Faraday bags

We are starting a series of posts covering surveillance/counter surveillance or offense and defense and the equipment used and thought of no better place to start than faraday bags.

Faraday bags are a very simple but important piece of defensive equipment that serves basically two purposes. Blocking signals from entering or escaping and device protection from outside EMFs.

They come in sizes ranging from small for your key fob for newer high end luxury cars to prevent cloning and car theft on up to full on back packs and suit cases for those needing to carry around lots of sensitive equipment. The most popular sizes though are for Phones, tablets, and laptops.

Faraday bags consist of a special fabric that blocks out 100% of wireless signals being either sent or received by what ever device you put in them. (or at least they should) you should always test your bags before you are needing to rely on them.

Some can also offer protection from EMP and other sources of EMFs that can damage your electronic devices if they are strong enough. This is where the protection category falls as well as they prevent anyone in the immediate area from connecting to your device, usually this is done over bluetooth.

They come in sizes ranging from small for your key fob for newer high end luxury cars to prevent cloning and car theft on up to full on back packs and suit cases for those needing to carry around lots of sensitive equipment. The most popular sizes though are for Phones, tablets, and laptops.

There are many reasons you will want to use a faraday bag/pouch. Ones of those cases would be….

Privacy. Placing your devices in a faraday bag cuts off and keeps anyone or thing from connecting to your device with out your knowledge. This applies if you want to avoid being GPS tracked by apps or having your phone or device wifi/blutooth hacked. Another privacy related reason is that cities are starting to place blu tooth tracking nodes through out the city to track “traffic patterns” or so they say. These nodes connect to any device that enters their range and logs the information. Even if this is for traffic patterns it would not surprise me if this is used to look up who was in an area at a certain time when law enforcement needs too. Or in relation to our previous post when a rouge employee wants to track their girlfriend

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Dodging Drones intro

Drones are quickly becoming a bigger and bigger part of everyday life. From governments to private citizens, for recreation to emergency response, and military operations. With this rapid expansion it’s only natural that criminals and their organizations have started using them as well.

This is ranging from smuggling contraband, IEDs, and illegal surveillance which can range from the neighborhood creep to high-end corporate espionage and organized crime such as recon for cartel groups and so on.

The average citizen wont likely encounter the majority of these except some form of illegal surveillance. The most common examples of this are peeping Toms, stalkers, and paparazzi for the more famous people out there. All three of these groups have been caught using drones to accomplish their tasks in one form or another. Papparazi don’t need to scale a fence or wall anymore when they run a drone from the road or side walk and get better pictures.

If you’re a high profile or targeted individual you also can’t rule out criminals and organizations that are targeting you from using drones for site recon, tailing, etc as they would be stupid not to. There is a reason that Law enforcement and the military started using drones in the first place.

The tactics used to counter a drone operation against you is going to depend on the your situation. Mainly, who is targeting you, the quality of the drone they are using, and whether you are mobile or stationary.

If a government or an organization that has access to predators, reapers, or other Nation state drone tech. You options are going to be very limited. As drones will not be the only equipment and type of surveillance directed at you. We will not really be covering this group but keep in mind that many of the tactics for other drones will still apply just to different degrees of effectiveness.

Evading surveillance by drones when you are mobile is going to be the same as other forms of surveillance. You need to break line of sight and then either hide or change direction and move out of the area without being re-acquired.

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Bailing out and GHBs

Could you drop everything leave your office/house/hotel room in less than a minute and still be operational or able to survive or conduct your everyday life if you had to?

Any skill takes practice, even escaping a situation. Have you ever tried to quickly pack the same day you needed to leave for a trip? Bailing out is the same concept just with an even shorter time frame.

The key is practice and some organization. Start by makeing sure that you keep your supplies or important items in a designated place when they are not in use so that you don’t have to search for them when you are in a hurry. Pre-stageing important equipment is also important and this is where what a lot of people call a go bag/get home bag comes in.

A go bag or Get home bag is a small bag that you have with you whether in the office or traveling(its contents can change depending on the situation but has enough to operate for about 24-48 hours) we will cover GHB use when traveling in a future post for some special considerations.

If something kicks off when you are in your away from home, in your office/on your drive home etc you can grab your bag and the majority of your necessities are covered to get you home. This frees up time to grab the loose items or additional items/equipment that you may need or that would be nice to have.

In your GHB/or Go bag we recommend some basic practices when ever possible and the more dangerous the area you’re in the more important these become. Keep in mind that your GHB is a supplement to your Every day carry which we will also cover in a separate post.

