Mitigating risks posed by the Occupy Wall Street movement: Part 1

Security experts share strategies for protecting executives and their families from demonstrators


Spivey said that organizations should also be aware of how local authorities are handling the protests, which can add fuel to the fire of the demonstrators.

"Another thing that is a part of that mix is what are the police doing? In some cases the police are making the violence of the protests stronger because of the way they're handling the protest," Spivey explained. "The police may or may not ignite the situation even more than it is. We've seen this across the world that the police may or may not treat these situations the same. The may treat it one way in New York, another way in Charlotte, North Carolina and another way in San Francisco depending on their tolerance level."

Because the identities of many executives are widely known, their public schedules and home addresses are also easily attainable, making protection at the home and other corporate events just as critical as at the office.

"That is definitely the most vulnerable component of this entire scenario and the reason for that is because when we take a look at executives, it's not hard to find out where they live. They really didn't take proper precautions when they bought the house, so you go on the Internet and you know where they live. There are pictures of the house, hell; you can get MapQuest to tell you how to get there. Clearly in a situation where you've got people that are blaming you for their lot in life, then eventually that's going to lead to your family."

Viollis said that executives targeted by the protests should have enhanced security measures at their homes, including up-to-date security systems, as well as guards.

"That's where we really need to be concentrating, making sure that people's homes have a proper level of security," he said. "You can't be a C-level executive on Wall Street or Madison Avenue; you can't have that level of financial exposure and think you're ok with this kind of contractor's special alarm system. Protecting the home should be paramount."

Spivey said that extending protection to an executive's home comes down to how each organization answers the essential risk management question of does the threat justify the countermeasure?

"If the threats are seen as real, then the proper response is going to be increasing the protection of that executive and depending on where that threat is being targeted, that can dictate priorities," he said. "If it looks like someone has been targeted at the office, then maybe that's where the greater protection is needed. If it looks like or there is a hint that that protection is needed in the personal life as well, then maybe you spend more resources making sure that happens."

Spivey added that it's critical for executives and their families to be aware of the dangers of posting certain personal information on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, which could make them more vulnerable during these types of scenarios.

"You would want the families to make sure that... if there is information there helping someone else that's involved in targeting the executive, then that information needs to be removed," he said. "You want to make the family anonymous as much as possible, you don't want information from (the executive's) daughter on Facebook telling all her friends she's going to be at this hockey game tonight or basketball game at school. It's better to not have information of your whereabouts and who you are and all of the particulars that not only children give, but also adults may give in that social media environment."

Regarding the physical premises, Swecker said that no trespassing signs should be clearly posted to establish boundaries. He also said that it's important to educate the family to keep them abreast of what is happening and how they can respond appropriately.

"If (protestors) are at the house, you don't want to go out in the front yard and confront them. Let law enforcement do that," he said.

As the other protection experts noted, Sordi said that he would make sure that the executive's home security system is up to date and keep a guard there 24/7 to lookout for things such as "popup protests." However, he believes that the risks faced by executives' families from the movement are relatively low, as he said that would only serve to hurt their cause.