Earlier this month, PETA activists gathered outside Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson’s home, protesting what they called a “soy surcharge” because the company charges more for soy than cow’s milk. In April, before his Congressional testimony, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced protestors from a global activist group, with an army of 100 life-sized cutouts of the CEO greeting him on Capitol Hill. And, in July members of For Us, Not Amazon protested at Jeff Bezos’ homes in Washington, DC and New York City.
Protests and Death Threats
Keeping executives safe from protests and activists is just one of the challenges faced by those tasked with protecting corporate leaders.
In 2016, for example, Sons Caliphate Army, a group aligned with Islamic State, issued a 25-minute video threatening Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. The video featured bullet-riddled photos of both company leaders. And, in 2017, the CEO of Sun-Maid, the raisin company, received multiple death threats, including a note shoved in his front door: “you can’t run.” He and other executives discussed the necessity of active shooter trainings based on these threats. Earlier this year, Siemens CEO, Joe Kaeser, received a death threat via email from an apparent right-wing group. The email was sent from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Social and Digital Media Foment Public Outrage
With the growth of social and digital media as not only an organizational tool for protestors, but also as a mechanism for threats against CEOs to go viral, it’s understandable that companies are spending more and more to assess the threats against their leaders, and plan and prepare to keep them safe.
In fact, in 2018, Facebook spent $20 million to protect its CEO, noting that negative sentiment regarding the company was directly associated with Zuckerberg. Amazon spent $1.6 million in security for Bezos and Uber announced $2 million for protection of its CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.
Millions Spent Annually for Executive Protection
In speaking to Facebook’s significant investment in security, one expert noted: “When Zuckerberg was going up before Congress, I can imagine the increased threats. If you have 2 billion users and just 1 percent of those get mad, you could be getting a lot of correspondence. The people responsible for protection have to evaluate that; they literally have to make an assessment on every known statement. They can’t take the chance.”
2.5 Quintillion Bytes of Data Each Day
Almost as compromising as inbound correspondence to a CEO is the proliferation of information on the internet – an enormously rich treasure trove of insights and intelligence for anyone with malicious intent.
But with more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day on the web, finding the threats specific to one company, or one executive, can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
That’s where artificial intelligence and machine learning come into play. This technology can help with data analysis, allowing executive protection professionals to predict and plan, so they can appropriately target resources.
Consider the role that military experts see AI playing in enhancing situational awareness (SA), and better detecting and discerning real attacks from false alarms.
AI Enhances Situational Awareness
“AI applications for all-source data fusion, front-line analysis, and predictive analytics promise the potential to unlock new insights and effectively enhance strategic SA,” according to The Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The organization went on to say that the vast amounts of open-source data available through media, social media and the Internet of Things provides new indicators that are relevant to SA. Importantly, AI data mining can process large amounts of this information quickly and efficiently increase precision in the detail and quality of information collected.
AI Will “Make Sense of it All”
As one pioneer in executive protection put it, “The role of data analysis – and thus of artificial intelligence (AI) will grow by leaps and bounds. Currently, precious little of the internet’s and the IoT’s tsunamis of digital data are ever analyzed. AI will change that. Let’s include machine learning, data mining and predictive modeling here, too. If Data is giving rise to a new economy, as The Economist recently reported, AI is what’s going to make sense of it all. AI will gradually change the landscape of security in our world, too.”
These sentiments were echoed by Lockheed Martin’s Director of Operational Command & Control: “Advances in data fusion and machine to machine automation make data accessible, understandable, and conditioned so that automated tools can effectively use the data for rapid decision-making. Integrating predictive intelligence helps intelligence analysts better understand seemingly disparate relationships by making rapid connections between people, places, and things.”
The Radiance Solution
That’s exactly where technologies like Lumina’s AI-powered Radiance platform come into play.
Radiance’s Open Source Intelligence (OS-INT) is a deep-web listening tool that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to assess and prioritize risk. Its proprietary algorithms ingest not only public data from social media channels, but the entirety of the publicly available information on the web. It then sorts through that data looking for risk against more than 6,000 terms related to corporate security and other associated threats. The platform conducts more than 120,000 searches, correlating names with these terms and cross-referencing over 1 million queries into Lumina’s proprietary databases of risk.
120,000 Web Searches, Completed in Minutes
A search of this magnitude – done manually – would take more than a year to complete. Radiance prioritizes the results, making it easy to further analyze the findings and determine potential risk. The system allows for continuous monitoring and evaluation, mapping previous results against results from more recent queries.
Radiance’s key advantage is that it assesses current behaviors to predict future action. Other technologies focus only on historical behavior. And, Radiance’s ability to ingest massive amounts of unstructured data provides another window into potential threats from internal data sources.
AI-powered Radiance can help executive protection agents move beyond reacting to immediate dangers, and instead provide the information necessary to proactively deal with potential threat events.