The Defuse Podcast - Taking the guesswork out of protecting your physical, psychological and reputational wellbeing.

The Defuse Podcast– Protective Intelligence and Security with Fred Burton

December 12, 2022 Philip Grindell MSc - The Online Bodyguard®
The Defuse Podcast - Taking the guesswork out of protecting your physical, psychological and reputational wellbeing.
The Defuse Podcast– Protective Intelligence and Security with Fred Burton
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Show Notes Transcript

In this podcast we discuss how to keep high profile, corporate and UHNW individuals safe in the 21st century using protective intelligence, countersurveillance and protective security. We discuss everything from safe rooms, to deep fakes, state sponsored and corporate espionage and the threat to commercial IP.

Fred Burton is a former police officer, special agent and New York Times best-selling author. Fred Burton is a pioneer and one of the original members of the State Department's Protective Intelligence Division.

He's served on the front lines of high-profile investigations like the hunt for and arrest of Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind behind the first World Trade Center bombing; the 1988 plane crash of PAK-1 that killed U.S. Ambassador Arnold Raphel and Pakistani President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq; and the search for Americans kidnapped by Hezbollah in Beirut, Lebanon.

His best-selling books include his personal memoir GHOST: Confessions of a Counterterrorism AgentChasing Shadows: A Special Agent's Lifelong Hunt to Bring a Cold War Assassin to Justice, Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi and his fourth book, Beirut Rules: The Murder of a CIA Station Chief and Hezbollah’s War Against America.

Burton also consults with Fortune 500 companies on security developments and how to keep their personnel and business safe as the Executive Director of the Ontic Center for Protective Intelligence.

 Fred Burton was selected by Security Magazine as one of the Most Influential People in Security in 2021.

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Philip Grindell:

Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the online bodyguard. My name is Philip Grindell. And tonight I'm fantastically excited because I've got Fred Burton from ontic with me. Now, for those of you who aren't familiar, Fred is a former police officer, a special agent, and more read more recently a New York Times best selling author. Fred is a pioneer. And he was one of the original members of the State Department's protective Intelligence Division. He served on the front line of high profile investigations, like the hunt for and the arrest of Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind behind the First World Trade Centre bombings, the 1988 plane crash of PA k one that killed the US Ambassador honoured referral, and Pakistani President Muhammad Zia, UL Hawk, and the search for Americans kidnapped by Hezbollah in Beirut in Lebanon. I'm not going to read out all these books, because there are a number of them. But I would highly recommend going on Amazon and searching for Fred's name, because he's got some fantastic literature out there that he's written. He's also consults with Fortune 500 companies on security developments, and how to keep their personal and businesses safe as the executive director of the ontic Centre for protective intelligence. Now, if you don't know on tick, again, big tip, go and look it up. I look it up almost on a weekly basis, because some of the reports they put out, are genuinely very the best in the industry. And so it's a real source of the most up to date, expertise and research around protective intelligence, quite rightly, Fred was selected by security magazine as the one of the most influential people in the security industry in 2021. Welcome, Fred.

Fred Burton:

Thanks so much, Phil up for having me on your that's a very kind introduction.

Philip Grindell:

You must hear that though, and think, Oh, my God, I've done I can't believe how much I've done. I mean, it seems, it seems astonishing when you when you look back at that CV, and you think some of the cases you've covered and I know that we only scratched the surface, because you and I've talked before but when you look back at your, your kind of history, you started as a policeman. Wherever you are placement,

Fred Burton:

I was a police officer and Montgomery County, Maryland, which is a county that borders Washington, DC, and pretty much the county that I grew up in as a as a child.

Philip Grindell:

So that must have been, that must be quite interesting, because you're bordering Washington, DC, which I'm guessing at that time was probably quite a high crime area, high murder rate, I think in Washington, where you were you were you the poor relation next door, then?

Fred Burton:

Well, it's really kind of interesting, by my father had a gas station in the town. And I kind of grew up pumping gas for my dad, along with all my other junior high and high school buddies and Washington DC at the time, especially after the 68 riots when Martin Luther King was assassinated, was really a very troubled area. And I can still remember the smoke clouds from just the riots and the looting that was going on after the 68 riots. So it was an interesting timeframe growing up in the 60s in the 70s, which here in America, Philip, we had a tremendous amount of unrest, violence and bombings and, and groups like the Weather Underground. And have certainly cases like what occurred at Kent State, and just the violence and targeting of police officers was far greater than you could imagine that we're seeing today. Thank goodness. I know, that's hard to believe in our social media world that that, you know, we're certainly living through challenging times. But, you know, from about 1968 to 1972, which I've written extensively on, we had a much more violent United States. And quite frankly, in many ways, I think, a much more violent world, especially on the on the terrorism front.

