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The Top Five Executive Protection Challenges

1. New landscapes. Protection agents must have knowledge well beyond security issues to give advice to their clients. Vectors such as cyberthreats and the ease of information sharing brought on by social media have added to the responsibilities of a protection agent.

2. New players. The events of 9-11 led to lasting changes in the security industry as a whole. The protection field experienced a marked increase in private military and security contractors as these groups participated in paramilitary activities around the world. Flashing forward, drawdowns and sequestration activities have many of these professionals seeking to develop and refine new skills as they look for employment in the executive protection field.

3. New targets. While any good advance tries to cover all aspects of the detail, there are some random events that contain a “black swan” element. For example, the Al Shabaab attack in Nairobi, Kenya, last September was unexpected in many ways. The Westgate Mall was known to be frequented by the expatriate community, making it a high-value target. It is difficult to protect against being at the wrong place at the wrong time, but planning and training help to mitigate issues.

4. New environments. Activists have found a new voice via social media outlets. In addition to Facebook and Twitter, an ever increasing pool of apps such as Instagram, Vine, and Snapchat are becoming social media mainstays. Managing the social media bubble around the designate can also help set up a screen or cover for movements by sending multiple messages to draw attention away from your location.

5. New skills. Protection agents have long been asked to play many roles—bodyguard, butler, travel agent, medic—and the toolbox is expanding even further. Appropriately merging these extra skills is what can turn an agent into a trusted advisor. Executive protection professionals may find themselves checking on dietary requirements, financial markets, and baseball scores to facilitate movement and keep the client focused.