Holiday Security 101: Become a More Difficult Target

Lifestyle | Provided by Cornerstone Advisors

Cornerstone recently invited Leanne Kennedy-Boudi, Concentric’s Senior Advisor Strategy and Intelligence, to the Bellevue Club to speak about Concentric Advisors’ services. With the goal of giving people peace of mind, Leanne walked through practical steps to become a more difficult target and answered questions on topics ranging from physical protection, cyber threat protection, international travel and secure executive staffing.

Ahead of the holidays, her focus was on four areas including Travel, Insider Threats, Digital Risk and At Home and she provided some James Bond like tips that elicited many smiles. While you can’t mitigate all risk entirely, by following Concentric’s guidelines you can reduce you and your family’s exposure.


  • Visas & Passports
    • Check passport and visa requirements for the countries you intend to visit. Some visas take longer to acquire.
    • Think early, plan ahead and ensure your paperwork is in order.
    • Keep a photo copy of your passport separate from your government-issued passport.
    • Cornerstone client perk: You can send a scanned copy of your ID/passports to your Cornerstone Client Manager using their secure file link, so that in case of an emergency they can provide digital copies.
  • Medical Preparedness
    • Make sure that you’ve researched or consulted with your doctor about which vaccinations you should have prior to travel.
    • Some doctors will prescribe certain travel medicine depending on your destination (ex. malaria prophylactics)
    • Check if you will be required to show proof of prescription for any Prescription medicine.
    • Check if your medical insurance covers you and your family internationally and if it includes an evacuation policy. If not, short term insurance could be an option for you.
  • Financial Preparedness
    • Clean out your wallet. Only bring necessary items // suggested: 1 credit card, 1 debit card and valid ID)
    • In case you lose your wallet, take pictures of the front and backs of your cards and/or ensure you have the phone numbers of the card companies so you can report if lost/stolen.
    • Check your transactions while traveling; report anything incorrect/suspicious to your card company/bank immediately.
    • Before taking out money from an ATM, do a visual check for skimmers (something that looks out of place where you insert your card).
  • Transit Options:
    • Sometimes hiring a driver can help with avoiding the hassle of getting lost or avoiding traffic accidents when traveling to a new place. Often times, arranging a car service to and from the airport can remove worry.
    • Concentric Advisors offers recommendations should you require executive protection while traveling
  • Check Local Situation:
    • A few weeks before you depart, start checking the local news for updates on the political context and any potential disruption possibilities including strikes, demonstrations, protests. It can be helpful to pay a bit of attention so that you can plan accordingly.
  • Emergency Plans & Evacuation:
    • Sign up for the State Department STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program)- register your travel plans in advance. This is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
    • The benefits of enrolling in STEP are:
      • Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.
      • Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
      • Help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.
  • Clean Devices:
    • Phone, laptop, and tablets – delete all applications that contain sensitive info.
    • Avoid taking extra devices.
    • Consider taking an old phone without a lot of information stored on it (including passwords, mobile banking apps, etc)
    • Make sure you have the ability to wipe your devices remotely.
    • Turn on tracking apps (like Find My iPhone)
  • Avoid Oversharing:
    • While sharing on social media can feel fun and seem harmless, Concentric advises saving your photos for when you get back home. Broadcasting you are not at home leaves you at risk.
    • Avoid geotagging your photos.


  • Holidays can often create additional exposure
    • Consider asking hired help (caterers, chefs, holiday party staff) to sign NDAs and/or agree not to share information on social media.
    • Use staffing services – they can run background checks on all employees.
    • Don’t be time and place predictable.


  • Passwords:
    • Do: Make sure your passwords are strong. Don’t: use easily guessable passwords including your name, kids’ names, use mix of lower case, upper case, numbers and special characters.
    • There are password apps like Last Pass that create and store unique passwords for you.
  • Geotagging:
    • People can make use of public geotagging information to pinpoint your location, home, and even your activities with very little effort.
    • Avoid this process of adding geographical identification metadata to various media such as a geotagged photograph to protect your privacy. Remember: don’t be time and place predictable.
  • WiFi:
    • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) instead of public wifi hotspots.
    • One option is to find out if your phone carrier offers MiFi devices. A MiFi taps into 3G or 4G mobile phone networks and uses this connection to create a mini wireless broadband cloud or hotspot.
    • Airport, hotel and coffee shop wifi networks are not safe.
  • 2FA (Two Factor Authentication):
    • Always use 2FA if available.
    • It is an extra layer of security that requires not only a password and username but also something that only, and only, that user has on them, i.e. a piece of information only they should know or have immediately to hand – such as a physical token.
    • Using a username and password together with a piece of information that only the user knows makes it harder for potential intruders to gain access and steal that person’s personal data or identity.
  • Privacy:
    • Be mindful of conversations you have in public as well as what you do on your devices.
    • Privacy protectors for laptops are ideal for use in public spaces, high traffic area, and workstations to protect sensitive information.
    • Sit with your back to the wall when possible so that onlookers can’t see your screen.


  • Home security systems:
    • If you have one, use it. (Also good idea for second homes.)
    • Test your security system annually.
  • Avoid conspicuous purchases:
    • Have packages delivered to your office or somewhere where they can be received by a person.
    • Cornerstone client perk: You can have packages delivered to Cornerstone on your behalf.
  • Holiday parties:
    • If you are hosting a party or expecting guests, take precautions like putting all of your devices and valuables in one room and lock it.

Should you have any other questions, your Cornerstone advisor can put you in touch with Concentric so that they can worry so that you don’t have to. Click here to receive a downloadable copy of this checklist for your records.


About Concentric Advisors
Trusted by some of the world’s most prominent individuals and organizations, Concentric Advisors is a security risk consultancy. Concentric Advisors believe that intelligence-led security is critical for managing risk in today’s complex, dynamic environment.  With offices in San Francisco, Seattle and London, they provide holistic, smart solutions for private citizens, corporations and non-governmental organizations.