Philip Grindell:

It was interesting, wasn't it? Because if you look at the terrorism picture over the over the kind of decades, a lot of it then was sort of left wing extremist. And we seem to have moved to the other end of the spectrum now where we're now you know, we've got right wing extremist. And this the pendulum seems to have swung in a completely opposite direction.

Fred Burton:

Yeah. And you know, from our industry perspective, I did a keynote talk for the State Department during the pandemic, where I talked about how there's certain inflection points in our industry, Phillip, and you and I are in many ways, products of that, you know, and if you look, there was almost every 10 years you had a incident that drove certain categories of our industry, whether that be the creation of corporate security managers, or international security managers or executive protection teams, they were literally always driven by some sort of external or catastrophic event. It seems like in our business, that's always the case, right? We have some sort of catastrophic incident. And then we throw money and resources at it. And we create new, new jobs for us all in this kind of sector. But the fascinating part, for me as a student of history, Phillip is that I see that being compressed today, with the shrinking world, the 24 by seven social media and endless news feeds to the point that I see these 10 year time periods now just very compressed into three to five year windows.

Philip Grindell:

Interesting, isn't it? How it's how it's changing? In some ways, we're reactive, aren't we, because we're always kind of slightly behind the curve trying to catch up with whatever the latest methodology is. And, sure, we've

Fred Burton:

we

Philip Grindell:

do old maxim is that we've got to get it right every time, they've only got to get right once.

Fred Burton:

Right, and you and I both know how bureaucracies and governments work. It does take a smoking hole in the ground, or an embassy log in rubble, or an assassination of a diplomat before somebody really wants to do something about it. And, you know, quite frankly, that was one of the driving motivations. For me. And our very small group to put together the protective intelligence programme at the State Department in the early 80s, was, everything we were doing was simply not working. And it was our experience that all the physical security enhancements that you could put around a building or a person could always be circumvented by either an organised group or a threat actor that had the capability to just watch and study and learn. So that was one of the more driving motivations for me in developing the protective intelligence model, which, you know, certainly today, I think, has become the gold standard, not only in the government space, but also in the private sector.

Philip Grindell:

And so, when did you first hear the term protective intelligence?

Fred Burton:

Yeah, it's a great question. And it's one that I've written about on the history of the actual concept. And you really have to go back to the Warren Commission, which was the investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy at Dealey Plaza. And you started looking at the Secret Service Research Division during that time period, which is pretty much just clerks that were filing names of individuals in what was called flashcards at the time. And these flashcards were what agents carried in their pockets. In the day before there was computerised kind of entries. So research really became that. So the secret service model, they were the first to actually adopt that actual word protective intelligence. And then what we did was we created not only the protective Intelligence Division at the State Department, where we had the intelligence and threat analysis group, which was a standalone group of analysts that were put together again, after the assassination of a couple of our diplomats overseas. So the whole concept from a historical perspective was driven by these horrific catastrophic events, and a desire to do a better job to not only collect intelligence as it pertains to the protection of people and property, but also to assess that and to be able to do a little bit of forecasting and the development of threat assessments, which really wasn't a model that really started to take off until circa 1985 1986, inside the United States government.

Philip Grindell:

And when did you begin to see it evolving outside of the US government or even outside of the US because, you know, I can honestly say that I spent 30 years in the Met Police and I think I only heard that term in the last few years of my service.

Fred Burton:

Well, this is going to sound somewhat self serving, but I actually was the person that brought the model to the privates. Actor in 1998, as others have written about that, me and my my concept, and created the first protective intelligence analyst in the private sector. And looking back on that Philip, I knew that the counter surveillance component of the model would work. But quite frankly, I did not know how we were going to collect air quotes intelligence, without having access to your usual intelligence streams from the CIA and the FBI and the State Department and MI five and MI six. So I was very cautious when I first transitioned, that I knew that the counter surveillance component was picture perfect for the private sector, especially in those formats where, let's face it a heavy footprint at times is bad for optics and business. So I knew that that would work. I just wasn't sure how we were going to go about to collect intelligence because technology programmes or platforms, did not exist during that time period. So that was one of the big challenges. When I first transitioned that in late 1998.

