Advance by AS Solution (Free)
Executive Protection Specific: AS Solution, who never disappoints, has two cool apps specifically for executive protection professionals. Here, I will only be taking a detailed look at their Advance app, which assists the executive protection specialist in collecting necessary information during their security advances. In the future, I hope to review the Odin app, which serves as a system for tracking key personnel (principals), sending alerts, and connecting them to the command center. AS Solution has a brochure regarding both apps here, and I encourage you to check it out: https://www.assolution.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/App-Brochure.pdf
First off, Advance by AS Solution is a high quality and detailed app. This app allows the user to input and track all of the relevant information regarding their security advance. The user can also invite others (team members on the security detail) within the app, in order to share all of the information. Plus, the app allows the user to generate a report in the app, which is sent to the user via email. What I find most useful in the app, are the checklists provided. AS Solution provides the user with the following detailed advance checklists: aviation, building/residential, entertainment/event, hotel, medical, meeting/conference, and more. These are a great resource, and I will revisit these in the future.
*Having read too many books by Michael Bazzell (privacy expert), I am skeptical about the security of the information that I input into apps. Therefore, I suggest using an alias username, alias email account, VPN, and abbreviated information within the app; this will give the user an added layer of protection. Suppose AS Solution gets hacked and an adversary gets access to all of the security advance details from your team’s app accounts. What then?
Google Voice (Free)
VOIP / Privacy: Google Voice and Burner are both VOIP services, with advantages and disadvantages. Google Voice is free, and it can be set up in an anonymous fashion. However, Google will analyze your conversations and target you with ads based on what it gathers. Burner, on the other hand, is a premium service. It costs a fee to use (depending on how much you use it), but it offers better privacy protection and extra features.
What is VOIP?
VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) - VOIP allows the user to make phone calls over the internet, rather than through a phone service provider. The most popular VOIP service is google voice.
Google Voice is a free VOIP service. It grants you a new telephone number in your area code, from which you can receive and make calls. You can use this number as an alternate, for when you do not want to provide your personal phone number. However, to have true privacy in using this app, the user needs to set up an alias gmail account and accept the verification code (during setup) from a number that is not associated with the user.
**Caveat** Google will analyze your conversations and voicemails in order to target you with advertisements. So, you need to keep that in mind. However, if you took the necessary steps to create the account anonymously, then you have less to worry about.
Burner is a (paid) VOIP app that provides the user with disposable numbers to use with their cell phone. This is a very useful tool to protect your privacy. Two uses for executive protection specialists would be (1) to hide our real phone number when we make a call to someone we are skeptical about (2) you can use a “burner” number to accept verification codes from websites during the sign-up process. In addition, the app also allows for the user to look up phone numbers, to identify information about the owner of that number; this part of the app works best with identifying VOIP numbers, such as Google Voice.
ONE MORE PRIVACY RELATED APP...
Secure Email: I use the ProtonMail app for quick access to one of my anonymous email accounts. You can read many online forums about the advantages and disadvantages of ProtonMail, and whether it is as secure as its advocates claim. However, we know with certainty, that using this service gives an added layer of security for your email needs. This is even greater when you’re sending mail to fellow ProtonMail users. Advantages working in favor of ProtonMail’s security are as follows: requires two passwords, your emails are stored encrypted, ProtonMail is headquartered outside of the US, data is not shared with 3rd parties, etc. For our purposes, this is a good route for added information security.
Genius Scan (Free)
Tracking Receipts: Being part of a dynamic team means putting charges on your company (or personal) credit card on a regular basis. And if you want to stay in good graces with your accounting department, you need to have 100% accountability for your expenses. This is my go-to app when it comes to keeping track of my receipts. It allows me to take pictures of my receipts, to keep all of them in a (chronological) digital collection within the app. Then when my expense report is due, I email myself a PDF from the app with all of my receipts for the month. I attach this to my expense report, and then accounting thinks I'm a rock star.
*There are many similar apps out there, but this one is free and it gets the job done. If you have one that you prefer, let me know in the comments section. I am open to trying others.
True Caller (Free)
**WARNING** This is an app, but I only recommend using this service via the True Caller website (see reasoning below).
Phone Number Lookup: True Caller is a telephone number lookup service. How it collects phone numbers, is through crowd sourcing: when a user downloads the app, they grant the app permission to take the information from all of their contacts, then upload them to a super database. Then this database makes up the pool of data, from where the information is sourced when users search within the app. Luckily, there is a way to use this service without compromising your security. If you use the website rather than the app, you can provide an alias Gmail account, then access True Caller’s database for all of your phone number searching needs.
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on apps in Executive Protection. If I missed any, then please let me know. I will then update this writing and give you credit for your recommendations.
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About the EP Nexus Blog
The EP Nexus executive protection blog, is a comprehensive resource for security professionals involved in executive protection, protective intelligence, threat assessment, and related fields.
Launched in March of 2016 as a resource for executive protection professionals, command center gurus, and close protection know-it-alls, EP Nexus is quickly becoming a resource for those seeking to quench their thirst for executive protection reading.
The most popular section of the blog is Executive Protection Hacks. EP Hacks is a series in which we address complex topics (one topic per issue) in a convenient collection of tools & writings. I am actively collaborating with industry leaders to produce future issues. If you're interested in taking an active approach in moving your industry into the future, contact me below.
Outside of EP Hacks, I explore the following topics in writings, tutorials, and webinars: online tools for executive protection professionals, open source intelligence investigations (OSINT), threat assessment, protective intelligence, travel security, and more.
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