1 Use pouches, packing cubes and organizers to organize your bag internally so you only have to remove what you need and so your different equipment is easy to locate quickly.

2 only unpack what you need when you need it

Some recommendations for your GHB

The bag should be between roughly 10 liters and 27 liters with at least two separate compartments for organization and can be worn hands free.

The bag should not be brightly colored nor military patterned.

Now next time you have some free time put your self on 1min-30 sec clock and see if you can get what you need and get out the door before the alarm goes off

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Digital GoBag

With todays tech flash drives are an amazing and under utilized tool. You can use them to store an entire media library incase of emergency or install a whole operating system and carry a “computer” on your key ring. For those interested for more information on this look into linux live drives there is way better info out there than I could ever put out.

Live drives afford many possibilities when it comes to privacy and security especially when traveling, you’re in a situation where you can’t or don’t want to carry a computer or in extreme situations you need to have a secure/concealable system to store sensitive data.

This is often the case with politically persecuted people, people in countries that heavily censor their people. This also applies to investigative journalist that cover sensitive topics that could put a target on their back.

The main way I advocate using them for the every day person is using them to set up an emergency electronic #gobag of sorts.

Using an OS called TAILS you can set up an encrypted drive that you can store important documents such as passport images, birth certificates, visas and so forth within encrypted files as well as the flash drive being encrypted. You can also set up crypto currency wallets for emergency funds if you so desire.

Once this drive is set up properly you can carry or conceal it on your person and plug it into any computer if you need to and access the information you’ve stored, the internet, you’r crypto, what ever you need it for at the time.

The drives OS and anything you do will be isolated from the main system on the computer and leaves no trace of use as it wasn’t using the main systems memory (only its flash memory which wipes on shutdown)

This makes it so that anything you do, your passwords, your information and documents etc all are safe because no tracking software that may be on the main system or the next user can access your info or data because the.

To set this up in the manner that I mentioned above you will need to set up the drive with encrypted persistence.

To do so you will need two drives as you need one drive running TAILS to set up another with encrypted persistence.

SET UP INSTRUCTIONS

ENCRYPTED PERSISTENCE INFO

Once that is done your good to go. Just about everything you should need for a basic privacy set up is on there with the OS.

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Trusted Resources

Wear Ambiguous Colors

Wear Ambiguous colors

The general pallet of colors that exist today is gigantic. Just go to your local hardware store and take a look at the paint isle to see how many different blues there are.

With that the average person will usually label colors with as little effort as possible usually lumping them together in either red blue green yellow etc. giving no mind to the shades in between unless they work in a profession that deals with colors to that degree. At most the average person may toss a dark, or light in front of it too narrow it down slightly.

To aide in blending in, or maybe a better way to describe this would be make you harder to identify, is rather easy in theory. Now in practices it is going to depend on where you are going to be operating/traveling and what the color pallet of the area is. No mater how ambiguous your gray shirt may be if everyone around you is wearing brown. It’s not going to work.

Start out by doing your research and see what the general look of the area is. Figure out the type of clothing first then play with the colors. Are they generally wearing jeans? Khakis? Gym shorts? Sports jerseys? T-shirts? what colors? Brands, Logos, and patterns will all play a part here as well.

Figure out the type/style of clothing and then play with the colors. If you’re in a business area you will likely see more suits, khakis and polos, and likely in blacks, grays, whites, and maybe some blues.

In this example you would likely want to wear a suit or at least business casual clothing and choose colors that can be mistaken for multiple others. In this instance lets say you need to wear a suit you would most likely find your self looking for something that is either black (if thats the dominate color) or a color some where in between gray and blue if there is more of a mix.

By doing this your either blending in with the crowd by wearing black or if their is more of a mix of colors your wearing a color that can be mistaken for another color by either the person identifying you to someone or the person who you are being identified to.

Say you are being followed by hostile surveillance and your tail is handing you off to another tail. If he describes you as wearing gray, but the new tail looks at you and thinks you are wearing blue he may pass you by or think someone near by wearing gray is his actual target.

That was a highly simplistic explanation of it but you get the idea (I hope). The more ambiguous the color, providing it blends in with the general pallet of the area, the higher likelihood that anyone describing you may confuse anyone they are talking to due to personal color bias of the describer and the listener.

Element

Our Element/matrix room consists of a oneway feed (think Newsletter) much like a telegram channel. You will receive occasional posts and content that is equal to or more in depth and exclusive than that which you will find in our email newsletters.

