Lecture by Oliver Graf on the topic of “Personal protection – a profession caught between image and reality”

Increasing social, political and economic upheavals and criminal developments are forcing us to take a differentiated view of the corresponding risks of the present.

In this light, personal security must also be rethought from several angles. Together with our partner SÜDVERS as a high-performance insurance broker and risk manager, we have created a consulting approach that covers all facets and fulfils the highest demands. We are therefore particularly pleased to be able to contribute to this year’s Laser Focus event with a lecture.

Event programme



Article by Oliver Graf: SECURITY INSIGHT Security Practice 4/23

Film and television have portrayed personal security in a very one-dimensional manner. Compounding this issue, business associations, politics, and relevant authorities have yet to establish a recognized professional standard for this field. Both factors have not been beneficial for the industry. The absence of national training and certification standards allows amateurs to enter a market marked by maximum uncertainty and information asymmetry. “Adverse Selection” is almost inevitable: the client simply doesn’t know what service to expect and how to assess the provider’s quality effectively. In the end, they often opt for the cheapest personal security provider, an unsustainable situation in a segment concerned with safeguarding life, limb, and health.

So, how should modern executive protection be understood and carried out according to established principles?

Read an article by Proteus.one Managing Director Oliver Graf in SECURITY INSIGHT SicherheitsPraxis 4/23.



Security Measures for Players, Teams, Coaches, and Officials of an Internationally Operating Sports League


An American sports league is planning its first major sporting event in Germany in 2022.

Security services for the protection of players, coaches, teams, referees, officials, media representatives, and events are being put out for competitive bidding. Proteus.one had already been recommended and prequalified for all procurement requirements. After submitting and reviewing the proposal, Proteus.one was awarded the contract as the General Security Service Provider.

Following ticket pre-sales, it was expected that there would be immense public interest and high attendance.


Between the award decision and the game day, there were only 14 weeks for complex planning and project management. Professional communication among all relevant security stakeholders had to be conducted across two time zones. Personal meetings were scheduled every four weeks. Given the involvement of numerous police and regulatory authorities, the fire department, airport operators, and transportation companies from the outset in security planning, extensive coordination was required.

The significant need for specially qualified security personnel presented unique challenges in terms of personnel, contingency planning, and accommodation.


Internally, Proteus established a matrix project organization. The role concept included overarching responsibilities for project management, team security, security for other stakeholders, event security, interface organization, as well as administration and organization.

The recruitment of security personnel had to be carried out on a national scale. Due diligence checks were conducted on all vendors based on specific client requirements.

Special attention was given to the security planning of team movements at the airport, their accommodation in hotels, and training activities and bus transfers throughout the Munich area. Virtual meetings were scheduled for regular exchanges with security representatives of the client and participating teams.

The multifaceted collaboration with law enforcement authorities was a prime example of a highly successful informal “Public-Private-Security-Partnership” throughout all relevant project phases.

Development and Implementation of a Family Security concept


A long-established supplier company is sold to an international corporation, and the preceding M&A process garnered significant media attention. There were no significant threat risks to executives or company owners during the post-merger integration. The new residence of the owner’s family is located in a foreign capital city. They have substantial experience with personal security. A concept for space, route, and object surveillance had been in place for many years at the family head’s residence and that of his wife in Germany. Given their above-average media visibility and growing perception of economic and social disruptions, the clients believe there is an ongoing need for increased security. Proteus.one is requested to develop a sustainable Family Security Concept and roll it out in collaboration with a country partner.


Considering unique legal and regulatory conditions in the target country, obtaining numerous permits is necessary for deploying our own security personnel and assets. An 8-week ramp-up phase must be factored in. Given the high flexibility requirements, we plan for contract cooperation with a foreign network partner. Despite a long-standing and stable client relationship, we place increased emphasis on meeting specific customer expectations and preferences in service customization.

Methodology and Results:

With a secondary focus on the symbolic and public image of the corporate brand and country-specific risks, a family-oriented threat analysis is conducted. Recognized risk management standards provide a theoretical framework. During the investigation, an inventory and vulnerability analysis of structural and technical security features in relevant residential properties are also conducted. The result is an elevated threat level. Risks arising from so-called non-personalized crime in the areas of burglary and robbery are particularly noteworthy because regional crime statistics are highly significant, and criminological studies show that residential burglaries often lead to perpetrator-victim confrontations with critical dynamics. With the owners’ assets and structure being well-publicized, there is also an above-average abstract threat to individual persons, especially grandchildren, in the context of kidnapping and extortion.

From a best-practice perspective, a basic personal security concept is derived, implemented, and staffed.

