Threat assessment and Area Study Part 2

Once you have the area(s) figured out you need to identify What type of threats exist, It is up to you to understand your enemy (the threats) so that you can know how to best counter them Is it organized crime? Violent crime? Narcotics? corrupt government, terrorism etc. As well as which ones have the most impact on your time in the area.

There are many tools available to you that can be used to gauge and understand the threats in the area. Mainly being information. You can find much of this information online without leaving your desk. While you cannot find everything this way in many cases it will be a good place to start at the least.

Other good sources depending on if your in the area already is coworkers, neighbors, local workers or business owners, local law enforcement agencies, community networks, and of course Personal observation and situational awareness.

Once you’ve gathered as much research as you see fit, outline the various threats in your area, their tactics and techniques who the shot callers are if applicable etc.

Finally, you must determine the plausibility of becoming a victim or attempted victim of any of the threats in your area.

In short, analyze the information to predict what your enemy will do next. For instance if a serial killer only targets short blonde females, a large black haired male is not likely going to be targeted by them.

You can use historical trends, law enforcement reports, or personal research online to try and identify how your enemy (for instance violent crime) will act. Have they targeted innocent bystanders, targets of opportunity, or do they surveil the big fish targets?

Based on what you come up with from the analysis, determine possible actions they might take and how you could counter it.

be sure to identify the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How factors in order to produce the most specific profile of the threat you face. This will provide you with the info necessary to come up with a way to counter the threat (ideally).

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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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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.



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

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

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.

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.

Sweeping a room for Cameras


Some of you may have seen the headlines about Airbnbs many safety concerns, among them is a hiden camera problem. However this is not a problem that is exclusive to Airbnb, this is a world wide problem that happens in major hotel chains as well.


The people that are installing these hidden cameras do so for a variety of reason. Some for…….. personal……. enjoyment we will say, others for blackmail purposes and for an example, one that is mostly overseas, there is reportedly a dark-web site that you can log on to and pick a hidden camera, like a tv channel, and stream live hidden video from all over the world.


Booking your accommodations anonymously is the best route to take because even if you are recorded then they cant really black mail you cause they don’t know who you truly are. We will cover this topic in depth at a later date as it could take multiple articles and still not cover all the possibilities.


For today we are going to stick with how to sweep your hotel room/ Airbnb as this can and should be done whether you renting anonymously or not.


You should start before you even book the reservation. Do your research into the property or hotel. Read reviews and search the address on search engines. 5 basic issues to check for can be found here.


You can also check sites like trip advisor however there has been some controversy surrounding Trip Advisor and Airbnb as of late. They have been accused of deleting negative reviews of properties even when they bring up possible safety concerns. So trust your gut and if something doesn’t feel right find a different place to stay.


If you read that article from the Atlantic linked above you will see that Airbnb allows hosts to place cameras in their listings as long as they are following some rules.


Airbnb’s rules allow cameras outdoors and in living rooms and common areas, but never in bathrooms or anywhere guests plan to sleep, including rooms with foldout beds. Starting in early 2018, Airbnb added another layer of disclosure: If hosts indicate they have cameras anywhere on their property, guests receive a pop-up informing them where the cameras are located and where they are aimed. To book the property, the guests must click agree,indicating that theyre aware of the cameras and consent to being filmed.


So during your booking process you should have been made aware if there are cameras in the house in the common areas…..if the host decided to enlighten Airbnb to their presence. I personally would not be staying anywhere that posted that they had cameras on the property but that is just me, you will have to make your own decision on that.


Now lets say you’ve booked your stay, you made the trip, you’ve checked in and your walking up to the door. Hotel doors all look pretty much the same with key card or keyed locks. Many Airbnbs, like many home owners, have started installing camera/intercom door bells. There are some privacy issues with these door bells, not from the Airbnb host who is only going to be able to watch you as you come and go, but from the company producing the product. Nothing criminal or unethical on the homeowners part just something to be aware of.


Now your inside the Airbnb or your hotel room. Which ever one your in will dictate how long this process will take, but either way the process is the same. Pick a starting point. I like to start from the door and just work my way in. Others do the opposite and like to start in the bathroom and work their way out. From there its entirely up to you. Just pick a way that you are not going to skip or forget to check somewhere.


Now start by checking any objects that are out in the open. This can include clocks, pictures, tissue boxes/ decorative covers, are hanging on the wall etc. Look them over, check behind/underneath them, check for memory card slots, extra wires, visible camera lenses, antennas that don’t make sense and anything that just doesn’t feel right.


Next check anything plugged into outlets. Cameras are often disguised as air fresheners, plug in smoke or CO detectors, chargers, basically anything the average person might not think twice about. Look them over for the same things you checked for with things that were out in the open. Now check things attached to the walls and the outlets themselves.


Now Im not saying start taking things off the wall and messing with wiring! Just like looking for a card skimmer at a public ATM give them a wiggle plug in a charger or something to make sure the outlet actually has power. Same goes for cable outlets in the walls smoke detectors, wifi routers etc.


The cameras that the average person might come in contact with will likely be found by this method. The people putting these cameras in place are not professionals and they are counting on the general obliviousness that the general public walks around with these days to hide the cameras for them. So if you haven’t found anything suspicious or obvious cameras, you are probably good to go and enjoy your stay.


You can also buy a scanner and scan for wireless frequencies, though one that will actually do the job will run you a minimum of $200 and a good one closer to $300-500. I have no personal experience with theses devices but have heard mixed reviews from sources that I trust.


Scanners in this price range will not find high end cameras that would be implemented by your typical government agencies or used in corporate espionage. Equipment to detect those devices would run in the thousands and with a few exceptions not the most likely threat you will face as an average citizen.


If this is your concern your department, agency, or company likely has an in house team or someone that they work with to sweep for bugs and cameras.



Now lets say that you swept your room/Airbnb and found one or more cameras. When you checked in there was no warning about the cameras and they are/or they are not within Airbnb’s policy. Or your in a hotel room where there should be no cameras anyway.


Step one is to make sure you are safe, if you do not think that you are safe collect your belongings and get some where that is safe. Do not hand over the cameras or memory card to anyone from the hotel or

Airbnb because you then loose any and all evidence that it occurred.


At this point if you are stateside contact law enforcement and file a report as they are the only person I would turn over the cameras to.


If you are abroad contact your consulate and do what they recommend. In most countries that will involve calling the local law enforcement.


For Airbnb contact them as soon as you can and they may help you find new accommodations. (disclaimer I have yet to find a contact phone number on their site so you will have to contact them through their online form/process and it may take them some time to get back to you. Mentioning you are in contact with law enforcement may speed up that process).


For hotels contact the front desk and demand to talk to the manager.


The likelihood that you will be in a room that has hidden cameras in it generally is quite low. However this is still a threat that you should take quite seriously, just because the chance is low doesn’t mean it cant happen to you.


Think about it, how many people that have been struck by lighting thought it would happen to them? Probably not that many. Now the more you travel, the higher that chance becomes simply because you staying in more places. The more times you roll the dice at some point your gonna get snake eyes.