Philip Grindell:

And when you when you approached businesses in those those early days and talked about, you know, this protective intelligence, what what was that? What was a response?

Fred Burton:

Well, it's kind of interesting, Philip, because I've been fortunate enough to have consulted or done work for some of the wealthiest people in the world on, you know, according to the Forbes list, you know, some of the ones on the top 10. And I always ask that question of, well, why do you want security? Or why do you think you need security? It's interesting, some of the answers you get. And a lot of them are predicated by either, well, I'm fearful of my family, or my significant other, not so much. I'm fearful about as it may impact me. But that's usually the kind of answer that I would get. And then I would always look at it conceptually and say, Well, we certainly have a programme that we can put into place where you don't really have to see security at all, you just go about your day, it's our job to make sure that you're safe and secure. And I'm not trying to put you in some sort of secret service or metropolitan police protection detail or put you in an armoured car. Although there are certain places in the world that that's threat driven. But even in the continental United States, you would be hard pressed to have that kind of threat for anybody that you're going to protect in the private sector. I'm not talking about like visiting heads of state or visiting foreign dignitaries. Yep.

Philip Grindell:

It's interesting, because when I, when I was working in Parliament, I would see a very different response. And what you've just said touches on it between the male politicians and the female politicians, the female politicians would absolutely understand and express a personal fear, and a personal desire for some additional protection or some additional advice. The male politicians would always take that kind of masculine view of I'm not worried, but my family or my wife is or you know, what have you. And it's a really, it's really interesting hearing you saying the same thing, because I think that's often that kind of male way of trying to pretend that they're not worried but putting them onto their family. But it also implies another thing that which is, if we take the kind of male stereotype of somebody who's, let's say, the male is the running the business, and the male is the breadwinner. It's this whole concept of you may not get targeted at home, but they will almost certainly target your family at home. Or you may not target targeted at work, rather, but they'll target your family at home, because that's how they get to you. Because we know that the big organisations have all the security and the you know, the various measures in there. But of course, you don't have that at home. So I guess there's this double edged sword there where, on one side, their ego is trying to pretend they're not scared when they probably are. But secondly, there is some sense in that in terms of, you know, families are often the ones that are targeted when you can't get to the principal.

Fred Burton:

Yeah, and I think you raise a very interesting point that I've experienced time and time again, where I've had some of the world's largest business leaders that you've seen on Forbes and fortune and elsewhere. Say to me I'm really not worried about my company. I've got 1000s of people that worry about my company. But I'm worried about my family. And to your point, I think that that became almost the prevalent theme every time I started to talk to each one of them, which seemed to develop over word of mouth. And it was always my belief under the predominant counter surveillance model, that it was our job, my job, to adapt a security programme around the lifestyle of that CEO, or ultra high net worth individual, or their family or whoever they were worried about a significant other, instead of trying to put that person into a secret service model of protection, because that invariably doesn't work. And I can't tell you how many times I've even gone into into companies where they've had that model, and it's been broken. And then you have to do a lot of rebuild, as to trust and why that model probably wasn't really necessary to begin with.

Philip Grindell:

So for those people that aren't involved in this world, explain what you mean by this counter surveillance model.

Fred Burton:

It's really when you start breaking down the whole concept of protective intelligence, you have the ability to investigate, analyse, and to look for threat actors. So from a practical application, when I started doing after action investigations in the 80s, it dawned on me pretty quickly, that in order to stop the individual from carrying out some sort of act of violence, that we had to get outside and start looking for that threat actor, meaning there's a very specific attack cycle that I've written about for years now, where it begins with a concept called pre operational surveillance. And just on a layman's term, that's where if I'm looking to target Philip, I have to start collecting information and air quotes intelligence about him. So I'm going to first go and do my digital work. And then I'm going to start looking for him, once I figure out where he lives and works. And then I'm going to watch him or her. And that's the pre operational surveillance phase. And what I found time and time again, and studying attacks, both in the private sector and external terrorist attacks is that unless you can interrupt that pre operational attack phase, you're not going to be successful for shutting down the operation, meaning once John Hinckley gets in his car and drives to the Hilton, and is standing in the press pool with the gun, the likelihood of him being successful is is very high, or a Timothy McVeigh getting in the Ryder truck and driving towards the Oklahoma City, Federal Building, it's going to be almost impossible to stop. So in order to interdict that, you have to be out there looking for those threats signals, the preoperational surveillance. And so from a counter surveillance perspective, one of the first things we did and I'll put it in context with your beloved Princess Diana, who we loved protecting when she came to the United States, she was one of the first that we actually rolled out this concept on. So you would see all the good looking men and women with their nice suits on and their Ray Ban sunglasses and the earpieces. But you wouldn't see my team behind the scenes, looking for all those persons of interest that may try to get in to harm her, or the rest of the British Royals that we always protected when they visited the United States. So that concept very much works. It works very effectively. And it's picture perfect for the private sector, where a heavy footprint of security is kind of viewed as poor form and in many ways bad for business from an optics perspective.

Philip Grindell:

So if we unpick that then what we're looking at first is in the modern world, you know, we've got this this huge issue now with people living on the internet, and so much private information being available about people, whether they've done it themselves or others or put it out there, it's out there this information about them and that's where the adversary is first going to do their research and Just spend weeks or days, weeks, months, even years perhaps life styling to the technical term, the the person they are targeting. So, how do you interrupt that? How and what are you looking for in that world?

Fred Burton:

Yeah, it's a great question. We just wrote a joint paper with emergent risk international torch stone, and at risk at the Centre for protective intelligence, looking at the aid, assassination in Japan. And that threat actor had reportedly been studying a for the better part of a decade, which is somewhat unusual in this space. I've never seen a threat actor study, or put together that kind of fixation for that length of time. So that's an interesting anomaly. So But to answer your question, you really have to have technology solutions today, to help you find those signals, and make a human judgement as to whether or not that person is a hunter, or simply a Howler. And look, there's no shortage of that all day long on the internet, when you start looking at the political atmosphere in the UK, Israel, or here in the United States, leading up to an election, so capturing those kinds of signals as part of the challenge today, and then trying to figure out who is the real threat amongst those. And that takes a degree of human analysis. It takes a good experience and a good eye. It also could be looking for anomalies as part of your collection platform, meaning you have that individual that's a howler, and all of a sudden, he or she goes quiet. What's caused that change in behaviour? So I'm a big believer today, that you cannot do that without technology assistance. Because back when I first started doing this, Philip, probably much like when you first got in the business, we didn't have that kind of technology. Yeah, we would get lucky at times, and the intelligence services or the security services would tip us off to something that they picked up somewhere, some chatter somewhere in the world. That certainly gave you a leg up, or at least a place to start. But it didn't really help you resolve that threat, or help you look for that threat, per se, but at least you were aware of it.

Philip Grindell:

And so when when we move forward, then and we look at I know you call it pre attack, we have a term here, we call it hostile reconnaissance, which I think is the same thing as you're implying. Very similar. Yeah, no doubt. And so we had systems where we would put counter surveillance teams out using behavioural detection. Right. So talk a bit about that, then about what your what you know what that means for you.

Fred Burton:

Yeah, that's a great question, too. Let me use it in a real life kind of atmosphere. I'll never forget when we protected Salman Rushdie, when he first came to the United States after the Iranian fatwa, he was under heavy protection there in the UK, who did a handoff for us. And he was going to come for a visit at the National Press Club and actually visit the White House and visit with the President. And so from a threat perspective, we obviously worked very hand in glove with our British counterparts, who had a very good handle on the domestic threat and the Iranian threat as it may unfold, they're in the UK. And then we would look at that here in the United States. And then what we would try to do is do a little bit of modelling and behavioural analysis behind the scenes to try to determine out of all of these threat actors that could potentially target Mr. Rushdie while he was here, who is the most likely and for what motive and then we would physically go out and look for them. And in some cases, regardless of the fact that Rushdi was visiting Washington, DC, if we had a threat actor in Los Angeles, California, we would want to know where that person is all the time. And so we would place some discreet surveillance on those threat actors, wherever they were around the United States, just to keep an eye on them. Because we did not have technology assistance, such as geo fencing and so forth that we could do. So it was very old school, kind of gumshoe detective work just to watch threat actors. And then we would incorporate either in house or outside assistance from let's say, the FBI behavioural Analysis Unit to help us make sense of those individuals that we think were a true hunter. And the Secret Service did a good job of early on beginning in the late 1980s. Early 1990s, of hiring a bunch of PhD psychologist, to kind of full time look into this to be a ready resource to help with making sense of a person's potential or probability of violence. Now, look, you and I both know, it's not an exact science, some of these individuals historically come out of nowhere, and there's been no indicator at all where they have come from. But most are, most do surface. And most do make their presence known whether that be in the in the old days with a letter, or a walk in, or a visit, or a drive by the challenge, and this space is catching those individuals that you're not aware of. And that's really kind of the the Achilles heel in this business today in my judgement.