The big benefit to Element is that it is end to end encrypted unlike telegram channels. This means our posts in the room, messages and files that are attached are all encrypted before they leave our devices and stay that way until they reach your devices. This means they can only be read by the people that are in the room.

This means…at least at this moment as things are always possible to change when it comes to tech and their companies running them.

No data mining

No eavesdropping

No censorship

At least for now

It is also decentralized to give all parties ownership and control of their data. As well as being universal and you should be able to connect with any app that uses Matrix protocol.

If this continues to work out and the desire is there on the part of our followers we plan to expand the usage of Element not just as a back up but hopefully we can gradually switch to it paying a more primary role.

Personal Infosec

A lie is a false statement made by one, to another who is entitled to hear and know the truth and which false statement tends toward injury to the other.

~JJ.lune

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Whether to Lie or not, with only a few exceptions, is a moral issue. This means everyone has to make their own decision on when it is acceptable to lie. Of course with the few exceptions, when telling a lie is in fact illegal.

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This applies to protecting your personal information when in person and on the internet and in this day and age your personal infosec is also your physical security.

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Does the random person on the subway that started talking to you need to know where you were born, how old you are, where you live, or where you work?

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Is this person just a friendly commuter looking for conversation? are they a corporate spy looking for info on a project at your work? or maybe they are a criminal deciding if you are a worthy target or not. The point is you can’t always tell a persons intentions from a single meeting

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I am not saying lie to every one who strikes up conversation with you but take precautions and be more vague in your answers until you get to the know the person. Trust but verify.

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JJ Luna gives an example of his personal guide lines that he follows in his book How to be invisible.

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1. If no harm will be done, and no oath is sworn he gives false information.

2. If an oath is sworn or to be sworn he does not lie.

3. He MAY withhold or not volunteer info to government representatives unless specifically asked depending on the situation but he will not lie.

4.Under no condition whatsoever will he file a false tax return.

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This covers most in person interactions but your infosec also applies to more passive situations where you’re not being directly interacted with but simply leave info laying around.

Few people realize how much information about themselves they leave lying around.

This is the bumper stickers, Parking permits on your windshield, the Stickers on your laptop, food wrappers on your floorboards, trash in garbage cans, and info on your face book (not just your profile but in your captions and comments).

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From just a persons car you could glean where someone works or lives, where they like to eat, where their kids go to school, political affiliations just to name a few.

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These details can all be used to decide whether or not to target you or develop a plan to target you or your family if they have already made the decision to do so.

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Most people will say there is no reason to target me or some other form of it will never happen to me. Which statistically may be true, but if something happens and you end up on the wrong side of those stats and you haven’t taken precautions then it’s already too late.

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You witness a crime, you cut off the wrong person in traffic, someone begins stalking you or simply being a wealthier than average individual. All are situations that the average person can find them selves in and have led to people being targeted for one crime or another. So make sure to make it as hard as possible for people to get the information about you.

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Notebooks as a Tool

The pocket notebook has become quite popular these last few years and even more so the travelers notebook. (basically a larger version some times used as a wallet)

Some find the Cult of the moleskin or midori distasteful But the pocket notebook has a long, important history used by men such as Thomas Jefferson and Da Vinci, so don’t let the pocket notebook’s current status keep you from using one yourself. Even some note cards clipped together or some paper folded over will get you started.

No man be he a scout, explorer or soldier should go into the woods without a notebook and hard lead pencil.

~Daniel Carter Beard

The most basic and essential function of the pocket notebook is to provide a place to capture the ideas and important information that come up throughout the day. You may get a business idea, hear a quote you wish to record, maybe you need to jot down the license plates of a suspicious vehicle that seems to be following you and your principle or you want to take notes from a book you’re reading. Most people would use their notes app and while there are some benefits to that the main weakness is without electricity they will eventually go dark, plus the simple act of writing on paper will improve your memory retention greatly compared to typing on a keyboard.

Even though you feel sure in the moment that you’ll be able to remember these thoughts when you get back, every one of us has experienced the agony of realizing that no amount of mental gymnastics can bring it back after that info is lost.

They can also be used for brainstorming sessions, a place to write down and review personal goals, To do lists, cheat sheets, frequency plans, or maybe just

a place to doodle when you’re stuck on a long layover.

Travel notebooks being larger also offer a place to carry maps, cash, cards, calendar, tickets, passports if you must not have it on your person. business cards and other odds and ends.

