“When did the death threats start?” That’s the question a New York Times reporter recently asked Anthony Fauci, the famed immunologist. “March 28 ,” he answered. “One day I got a letter in the mail, I opened it up and a puff of powder came all over my face and my chest. That was very, very disturbing to me and my wife because it was in my office. So I just looked at it all over me and said, What do I do?” Luckily, the agents assigned to protect Fauci knew to spray him down and test the powder, which turned out to be benign. As a scientist, Fauci knew if the powder was anthrax, the protocol was Cipro for a month; but if it was ricin—his exact words were “bye-bye.”
For many high-profile individuals, instituting a mail security program has become a critical risk reduction strategy. Over the past year, Insite has specialized in orchestrating programs to regularly inspect all incoming mail for explosive, chemical, and biological threats. Housed in Negative Pressure Rooms, screening technology is used to identify suspicious items and pre-determined procedures limit the impact if hazardous materials are discovered.
Recognizing the danger, family offices have been particularly inclined to establish mail security programs over the past year, which are customized based on the unique risk profile of principals and mail handling preferences of the family. And while many firms have mail handling procedures baked into their physical and operational security program, we are finding company leadership is most vulnerable at home and in need of heightened protective measures.
When designing a mail security program, two best practices are:
Document protocols to enable rapid decision-making about suspicious mail and threatening content.
Seal all mail handling bags and affix chain of custody labels to ensure pieces of mail are not tampered with during the pick-up, inspection and delivery process.
Luckily, Fauci’s experience was simply frightening and he had trained close personal protection agents at the ready to manage his situation. It is a safe bet that he now has a mail screening program in place.
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