I was amazed to read about the modern security measures of the super-rich. The Evening Standard reports:
Heyrick Bond Gunning ... is one of a new breed of salesmen.
He’s selling building and contents protection, but not the kind you’re used to. As the managing director of security firm Salamanca Risk Management, he sells a guarantee that you and your family will never again be bothered by anyone or anything you don’t want to be bothered by.
Business is booming because billionaires are a paranoid bunch. Take one who recently moved to Mayfair. ‘He wanted everything, from protection from cyber hacking through to physical intrusion and kidnapping,’ says Bond Gunning. ‘We ended up installing fingerprint-activated locks for family members and programmable keys for staff that limit the time they are allowed into the property and the rooms they are able to enter and exit.
‘Inside and outside we installed 24-hour monitored CCTV cameras that are so hi-tech they can tell the difference between a dog, cat and a person. In the garden there are thermal-imaging cameras that can detect heat sources in the undergrowth. One thing intruders can’t hide is the heat of their bodies.
‘Should an intruder evade the cameras or ignore the warnings they automatically broadcast, the property itself is protected by bulletproof glass and alarm sensors in all rooms. There is a bullet, gas and bombproof panic or safe room, with its own food and water, medical supplies and communications, and an impregnable supply of fresh air. Just in case the family cannot make it there in time, key rooms are sealed by reinforced shutters.’
The bill for such peace of mind? A cool £1m.
Just as boutique finance houses, family offices, lawyers, private tutors, butlers and nanny services have sprung up to cater for the ‘needs’ of London’s super-rich, an army of James Bond-type ‘Qs’ now develop and sell the kind of safety systems and gadgets that 007 could only dream of.
. . .
Ultra-high net worth households also demand that their telephone and internet communications are encrypted. ‘I’ve been to some houses that look more like the NSA [America’s National Security Agency just outside Washington DC] than a family home,’ jokes one of London’s leading security consultants. Mobile phones have tracking devices to help protect family members in a kidnap situation.
There's much more at the link, including many more examples of hi-tech solutions to security problems.
I suppose such security is nice if you can afford it . . . but I can't ignore the simpler solution, typified by this XKCD cartoon a few years ago.
That's about the size of it. When it comes to all these gee-whiz security measures, the simplest way to overcome them is to cut off their power supply. No electricity . . . no security. Yes, I know many of these buildings have their own backup generators and/or batteries. Those are extremely vulnerable targets, and many of them aren't nearly as secure as the rest of the building's contents, due to municipal regulations. For example, Fire Department regulations make it illegal in many cities to have a large fuel supply stored in your basement for a backup generator, limiting its usefulness. Furthermore, the generator itself has to be accessible to servicemen, so you can't tuck it away deep inside your secure perimeter. By definition, if workmen have to penetrate that secure perimeter on a routine basis, it's not secure. Most backup power supplies I've encountered (and I was a Civil Defense sector officer in South Africa for several years, where urban terrorism was a very real threat) were very vulnerable indeed to outside interference.
Of course, in a country like Britain, armed backup simply isn't an option. I don't have good security on or in my home - I can't afford it. However, any intruder doesn't know when I'll be here (I don't work a normal schedule). Furthermore, I think I can guarantee that anyone trying to break in while I'm here is going to be rapidly disabused of the notion that I'm an easy target. The same can be said of many of my friends.