Key components include:

  • Event-driven, separate security escort.
  • Ongoing Surveillance in the Living, recreational, and work Environments, as well as for Children.
  • Mobile emergency alert devices (smartphone app mit flic Button).
  • 24/7 alarm and Intervention readiness with emergency medical equipment.
  • Mechanical and electronic security measures.
  • Sensitization discussions and risk awareness training.
  • A Basic Crisis plan for exceptional situations.

Supporting a Corporate Security Organization in Response to Changing Risk Conditions


When the economic and financial situation of a publicly traded company and its representatives undergo significant changes, risk management in the context of Executive Protection faces new challenges. Following a B2B recommendation, Proteus.one was requested to develop an executive security concept and integrate it as an external service provider into the existing Corporate Security organization.

Later, the service delivery was intended to be managed by a Retained Organization to be established. Elevated threats to individual top executives had already been attested in accordance with relevant police regulations, and commercial firearm permits had been applied for with the relevant authorities.


Even at a superficial glance, the risk landscape for the company must be assessed as complex and dynamic on an ad-hoc basis. The company’s brand and executives had suddenly gained significant media visibility. There were also occasional politically motivated threats. Corporate security was organized at a low level, with limited structures and knowledge in the area of executive security. A detailed risk analysis, as well as the derivation and implementation of a personal protection concept, had to be carried out under time pressure. This involved considering parallel responsibilities of the police and private security providers, resulting in high interface requirements.

Methodology and Results:

Initially, personalized threat analyses were conducted, including an examination of “digital footprints,” interviews with individual board members regarding their daily routines and habits, as well as an inventory and evaluation of structural and technical security measures in their residences and workplaces. A comparison of threat profiles and already implemented protective measures provided insights into relevant risks and corresponding optimization needs.

From a best-practice perspective, a target concept was derived, presented to the company’s security authorities, and subsequently approved by the affected executives.

The implementation planning included Proteus.one’s support in security technology consulting and project planning, including the integration of hazard detectors and alarm systems in residential properties into the overarching personal protection management.

All positions in the security team were filled externally by Proteus.one. Some employees had to be recruited, with suitability diagnostic and psychologically validated methods used in the recruitment process. Essential selection criteria also included candidates’ specific professional experience and emergency medical qualifications.

Initially, a core team was launched, and the target headcount was reached after 6 weeks.

The protection program included not only armed protection but also an intelligence component in the residential and work environments of individual executives, with 24/7 intervention readiness. A smartphone emergency app allowed location-independent alerting of the security team at any time of day or night. Sensitization discussions and training sessions provided impulses for security-conscious behaviour. A personal protection-specific basic crisis plan was created for handling exceptional situations and integrated into the company’s crisis management organization.

Following the PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) concept, protective measures were integrated into a threat risk management system and regularly reviewed for effectiveness. In the areas of Risk Monitoring and Protective Intelligence, Proteus.one collaborated with in-house teams of the contracting company.

Israeli Behavioral Detection Officer Certification

Israeli Behavioral Detection Officer Certification “Behavioral Detection” is a method used to identify individuals with criminal intentions by observing their behaviour and activities.

It was primarily developed for safeguarding “soft targets” and relies on a combination of observation, casual and targeted conversations, and the evaluation of verbal or physiological responses. Behavioural Detection can thus provide valuable assistance in the context of personal protection and be part of a systematic approach to deter or expose violent individuals, and if necessary, isolate and apprehend them.

We have standardized the online course “Israeli Behavioural Detection Officer Certification” offered by Cherries as a training module for personal protection personnel. This is undoubtedly just a first step, but it forms a solid foundation for further education and training on this highly relevant specialized topic. Cherries was founded in 2015 by Aaron Cohen, a recognized expert in counterterrorism and a former CTU operator for special operations, in collaboration with other former members of various Israeli intelligence agencies and special forces units.

Key Insights Research conducted by Oliver Graf (SRH University Heidelberg, DFB, DFL)

Methodology and Objectives:

This study was based on data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) conducted at the University of Maryland, as well as extensive press and internet research. Initially, the study aimed to define ten relevant risk aspects and subsequently investigate their potential consequences and causes. To ground these findings and ensure evidence-based analysis, in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with experts, including players, player agents, officials, and security officers from clubs and associations. The analysis was carried out using methods such as semantic network analysis to:

  • identify focal points and thematic clusters,
  • describe the specific security situation and
  • provide recommendations for an integrated sports security management system, using football as a case study.