Philip Grindell:

And, you know, all this, that you and I are involved around the kind of protective intelligence, still, to some degree requires some protective security as well, that goes hand in glove with that it's not it's not magic, we can't just, you know, fashion up the the the individual that's going to be there there is an element of target hardening and other conventional security involved in so how does that fit with the protective intelligence piece and protective security and the protective intelligence?

Fred Burton:

Yeah, in essence, how I always looked at this, Philip, which I'm sure you would concur with is a holistic approach. For example, I can remember meeting with one of the wealthiest men in the world, who runs a company that we all know of. And he started to say, Well, what kind of security Do you think I need? And I said, Well, I have no idea because I have not done a threat assessment now to see how many people might dislike you or hate you, which he kind of, you know, set back in his seat. But I always wanted to approach this kind of Prop problem logically, with some analysis behind the scenes to make some educated assessments predicated on the actual threats. So you begin with a threat assessment. And then you begin with that physical security review of whatever systems they might have in place already. It's been my experience over the course of, I don't know, decades now of doing this is a lot of people have more at times, and they really need, or they've gotten very bad advice over the course of different time periods. And I've seen physical security in place that just make little sense to me at times. So I've seen a lot of people be sold a Rolls Royce, when they can do just fine with a BMW. When I use that kind of as a metaphor for the kind of security programmes, I mean, we all know you can spend 1000s, if not millions of dollars at hardening your target. But at some point in time, that CEO has to leave that residence, get in a car, whether he or she drives or is driven by others, and go from point A to point B. So I've always tried to look at this with moderation factoring in beginning with the threat assessment at a baseline, and then doing that physical security review as to what's currently in place, then coming back with some reasonable recommendations back to the client.

Philip Grindell:

And I think, you know, one of the things that I think is key is, and I often say this to clients is, anybody can make you safe, we can put you in a gilded cage, and you'll be safe. But actually, what we want to do is we want to help you feel safe. And that's why you need more of a proportionate response. That that actually works in roles. So you know, very often, I know, one of the first things that people say is I want CCTV. And I will say Yeah, that's great. So we can actually watch you being attacked. But it's not going to stop you being attacked. And so yeah, so we, I, jokingly, I had this client not that long ago who said to me that he'd had iris scanners fitted in his around his home. And he said, you said it all went horribly wrong. One night when my 15 year old son came home drunk. My wife and I were watching the CCTV as he was desperately trying to get his blurred eye in front of his iris scanner, so he could enter the door and he just kept falling down. So he said we got rid of all that because it just doesn't work or wasn't working, you know, so, so we know we have to get back to the basics around protective security and okay, what actually does work what actually is the purpose of protective security? Not what is the latest gizmo out there and the most expensive product.

Fred Burton:

And that's a great story, I can recall a conversation with another ultra high net worth individual that his previous security boss had placed him in a armoured, high end sports car. And I said, Well, do you know why they suggested that you drive yourself in this high end sports car that's armoured in the streets of California? And he said, No, not really. So he had not been trained. And then he said to me something that is just common sense, right? He said, I've always thought of, well, if I was trying to kidnap me, I would just wait for me to get out of my armoured car. And I said, Well, when you brought it up, that's the first thing I was thinking of, I would just simply watch you until you got out of your armoured car. Yeah. And so I've always been shocked fill up at times that how much bad advice people do receive in this space. And, and I'm not trying to, you know, shedding disparaging remarks on our industry, or sector or sector in general. But I have seen examples of that over the course of the decades I've been in this business, which is really a shame to us collectively, I think.

Philip Grindell:

And so when we're talking about these, you know, high net worth people and high profile people, what are they worried about?

