It’s Time to Extend Executive Protection to the Digital Realm
What is executive protection? Most of the time, we think of guns, guards, and gates, the vital ingredients of any physical executive protection program. After all, executives – like celebrities and politicians – are high-risk individuals. Their wealth, employment status, travel activities, and more, expose them and their families to physical threats.
The cost of all this protection is also escalating. Firms spend millions of dollars protecting their top brass from such threats. Facebook, alone, invests $10 million in security for CEO Mark Zuckerburg.
That’s the physical stuff taken care of. But what about their digital lives?
Weaknesses in executive cyber protection: where executives are alarmingly exposed
Executives are gatekeepers of some of the most confidential information within a company and offer top-tier access to its IT systems. This makes them a lucrative target for cyber criminals.
According to the 2023 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), C-suite executives are a major target of cybercriminals, continuing established research that showed they were 12 times more likely to be targeted in cyberattacks and that 71% of these cyber-attacks were financially motivated.
Common tactics for going after the top brass at a company are social engineering attacks. Today, seven in 10 passwords are available on the dark web, with an executive’s password in hand a bad actor can log in to the corporate network and snoop around for sensitive data or convince other personnel – via email or phone – that they are the executive and use that trust to their advantage.
But an executive’s digital footprint can also create a physical risk. Among the information that bad actors trade on the dark web are home addresses, leaving executives vulnerable to kidnap and ransom, or worse.
The chink in the armor – home networks
Organizations must also understand that cyber exposure goes beyond the company’s four walls. Now, more than ever, executives are away from the office or on the go. And while an organization’s information security team can protect them when they’re in the office using corporate devices, as they conduct business from their homes the threat map expands exponentially putting them and the organization at risk. Just look at the statistics:
- One in five home Wi-Fi networks are not secure
- Three in five home devices lack anti-virus software
- One in four devices are infected with malware
- 9 out of 10 cell phones and tablets lack security software
Any device on the home network – whether a work or personal laptop, tablet, or smartphone – is easy prey for a cybercriminal who can bypass security controls and move laterally across the network to steal corporate secrets or plant ransomware. The reputational, financial, and personal damage to the executive and the business is untold.
Another consideration is that an executive’s risk profile is constantly in flux. A recent or pending M&A, a new product line, or a new revenue high can elevate their profile and attract opportunistic malicious actors. Organizations must be prepared.
It’s time to raise the bar on executive protection
The combination of a growing digital footprint and evolving threats highlights the need for organizations to pivot their understanding of executive protection. It’s no longer enough to surround a CEO or board member with physical guardrails and deterrents, they also need the peace of mind that their digital lives are secure and protected.
The executive cyber protection should be as resilient as their physical security. It must also extend beyond individual protection to include the family, the home network, and the smart devices they interact with. Finally, it should also be as unobtrusive and frictionless as conventional, physical executive protection services strive to be. Executives shouldn’t need to change their habits to be secure and protected – in fact, they should view it as a perk.
Learn more about how we can help you extend concierge cybersecurity protection to your executive’s digital life and health, so they, their families, and your organization is protected 24×7.