Principal profiling


Principal profiling

What is it?

A principal profile is the use of accumulated knowledge of your principal's characteristics, history, and behavioral patterns to establish a general idea of who your principal is, how he might react to certain situations and if he might be living a high/low-risk lifestyle.

Why use it?

You simply cannot design a protection detail for any principal if you do not have a good idea of who the principal is and how he/she functions. The principal profile will contribute to your threat assessment. To complete the principal profile you will need to ask a lot of questions and do a lot of digging. Information is critical for principal profiling. The principal profile is also essential to indicate what level of threat your client is at and what the nature of the threat is.

Risk factors

Each principal profile will be unique from one to the next.
There will also be varying risk factors and levels of threat from one client to the next. So for you to draw up the most applicable protection detail and contingencies,  you have to know what it is you will be facing.

It might seem odd

Some questions at the start might seem irrational or inappropriate even, but at a later stage may prove to be the key in finding out why an attack might be made on your principal and possibly even how and which type of attempt might be made, or, you might even find that your client does not need your services at all.

What should it tell me?

Your principal profile should be able to draw a picture of one of the following scenarios:
1) A threat has been made towards your principal because of who he/she is.
2) A threat has been made towards your principal for who he/she represents.
3) A threat has been made towards your principal for what he/she represents.

Should I just go with the info my principal provides?

A principal may neglect to mention key factors when you run solely on his/her discretion and believe everything he/she says without running your investigation. You can easily find yourself in an unwanted and potentially career-damaging position when you are ill-informed or unprepared for a scenario.

Consider the 7 P's

1) People - The principal and closest relatives, friends, and business partners.  We must get to know on a professional level, the people that our principal comes into contact with every day or constantly. Clients are related to many people in lots of different ways. Either by blood, marriage, friendship, business, leisure, casually or intimately. Relationships can be a cause of many a problem.
2) Places - Places the principal and close relatives frequently visit. Where people are born, where children go to school, where they work, spend holidays, live, dine, and play, are all important things to know when assembling the principal profile.
3) Personality - Of the principal. The personality of your principal can draw different types of attention. Depending on the type of personality your principal has, it can draw unwanted attention, obsessive, and potentially dangerous persons. Especially some more adamant business people can have strong personalities that might aggravate others.
4) Prejudices - Prejudices are pretty simple. Many people develop prejudices from a very young age, past down from previous generations, and others form prejudices through personal experience. But they are real, and they can cause problems. You need to be aware of your principal's prejudices and ready to de-escalate any situation that can occur because of it. Also knowing the prejudices of potential attackers will help in identifying how and why an attack might occur. There are different types of prejudices, such as Culture, Race, Religion, Sex, Age, Controversy, Class, and even Nationality to mention a few.
5) Personal history - The history of your principal can provide crucial information that will help establish the profile of your principal. It might also help establish a picture of who might be posing a threat to your principal. You should look at the following, and any other things you might think of that is important to your principal.
- Schooling / Education / Qualifications
- Careers / Positions held
- Full name and title / Know name / Aliases
- Family members (current and previous) / Children
- Honors / Distinctions / Achievements
- Place of residence (Current and previous, family members) / Place of birth
- Medical history / Allergies / Medications / Blood group
- Marital status / Previous spouse
- Nationalities (previous and current)
- Languages
- Military service
- Political history
- Convictions
6) Political/religious views - This one cannot be missed or neglected. A person's political standing can make others unhappy. This could trigger an attack unknowingly or cause colleagues to act violently. You need to know what is the principal's political standing and is he/she an active member of a political party, and whether he will participate in political events.
The principal's religious believes and virtues will indefinitely cause some sort of unwanted result at one point or another. Knowing what your principal's religious standing is and how he/she was raised, will help to establish protocols and responses. You should be able to anticipate unwanted attention and work around them.
7) Private lifestyle - A principal's private lifestyle can expose him/her to various threats and situations. Some things are very confidential and you need to be aware that a protection officer might have to know things about the principal that can and will cause great damage to the principal's reputation. If you are uncomfortable with any of the principal's private lifestyle choices, it is best to move on to another project. But the more we know about the principal, the better we can prepare ourselves for unwanted scenarios. Think of some of the following questions:
- Does your principal work long hours? Is it from home or late hours at the office?
- Does your principal commit adultery?
- Does your principal like to visit clubs or other institutions? Does he/she like to entertain friends at home? or does he/she prefer to spend time alone with family?
- Is your principal an outdoors person, or a sportsman/woman?
- Does your client participate in more risky hobbies/sports such as racing or fighting?
- Does your principal prefer to drive his/her vehicles or utilize a chauffeur?
- Does your principal like to travel a lot or internationally?
- Does your principal enjoy a high-profile lifestyle and flaunt possessions/assets?
- Is he/she a substance abuser?
- Is your principal a workaholic?
You can get creative with the questions and learn to ask more specific things as time goes on.
After drawing up your principal profile you should be able to see key traits in your principal's personality and be able to identify if he/she is either a High-risk, Medium-risk, or Low-risk profile and use it to help formulate contingency plans. You will also be able to identify what type of people and organizations might want to threaten your principal and identify if they have the necessary motivation to follow through with the threat.
Read more one prejudices @
Learn more about different personality traits @

