Traveling in and out of a foreign country can be dangerous, especially for billionaires and other high-net-worth individuals and their families. Here are the five biggest threats billionaires face when traveling out of China.
Biggest Threats Facing High Net Worth Families Today
Possibility of Violence
It’s essential to have somebody do an intelligence report on the foreign country so that they know what the threats and concerns are. These reports can uncover everything from crime-ridden areas of a city to the possibility of violence. There could already be violence occurring in the area, so it’s important to know what places to avoid when you’re a high-net-worth individual. Violence can also occur when criminals find out that a billionaire is leaving or arriving at a particular time or place. Many people use email and post on social media about their whereabouts, but billionaires have to be mindful of who they’re telling certain information.
Possibility of Civil Unrest
Civil unrest can happen anywhere, and it’s crucial to find out if the country you’re visiting might have any issues that could potentially cause you harm. Protests can be peaceful, but sometimes they do result in violence and injury, something billionaires need to avoid at all costs.
Becoming a Target for Kidnapping and Extortion
If you’re traveling without security with your family or alone, you and your loved ones could be a target for kidnapping. Many criminals find that by kidnapping a loved one, they can earn a big payday, so it’s important to avoid situations where this might happen. Even if you are traveling with security, you will need more than one agent with you and your family to protect them from any unnecessary harm. You can quickly become a target of kidnapping or extortion if you aren’t mindful about who you tell what information, especially when it comes to your whereabouts and those of your loved ones.
While kidnapping and extortion are high-level crimes, there are others that you can fall victim to if you are traveling without security. Theft is just one of these crimes. When people with ill will know where you’re going, where you’re staying, and where you’ll be at all times, they can easily monitor you and steal from you. Whether its valuables or important information, you need to be aware of other times of high-level crimes that don’t physically cause you harm. The State Department might put out alerts to warn billionaires of such high-level crimes traveling to certain foreign countries.
Interactions with “Bad Guys”
Interactions with other people will happen during your travels. It’s only human nature, after all. Unfortunately, not everyone can be trusted. From those who are non-security who drive your car to people you interact with on the street, you may unknowingly tell the wrong person the right information. Even if the people you directly talk to have no bad intentions of their own, you can expect them to tell others about their talks with a billionaire, letting people, both good and bad, know information about you.
Executive Protection will help diminish the potential risks for billionaires traveling out of China so that they don’t fall victim to any type of harm.
It’s the era of the internet in which many people resign to give up their privacy to corporations and the government so that they can go to their favorite websites or use the internet as a resource for learning. In 2018, Congress voted to allow internet service providers to collect and sell customers’ browsing data, making the internet one of the least private places in the world.
Cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier recently spoke with the Gazette about government and corporate surveillance and what internet users can do to protect their privacy.
The government has made little strides to protect citizens’ privacy, so they basically have the right to monitor your online activity however and whenever they want.
Everyone is under constant surveillance by corporations. Take Facebook for instance: Cell Phone providers collect data from Facebook and social media networks, which is then compiled, analyzed, and used by corporations to sell people products and services.
Is Corporate Surveillance Wrong?
This question can only be answered by the individual. In the 1970s, Congress did pass a law to make a particular form of subliminal advertising illegal as they believed it was a form of personalized manipulation. However, today there are many different forms of advertising, including those which personal data to create “personal” ads just for the consumer. If, under the law, Congress decides that this form of advertising is deceptive and unfair, it can then be prohibited by the Federal Trade Commission.
Europe Privacy Regulations vs United States
Americans are more eager to trust corporations over their own government, while the opposite is true for Europe so America has less-strict privacy regulations. Because of this, there are more controls over government surveillance.
How do US citizens really feel about privacy?
While US customers are resigned to giving up their privacy in exchange for using search engines and social media networks for free, they are actually concerned about their privacy but feel powerless. Having items like credit cards, cellphones, even email addresses and social media accounts is necessary in today’s world, so consumers can’t give up these necessities in order to protect their privacy.
Should We Fear The Internet?
Google knows a lot about you. Because users feel more anonymous online than in real life, people ask Google anything and everything. While Google may know a whole lot about you, other things like Facebook and even your phone company know almost the exact same amount of information. There are huge amounts of data on every single person and every corporation wants to monetize that data, so it’s important to be proactive when it comes to your cybersecurity.
