What follows is the Introduction chapter of my new book Surveillance Zone.
The book gives you an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look into the mysterious world of private-sector espionage, surveillance detection and covert protective operations.
Here’s where you can find it:
Amazon & Kindle: http://amzn.to/2qJo9gq
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2sz6dFK
San Francisco, 2015
It was still dark outside when the first undercover operative arrived at the Palace Hotel that morning. San Francisco, with its flair for the dramatic, set the scene for what was coming—a thick layer of fog swirled through the streets as the operative made his way into the lobby. He sat down on one of the sofas to wait for his partner, and for the man who had hired them for the job. The hotel was to be the site of a large tech conference that day, and the two operatives had to be in position fast. Conference attendees would soon be streaming in for registration, and before long, the guest speakers would begin to arrive—including one specific Silicon Valley billionaire they would be watching for.
As the hubbub in the lobby built to a crescendo, the operatives slid into the background, it was imperative for their mission that no one knew who they were or what they were doing there.
While this might sound like a nefarious plot in some Hollywood movie, let me assure you that it was nothing of the sort. In fact, it was quite the contrary. This suspicious-looking scene was actually a covert protective operation—one of many operations that I’ll be letting you in on throughout the book—and part of a whole undercover world that very few people know exists.
The first undercover operative mentioned above was actually me, and the man who had hired us was the senior security director for a well-known Silicon Valley corporation. We had been brought in to covertly protect the billionaire founder and CEO, whose company—despite having experienced dramatic downswings and falling stock prices—was about to unveil some new ventures and technologies. This crazy mix of factors—combining angry stockholders, excited technologists, and nervous investors with billions of dollars on the line—is precisely what makes these high-voltage Silicon Valley situations so tricky and interesting.
On top of all that, the CEO had been receiving increasingly violent threats from an especially dedicated stalker who had demonstrated his willingness and ability to take things to the next level. Having surveilled the CEO’s residence and workplace, and even physically confronted the CEO in these locations, there was ample reason to take the stalker’s intentions seriously. When the threat to harm the CEO at the convention had come in (just a day before the event), the company decided to take action. At ten pm, I received a call from the security director, requesting our presence at the hotel at six am the following morning.
Providing “impossible” solutions for last-minute requests like this is a typical part of the crazy undercover world I live in. The CEO would have a covert security bubble around him the entire day. No one could know about it, because one photo, tweet, or post about him employing high-level security would have been enough to cause a sensation, further discouraging stockholders and warding off potential investors.
In order to maintain the illusion of normality, we were about to transform ourselves into tech conference attendees, hotel guests, maintenance workers, and personal assistants. We’d need to spread out and blend in—spending the day on the convention room floor, sitting in the front row of the lecture hall, standing backstage, waiting at the hotel entrance, hanging out in the alley outside the hotel, and running up and down dark emergency staircases.
I’d been in plenty of tricky covert operations before, but this one was going to be an interesting challenge…
About the Book
I’ll get back to our beleaguered CEO later. But first, let’s take a step back. What exactly is this line of work and how much of it really takes place? Are we the “bad guys” who do the bidding of dark corporate interests? How does it even work? And how does someone like me get involved in it?
I’ll answer these questions and more throughout the book, but I want to start by explaining what this field is and why I decided to write the book.
The story above is but a single example of the type of covert protective operations that take place every day in the private security sector. Over the years, I’ve found that most people don’t even realize this field exists, and I’ve found two main reasons for this. First, most people in this field (including me, until recently) don’t talk about their work. This is partly due to non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) that legally prohibit the disclosure of certain sensitive information, but mostly, in an industry of quiet professionals, it’s considered bad form to talk too much. The second reason is that movies and TV shows have spun such outlandish tales about the work we do that many people just assume this field is entirely fictional and doesn’t actually exist. And yet, as I will show you in detail, it most certainly does exist; it has for quite some time, and it’s only getting bigger.
This is not another CIA book about spies and intelligence officers, or another exposé about overseas security contractors. Instead, I wanted to share a lesser-known story; to give you a glimpse into the mysterious world of covert protective operations that take place right here at home, right under most people’s noses. Come with me, and I’ll teach you the secrets of the trade. I’ll show you how we do it and explain why you’ve never noticed us before.
A note on discretion and confidentiality: Although I’ll be taking you behind the scenes of many undercover operations I’ve taken part in, no client details will be revealed in this book. You’ll get accurate accounts of actual events, but I’ve taken great care to change various details so that the actual organizations and individuals involved will not be identified.
Having spent over a decade in this industry, and being one of the pioneers who helped develop it in the Silicon Valley, I think the time has finally come to share this story. Consider this your backstage pass, granting you access to this hidden world.
Let me tell you about the Surveillance Zone, and let me show you where it is.
I should warn you, however, that once you start viewing the world through this new lens, there’s no turning back. You’re about to discover that many of the conventions you’re accustomed to, and many of the people you’re used to seeing around you, are not at all what they seem. This book—should you choose to read it—will make it very difficult to return to the blissful ignorance you’ve lived in up until now.
No, this book will not self-destruct five seconds after you finish reading it, but now would be a good time to sit down and buckle up. It’s going to be a crazy ride.
Get Surveillance Zone now!