Background and Context:

Similar to many public figures, professional football players face a common dilemma, balancing security and privacy with the interests of fans and the public’s fascination with them, often as endorsers or active social media users seeking the limelight. Information about the wealth of professional footballers is readily available in the media. Debates over the appropriateness or social utility of extravagant earnings by sports stars are frequent and are accompanied by high-profile public statements. Threats against players, as well as actions against officials, player agents, or coaches, are recurring issues.


Through FMEA-based analyses and empirical evidence from qualitative and quantitative surveys, the study highlights clear shortcomings. Overall, it is evident that security experts often assess aspects of sports security differently from other stakeholders. Stadium security, based on the “Ten-Point Plan for Increased Security in Football” by the DFB and DFL, is generally rated as “good.” In the realm of travel security (away games, tournaments), significant opportunities for improvement are recognized, with security officers perceiving a higher need for action than the actual beneficiaries. The most critical evaluations are received for perceived levels of security when it comes to the private lives of players and officials.

Approaches to Enhance Security Infrastructure in Professional Football/Soccer:

The foundations for personal security in professional football appear to have been largely implicit, unsystematic, and in the form of general guidelines until now. Personal security, however, should be regarded as a relevant and independent discipline within sports security and be established as such. Substantial value can be unlocked through recognized quality assurance instruments that are employed for process-oriented security management. The study presents recommendations for 24 systematic approaches or individual measures from both a strategic and tactical perspective.

Article by Oliver Graf and Dr. Pantaleon Fassbender: SECURITY INSIGHT 2/14

Active expectation and conflict management are central factors for success in personal protection for exposed and vulnerable families. In an atmosphere characterized by respect, acceptance, and transparency, it is much more effective to achieve protection goals and increase security levels. However, only those who have dealt with typical conflict situations from a psychological perspective and have professionally trained their reactions can truly leverage this advantage.

Problem Outline:

1. Social Class Divide

In personal protection, one typically works with families whose members come from a privileged upper class and naturally have relatively high expectations.

2. Transference and Countertransference

We are regularly confronted with the fact that unconscious and unfulfilled expectations, desires, and ideas of the protected individuals form an internal relationship with our own expectations and fantasies about what we should or should not do. Under stress and threat, these unconscious mechanisms are activated particularly quickly. Personal protectors may also be subject to archaic longings and expectations, as security and comfort represent basic needs, the fulfilment of which is delegated and associated with strong ideal images. Subconsciously, one may want to recognize the archetypal warrior and saviour in a personal protector.

3. Shifting Social Contexts:

Each family member to be protected perates in different social environments (school, sports club, profession), inevitably influenced by norms. This naturally reflects on role expectations placed on the personal protector. In such a complex and intricate field of psychological and sociological processes, the likelihood of frustration for both sides increases significantly.

Solution Approaches:

1. A New Curriculum

The typical linear approach of presenting flawless protection concepts and waiting to see what happens is insufficient. Because a problem that is not an anomaly but rather a necessary consequence of relationship building will never disappear on its own. Therefore, like any partner who enters a family system for a limited time and intensively, the personal protector needs specific resources because they can be drawn into a variety of emotional “games.” This can include provoking parents, being the target of perceived limitations of the male protective role, or becoming an emotional object for protector fantasies.

2. Completing Pschological “Homework”:

Role clarification, self-reflection, and a conscious handling of one’s own needs within the tension between closeness, distance, stability, and change. “In recurring workshops, we try to develop a sense among our employees for unspoken expectations, atmospheric disruptions, and other symptoms of hidden conflicts. To some extent, one must ‘learn to feel’ again. With thinking alone, like a computer, we are limited to the parameters of 0 and 1. This can accomplish a lot, but certainly not everything! In the context of conflict prevention and moderation, we have had good experiences with honest and trustful dialogues between security escorts and protectees, where people meet as humans, not just as functional roles. It is legitimate and important to consciously move away from the purely factual level to address informal and emotional content. Both initial awareness conversations and institutionalized regular meetings provide good opportunities to invite mutual expectation alignment and dismantle confrontational positions, as diplomatic evasions generally do not help.


The deeper our understanding of relevant psychological relationships, the more likely we are to communicate to protectees where personal boundaries lie. Those who open up the corresponding spaces for thought and action put themselves in a position to effectively manage challenging protection assignments. Against this backdrop, the psychological training and development of personal protectors must be broadened. It is entirely incomprehensible why coaching and supervision, recognized methods of personal and personality development in competitive sports, are well established, but are rarely or only restrictively used in professional personal protection.

Source Citation: Security Insight, Issue 02/2014, P. 54 ff., https://prosecurity.de/security-insight