Protecting What You Have and Creating What You Don’t Have
The new breed of reputation management (and “reputation creation”) agencies are popping up all over the world. These newfangled combinations of private investigators and reputation management firms are making it possible for individuals and companies to protect their reputations from all forms of attack.
How Black Cube & Creative Intelligence Can Protect Your Reputation Online Is Similar To What The Profile Defenders Team Does
Using highly sophisticated techniques, top-notch teams of experts, and a strong dose of creative intelligence, firms like Black Cube are like spies-for-hire, usually at a high price. When individuals and companies find their otherwise good names under attack in the media, from a litigant or a political foe, agencies like Black Cube can dive in and manage the crisis, often saving their clients millions of dollars worth of damage and years of legal wrangling. Profile Defenders knows how to create personas online and to protect you with a strong online presence.
Who is “Black Cube”?
Black Cube’s own website refers to the company as a “private intelligence agency.” With offices in Tel Aviv, Paris and London, the powerful entity was created in 2010 by a pair of former Israeli intelligence pros named Avi Yanus and Dan Zorella. Maintaining close relationships with Israel’s intelligence and government sectors, Black Cube’s core business is what they call “litigation support.”
In other words, BC sells intelligence data, advisory services and helps find evidence for its clients, many of whom are facing criminal charges for major crimes or are involved in high-level corporate legal battles.
No one is really sure of the identity of the “behind the scenes” personnel, but an “international advisory board” of key players boasts names like (now deceased) Meir Dagan, the one-time head of Israel’s feared intelligence unit known as Mossad. Other, still living, board members include a who’s who of Israeli government leaders and top-level secret agents, along with a generous sprinkling of business moguls and tech gurus from the realm of global business.
In short, and on a day to day basis, Black Cube is managed and operated by a group of highly sophisticated former law enforcement and military operatives from Israel’s intelligence services, government agencies and military units. The entire team assembled by Black Cube’s leadership operates in more than 70 countries, speaks more than 30 languages, and can do business with ease in any cultural setting.
How Black Cube Does What It Does
It’s inaccurate to compare what Black Cube does with standard reputation management, where cyber-pros work to set up a highly positive web presence for a person, say, facing a criminal trial. In typical cases, rep managers will create a wholesome website for a client, complete with charitable network connections and multiple positive reviews and comments on social media.
What Black Cube does is more akin to offense in a hard-fought game of football. They’ll often do a deep background investigation on the personal and financial life of a client’s legal adversary. This is what prosecutors do in big-time criminal trials, but Black Cube is even more adept at digging up “data” than an average-sized city prosecutor’s team of attorneys.
The company has been involved in dozens of high profile cases around the world, often turning the tables against governments, state prosecutors, and other entities who are threatening their client with incarceration or heavy fines. No one knows Black Cubes winning percentage; that’s a closely guarded secret. But at least in the cases that have come to light, the organization has done amazingly well as a hired gun for well heeled clients.
The Daily Workings of Black Cube
The organization uses high-level, in-depth, and often unconventional strategies to “collect data” (spy) on individuals and corporations.
One of the many James Bond-like techniques that Black Cube uses is so-called “fake personas,” or the creation of false social media accounts. This professional intelligence ploy can take many forms and has multiple uses. Conventional reputation management agencies do the same thing on a smaller scale and for different reasons, but the mechanics of the operation is the same: set up social media accounts under a false identity.
The next step is to “build” this false persona into an active, energetic blogger, reviewer, and perhaps even a political advocate. A large number of these “artificial people” can then manipulate comments on media sites, reviews on product feedback pages, and aggressively promote publications by leaving multiple 5-star reviews for a client’s new book.
In fact, there are hundreds of ways that Black Cube can utilize false personas, especially when they create a hundred or so of the things on behalf of a client. In the previous U.S. election cycle, both sides accused the other of manipulating social media in this way, though nothing was ever proven conclusively. As a service if there is a need for doing so an online reputation management agency can help get this done.
Are “Private” Spy Agencies Good or Bad?
When viewed as a sort of super-sized version of old-school detective agencies, it should surprise no one that Black Cube and its competitors claim to simply be “working on behalf of clients who hire us,” and to be breaking no laws. That may be so, but those who want to rein in the power of freelance intelligence gatherers like Black Cube’s Cyber Security team notes that in the cyber age, it is all too easy to collect reams of data on unsuspecting individuals and to engage in targeted corporate espionage, all while following the law of the land.
The reality is that Black Cube and its cloak-and-dagger cousins truly are nothing more than pro-active versions of traditional detective agencies. Combining legal teams, advertising agency specialists and former law enforcement researchers, this new breed of PI firm is much more muscular than its predecessors, made popular in detective films of a bygone era.
Like it or not, the U.S. legal environment allows agencies like Black Cube to collect as much public information as they can get their hands on, and to do all the investigating they want, as long as laws aren’t broken in the process. The new breed of for-hire intelligence services is here to stay, and for those who can afford to hire them, that’s a good thing. For the people and companies who find themselves under the microscope of an in-depth investigation, the feeling is anything but good.