Managing Risk in an Increasingly Complex World


TorchStone publishes The Watch to assist our readers in proactively managing risk—whether personal, professional, or organizational—in an increasingly insecure world. The featured articles, blog posts, and expert interviews address vulnerabilities and issues we have frequently encountered while safeguarding high profile individuals, wealthy families, multinational corporations, and international sporting events across six continents. Now, more than ever, security seems to be a precious commodity. Our goal is to give you more of it through The TorchStone Watch.


Reporting Bombmaking Activity Can Save Lives

By TorchStone VP, Scott Stewart

Amateur bomb makers who have not received any training typically progress along a learning curve, becoming more proficient at their deadly craft as they become more experienced and learn from past failures. Even when a person plotting an attack has some bombmaking ability, they are still vulnerable while attempting to acquire explosives or chemicals for improvised explosives or other bombmaking components. Because of this, it is possible for hotel staff, landlords, and neighbors to notice signs that someone in their midst is operating a makeshift bomb laboratory.



Detecting Hostile Surveillance

Attacks and other crimes don’t just appear out of a vacuum. They are the result of the attack cycle and the pathway to violence, and those planning crimes are vulnerable to detection as they progress through these processes. The activity that most exposes hostile actors to detection is surveillance, and every criminal act involves some degree of surveillance.


Avoiding the Deadly “Oh-Oh loop” with OODA

The process of consciously observing, orienting, deciding, and acting—the OODA Loop—creates links between an awareness of one’s surroundings in a dangerous situation and the actions necessary to escape it by staying one step ahead of an adversary. Because of this, I consider OODA to be the bridge that connects situational awareness with action.


The Enemies of Situational Awareness

As I wrote a few weeks ago, situational awareness is simply paying attention to what is happening in the environment around you in an effort to identify and avoid potential threats and dangerous situations. As such, situational awareness is really more of a mindset than it is a highly refined skill. It is not some secret, sophisticated art that only elite government-trained people can practice; but rather a skill that anyone can practice with the proper focus, will, and discipline.


Unconventional Security for Unconventional Clients

“Old money” families have had generations to learn about the dangers associated with vast wealth and the security measures required to protect against those threats. Kidnappers, swindlers, scammers, and burglars have targeted the members of these families for decades, helping to reinforce the reality of security as a necessity. Kidnappings, murders, and assaults have also taught major corporations the importance of protecting high-profile company leadership.



Narcotica podcast discusses Mexico’s rise as a narco state with TorchStone’s Scott Stewart

During the height of the drug war’s surge under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Scott was assigned to protect a Colombian judge who had signed an arrest warrant for Pablo Escobar. In 1993 he traveled to Bogota to help the Colombian government investigate a car bombing at a school supply market. Scott provides boots-on-the-ground insight and analysis to America’s “forever war” on drugs.


Beijing braces for perfect storm of Olympic woes

Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games will take place not only under the shadow of Covid-19, but as the most politically charged Olympics since the 1936 Berlin Games in Nazi Germany. And under what circumstances can the Games even be held? Will they serve as a beacon of hope after two years of the worst pandemic the world has seen since 1918? This article takes a look at Beijing 2022’s prospects, security concerns, implications for major stakeholders, and risks associated with the event and beyond.


TorchStone’s Scott Stewart talks with Steve Olivas on his podcast “The Commute”

Scott Stewart, Vice President at TorchStone, was interviewed by Steve Olivas on his podcast “The Commute.” From the podcast’s promotional description: “Scott Stewart, former DSS agent and now corporate security expert, checks the bus for possible breeches in security this week. Really, really cool interview – lots of great info and an extremely articulate guest.


5 Lessons Security Leaders Should Learn from COVID-19

TorchStone’s David Niccolini, executive vice president and co-founder, and Scott Stewart, vice president, describe insights security leaders can take away from their pandemic experiences. Specifically, David and Scott discuss the need for scenario-based planning, the importance of contingency plans to build resilience, and the critical nature of maintaining flexibility.


Reputation Risks Facing High-Net-Worth Families

In August 2020, David Niccolini, executive vice president and co-founder at TorchStone, presented as part of a three-part series of live, 30-minute briefings with reputation management, Internet law, investigations, due diligence and risk mitigation experts, discussing the risks facing high net worth families. The program was broadcast live via Zoom, and was hosted by Reputation Communications and moderated by its founder and CEO, Shannon Wilkinson.


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