Smartphone applications can provide another means to track an individual while traveling because all smart devices are equipped with geotagging applications. These applications represent a double-edged sword. They can be a threat to the safety of the executive, considering that social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter can reveal the location of the executive publicly. Hackers may also be able to infiltrate these applications to learn the traveler’s whereabouts. Still, these applications also allow a security team to track the executive by just logging into an application to see that person’s geolocation. Comparing the geotagging to the preset agenda provides an added level of confirmation regarding the whereabouts of the executive.
Tracking can be further enhanced by the use of dedicated tracking devices. These devices, usually satellite-linked, provide accurate real-time data and information. They are the most reliable and accurate of all methods, but they are expensive and often inconvenient for executives. Privacy is an important consideration when using such devices, the use of which should be agreed upon by all parties in advance.
Should the nightmare become a reality, the final aspect of travel preparation is knowing what to expect and how to react in a kidnapping situation.
High-visibility executives representing governmental organizations and large corporations have been targeted for ransom and to advance political agendas in growing numbers. Preparing executives for the possibility of being captured is crucial. As part of the educational process, security teams should teach executives how to identify kidnapping and hijacking attempts, how to counter such attempts, and how to Survive, Escape, Resist, and Evade (S.E.R.E.) captivity.
Expecting, recognizing, and addressing the kidnapping threat is part of the educational process of the executive. Contingency plans should include a list of emergency contacts to notify, including family members and the necessary personnel at the executive’s organization. It is crucial to have the contact information ready for first responders and diplomatic resources at the country of destination to further facilitate and expedite any response and rescue efforts, if needed.
Several insurance providers offer kidnap and ransom insurance policies, which can be used to pay ransom should a kidnap occur for monetary reasons. These policies should be examined by companies with executives who frequently travel for business purposes.
While there is no silver bullet for providing perfectly safe travel, taking the steps outlined above will greatly enhance the security of any executive traveling alone to troubled areas.
Tzviel Blankchtein has more than 20 years of experience in protective services. He now operates Masada Tactical Protective services, LLC, in Baltimore, Maryland, specializing in high-risk security for large organizations.