How can you protect your privacy online?
While every security firm has a few tips to help you protect your privacy online, the biggest recommendation Schneier makes is to get involved in politics. Legislators have the ability to change the rules, so by getting involved in politics you can show the government what really matters.
You may think that rebelling by not carrying a credit card or choosing to not have an email may be enough to protect you, but there are numerous ways for your data to get to corporations, and many of them are unavoidable in this data-driven, internet-centric, society.
The only way to get control of your own privacy and protect yourself from the control of corporations is through the government.
Are You Vulnerable?
The World Protection Group conducts Risk Vulnerability Assessments to assess the level of cybersecurity, looks at your online exposure, and gathers protective intelligence. As celebrities and high-net worth individuals are always in the public eye, they need to protect their online privacy from those who would use that information to do them harm. For more information, please visit: https://www.001wpg.com & https://www.worldprotectiongroup.com
The World Protection Group (WPG), acclaimed security and protection agency has recently created a new luxury executive protection firm for high net-worth individuals and celebrities. The new firm, called 001, aims to protect their clients without disturbing their lifestyle, a first in the Executive Protection Industry.
Mr. Moyer is an alumnus of The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he spent additional time at the Bocconi School of Management in Milan, Italy, studying the strategic management of luxury businesses. Moyer has studied some of top brands like Porsche, Pagani, Bvlgari, Chopard, and Ferrari. He is a graduate of the Executive Security Institute (ESI), where he received a degree in Criminal Justice, in addition to the Executive Protection Institute & many other Executive Protection schools.
Featured on shows like ABC Nightline News, EXTRA, and E!, as well as publications like LA Confidential, Profile Magazine, Mother Jones and The Los Angeles Times, Mr. Moyer shares his distinctive knowledge and extensive background in the EP Industry, which first began when he started working for Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion.
With the tagline, “We Protect Your Lifestyle,” 001 is the first luxury company in the Executive Protection Industry. The firm’s agents have been trained using The Ritz-Carlton Gold Standard of Service Operations, a style of sophisticated customer service which allows them to protect their clients and their lifestyle. After studying luxury brands, 001’s inception began as Moyer found that many high net-worth individuals and celebrities were hiring sub-par bodyguards to handle all of their security. He saw that these bodyguards often had no professional training in threat detection or security and were after much more than simply protecting their client; they were after money.
As professionals, 001, believes in the barrier between themselves and their clients, guarding their confidentiality with trained Executive Protection Agents. Moyer says that one of the biggest mistakes a client can make is to lack the understanding of what makes effective security. Moyer believes in properly educating clients so that they can spot what qualities make a good security expert, so that clients can help protect their own security.
All too often celebrities employ untrained bodyguards looking to make a quick buck and sell their personal information to the media. 001’s agents do not engage in unprofessional behavior that may include becoming close friends with the client or selling any of their information to the public. Instead, the most important element of the relationship is that of confidentiality to keep out the media while protecting clients from any physical harm. Simply protecting a client from bodily harm cannot completely protect their overall security, so Moyer set out to create 001 to protect both aspects of their clients’ lives.
001 seamlessly embeds security solutions into the lifestyles of their high net-worth clients to prevent breaches in security and privacy before they happen. Using a combination of sophisticated, high-level technology and security systems, high net-worth individuals and celebrity clients will have security and physical protection without disrupting their normal lifestyle.
001 manages the entire realm of their clients’ protection completely extending to the home, families, private jets, yachts, business and travel plans, and offices. The security process takes 6 months to a year to complete, but afterward, the client will feel comforted as they will be safe from possible threats or safety issues. Free to enjoy their lifestyles with the assurance of several impenetrable layers of covert protection, 001 allows clients peace of mind no matter where they are.
On October 11th, 2018, US rapper Kanye West accidentally revealed his phone’s passcode to the world during his meeting at the Oval Office with President Trump. He was caught on camera unlocking his phone with the digits 000000 when showing the president images of a hydrogen-powered plane which in Kanye’s opinion should be the presidential aircraft. His passcode, 000000, came as a surprise to many as it is a very weak passcode especially for a man of his caliber.