Physical security threat assessment


 Physical security threat assessment

First of all, if you think this is just for professionals, don't be misguided! A threat assessment can be implemented by any person eager to improve their security at home, place of business, office, ranch, farm, flat, or even just a single room! It is just a simple step-by-step system that has been developed over a couple of years, and can be used by anyone willing to put some thought and research into it!

Why use it?

One of the most common risks an organization runs is stagnant and non-evolving security measures. Unfortunately, these things can only be addressed if it is known to the organization. For that reason, it is necessary to perform a complete threat assessment. Sadly, too often a comprehensive threat assessment is missing completely or never updated. So it's your responsibility as the Advisor/Consultant/Team-leader/Security manager or head of the house to make sure that all the risks are reduced to an acceptable level.

The biggest mistake most organizations make is waiting for a safety breach or incident to happen before they implement mitigation strategies. Preparing a thorough threat assessment will undoubtedly help in improving overall security. It will also help in identifying which preventative measures to implement and reduce the risk of possible threats.

Any organization will always have some form of physical threat. Whether it's from general crime, human error, or even natural elements. Physical security is not a one-size-fits-all package. It gets very specific to the organization itself, especially when it comes down to demographics and location.

Before we start

Before we go any further, you should have a clear knowledge of the differences between risk, threat, and vulnerability. If you are unsure or just need a little refresher to make sure you are on the right track, you can learn the difference >Here<. It's also important to note that there are different methodologies out there and each one probably works, but will not necessarily be comfortable for everyone. That's why you need to learn from each of them and develop something that you are comfortable to use.

That being said, you should make sure that the following points are covered in your assessment:

  •  Buildings, assets, and vehicles are characterized
  • Undesirable events should be identified
  • The consequences of those events should be determined
  • The types of threats should be identified
  • Testing and analyzing the protection security systems and procedures
  • Complying with law and regulations
  • Identifying reasonable control measures needed

To formulate the assessment:

Formulating a threat assessment can be done by following these 5 steps:

1) Characterizing facilities

So it should be obvious that you should first know what the actual basis is that your working with. The boundaries of the site, where buildings are on the site, all access points, floor plans, procedures in place, and current security measures if any should be noted. You will need to reach out to some contacts to get all of this information and make sure it is as accurate as possible. Depending on how long the organization has been up and running, you will be able to use things like building blueprints, municipal reports, security SOP's and IAD's, previous threat assessments and reports, environmental reports, site surveys, and a few more.

2) Now you need to determine what events are undesirable to the organization (the risks)

This will vary for every organization. Any crime or disruption in operations is undesirable, and sometimes you might be called in to address something specific, like for instance theft among employees or a physical threat that has been made known to the organization. The following are things to look for:

  • The crime rate in that specific area and also if there are high-risk areas close by.
  • Industry-specific crimes, for example, drug stores and banks will have different types of specific risks related to their trade.
  • Common crime, things like theft and crimes of opportunity.
  • The number of people who will be accessing the organization's infrastructure
  • Cameras and other monitoring systems
  • Lack of manpower
  • The political and religious standing of the organization can also attract more risks
  • Training of staff or team members
  • If there are any direct threats to the organization or one of its high-ranking officials

So now that you have your whole list of risks compiled. Its time to rank them in order of probability, frequency, and impact. Let's say you score each risk on each of these factors on a scale of 1 to 5. Then add up the total of each risk. So the higher the total (the probability and impact), the higher the risk, and that is a threat to the organization. In another column, you can add the control measures that are currently in place if any, and deduct that from the total of the other 3 columns. So if there is good access control currently in place you would score that higher than no access control.

