Since 9/11, a quiet intelligence revolution has been brewing inside many of America‘s leading companies. Hotel chains, cruise lines, airlines, theme parks, banks, chemical companies, consumer products manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, and even tech giants have been developing in-house intelligence units that look and act a lot like the CIA.
These organizations don’t steal competitor trade secrets or wiretap your phones. But many conduct surveillance of customers, visitors, and employees to collect information and spot potential threats. Some run “red team” exercises that involve dressing in disguise and casing company locations to test the security. For all of them, the main job is analyzing “hot spot” developments around the world, around the clock — from violence in Syria to environmental protestors in California — anything that could threaten the brand reputation, personnel, or business interests of their parent company.