Threat assessment and Area Study Part 1

Don’t underestimate the power of information.

You need to understand the environment and threats in the area you are or will be in. Whether thats your home, hometown, work or when your traveling.

The first step is to identify the environment. In short you need to know your immediate situation and the various areas that your activities and needs will take you into. Where will you spend the majority of your time? What areas do you visit frequently, or work in most often? What information about these areas is available?

Take into account any factors in your area that could affect the way you go about your day to day, this could include. Geography, Terrain, Weather, Ethnic, religious, income, & age groups in the area, Political and socio-economic factors, Transportation systems and other infrastructure.

Next you must figure out how these factors could affect you. Identify any limitations or opportunities in the area. Where is the local police station? Are the police there straight or crooked? What’s the neighborhood like? Is it a safe area for criminals to operate? What is the weather typically like?

Is there more crime in certain times of the year (the summer months when everyone’s outside)? Is this crime generally located in a certain area? Is the public transportation safe and reliable? Do you need certain clothing, shoes, or gear for the terrain or weather of the area?

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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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When you go some where keep it to your self

The biggest home safety precaution you can take is to keep it to your self when your home will be unattended.

This means if your going on a trip don’t post it on social media until after your back. Especially don’t post specific dates or times prior to leaving and do not post pictures or anything about your trip until after you get back.

Making it known that you are gone is asking for something to happen to your house while you are.

Other precautions to take is not getting your Mail held or stopped but have some one you trust pick it up every day, especially if your mail box is at your house to keep up appearances and have them check on your house daily or better yet have them stay there and house sit but ONLY if you really trust them.

A house with mail or news paper piling up is a dead give away. Now if for what ever reason you don’t have any one you can trust it’s better to hold your mail than have it pile up. The only con is mail and newspaper staff have been caught giving their hold list to a criminal colleague to rob the house but it is a lesser occurring issue than a thief coming across a house with mail piling up.

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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Common Sense and Life Skills

Look around how many people do you see on an electronic device? How long do you think they could go with out one? How long could you? What about going other forms of technology in general?

As a society we are becoming so dependent on technology that most people have lost all common sense and are not able to function without some form of it with even the most basic of tasks.

If you need proof Look back at the news interviews from from the google black out or Texas “snowmageddon” black out or even just try to talk to a younger person or anyone these days in person and see how awkward that gets.

When google went down people couldn’t turn lights on in their own houses, or unlock their doors(I don’t know if they forgot you can unlock manually or if google locks don’t have a manual override).

If you try to talk to someone in person if they string a sentence together your luckiest than most. This was one of the biggest problems for law enforcement recruiting prior to 2020 because people cant communicate or function without a device or keyboard in front of them.

Now in Texas they were hit with snow, ice, and subzero temps knocking out the power for multiple days.

In the interviews from Texas you will hear stories of running out of food, food spoiling because they had no power, or having no access to water, no way to cook, no heat, The stories are becoming common place any time there is a new “catastrophe”

Now lets break that down for a moment, Subzero temps, and food is spoiling…. No water….. 5+ inches of snow out side, no way to cook….(Some had gas stoves, or grills) but all should have been able to make a fire.

You can make a fire to cook and melt snow to make water(But few know how to make a fire). If you have a gas stove you can still manually light it with out power. The farther generations get from a time when technology wasn’t everywhere our fridges weren’t “smart” and our lights weren’t connected to the internet, the worse this is going to get.

Now look at yourself and honestly answer can you survive with out your phone, can you start a fire, change a tire, be comfortable or not run out of food if you loose access to power or grocery stores for more than 48 hours.

If the answer to any of these questions is no then make it point to learn. No one thinks they will be stuck in a catastrophe “it can never happen to me” but it can and likely will happen to you on some scale at some point

Now if you answered Yes, Good, now make sure your family knows how too, especially your children. Teach them the basics life skills and how to keep them selves alive. They will not learn this stuff any where else.

For those that don’t know where to start here are some ideas or these may be some things that you just haven’t thought of…

-Starting a fire
For reasons above

-Melting snow/ice to make and treat water
Reason for this is obvious you need water to live

-Change a tire (even or especially your daughters)
This can keep them from having to rely on the good will of strangers and keep them from being preyed on by predators on the roadside.

-Basics of how a car works, what breaks and how you can fix it or what can be limped to safety
This can get them out of a dangerous situation if their car breaks down in the middle of no where as well as the same reason for changing a tire.

-Basic home skills
Breakers, shutting off water, shutting off gas etc in an emergency all of these can cause issues if the systems in your home are damaged.

-Corded land lines work with out power
Allows communications in times of emergency if you can find one(buy one now)

-Basics of first aide
They could save their own life or someone else’s

-Emergency signaling( especially with out power) mirrors, lights, sound, symbols
IF hey get lost or are caught in an emergency/catastrophe they will be able to signal to rescuers where they are.