Another important thing to look for is any vulnerabilities the organization has. These will be risks that are not addressed at all and have a good probability of happening, and also possible risks that will have a significant impact but are not being controlled. However, this is only vulnerabilities visible on paper, when on-site and assessing the buildings and controls, you will most likely find more vulnerabilities. This includes out-dated and defective equipment and uncontrolled areas.

3) SOP and IAD's

I would like to separate Standard Operational Procedures and Immediate Action Drills a bit as it is something that is being badly neglected. SOP's and IAD's are as important as any other security system in place, without it there is no guidance in reaction and things often turn out quite bad or undesirable to an organization. Once again the organization's aim should be kept in mind when drawing up these procedures. I like to look at procedures before implementing mitigation as it will assist a great deal when it comes to cost, as you will likely see how much man-power and how much equipment is needed to achieve operational objectives.

The way your system integrates and reacts to threats is an important risk to look at. If the response is slow, the risk is greater, if the response is incorrect, the risk increases. I am pretty sure you get the picture here. A common risk when it comes to applying IAD's or responding to a threat is when all staff members rush to the location of the threat, leaving their areas of responsibility unattended and opening up the proverbial back-door for intruders to sweep in unnoticed. Identify roles and responsibilities for each threat and make sure every staff member knows it!

SOP's and IAD's should also be time/shift relevant! During holidays and night shifts for example there might be fewer staff members on duty. This can change things dramatically. There should never be any regulation changes, strict procedures should be attained at all times! The last thing you want is a burglary at night because staff members or cleaners left a door/gate unlocked or open.

Another thing to remember here is a detailed plan and list of immediate contacts that should be activated during emergencies or incidents. A touch of automation can be good in certain situations and again not so good during other situations. You do not want to be dropping security barriers and trapping employees inside when a fire breaks out, but dropping barriers when a deranged shooter tries to get access can be a good move. And also having a procedure of who to be contacted in case of more serious threats is very important! Will a tactical team be needed to respond from outside? Who will that be? do you have the relevant contacts and procedures to follow in case of a bomb threat? Who has to be contacted in case buildings need to be evacuated? Neighboring buildings could start burning, who do you contact then?

4) Addressing the threats

After you have compiled your list of risks and figured out what lacks in the procedures you should now be able to see the threats to the organization. Now you need to determine the course to be taken to minimize the risk of these threats. It should come as no surprise that the cost will greatly affect the course you will take. Staying within budget and getting maximum security optimization is not easy at all! Tip -This is where your contact list can be a great source of success.

Start by looking at the biggest threat on your list (the highest score one). What equipment will be needed to address it? Think of detection, cameras, man-power, and every other piece of equipment and training needed to reduce this threat to a lower score. A lot of times the same type of equipment and so on will automatically improve the other threats too. Or at least some of the same equipment and manpower can be used to tackle other threats.

Now re-asses the other threats according to the equipment, etc. that was added to the security system. From there, again, take the highest ranking threat and address it like the first one. Just continue this cycle until you can reach a reasonable level of risk from each threat. Always remember to KISS it as far as possible or use automation as much as possible, just be cautious of the cost factor, especially when it comes to software updates and such.

5) Analyzing system effectiveness

Physical protection systems should be described in detail before it can be tested! Ideally, you would like to stop a threat immediately and without any delay or negative outcomes and with as little as a possible disturbance in normal operations. But in reality, this rarely happens and one will always have to deal with some sort of shortcoming.

So to stop any threat you should first be able to identify it. A continuous threat assessment will outline threats and should be communicated with team members to remain effective and ahead of the threat. Team members should be trained in identifying abnormal behavior and activities, technology implemented and physical barriers used for this purpose. Strategically designing entries and exits can be just as valuable, to make sure any threat has to pass the detection phase before being able to access any facilities or inflict any damage to the organization.

After a threat has been detected, there should be a way to confirm that the detection is valid and of real concern and not just a nuisance alarm. This can be done via team members in contact with a Control-room/Security management or Team-leader. There should be good knowledge in the team about how criminals operate and how target selection works and everything that goes hand-in-hand with it. One can use the OODA loop to great effect here. Find out more about how the OODA loop works and the different phases criminals or a probable threat uses to select their attack right >Here<.

Once a threat has been confirmed, the aim is to delay the threat to get reaction forces to the threat and minimize its undesired actions. Of course, it is ideal for a team member that is in the vicinity already, to be able to neutralize the threat. But it is also ideal to have more than necessary force available. One adversary can be extremely determined or under the influence of narcotics and over-power or out-think a team-member and then become a more aggressive threat.  The effectiveness of response is measured by the time taken to get to the threat and to neutralize the threat.