Fred Burton:

Well, typically, they're worried about depending upon the the nature of their business in Iran, whether it's a very controversial business today, which you can look at the technology sector, especially in the social media industry today and find no shortage of that anywhere. Or it could be those kinds of threats that they don't really realise pose a risk, such as they might be in a sector. That's a high threat target of let's say, for example, Russia or China, from an intellectual property theft perspective. So, in many ways, I've, I've talked to CEOs, where they'll say, Well, we only make this widget. And I said, Well, how many years did you go about designing that? And they would say, Well, I've spent my whole life thinking about this, and I sit would say, Well, do you realise that's how valuable that is to a nation state such as Russia or China, that now just has to steal that patent or that that widget that you've made now and just copy it, you've done all the work. And then that tends to get them thinking of those kinds of vulnerabilities. So some of the other problems can be if you're dealing with, let's say, a, a Jewish ultra high net worth individual, especially here at the United States, and in many places around the world, you're going to have a tremendous amount of anti semitic threats, white hate driven depending upon where you are. And that's, that's been somewhat the norm whenever I've interfaced and done work at that level with the ultra high net worth, Jewish business people. And then some that are engaged in political kind of atmospherics that in today's polarised world, especially here in the United States, which I would have to say it's probably very similar to what's taking place in the UK would be just a polarised nature of the societies that we live in. And we recently did a study at the Centre for protective intelligence, where we started looking at and surveying and researching this topic. And what we found is that if you are a CEO that's made a political, racial or social justice statement, you are going to be threatened. Conversely, if you haven't made a statement, you are going to be threatened. So what do you do? I don't have a good answer for you. All I know is that these are very complex issues today, whether you're looking at all of our political and social and racial racial justice issues, or something that's so controversial here, such as Roe vs. Wade. If you make that kind of outward statement, you're going to draw the wrath of somebody. No, the bulk of them are nothing more than howlers. But you really never know. So it's such a complex landscape today fill up that it's very, very difficult for the world's largest companies to navigate, doodle their exposures around the world from just a range of just geopolitical issues to your basic Workplace concerns over you've just let hundreds of employees go for whatever reason,

Philip Grindell:

rather topical today of all days, I'd imagine. Yeah. What about issues of privacy and reputation? How do they factor into protective intelligence?

Fred Burton:

Yeah, that's a great question. And that's one that depending upon who you're talking to, in that space, they either have very good corporate communications and marketing personnel and PR firms that are capturing all that adverse media attention, or you and I would call it adverse intelligence that is looking at their brand. But then they're also not thinking of certain kinds of nation state kinds of activities, where you could be utilised in deep fakes how you could take a picture of your CEO and put he or she out there doing something or saying something that just really doesn't exist, you can't put that toothpaste back in the tube, once it's out there on this on the internet. So those are the kinds of issues that from a privacy perspective are concerning. And I'm sure you have your own horror stories like I do to have children of the ultra high net worth either tweeting out, or putting something on Instagram, showing them exactly where they're located, or pictures of the private jet, or their seven course meal on the private jet. And they don't think much about it. So I know when one of the things that I would historically always do is that kind of social media deep dive on that ultra high net worth individual to include their family members, because what I found is you will find that CEO, that's he or she is very, very security conscious. And will tell you Well, I'm not on social media. Well, trust me, Little Johnny or little Sally is. And you don't need to be because they're showing everything that you're doing in the house, on their social media feeds. And sometimes that's kind of an eye opener for that ultra high net worth individual to see what their exposures actually are.

Philip Grindell:

Yeah, it's a brilliant point. I mean, I, I wrote a post not long ago about one that asked me to do some reviews of him and said, you'll find nothing on me. I'm not on social media, I hate social media. And I presented him with his Facebook page. And he and his wife, I said, Well, that's, that's not ours. We don't have a Facebook page. And I said, Well, you do there it is. In fact, your two daughters have friended you on Facebook. Do you think that's me? And I said, No, no, it's not. I've created it. And I've created it from all the material I found about you. I can create a Facebook page that even your own daughters think he's genuine. And now I may post what I like.

Fred Burton:

Yeah. So that's a great lesson. Yeah, it was really awesome.

