People working in executive security know limiting access to information—itineraries, hotels, and other plans—is essential to keeping their clients protected. Executive security professionals working with C-level employees, celebrities, politicians, and dignitaries are themselves targets for hackers and others looking for a weak link they can exploit.
To protect your clients and yourself, all your communications must be secured on the same degree as the VIPs themselves. You could unknowingly reveal locations, times of movement, who the VIP meets with, and a treasure trove of other data to hackers all because you used the wrong app. Read on to see how this happens, and how SKY ECC protects you and your clients.
Securing high-profile and VIP communications
There are hacks against celebrities on a monthly basis and these are just what we hear about as there are certainly active campaigns against celebrities and VIPs going on right now. Hacks against executives and other VIPs through their communications tools include:
- SIM-swapping hack against Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
- Spyware intercepting text and picture messages from Jeff Bezos’ phone.
- Hundreds of politicians hacked via a WhatsApp hack.
- The News International hackers intercepted voicemails from the Royal Family and other VIPs.
These same hacks have been carried out against the VIPs directly, as well as the phones of those who are supposed to protect them, and that’s you. Hackers only want to find information to exploit or sell, and it can come from you just as easily as the VIP. If you aren’t securing all your communications you’re the weak link in their secure chain of communications.
The News of the World hack
The News of the World hack involved intercepting voicemails between celebrities and their friends and family, including the Royal Family. The hacks were carried out by a private investigator hired by journalists from the News of The World tabloid. Hacked victims included:
- Sky Andrew, football agent
- Ted Beckham, father of David Beckham
- Stuart Bell, Paul McCartney’s publicist
- Simon Bridger, Celebrity photo agent
- Jamie Pinketon-Lowther, secretary to Prince Harry and William
- Ciara Parks, PR consultant to celebrities
- Mary Kate Waddington, PR adviser to celebrities
- Robin Winskell, sports lawyer
Notice something about the list above? All these people knew, or worked with, someone famous, but were not famous themselves. Their associations made them a target just as your association with executives, VIPs, and celebrities make your communications a target.
There were celebrity victims—Paul McCartney, Brad Pitt, Hugh Grant, Angelina Jolie, and more—but those they worked with were targeted much more aggressively.
The 0-Click mail hack
For a recent example, executives in Japan and North America were targeted specifically by a group of hackers. The hackers gained full control of devices by simply sending an email that the victim didn’t even have to click on and open, hence the name “0-Click.” Having a device where your most important discussions happen, and another for less important messages, is a way to mitigate issues like this.
How SKY ECC helps with executive security
The issue here was weak phone security practices from top to bottom. Hacking voicemail and text messages occurs because both communications tools weren’t made to be secure in the first place, and there’s no securing them now due to the SS7 weakness and other flaws.
SKY ECC takes an aggressive approach to communications security as it isn’t intended to be your phone for social media or gaming apps as these devices are not ‘regular’ smartphones. You carry SKY ECC as a secondary device dedicated to secure conversations with your clients, your team, and even contacts you arrange events with. These conversations are 100% secure and protected because SKY ECC:
- Locks out all brute-force hacking attempts against passwords
- Uses our proprietary encryption to protect messages during transit and at rest with the strongest encryption available
- Keeps all messages, voice or otherwise, off of vulnerable servers which can be attacked
- Allows you to keep secure notes in our Vault which is protected by a separate password and the same powerful encryption
- Messages can be sent over our private network of secure servers in over 190 countries keeping you securely in touch around the world
Dedicated communications devices are, essentially, off the grid devices that are extremely hard for hackers to locate, target, and attack. Intercepting network transmissions between devices won’t help as the messages, metadata, and entire network stream are encrypted. We make sure nothing leaks out from our devices that can be used against it.
Believing that the devices and app you currently use are secure—including supposedly secure messaging apps—is a mistake that you can’t afford to make. Penetration tests conducted on our behalf by BlackBerry found no vulnerabilities that could be exploited, showing how far ahead of other apps we are.
The fallout from this hack
The scandal hit so hard that the British Parliament stepped in and conducted the Leveson Inquiry into the practices of British tabloids and journalists. Over 300 people were hacked, with a list of 4000 targeted individuals found. The British public wound up paying a £5.4 million bill for this inquiry and put a spotlight on how very insecure voicemail and text messages are. The News of the World scandal was a wake up call for everyone—famous or not.
Phone hacking ruins the reputations of everyone it touches. Your executive security business can’t afford any leak of sensitive data about high-profile clients. You need SKY ECC to protect yourself as much as you need it to protect your clients. Arming yourselves and your clients with the best communications security is a great step towards better executive security.