They are a great place to write down the destination research you conducted before departure such as important local phone numbers and addresses you looked up before traveling such as to local police departments, hospitals, the local embassy or consulate as well as to keep track of your adventures as you go.

PS Not only is a note book an off line tool and cannot be hacked remotely, the slight hipster factor may work in your favor as far as appearances go and not standing out.

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Don’t be this guy! travel with one bag

I always recommend people travel with a single bag. Traveling with more than one mag starts to weigh you down and decreases your mobility. That’s traveling with a backpack or sling bag of some kind is so beneficial.

Back packs are easier to carry and move with than roller bags in an emergency or if transportation is slim and you have to walk. Also in some countries the transportation options are not like the USA or Europe and do not have the cargo space for large roller bags so keep this in mind when your packing.

If you pack correctly one bag is all you need. I am talking ranger rolls and packing cubes. This will drastically improve the efficiency of use in the bags you are packing. A major component of that is also to only take what you need to. Most people drastically over pack when they travel somewhere and usually don’t end up using half of what they bring. Especially when you are staying with friends or family. Anything you don’t bring, forget to bring, didn’t think that you would need, they likely will have one or something that will make do. Even if you are not staying with someone you know most hotels and BnBs will have hair dryers, and other small appliances for you to use you sometimes just have to ask the front desk.

When it comes to clothes, go by the rule of threes. That is three tops, three bottoms, three underwear three pairs of socks. Wearing one set and packing the other two. Try to choose colors and Items that you can interchange with each other if need be. Depending on the situation for the trip that may change a little bit. If you need to bring a jacket or coat try and wear it not pack it to save space. and if you are going to a cooler or colder destination plan your clothing around layering instead of huge coats and this will also save you space.

Now once you get to where your staying you can just pull your packing cube(s) of clothes out and throw them in a drawer and the rest of the stuff in your bag comes with you in case you need it or to protect your self from theft.

If you are not staying in one place for long you should still be light enough to just carry everything with you.

Every where I’ve been has a hotel laundry room or a local laundry mat you can use to wash your clothes if you trip is longer than 3-4 days, or you can wash your clothes in a sink (some clothes are even made for that purpose now)

All that being said some times needing a second bag is unavoidable for a certain situation. Maybe its a business trip or a special occasion and you need to take special equipment, or supplies that wont fit in your single bag.

When that happens I down size my back pack/sling bag to a smaller one (one that can still hold any of my emergency and other essential supplies or anything that you cannot live with out if you ditch your second bag). This makes the sling bag my “personal item” that can go under the seat.

Then your second bag should be sized to meet the airlines carry on standards if at possible. Providing what you have to bring is carry on legal and will fit. This way you can still bypass the ticket counter on departure and the baggage claim on arrival. This “carry on” that holds everything else including the additional “stuff” that forced you into this situation in the first place.

I recommend avoiding checking bags when all possible because whether its life threatening or not loosing you bags can put a damper on your trip whether you think it really matter or not.

Packing lite keeps you light and mobile should an emergency arise. This way you don’t have to ditch some of your gear or possessions or get stuck in a situation because you don’t want to leave your stuff behind… Trust me it happens humans are weird when it comes to fight or flight and their possessions.

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Why You Should Arrive Before Dark

Did your parents tell you that nothing good ever happens after midnight? Well when traveling the same holds true for when you arrive after dark. Depending on where you’re traveling to and where your accommodations are arranged will determine if arriving after dark is only a minor inconvenience or a complete disaster.

This can range from having to call a number and deal with a disgruntled night manager that you just woke up, on up to being stuck out side until business hours with no place to stay.

Now for those of us with experience out side in the dark, this may not sound like a complete disaster, however for someone who has never spent time out side in the dark in addition to the anxiety and adrenaline of being in a new place, not knowing how safe you are, being locked out of where your supposed to be and out of a perceived place of security, as well as most peoples inherent fear of the dark. It’s a very frightening situation and can lead to state of panic, more so if you are alone.

The general concern for most people in just about any destination is as the days turn to night less people are on the streets if you need help and the few that are you may not want to interact with. While this can be true, It could be argued that you are just as likely to be made a victim during the day because the criminals and predators have more opportunities to choose from because there is more people on the streets.

In less developed countries or if your destination is a smaller city/town/village, The Hotels and hostels may or may not allow you to check in after hours or even let you in the building. This is usually done in an attempt to prevent crime against the hotel or its employees and patrons.

These are policies that you should find out about and know before departing so that you can either arrange an exception to their policy or make alternative arrangements for the first night to allow you to arrive at your final destination during the day light hours.