While having weak passcode like six zeros is risky and unwise, the real danger in Kanye’s experience was at the cameras behind him. Complex passwords can be secure but not in the presence of curious people and their cameras. Unfortunately, most people tend to forget this critical security measure. We tend to enter our passcodes whenever we need access to our phones without checking whether the environment is safe. Passwords are for privacy and protection of data. The moment your password is shared to an unauthorized party, your personal information and your privacy is compromised. Many stars and celebrities tend to forget that there are always cameras and people watching them, and as a result, they unknowingly make such careless mistakes that put them in danger.
Kanye West’s ‘accident’ therefore is a reminder to all who value their privacy that they should always be aware of cameras and malicious people and that it is necessary to take extra luxury private security precautions to protect their personal data. There are various ways to keep your data safe depending on how tightly you want to secure your phone or your computer. Some of the most useful steps to securing your device’s data include;
Make your phone anonymous and encrypt your messages.
An anonymous phone is a convenient way to enjoy the use of technology privately and securely. It, however, requires that you strictly observe some crucial measures such as;
Avoid airport wifi
Ensure that your Bluetooth is always off and use a password whenever you need to use it
Avoid using your anonymous phone to browse
Never use I-cloud
Do not use your personal information on your anonymous phone
Never make or receive calls from this phone
Avoid watching or downloading videos from this phone
Avoid adding applications
Purchase the phone anonymously
Use your hotspots only and ensure that they have passwords
Put the phone in a faraday bag when not in use
Turn off SIRI
Never use its texting system to text.
In conclusion, requirements for protecting your data and using phones anonymously may seem extreme, but they are necessary for keeping you safe. Consult an Executive Protection company if you need help with protecting your privacy.
Will you be making international travel and in need of an executive protection service? In case it is your first time, you might not be familiar with some of the important things to look after before you settle on an executive protection company. In this article, we will be looking at the important things you need to consider before you hire an executive protection company.
Know What Suits You
Before you settle on any company, it is important that you first know what suits you. Executive Protection companies do offer protective services and the specialty is divided into different categories depending on the type of protection you will require. In this case, executive protection service will comprise of protection agents who have been trained to offer protection to politicians, dignitaries, corporate executives, and high net value families. There is also the talent protection categories that have been trained to offer protection to musicians, athletes, celebrities and actors.
Executive Protection agents have been trained to keep a low profile and can easily adapt to or remain unobtrusive to your style of life.
Consider the Physique but protection work is about using the brain
Due to personal reasons or preferences, you might prefer hiring a 370 pound but courteous agent. Other people might prefer hiring someone who would appear like an ordinary man. In case you feel like there are high chances of you being attacked, hiring someone that is big may look good but may not stop you from being attacked. The Executive Protection agents use meticulous planning with a gameplan that will ensure your survival in any attack.
Ensure You Are Aware of the private security licensing requirements
Before you settle on any protection company for your international travel, it is advisable that you check the countries or state requirements for executive protection licensing. Some countries or states might issue licenses to protectors who do not have proper professional training. Don’t just go for any company; go for firms that meet the country’s or states licensing requirements.
Check a Company’s Certification
It is important you know there is a difference between being certified and holding a license. The license refers to having a company license in the state or country to operate & provide Executive Protection services. This license also usually has a liability insurance requirement. We recommend any company must have 10 million in liability insurance as well as workman’s compensation insurance.
Research Extensive Background Checks
Go through the web check for previous criminal & civil records. If needs be, you can always make some payment for an in-depth criminal & civil history check. This will help in ensuring that you are not hiring a criminal as your executive protector.
Go through the Company’s Portfolio
Feel free to ask the company on the highest public figure they have worked with in the past and the reasons why they no longer work with the employer. In case the applicant possesses a proven accomplishment record with previous employers, there are high chances that they will make an excellent executive protection agent.
It is also advisable that you consider qualities such as intelligence, experience, gold standard responsiveness, integrity, attention to detail, discretion and flexibility. If you consider the above tips, be sure of getting the best luxury private protection company for your international travel.
