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Digital Profiling for Close Protection Officers

Digital Profiling

One of our most frequent client requests is to conduct a digital profiling service against both executives and their families. This uncovers exactly what information can be found about them online.

Even the most privacy-conscious individuals can be surprised at what we find. The weak link is usually family members such as teenagers checking in at mum and dads, birthday announcements, photographs containing vehicle information and old accounts which have been forgotten about but still contain images. Often we find old documents submitted to Companies House which we then have redacted. Part of our service is to demonstrate what an adversary could achieve by linking all these little pieces of information, we then start the process of removing it.

Business Intelligence

Conversely, we use the advice we provide to some of our clients to assist others. By the nature of their wealth and business dealings, UHNW individuals are often victims of industrial espionage, blackmail, and fraudulent activity. This requires a degree of business intelligence such as background checks and tracing people in order for dialogues to commence or court documents to be served.

The Weak Links

In cases where a subject cannot be located, we turn to their inner circle. This is often family members and staff such as PA’s and Close Protection officers who if undisciplined can inadvertently become the weakest link. PA’s can be targeted through social engineering attacks, usually vishing (voice phishing) to try and elicit information regarding their boss’s whereabouts. There are also cases of poorly trained CPO’s who have been found to flaunt their lifestyle, and this can be easily exploited.


For instance, in one recent case we tracked our subject to Paris because one of his Close Protection team posted a selfie on Instagram. The CPO did not give any details of the principal or his exact location, but he did give away the city he was in. The subject that we were tracing travels notoriously around the globe every few days, but in Paris, he is known to stay in one particular location which assisted our investigation.


An extreme but totally possible method of achieving this would be for surveillance operatives to photograph a principal’s Close Protection team and use reverse image searching technology to establish who they are from photographs on their social media accounts. Other tactics include placing trackers under operator’s cars to identify where they live, and even technical methods such as the use of geolocation mapping which can occasionally show the exact location of where some tweets and uploads to certain sites are posted from.

 Honesty and Integrity

Like all people, UHNW individuals have a variety of ethics and agendas which are not always above scrutiny. It Is fair to say that not every penny of every person who requires protection has been earnt ethically. This brings us to the point of why they require protection. Some are simply wealthy and will always be a target for kidnappings and various methods of exploitation. Others have a specific threat against them for reasons which may or may not be of their making. The people targeting them will stop at nothing to achieve a goal.

 It should also be recognised that unless you have an extremely trusted working relationship and have been with your principal for decades, as a CPO you are unlikely to know everything about your principal and all of the threats which they face, only the ones they choose to tell you about.

Protect Yourself

To protect yourself as much as your principal, you should take active steps to avoid being revealed as their CPO. How many CPO’s reading this can honestly say that if the life of their parent, sibling, partner or child was threatened they would maintain their loyalty to their principal? Especially one they have no long-term connection to and are potentially being paid a below-average day rate to protect.

To prevent being entangled in such a situation, an awareness of the methods and capabilities of hostile surveillance and online investigation is vital. A professional CPO must comprehend that the job does not allow for an ego and social media discipline is vital.

Social Media – A Double-Edged Sword

Many CPO’s are freelancers and social media offers many positive attributes such as networking and acquiring work, It also provides a platform where information can be found by a hostile adversary.

 A simple search of #bodyguardlife on Instagram will reveal who is in what gym on what day, therefore potentially not on duty or not travelling with their principal. Sometimes people even upload images of private jets showing plane tail numbers which if privately owned can trace their travel in real time. Another common indiscretion shows “celebrity” bodyguards posting pictures of themselves out with their principal, scrolling through their profiles also reveals identifying information such as their clubs, home and pictures of their children.


Our advice to keep both yourself and your client safe:

  • if you use social media, consider not using your real name
  • lock your profiles down
  • use different user names for all accounts
  • use a password management system
  • avoid using your face as your profile picture
  • turn off automatic tagging
  • explain to your friends and family not to reveal your whereabouts
  • never tag yourself at events
  • turn off your geolocation
  • google yourself, type variations of your name into a variety of search engines and see what can be found about you
  • be wary of unknown LinkedIn connections who are interested in your schedule, possibly under the guise of an interview
  • lower your ego, if you are doing the job you don’t need to prove it to anyone
  • consider a campaign of disinformation. (more on this to follow)

For further information regarding assessing your digital profile, or for a professional Close Protection service, please contact our team.

0203 6330672

Sloane Risk Group

Covent Garden, London

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