Philip Grindell:

It really drove the message home. So just going back slightly, but there's a question I missed. I wanted to ask him, I asked you beforehand. And it's one that comes up for me regularly when I when I'm talking with people in in high net worth families when they're looking at their own protective security. And that's this whole thing about safe rooms. And I was kind of, you know, sharing a horror story where I looked at this room where someone had been sold this safe room and there were you know, firstly had a window. It had been no, no fire extinguishers. No anything in it. So what is a safe room? And how do we how do we look at how do we design a safe and what's its purpose?

Fred Burton:

Yeah, it's a good question. And like you I've seen, I've seen this concept literally all over the map. And it's one of the more interesting questions I get, and have gotten over the course of my time in this space, even from staff and employees from from various positions that I've been in, meaning concerned about burglary, what should we do? And I think fill up at times, there's a high degree of brilliance and simplicity, meaning that if you're the average person worried about burglars, or I'm travelling a lot, and my significant other is home alone, or my children are home alone, there's some very simple things you can do such as just having up you know, an indoor closet or a restroom that you might have in the house, just an area that you can retreat from to buy us some time until the police can get there, provided you have a mech mechanism of communication in that room to begin with. And I've seen that breakdown over the course of time when you start doing some of the physical security reviews of of safe rooms that are already in place. So he will have poorly constructed safe rooms that have the ability to either someone can get in from the outside, or you will have those that don't have good communication have protocols in place, are thinking of air. And I know from you know, I did a book on Benghazi today, from a fire protection that it doesn't take much to just start a fire in a home and literally smoke you out or wherever you're coming from, which, you know, resulted in horrific and tragic results and Benghazi. So there really has to be a thought process around whatever safe haven safe room, you're going to put together. predicated upon the number of people that you have in the house. family, extended family, where's it going to be located in proximity to the general or primary foot traffic living space each home each house you do I do we have certain areas, we congregate in more than others? What are we going to have inside this room? Who is going to construct it? How are we going to go about making sure that we have provisions inside here in the United States, it's not unusual to find weapons, and inside of safe rooms, whether that be the old fashioned Remington 870, wing master shotgun, down to a pistol, along with water, some provisions that don't go bad, such as power bars, and so forth, and stop the bleed kits, you know, which include like tourniquets and so forth, medications that you might need for yourself or others. But, you know, the communication protocols to me are critical, because the whole purpose and concept around a safe haven or a safe house? Or is to be able to just buy yourself some time until the authorities can get there to help you. So I don't know if that answered your question.

Philip Grindell:

Yeah, it does. Yeah, I mean, I think you make the points that I think are relevant in terms of, you know, you're not going to go in there and live there. It's, it's, it's biding your time. And it's part of the layered security of the entire structure in terms of you know, you've got your external security, which is doors and locks and what have you, but clearly, the safe room is the last resort, if you like, in terms of where you're gonna go, to stay safe until the authorities turn up. But you need to be thinking about those issues around, you know, setting fires, and having water and having fire extinguishers, and, you know, communication. And it's astonishing how people spend absolute fortunes having these things built. Because I've seen Hollywood blockbuster films where they've got this steel, in reinforced cabinet that what have you, but actually, they don't have the basics, they haven't thought through the basics. Which goes back to your point earlier on around, you know, keep things simple, and you have to have the foundations. Right, to begin with.

Fred Burton:

Right. And also, you have to, and I know from just working with children of high net worth individuals, that there has to be almost a age appropriate training that you can conduct and do to make it fun, to not be scary. So the children know what to do. In the event, something bad is starting to unfold inside the house. And you also have to practice. Like, for example, I know, one of the things that a lot of ultra high net worth individuals will think about to your point is how to get out of a house in the event of a fire. And they won't have for example, a degree of folding ladders or some way to egress that building in the event of a fire. And then forget about having just a simple rally point, especially for little kids, such as a tree, or a location that you could mark with here in the United States, a Smokey the Bear kind of sign or whatever. So all the kids know, and it's been my experience in dealing with the children of the ultra high net worth, that they they really do appreciate learning these kinds of things. Because, again, it has to be age appropriate, age appropriate, they are different. And they need to know what to do in the event of emergency to and that can be done in a non scary kind of way, you know, predicated upon the fit and the experience level of the person that's trying to talk to the kids.

Philip Grindell:

So, to conclude, really, because we've got a few minutes left and it's, it's, it's one of those I'm blessed because I have these conversations with you and I and other people on our podcast and I I know I can go on for hours, but I know that we don't have hours that Ontex centre of protective intelligence comes up with, you know, some of the some of the world leading research into what the latest issues and trends are. Can you can you talk through what what the latest trends are? What are the issues that you're seeing on tick?