With wealth comes fame and luxury but not privacy. The richer you get, the more attention you receive from the public, and as a result, your privacy begins to diminish. For this reason, billionaires and millionaires are paying a fortune to enjoy their fundamental right to privacy.
In this digital age, it is difficult to live a private life especially if you are a public figure, a celebrity or a billionaire. It is now easier to find people’s home addresses than it was decades ago. To stay invisible, millionaires and billionaires turn to pricey tactics such as building underground homes which cost about 185 million dollars or panic rooms worth half a million dollars. They also hide their assets and property from GPS tracking and reside in neighborhoods that are absent on the Google street view. These neighborhoods are pricey but private and very secure.
Millionaires and billionaires have always opted for private travel for privacy and security reasons. It costs up to 30,000 US dollars to hire a private jet to Los Angeles from New York and owning a private jet is even more costly. Billionaires also own luxurious and expensive vacation homes and private islands where they can unwind and have fun without public or paparazzi interference. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, for example, owns a luxurious vacation home in Beverly Hills worth twenty-five million dollars. Some millionaires opt for private suites in hotels and services such as separate security lines to keep off the public eye. These suites and services do not come cheap, but privacy for the rich and famous comes with a price.
Internet and social media access are available and affordable for most people. The wealthy, however, interact and socialize differently through the internet. They utilize high-end privacy and security measures to protect their data. They also use exclusive networks such as ‘ Rich Kids’ with a monthly subscription of 1,000 dollars to socialize with other rich people. They have dating sites such as ‘Luxy’ that are exclusively for the rich. These networks enable them to only interact with their fellow rich people and not the rest of the world. Such sites require high payments to keep the public away and protect the privacy of its members.
Private Medical Services
Billionaires have the power to do just about anything their way. When sick, most wealthy people bring in doctors and set wards inside their homes instead of going to the hospital. These habits are very costly but also useful in maintaining privacy and security as compared to staying at hospitals that are accessible to anyone. Those who opt to get treated in hospitals secure luxurious private rooms in the best hospitals that keep them hidden and separate from the rest of the patients and staff. Some billionaires also prefer hiring highly trained teachers or trainers to educate or train their children from the comfort and privacy of their homes as opposed to institutions.
Privacy and Confidentiality are common terms used to refer to a billionaire’s protection of personal space and information. While confidentiality is concerned with safeguarding personal information such as health and financial records, privacy protects a person from unnecessary interference. Sadly, most people today do not enjoy their privacy and confidentiality rights.
Being rich and famous comes with its disadvantages. Billionaires attract so much attention from the public, and such interest compromises their privacy. Violation of privacy and confidentiality brings about anxieties and threatens a person’s security. For this reason, billionaires have gone to great lengths to ensure they protect their privacy.
Most wealthy people are known for saving their money in foreign accounts. A popular belief is that these rich people hide their wealth overseas to avoid heavy taxes. However, law-abiding billionaires know that being wealthy attracts people who will do anything to exploit your resources. These billionaires, therefore, find it wise to store a significant portion of their wealth in a different country. Foreign accounts provide the secrecy and confidentiality of a billionaire’s finances that protect them from greedy opportunists.
To maintain privacy and security, most billionaires invest in more homes. Having various estates helps them live a private life as they can settle in whichever place they feel secure and undisturbed. Since billionaires are very famous people, it is easy to trace where they live. A billionaire with one home will hardly enjoy the privacy of his or her home as they will always receive unnecessary visits and scrutiny from the media, the public, stalkers, and even burglars. This kind of attention can be very uncomfortable and can cause stress.
A billionaire’s personal information such as his or her health report can be used against him or her and is therefore sensitive. Rich people have many rivals, enemies or people after their money. These people will use whichever weakness the wealthy person has to their advantage. It is for this reason that billionaires pay a great fortune to private clinics for treatment and checkups. These medical institutions not only provide high-end medical care but maximum patient confidentiality as well.
Private islands are popular spots for billionaires on vacation. Such places guarantee them privacy and protection as they are away from the curious eyes of the public. They travel in private planes and own vacation homes where they can enjoy their holidays in private. These homes, islands, and planes cost a fortune but are necessary for ensuring that they enjoy their lives without too much attention, disturbance or insecurity. Billionaires also invest in expensive private schools where their children can learn and interact with other wealthy and celebrity kids without feeling out of place. Such schools are very secure and uphold the confidentiality of their students. These kids easily fit in such schools as they are treated as normal students and not as billionaires’ children.
