Executives to be warned of kidnap risks




By Mark Huband, Security Correspondent

Financial Times, 29 May 2003

Company executives will be warned today they are at increasing risk of being kidnapped by criminal gangs.

High-profile kidnappings have become a feature of life in parts of Asia but are now becoming more common in Europe, a security expert will say today at a security gathering in London.

The main threat remains in the former Soviet republics of Chechnya and Georgia, as well as in parts of South America – but it is now on the rise in western Europe, according to Chris Flint, a former senior Metropolitan Police officer.

Mr Flint will describe the growing trend of kidnapping at the conference of security officials and business advisers. The number of kidnappings in England and Wales has risen by 300 per cent in the past decade. Security experts believe that the ransoming of highly-paid executives may have become as attractive to criminals as laundering drugs money.

While many kidnaps are not aimed at business people, a growing number have targeted high-earners, Mr Flint will tell the conference organised by the London-based business advisory group Survive.

The two-day conference, which ends today, is designed to alert businesses to the risks of security breaches and other crises.

Senior police officers and UK government planners will today provide details of planning in the event of chemical, nuclear, biological or radiological attacks.

Security strategists from companies including Microsoft, Lego and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, will also detail security measures they have taken.

The vulnerability of business people to terrorist attacks was visibly illustrated by the suicide bombings in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh on May 12. Most of the foreigners who died were business people.

One topic for today will be the terrorist threat to business technology.

Following the September 11 attacks on the US, al-Qaeda threatened to hit the global financial system, and it has been assumed that this could involve hacking into computer systems.

“Hackers are trying to attack databases behind firewalls, and it is just a matter of time before people with an axe to grind could do a concerted attack on particular sectors of the UK economy via the internet,” Ian Glover, director of Insight Consulting, told the conference yesterday.

He advised businesses to become better informed about the measures put in place by their internet service providers for the recovery of information.

“Companies don’t necessarily know who is hosting their website, and they don’t know what kind of recovery systems are in place if they come under attack,” Mr Glover said.


© Copyright The Financial Times Ltd 2008.