Fred Burton:

I would love to and I would encourage all of your viewers and listeners to visit our centre for protective intelligence we have all of our content is out there to grab, I guarantee you whatever topic you're interested in, whether it be family protection to Corporation protection to executive protection teams, will probably have some thought leadership piece on that with even checklists of how you go about establishing even a protective intelligence programme. And some of the trends that we're seeing from our latest research, which what are the benefits I have is to be able to write and study things that I think are of interest to all of us in this space. We just conducted our fourth survey that you can get, it's quite voluminous. And you know, we're looking at the threat landscape Philip and kind of envisioning over the horizon what people are seeing. And what we're seeing is, I'm sad to say at times, executives, CEOs tending to want to downplay the risk in the workplace, because they don't want to air quotes scare the staff or the employees, which is kind of like the elephant in the room. Because if you go to the staff or the employees, they're all thinking of workplace violence, or an active shooter here in the United States, which is, you know, every day, there's one somewhere, pretty much I'm sad to say. So you have that kind of statistic, you have the social racial injustice issues that we're seeing unfold being dragged into the workplace in some capacity. And that desire from not only internal staff, for my company to have a position, putting the C suite in a very tough position as to what they're going to address. We've seen other kinds of trends here, which I'm very excited about, such as the significant increase of the actual hiring of protective intelligence analysts in the multinational corporation space, which if I was a young person today wanting to get into the industry, that's where I would look to start. Because that's such a valued service. What I'm also seeing is a lot of major multinational companies creating their own geopolitical, insider threat teams to assess what is the geopolitics of the world mean to me to my company? What does the war in Ukraine mean to us? What does the South China Sea and the possibility of a China invasion on Taiwan look like? What does a fractured United States look like? What does that mean to for my staff, so I see that growing more and more in this space, and then I see a tremendous amount of G socks and fusion centres. And a large number of them are using our platform, which I'm very grateful to see, to try to manage the threats, and to push out notifications to staff in our troubled world today, which as you and I both know, there's no shortage of problems pretty much anywhere you want to look. Yeah.

Philip Grindell:

So what we're seeing that is a real move towards an intelligence led response to or proactive intelligence led strategies.

Fred Burton:

Yeah, you said that much better than me? Absolutely. You know, you a few years ago, you had intelligence led policing, right? Or the desire to go down that path. Now, you're seeing a very proactive, intelligence driven programme. And most of the companies that we work with trying to look over the horizon, at issues and then also trying to manage just the constant threat streams that they're seeing today on social media.

Philip Grindell:

So how does just finish you on that point, then? So that's great if you're one of these multinationals if you're a smaller business, but still operates in global industries, or still operates as a subsidiary of some of the tech businesses, etc. How do you then manage your own protective intelligence?

Fred Burton:

Well, first, it begins with the desire to not be reactive, but the hope to be proactive so and we do work with companies that only have one or two security officers and in in their departments, and the challenge for that singleton or that singleton that's lucky enough to have a backup is being able to collect the all the intelligence and adverse information so they can formulate their threat landscape. So that's the first step is understanding a holistic and comprehensive picture of all the potential threats and variables that are out there. And then just trying to triage and managing those as best you possibly can. Recognising that you might not have a security department with 1000 personnel, but you can do a lot better. And the other thing to fill up which a lot of us in this space, don't think about all the time, is that in today's world, which is run by a lot of liabilities and lawyers, that if you're not looking for threats, what is that degree of liability to you, as not only the company, the person, the executive, so you're better off doing some degree of threat hunting, however, you're going to define that however, you're however your bandwidth is, in order to try to make sure you're aware of it. So you're not blindsided by that either.

Philip Grindell:

Fantastic. Thank you so much for spending this amount of time with us on a Friday afternoon, I guess it is where you are Friday afternoon.

Fred Burton:

Thank you so much Philip for having me on. It's very kind of

Philip Grindell:

you. It's been an absolute joy and education. And I know this is going to be a really really popular podcasts for people to listen to. So thank you so much, Fred, and that this will be our Christmas edition in fact, so that's even better. So people can be a give themselves a present by listen to this. So thanks again. Fred Burton.

Fred Burton:

Thank you so much.