This term is particularly relevant to anarchism and minarchy, where no monopoly on violence may exist, or where it may not have powers to intervene in all situations, e.g. it may protect body but take no position as to 'property'.
A means of protection is particularly important when considering a means of production, infrastructural capital, or natural resources as a social asset. Without such means, anyone can confiscate and use the asset.
When a private party threatens harm for the specific purpose of offering some means of protection later, this is a protection racket - a serious crime in most legal codes.
See also: use value, exchange value, means of persuasion