Executive protection (EP), in its original form, is purely physical. Over the years, however, it has evolved dramatically. Today’s understanding that prevention is the primary key has forever changed the traditional approach.
As technology advances, the line between physical security and cybersecurity is becoming more blurred, exposing executives to numerous cyber threats that can result in physical vulnerabilities. And the risk of cyber threats can range from hacking of personal devices to surveillance via bugs in homes, vehicles, and offices.
Adapting to Smart Vehicles
With the increasing presence of smart vehicles on the roads, it is inevitable that EP teams will need to adapt and incorporate this technology into their operations. As with any new technology, however, smart vehicles also introduce new risks and vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.
One such risk is the potential for vehicle hacking by attackers. As smart vehicles become more connected and reliant on technology, they also become more vulnerable to cyberattacks. The number of automotive API attacks increased by 380 percent in 2022, according to an annual vehicle cybersecurity report.
Hackers can target vehicles with malware or other types of attacks, allowing them to:
- Take control of the vehicle
- Monitor the movements of the occupants
- Even cause accidents or other disruptions
As EP professionals, it is our responsibility to understand these new risks and to work with clients to identify appropriate countermeasures. This might include the implementation of advanced security measures such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and other network security protocols.
It might also involve training personnel to recognize and respond to potential cyber threats or partnering with experts in cybersecurity to provide additional support and expertise.
Implementing New Protection Roles
The increasing frequency of cyberattacks and data breaches means EP must incorporate cyber threat mitigation as a core component of risk management. This inclusion may also introduce a new core position within EP teams: executive protection technology officers (EPTOs).
The role of EPTOs is to mitigate cyber threats to cover the gaps in protection. EPTOs can work to ensure that executives are protected from cyber threats in more situations than dedicated IT and technical surveillance countermeasures experts can offer, both at home and while traveling.
As the integration of technology and security becomes more intertwined, it is crucial that EP adapts to keep up.