It turns out the very wealthy are among those at most risk from terrorists. It’s not just a matter of ransom. Just a little over a month ago, the terrorist organization Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula issued a call for the assassination of billionaires in the U.S. such as Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Warren E. Buffett and the Koch brothers.
That said, you can buy a lot of protection with a billion dollars. In fact, according to security consultants, the super-rich do spend many millions of dollars a year on security, with much of it focused on preventing terrorist incidents.
As a November 20th article by Paul Sullivan of the New York Times highlights, there’s an entire global industry built up around protecting the uber-wealthy from terrorists or other threats.
Not all rich are terrorist targets, only well-known billionaires
The threat from terrorists is real, notes Christopher Falkenberg, president of the security and risk management firm Insite Security and an ex-Secret Service agent. “They’re looking for the easiest target with the highest yield,” he said. “If you subscribe to the theory in the magazine, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula will succeed in the U.S. by disrupting its economic system, and one way to do that is to kill successful business people. It puts a large target on them.”
Falkenberg’s clients include several hedge fund managers and other billionaires, and he says personal security can reduce the likelihood of an attack. He points out it can also make one prominent person a less desirable target than a well-known figure without strong security. “One billionaire is equal to another in the minds of the Al Qaeda guys,” he said.
Falkenberg said a basic security package would begin around $180,000 a year, but that nobody except billionaires really needs that level of security.
That point of view was confirmed by another security industry insider. “For the average wealthy person, there is a complete huckster industry to sell them protection against Islamic terrorism that they don’t need,” commented Roderick Jones, an ex-British intelligence agent and now CEO of Concentric Advisors, which offers both cyber and personal security services.
“Terrorists are very selective on how they train and deploy against a rich person,” he explained. “If you’ve gone to the trouble of infiltrating America and training, you want bang for your buck.”
Cyber crime is biggest risk for most wealthy
[drizzle]According to experts, from the middle class to the very wealthy, the biggest risk is online crime, not terrorism
“The real threat to rich people is digital crime,” Jones claims (note his firm has a partnership with Pure Insurance called CyberSafe to assist with digital crimes. “If you build a bunker to protect against an AK-47 but don’t protect your Internet browser, you’re missing the point.”
Jones noted he has spoken to many wealthy clients who had been victims of some digital crime. “A lot of the news is about this sophisticated cyberwar and what the Chinese and Russians are doing,” he went on. “But in reality, people are getting robbed blind out there, and it’s an economic crime.”
The CyberSafe partnership Jones firm offers includes home online security audit (which starts at $1,500 a day) and a monitoring program that costs $500 to $3,000 a month. He says one primary focus of the service is regularly updating security systems given the speed at which hackers can circumvent even the “latest” systems.