Now for the people that are better off in this regard, on a day off put your phone in airplane mode and flip the main breaker in your box and go 24 hours without power(probably want to warn your loved ones your doing this) This will show you your weak spots and things that you didn’t think about.

How AirTags are a Potential Threat to privacy

A new property tracking product turns the entire IOS network into a location tracking mesh network that could easily be used by stalkers and criminals to target their victims.

Apples AirTags are compact have wide spread coverage, and are affordable. These devices are designed to be used for tracking your belongings but potentially can track anything. Airtags are registered to the owners ICloud account so they can be found using the Find My app or simply by connect to blue tooth for near by locating.

This is done without GPS (allowing them to be much smaller) by turning every IOS/MacOS device into a mesh network. The AirTag sends out a secure Bluetooth signal that can be detected by nearby apple devices that have the bluetooth turned on and that device sends the location of your AirTag to iCloud for you to find in the Find My app.

These devices being small and lightweight means they could easily be concealed on someones person or in their possessions in order to track them without their permission/knowledge presenting a huge problem specifically for someone who is being harassed or stalked.

There is an attempted countermeasure to this use case but it is unclear at this point how effective it will be especially since it would seem it requires you own an IOS device in order for it to protect you. Apple states

“If someone else’s AirTag finds its way into your stuff, your iPhone will notice it’s traveling with you and send you an alert. After a while, if you still haven’t found it, the AirTag will start playing a sound to let you know it’s there.”

This “protection” requires if you have an IOS/MacOS device that you leave your bluetooth turned on otherwise your device cannot pick up the signal from the AirTag to know that it is there. This is unadvised as it leaves your phone vulnerable to host of other attacks and issues.

With Only 13.25% of computers in the United states being Mac and roughly 30% of mobile devices (tablets and phones) running IOS. Means that the majority of people are not protected by Apples safeguard against being tracked without consent while still having enough devices out there around a person to create a viable mesh network for someone to rather effortlessly track someone with out them ever knowing.

While compact tracking tech is not a new thing, The wide coverage, low cost, and small package due to no need for GPS makes this a serious potential threat to watch out specifically by targeted individuals, those who are victims of stalking, and criminal investigators in future cases.

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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.



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

ProtonMail and Encrypted Email

A secure and encrypted email address is the backbone of even the most basic online privacy plan. This is the first thing that just about any other tool, account or service that you will need such as email forwarders, cell phone accounts, and so one is going to ask for.

I recommend having multiple addresses for different aspects of your plan/life. I have mentioned this before in other posts and I will cover this in more depth in the future as well as how to benifit most from Protonmail for the privacy minded.

The email service that I highly recommend is ProtonMail. I use it personally, as well my clients, and many people I know use it as their business email structure as well because you can link your web addresses to it so that you can have email addresses using your url.

They offer some of the best security and privacy protections in the business and have a grown a trusted reputation in the privacy sector as well as among people whoes life may very well depend on their privacy and security holding up, such as reporters, the politically and just generally persecuted and so one.

ProtonMail is a Switzerland-based secure/encrypted email service that was created in 2014. They also offer VPN service and are constantly adding features to their platform including cloud storage, contacts, and encrypted calendar(BETA). ProtonMail’s mission in their words is “to make secure and private email communication easily accessible to all.”

The following information is facts directly from Protonmail.

ProtonMail is owned by Proton Technologies, which has a long history and ​strong reputation in the privacy world.

The company maintains some of the world’s most widely used open source encryption libraries and has a long history of working towards promoting Internet privacy.

ProtonMail uses end-to-end, zero-access encryption so that no one even the company can access users’ messages, drives, calendar details and so on. There are no special or overly technical steps to follow, and all encryption happens automatically and by default.

To achieve this high level of security, in their words “ProtonMail assumes that all mail servers may eventually be compromised. Thus, ProtonMail uses end-to-end encryption and zero-access encryption to protect user data. If a server only contains encrypted messages, users have a much higher level of security in the event of a security breach. The use of encryption also prevents ProtonMail from being able to decrypt and share user emails with third parties.”

As well as their security precautions that keep them from being able to analyze user data they also have no incentive to
spy on or sell its users’ data as they have no advertising inside their apps.

The security of their platforms extends beyond just strong encryption and includes features designed to mitigate human vulnerabilities and physical threats.

End-to-end encryption
Which means that messages cannot be intercepted in transit and decrypted by any third party as they are encrypted on the senders device and can only be decrypted by the recipient.

Zero-access encryption
Even if a user’s contacts are not using ProtonMail, All emails sent to/from a ProtonMail account (even if the other side is not using ProtonMail) are stored with zero-access encryption. So that the messages are encrypted, they can only be decrypted by the account owner. (Keep in mind any copy on the other persons email account may not be stored encrypted.)

Additionally, ProtonMail users can also send end-to-end encrypted emails to non-ProtonMail users with the ​”encrypt to outside” feature​. Which sends the email encrypted to the recipient and you can give them a way to decrypt the email without them needing a ProtonMail account.