In conclusion, privacy and confidentiality are more of a luxury for billionaires than a right. If you strive for wealth and fame, be prepared to pay for your privacy and protect your confidentiality.
As the net worth of the five richest American company founders has more than doubled over five years, the personal security costs to their companies have not grown at the same rate—with the exception of Mark Zuckerberg.
The billionaire Facebook founder draws a salary of $1 and receives no bonus. But in the aftermath of last spring’s shooting rampage at YouTube’s headquarters, which left three people injured and rattled Silicon Valley, Facebook’s board of directors granted Zuckerberg a $10 million yearly allowance to pay for the personnel, equipment and services needed to keep him and his family safe. That was on top of the security that Facebook already provides Zuckerberg, who boasts a net worth of $62.3 billion. The company also pays for his personal aircraft (to the tune of $1.5 million) “in connection with his overall security program.”
Spending on Zuckerberg’s personal security increased more than 500% from 2012 to 2017—a sum that doesn’t take into account the $10 million allocated to Zuckerberg in July or the measures the company has taken to harden its defenses at its Menlo Park, California, campus. That compares with a 220% increase in his net worth over that same period, to $56 billion in 2017. Some of the security measures adopted appear ripped from the pages of a Tom Clancy thriller, including a rumored “panic chute” for making quick escapes.
American billionaires, and their lavish lifestyles, have come in for heightened criticism as income inequality in the U.S. reaches levels not seen since the years before the Great Depression. That raises questions about seemingly exorbitant corporate perquisites reserved for the wealthiest executives—like companies picking up the tab for personal security.
Forbes looked at the five richest founders of public companies in the U.S. and found no correlation between growth in wealth and increased benefit for personal security paid by the firms they founded. Rather, companies like Facebook are making assessments about risk based on an executive’s visibility and a company’s connection to controversy. Zuckerberg has emerged as the public face of a social network that is associated with some of society’s most divisive issues and has unprecedented influence over billions of people’s lives.
Amazon did increase spending on security for the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, as its founder’s visibility grew in Hollywood and in Washington, D.C., where the executive’s ownership of the Washington Post made him an occasional target of President Trump. But unlike with Zuckerberg, the security increase was barely a shadow of his rise in net worth. Bezos’s wealth soared to $131 billion this year, a staggering leap from $18.4 billion on Forbes’ 2012 list of the World’s Billionaires. Amazon spends $1.6 million a year on Bezos’ security, a figure that hasn’t changed since since 2012. In addition, the company picks up the tab for providing security at business facilities, according to regulatory filings. A company spokesperson said Bezos pays for personal security separately.
Berkshire Hathaway didn’t report security costs associated with protecting its avuncular CEO, Warren Buffett, until 2008, a year after a man with camouflage paint on his face and a fake gun tried to break into the billionaire’s home. In 2017, Berkshire spent $375,000 on personal and home security services for the Oracle of Omaha, a 16% increase from security spending five years prior. Over that same time Buffett’s net worth rose 72% to $75.6 billion. Today, his net worth stands at $82.5 billion.
Time and time again, Insite Risk Management president Christopher Falkenberg says, he’s been-hard pressed to find a correlation between a client’s net worth, his or her perceived risk and the amount of security he or she is willing to accept. In many cases, the level of security depends on what information is available about the executive in the public domain.
“Let’s say you have a totally under-the-radar billionaire. Nobody knew who they were,” Falkenberg says. “If that billionaire had a totally ordinary lifestyle, literally lived a life like the dentist down the street … there is no more risk to that person than there is the dentist down the street, unless someone is opening their bank statements.”
For Larry Ellison, the founder of software firm Oracle, security spending actually declined over the last decade, even as his net worth rose 74% over the past seven years, to a current $62.5 billion. The company pays the annual costs of maintaining security personnel at his “primary residence”—likely Ellison’s Japanese-style Woodside, California, estate with its koi pond and tea house, though the company wouldn’t say—an amount that totaled $1.5 million in 2017 vs. $1.7 million in 2007. Ellison paid for the initial purchase and installation of the security equipment and is responsible for ongoing maintenance and upgrades, according to SEC filings. Ellison served as Oracle’s CEO until 2014, and is currently chief technology officer and chairman of Oracle’s board.