So keep in mind that some organizations might require you to try and neutralize a threat without using aggressive force, I know, it's not something I am very much happy to say but to spare you a potential client or project you need to know how to act. And in this instance you need to know non-lethal options available, but, it is your job to convince these organizations about the reality we face each day. Organizations would likely want to avoid PR damage because of an unjustified shooting on their premises.

Testing effectiveness

To test the effectiveness you should be sure to fully understand all of the above points and what is required of your system to achieve maximum effectiveness. Only then can you define what is required and to be implemented. Once that has been put in place, there are a few ways to test its effectiveness, you could use penetration testing, call in other experts and run some drills over different times to see if detection and neutralization systems work. Nothing can prove effectiveness more than an actual criminal attempt, it's important for organizations to immediately assess their response after an attempt and identify any issues and improve on them.

Upgrading systems

If for whatever reason you can identify any viable threats after implementing mitigation strategies, you need to check for possible upgrades or changes in the system. This includes equipment, manpower, procedures, and software. When you implement new strategies or add anything you should again test for effectiveness, and repeat until the level of risk is acceptable. Always remember the cost affected with upgrades and additions or changes.

More on this topic

To follow up on this piece will be a few more posts regarding principal profiling and equipment and some more tips and tricks to help you formulate a threat assessment.

Until then, feel free to comment below!

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Know yourself



So the last few weeks have been interesting, to say the least. All around the world people have come together to make great change and unite for a single cause, and although it means keeping your distance from family, friends, and co-workers, most spouses found themselves face to face for a few weeks (depending on which country your in any way), and this has made them either re-spark their interested in each other or a lot of cases spur a bit of anger and frustration amongst each other. Hubby can no longer claim he has no time to tick of the evergrowing list wifey has made up and wifey had to implement a few changes too. So this has led me to think, how well do you know yourself? And, do you know how to control, disarm, and de-stress yourself?

Easy right?

To some, it might sound like an easy question right? Whether they are just ignorant or cocky, or maybe they do invest a lot of time into their own mental and emotional well-being, and they probably do find it to be an easy question. Even if you do, have you ever come to face the type and the scale of the current challenge we find ourselves in?.  Especially as protectors in an active field, we tend to witness and endure some things we do not wish to talk about and humanity, in general, is not supposed to be imposing on each other. Early on you get taught to not attach yourself emotionally to any client, victim, or perpetrator. But, as protectors, that is just not always possible, as we feel duty-bound to care, and for that reason sometimes unintentionally find ourselves attached to some situation. And until that situation has been resolved, we rarely find true peace.

More questions

So again, I want to bring another question to you. Have you ever taken the time to sit with yourself and run over a little assessment on yourself for a change? How great is the risk on yourself, both mentally, physically, and emotionally? And what if one of these underlying stressors jump out one day at the wrong time, under the correct circumstance? Say for instance in a supermarket, an argument with a family member or as mentioned above, in the instance of a lock-down where you can not run and hide from facing your spouse or children?

Many a man/woman have ruined their lives because they have lost control, even for just a second or two. Learning to control our own emotions is something that we seem to have lost during the recent generations. And in the times we find ourselves in nowadays, we must regain control.

It's the challenge we all face

What makes this challenging is that even when you can control your emotions during a challenging situation and act rationally, others will not see it the same way, and ultimately might blame you for any negative outcome. Think of a policeman for a second. At some point in his/her career, he/she will be faced with a decision, such as having to take a young man's life, perhaps even the same age as his child. If he does take the shot, he will save the lives of many, and if he does not take the shot, well who knows how many innocent lives could be lost, especially if it involves explosives or other lethal weapons. Sounds simple in words, doesn't it? Well place yourself in his shoes for a second and imagine that young man is your son? Would you be able to pull the trigger?

Will it impact you?

For some people, it seems obvious, but being behind the trigger in that scenario can and will have a lasting psychological effect. Sometimes, as protectors, we have to do things or see things that are not supposed to be happening in the first place. This can be dreadful for some. As we are sworn to protect, we do not wish to harm anyone for no meaningful reason, unless we truly have to.

Your challenge:

So I want to challenge you today to take some time during this chaotic and emotional shift that is happening in the world and asses your strengths and weaknesses and develop a plan to make sure you do not crack under the pressure. You will find a great deal changes once you gain control of your emotional state and start to perform at your maximum. And yes, it will possibly push you to make challenging decisions, but in the long run, it would most definitely be of great value to you. Reach out to that position you always wanted, talk to more people, and put yourself out there and expand your capabilities. And, if you need to, reach out to others and take your problems by the horn and pin that pain in the arse to the ground! Set yourself up to attack life head-on as soon as this pandemic eases down.

