Detention Abroad – Recognizing a Critical Risk

American citizen Paul Whelan sits in prison in Russia accused of espionage.  Although Whelan fits an unlikely profile for a spy, some of his behavior such as possessing US, UK, Canadian and Irish passports and having made multiple contacts within the Russian defense and security services may have contributed to his downfall.  Whelan’s arrest on…

Study Abroad: Cultural Aspects & Security Risks

One of the greatest benefits of a study abroad program is the immersion in a foreign culture and the exposure to attitudes, perspectives and norms that may be very different from what we are accustomed to at home.   It’s important to recognize that sometimes these cultural differences and result in misunderstandings, misinterpretation and even lead…

The Nexus Between the Cyber World & Real World: OSINT as a Targeting Method

How much personal information should you share online?  How much information is available about you online that you can’t control?  What happens when online risk transfers to the physical world?  Its exceedingly difficult to answer these questions.  Situations and individual threat profiles will vary greatly.   I can say with certainty that the intersection of cyber…

Behavioral Analysis

In an earlier article we discussed a number of key skills for personal security, including behavioral analysis.  We mentioned that while criminal culture may vary from location to location, many (not necessarily all) principles of behavioral analysis are universal to human beings regardless of location and culture.  The key factor when assessing behavior is to…

Key Skills for Personal Security & Self Defense

Most of the personal security and self-defense market in US seems to cater to traditional hard skills reactive training, in particular shooting and physical self defense techniques.  These are important skills to have but there seems to be a dearth of training in other more soft, preventative skills. Even with in the hard skills arena…

Situational Awareness & Effective Decision Making

Situation awareness is a key component of personal protection.  In fact it may well be the key component of personal protection around which everything else is built.  Interest and appreciation for the importance of situational awareness is growing.  One aspect that is sometimes overlooked though is the importance of tying it to effective decision making.  …

Layering Contacts When Traveling Abroad

Layering contacts: What does it mean and why should you consider doing it?  When traveling overseas, particularly to higher risk locations or locations where cultural and business practices are significantly different, it can make sense to not put all your eggs in the same basket. To set the stage and make it easier to understand…

Traveler Vulnerability

Who is more vulnerable?  Who is at greater risk?  A short-term traveler or a long-term visitor/expatriate?  It’s an interesting question and one without a clear-cut answer.  All other things being equal, each one can present its own set of vulnerabilities.  Let’s look at each one and then compare and contrast.  For simplicity sake I will…