Google parent Alphabet has not disclosed any spending in recent years to cover the personal security of its billionaire cofounder Larry Page, who is the parent company’s CEO. Nor has it disclosed any spending to protect Google cofounder and Alphabet president Sergey Brin. The last time Google devoted money to Page’s security was in 2006, when the company allocated $33,195 for transportation, logistics and personal security during personal travel for Page. Both Page and Brin, worth $50.8 billion and $49.8 billion on Forbes’ recently released Billionaires list, have elected to receive $1 annual salaries. The search giant did not respond to Forbes’ request for comment.
However, the company does provide security for former Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt and Google CEO Sundar Pichai. According to the most recent SEC filings, Schmidt was granted $296,353 for personal security in 2017, while Pichai was given $637,538 for personal security.
Security analysts interviewed by Forbes say the amount a company spends to safeguard its top executives often depends on whether an executive or company is mired in controversy—or how recognizable an executive is.
“If you are talking more about a high-profile CEO that is discreet and is not very outspoken, then this individual may opt out of having security,” said Andres Paz Larach, a senior vice president at longtime private security agency Pinkerton.
Those who specialize in protecting celebrities and high net worth individuals say Zuckerberg’s visibility—and his association with Facebook’s numerous privacy breaches and Russian manipulation of the social network during the 2016 presidential election—heighten the risks. Business Insider recently reported that Facebook has dramatically expanded its security apparatus, as the social network girds against a range of perceived threats from car bombs to state-sponsored espionage to stolen prototypes. It reported that a 6,000-strong security army quietly protect its tens of thousands of employees and armed executive protection officers stand guard outside Zuckerberg’s homes.
“All it takes is one crazy guy in some state in the United States that’s fixated on that and he becomes fixated to the point where he’s blaming Zuckerberg,” said Kent Moyer, chief executive of World Protection Group, a security firm in Beverly Hills that counts celebrities and other high-net-worth individuals among its clients. “Add to that mental illness a fixation on guns and weapons, and before you know it this guy is up at the doorstep of Mark Zuckerberg.”
“This is going to be a fantastic event,” states Kent Moyer, “We are excited and honored to have the New L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva speak at our event.”
LOS ANGELES, CA, UNITED STATES, January 18, 2019 — Kent Moyer, CEO and President of the World Protection Group, is head of the International Executive Protection & Consulting firm that supports law enforcement agencies in many service areas. Now, the World Protection Group is having its 6th Annual Security Briefing Luncheon on January 23, 2019, and newly elected L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has been announced as a keynote speaker at the event.
“This is going to be a fantastic event,” states Kent Moyer, “We are excited and honored to have the New Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva speak at our event.”
L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s birthplace of Chicago, Illinois has taken him to both Rochester and Queens, New York, then to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, before an enlistment in the United States Air Force brought him to Southern California in 1983. He joined the Sheriff’s Department in 1986, and eventually met the love of his life, Vivian, while working at ELA Station in 1993. He is the proud father of a son, a US Army Iraq War veteran, and has been blessed with two grandchildren.
Sheriff Villanueva is a firm believer in education and is a great example of perseverance. He began his college education in Puerto Rico and continued while on active duty in the Air Force, eventually earning an Associate of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Master of Public Administration Degrees, and ultimately, a Doctorate of Public Administration from the University of La Verne in 2005.
“Sheriff Villanueva is a tremendous leader,” explains Kent Moyer, “We are so excited to bring his level of expertise and dedication to this security briefing luncheon.”
“The World Protection Group is an international protection company with offices in Beverly Hills, New York, Mexico, & Shanghai, China. The World Protection Group has been at the forefront of technology innovation combined with executive protection, privacy, confidentiality, and the use of drones in the industry for the past twenty five years.” concludes Moyer, “We have never had a security breach or unresolved security incident. The goal is to be 100% proactive & preventive.”