If you'd like, find some questions here and see how you can make a change in yourself today.

I salute you all, and I commend you for the great change you bring every day. Even if you do not see it, you are making things better, and what an honor it is to serve those who need protection!

CPO, EP or Bodyguard?


CPO, EP, or Bodyguard?

So, You want to join the ranks of the professionals in the private industry, but like most newcomers or clients, you don't know the difference between a CPO (Close Protection Officer), a Bodyguard, or Executive Protection itself. Or maybe you are someone in need of one of these officers to protect you but have no idea what to consider. Never fear, I'll jump into it and save us all some time by trying to explain how I see it.

First off, I really have a hard time trying to explain this to each and every person who inevitably finds out about my line of work. Nothing irritates me more than having to spend the next 10 minutes explaining what a CPO is and why most of us don't like being called a bodyguard. So my natural response by now is just to say "I'm a security guard", trust me, they lose interest really quickly. Also, we do not intend to use our skills to find the friends that owe you money or keep an eye on your grandaughter's boyfriend, unless he is a threat of course. Okay, now that we got that cleared up, this is is the main difference between a bodyguard, a CPO, and EP.


I'll start off with the easiest, and perhaps the most famous one. Made famous by movies all over Hollywood, the notorious black suit that jumps into action within seconds and always on high alert. These gun taunting, bodybuilding, high paid (Myth by the way) bodyguards always shine in stressful situations. But here's the catch, professional bodyguards are actually qualified CPO's acting in the role of a Bodyguard. More on CPO's later.

Staying on topic, a bodyguard can be a really well trained professional, with real background experience. Unfortunately, it can also be some untrained dude with no experience at all advertising himself on Craigslist. Naturally, these guys are respected because of their looks and of course the famous name tag that goes with the job. But truth is, you can possibly drag your big brother for a night out and have him be your personal "bodyguard" and have the same effect in that scenario. While professional bodyguards are actually trained professionals, that try to avoid conflict as much as possible and advise their clients on best practices for their own safety. If your big brother can do that and keep a cool mind, then you might just get lucky a few times. But if you really want the full bang for your buck experience, hire a professional. A one-on-one (one protector on one client) protection detail is more often than not called a bodyguard, but he most definitely takes the responsibility of a whole protection team. From risk-analysis, threat assessments, route planning, venue planning, driving and TL, and on and on. Whilst in a team environment, the CPO assigned to the bodyguard role, focuses primarily on shadowing the client, keeping the team informed, removing the client from danger, and avoiding conflict!

Executive protection:

Okay, this one is really simple, its the complete detail of external, in-house and professional service providers in accordance with the CPO's to provide sufficient and relevant protection to a principal (The client). A number of services can form part of the complete package here, ranging from guarding services, IT professionals, hardware installers, off-site monitoring, and a list of other essential services. These external service providers work with the CPO's to ensure a safe and secure environment for the principal.


Now, these are the cream of the crop type of guys. As I'm sure you know by now, a CPO officer is someone who is properly trained in all aspects of executive protection, from assessing, planning, execution and debriefing the whole protection detail. There are various roles a CPO has to be capable of acting in, and often a professional team would change roles on a constant basis to keep everyone on their feet and in good practice. It would be daunting to try and cram all of the skills, both hard and soft skills, into one post, so I will elaborate on each of them in the future. For now, you need to know that a full-scale protection detail can and most probably will entail all of the following roles to complete:

  • Team leader - A good team needs a skilled leader, the only member besides the bodyguard that makes contact with the client, under normal circumstances.
  • Professional / Tactical driver - Not always one of the team members, if a more professional driver is needed, he can be pulled in for the task.
  • Bodyguard - to move with and communicate with the client
  • Detail members - These guys blend in and form a barrier of brains and muscle to keep possible threats from being able to approach the client
  • Advanced party - These guys will be ahead of the team's movements, making sure everything is safe and in order for the team's arrival.
  • Tactical response team - For when a detail gets attacked or needs other assistance, like, you know, bigger guns and stuff.

So there you have it, short and simple, a bodyguard is a position filled by a CPO in an executive protection detail. A real bodyguard is not an untrained gym buddy, and a real CPO can be the best bodyguard you hire. Next time you need to explain it to someone, just share them this post.