Open source cryptography
ProtonMail uses only secure implementations of AES, RSA, and adheres to the open source OpenPGP standard. By using open source libraries, users have greater assurance that the encryption algorithms do not have built-in back doors. ProtonMail’s open source software has also been vetted by security experts from around the world to ensure the highest levels of protection.

Hardware-level security
ProtonMail has invested heavily in owning and controlling its server hardware and doing so within Switzerland, so data never goes to a third party cloud. This ensures that all user data is protected by Swiss privacy laws and on a system level, ProtonMail servers utilize fully encrypted hard disks, which protects user data from physical hardware seizures.

ProtonMail uses the Secure Remote Password protocol to ensure that neither ProtonMail nor an attacker with network access can obtain users’ passwords. ProtonMail also offers two-factor authentication via 2FA apps.

Address Verification

To mitigate man-in-the-middle attacks​ ProtonMail uses Address Verification which leverages ProtonMail’s ​Encrypted Contacts​ feature. This unique feature ensures secure communications cannot be intercepted by an attacker tampering with encryption keys.

This additional enhanced level of security, and it’s one of the reasons it is the preferred email provider for journalists and other individuals with the highest security and privacy needs.

Self-destructing emails
ProtonMail allows users to send messages that will automatically delete themselves after a user-selected period of time.

Plans and pricing
All of the company’s revenue comes from subscriptions to premium plans and donations from the user community and does not show ads or make money by abusing users’ privacy.

ProtonMail has apps for IOS and Android as well as web access that can be used on any OS with an internet browser. In addition ProtonMail offers other useful apps such as The ProtonMail Bridge, which is a desktop application for paid users that encrypts and decrypts mail as it is sent or received by the user using a program that supports IMAP and SMTP, such as Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird etc.

They also offer an Import-Export application (beta) which is a application currently available to users on paid plans that lets them transfer emails easily to and from their ProtonMail account. This allows users to import their mailbox from another email account, such as Gmail or upload email files stored on their computer into their ProtonMail encrypted Inbox. It can also be used to export emails from their ProtonMail account to their hard drive for secure local backups.

ProtonMail believes everyone in the world should have access to secure and private online communication, regardless of their ability to pay. Which is why they offer a free plans as well as paid plans for those who need more storage, more features, or just want to support the project so that they can continue to offer the service to those who need it and cannot afford it.

Smells and Blending In

Now in most instances unless you are the same heritage as where you are traveling and you are actively living there you are not likely to be able to pull off people thinking you’re a native. However it is possible to get to a level where you look like you belong, and the details are key.
One detail of blending in, whether in the bush or in the urban environment that most people over look is smell.
Where in the woods any strong smell is a give away in the urban environment it can be more subtle. While a strong smell can give you a way the wrong smell can also give you away. This comes into account mostly when traveling abroad.
In the field to much deodorant, or not enough, tobacco, perfume/cologne, and food aroma to name a few can all give you away because they tend to be much stronger than the natural environment and are not naturally present.
In the urban environments especially when traveling over seas it becomes the wrong deodorant, the wrong perfume, etc. and it’s not necessarily wrong but it’s that it’s not available locally and there for is novel and stands out to people.
In some cases just like in the woods, deodorant in itself can be a give away in general as deodorants are a very American thing and in a lot of countries it’s not a common product.
The easiest way to over come this is to buy these products when you get there. Once you get their to buy any deodorants if available, tobacco products, mints etc.
Eating the local cuisine will take care of the food aroma as well as helps you meet the locals and experience the culture your visiting. In addition body oder changes based off what you eat. Anyone who eats onions/garlic regularly knows this fact. So if you are in a country where deodorant is less prevalent, your funk will match the locals in theory

How to Use Public Restrooms

We assume you know how to use the restroom in the usual sense so were gonna cover how to use it in the tradecraft sense.

Public Restrooms offer you many opportunities in an operational environment to further your personal preparedness, security and situational awareness.

Check out S2 Underground and their videos on LBRY for more quick tradecraft tips.

After you are seated make a trip to the rest room. This gives you a reasonable explanation for walking around the restaurant and getting the lay of the land.

Along your way this allows you to scope the other people in the restaurant as well as the layout, alternate exits, blindspots etc. All while having a reasonable explanation for your actions if you are being watched.

In most cases the rest rooms are usually in the back near employee only locations. In restaurants this means back of the house like kitchens and so forth. By taking a peak in there on your way to the rest room you can get a glimpse of what the back of house staff uniforms look like which furthers your situational awareness.

You will know if someone coming out of there may or may not belong and whether you need to pay attention to them or not.

Another benefit to consider especially if you are being surveilled is that the rest rooms are usually one of the few places in a city that is not under cctv surveillance. Most people don’t think twice about someone changing clothes in the bathroom.