PROMINENT SILICON VALLEY companies spend liberally to protect their intellectual property. Some also shell out considerable amounts to protect their executives. Apple’s most recent proxy statement, filed earlier this month, shows the company spent $310,000 on personal security for CEO Tim Cook. But that’s a fraction of other tech giants’ expenditures.
Amazon and Oracle spent about $1.6 million each in their most recent fiscal years to protect Jeff Bezos and Larry Ellison, respectively, according to documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. And Google’s parent company, Alphabet, laid out more than $600,000 protecting CEO Sundar Pichai and almost $300,000 on security for former executive chair Eric Schmidt. In 2017, Intel spent $1.2 million to protect former CEO Brian Krzanich. Apple, Google, Intel, and Oracle declined to comment; Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was the costliest executive to protect; Facebook spent $7.3 million on his security in 2017, and last summer the company told investors that it anticipated spending $10 million annually. In 2013 Zuckerberg’s security detail cost $2.6 million. That’s about the same amount Facebook spent last year to protect chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.
A spokesperson for Facebook declined to comment and pointed WIRED to an SEC filing where the company said a committee of its board had authorized an “overall security program” for Zuckerberg “to address safety concerns due to specific threats to his safety.” That included installation and maintenance of security measures at Zuckerberg’s residences, and the cost of security personnel there. In the filing, the company said, “We believe that the costs of this overall security program are appropriate and necessary.”
Security experts speculate that the planned increase in spending for Zuckerberg’s security in 2018 is likely due to his higher profile following last year’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, Congressional testimony, and data breaches.
The $10 million to protect Zuckerberg likely counts among the largest amounts spent on security for a US executive, says Arnette Heintze, CEO and founder of Hillard Heintze, a Chicago-based security consultancy that counts many Fortune 500 companies—though not Facebook—among its clients. “I’d put that $10 million among the top five highest in the country. And from what I’ve read in the media about Facebook, that seems to be an appropriate level of expense,” says Heintze. “When Zuckerberg was going up before Congress, I can imagine the increased threats. If you have 2 billion users and just 1 percent of those get mad, you could be getting a lot of correspondence. The people responsible for protection have to evaluate that; they literally have to make an assessment on every known statement. They can’t take the chance.”
Heintze worked for the US Secret Service for two decades before going into the private sector; security workers at tech companies often come from similar backgrounds. One staffer in Facebook’s executive protection department spent 12 years with the Secret Service, according to LinkedIn, while another spent several years in Europe protecting NATO’s secretary general. A Google manager working in executive protection spent eight years working as a special agent in the Department of Defense, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Kent Moyer runs the World Protection Group and 001, a pair of security firms in Beverly Hills, California, that count billionaires and executives among their clients. His protection arsenal includes bodyguards, security systems, drones for patrolling clients’ homes, armored motorcades, and extensive electronic privacy measures. Moyer advises clients and their families not to use their real names on social media, to purchase homes and other large assets in the name of LLCs (a common practice in Silicon Valley), texting only via encrypted apps, registering social media accounts to throwaway email addresses and phone numbers, and using credit cards registered to assumed names. “There are times where clients send me a text, and I say, I don’t want to text you using regular texting,” says Moyer.
(Last week, after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced on Twitter that he and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, were divorcing, National Enquirer published excerpts of text messages reportedly sent by Bezos to a woman he is said to be dating.)
“We don’t believe in our clients using regular phones,” says Moyer. “We set up anonymous phones; mine are in Faraday bags.” His firm also recommends using VPNs to obscure a device’s location and using search engines that don’t track users.
The attention provided by a security detail is often unwanted, Heintze says. “I can assure you that there is no executive in America that wants people hanging around them. It’s an intrusion. It’s an inconvenience, but it’s a necessary inconvenience for people that have real threats.”
While Silicon Valley firms haven’t disclosed many threats to the safety of their executives or offices, they have good reason to take precautions. In December, Facebook evacuated its headquarters after the company received a bomb threat. Last year an unhappy YouTube user entered the company’s San Bruno, California, headquarters and shot three employees before killing herself. And in 1992 the president of Adobe, Charles Geschke, was kidnapped at gunpoint and rescued by the FBI.