inflames a subset of the population, or a faulty product. The resulting negative sentiment can range from general criticism on social media to much darker tactics. Using AI-driven opinion monitoring over an extensive period to mine trends can help companies better manage the evolving threat landscape.
Companies and high-profile individuals have taken a variety of approaches to mitigate these risks, but constant vigilance and a continued reevaluation of current programs is called for. A company might have a corporate security program, but it could be focused specifically on protecting facilities and overlook a developing threat taking momentum in chat rooms. A high net-worth individual might have a top-quality home and office security systems but might not be aware that an old real estate listing of their house still exists online, offering a blueprint of their home and how to target it to someone who wishes to harm them.
Working with an experienced corporate intelligence and security consulting firm that will develop a bespoke threat monitoring program that suits specific needs is essential. Small companies facing threats might find that using an outsourced Chief Security Officer through such a firm makes much more sense than taking on another full-time employee. A company with a security program in place could find that establishing a third-party threat monitoring program can be the force multiplier that allows it to feel assured that overwatch is taking place to keep it safe as it focuses on its core business. When a threat arises, that same firm is ready to provide executive protection to any threatened individuals, liaise with law enforcement, and offer other customized risk mitigation strategies to meet the moment.
The stakes are high
The issue for any sizable business, nonprofit, or any high-profile individual is whether you’re evolving with today’s threats. The stakes are high and choosing an experienced partner, one that combines the most advanced monitoring technologies with extensive human experience to interpret and act against those threats, is essential. Taking shortcuts can lead to developments that a business or individual might not recover from. The stakes are that high.