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Travel Security Tips


Travel Security Tips


Jim Sutton

By Jim Sutton


 Five Easy Lessons for all Travelers 

After several decades traveling around the world, including several “Hot War zones” I’ve learned several lessons about traveling.  I’ve narrowed my list down to the five most important lessons that have kept me safe during my travels.

Lesson # 1: You will make mistakes during your trip, but you must learn from your mistakes and move on. 

Most of us have realized that the best lessons are the results of mistakes we have made.  All of our mistakes have been learned in hindsight.  It reminds me of an old adage: “Experience is the mother of wisdom; experience can only come from living/enduring the consequences of our mistakes.” The greater the mistake the most memorable the lesson becomes.  You will make mistakes while traveling.  Learn from your mistakes and try to share the results and wisdom with other travelers.  However, allowing your mistakes, — losing your wallet, being robbed, or missing a flight–to overwhelm you, will taint your experience and possibly others around you.  Plan for things to go wrong during your trip.  Staying flexible while traveling will allow you to enjoy your time traveling.

Lesson # 2: Wanderlust is an essential component of being human and you can’t allow threats to deter you from traveling.  

We would not exist today as a species if our ancestors did not have the urge to move, explore, travel and visit. While every possible foreseeable precaution is taken to ensure our survival and wellbeing, it is nearly impossible to anticipate all possible contingencies. It is critically important to plan ahead before going on a vacation or business trip, and you should also also take into consideration local conditions at your destination.  Another thing to remember is for you to accept the fact that no travel is completely without risk. The key to travel security is to be well informed about the latest developments in the country you are visiting.  I highly recommend that you read up on the the country or city you are visiting.  Learn about their culture, past security issues, the political situation, and seasonal weather patterns.

Lesson # 3: Violence against travelers is the new normal.

Criminal violence including terrorism is the new normal.  Violence against travelers happens everywhere and each one of us must accept that we cannot assume “it will not happen to us.” Complacency, ego, and travel ignorance are the greatest challenges you will face as a traveler.  The new normal is here to stay and all travelers must realize that there have always been threats to travelers.  There seems to be an idea or theory that Europe has always been a safe place for travelers.  This thought process or belief is risky.  The most recent wave of terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels are part of a long history of violence against travelers in Europe.

Lesson # 4: Make your travel fears concrete and specific in order to overcome them.

From personal experience, I can assert, that the best way to handle fear is to make the fear concrete and specific.  During my travels, I’ve had considerable concerns about the overall level of violence in some of the countries I was in,  however after introspection and time in the country, I realized that an unspecified fear was a psychological issue and not a real issue that could be managed. I have learned to develop the insight that nothing will screw/mess-up with my mind faster that my own brain. I was finally able to make my fear specific when I realized that my real fear was being taken hostage and losing control over my free-will.  Coming to this realization allowed me to better deal with my fear.  You cannot fight a defeat a ghost or an illusion. To defeat a real or imagined enemy you must first make your fear concrete and definable.

Lesson # 5: Stay informed and alert during your trip.  

It is very important that all travelers stay informed.  However, do not preoccupy your mind with rumors or second hand information.  Instead, rely on credible primary sources such as officials in the area you are visiting, or credible news sources with an established local, domestic, and international reputation.  This credible sources could be the Embassy/Consular officers of your nation of origin in the region. Remember, that not all the sources of danger come from the criminal or violent actions of others; but also from Mother Nature herself.

System Failures

We live in a complex technologically advanced world where the biggest source of danger and fatalities come from the system we depend on. Planes crash, ships and other maritime conveyances sink, buildings/hotels/hostels collapse or catch fire. These types of system failures are reported throughout the world on a daily basis.  Therefore, research and gather all the information you can on your airline, cruise ship company, hotel, and tour company.  It is your responsibility to make well informed decisions before and during your trip.

Natural Events: This includes all events caused by nature, from volcanic eruptions, floods, tsunamis, typhoons, hurricanes, tornados, intense rain storms, pandemics, epidemics, infectious diseases, avalanches, etc. Natural events are of such a large scope/magnitude they cannot be avoided unless we take precautions to evade them once their possibility has been defined or established by a credible source.  Several years ago, a volcano erupted in Iceland causing all commercial flights in Europe to come to a halt.  You should always plan for these types of delays by having emergency funds for food, hotel, and transportation.

Criminal Activity

 This is by a the most statistically probable event you are likely to experience. Travelers are victims of crimes all over the world. Travelers can avoid being victims of crime by staying alert, being well informed, and exerciseing common sense.  This can be summed up in two words: Imprudence or Inattention. If you analyze all instances of victimization the cause of the all events is inescapable; it is one of the two “I’s) or a combination of both.

Terrorism

While terrorist incidents receive a lot of media attention, they are statistically the least probable to occur to you while traveling. They are commonly classified as “low probability/high consequence.” Remember, terrorism is political theater designed to frighten people and coerce a change in their normal routines and prove government and authorities are unable to provide real security. Unless you plan to travel into a “hot” zone known for political violence and instability, you should not worry about the unspecific fear of “terrorists.”  To be sure, travelers have been victim to terrorism, but as mentioned before, you are more likely to be a victim of crime or having your flight delayed while traveling.


©2017 World Travelers Today

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Five Easy Lessons for All Travelers


Travel Security Tips


Jim Sutton

By Jim Sutton


 Five Easy Lessons for all Travelers 

After several decades traveling around the world, including several “Hot War zones” I’ve learned several lessons about traveling.  I’ve narrowed my list down to the five most important lessons that have kept me safe during my travels.

Lesson # 1: You will make mistakes during your trip, but you must learn from your mistakes and move on. 

Most of us have realized that the best lessons are the results of mistakes we have made.  All of our mistakes have been learned in hindsight.  It reminds me of an old adage: “Experience is the mother of wisdom; experience can only come from living/enduring the consequences of our mistakes.” The greater the mistake the most memorable the lesson becomes.  You will make mistakes while traveling.  Learn from your mistakes and try to share the results and wisdom with other travelers.  However, allowing your mistakes, — losing your wallet, being robbed, or missing a flight–to overwhelm you, will taint your experience and possibly others around you.  Plan for things to go wrong during your trip.  Staying flexible while traveling will allow you to enjoy your time traveling.

Lesson # 2: Wanderlust is an essential component of being human and you can’t allow threats to deter you from traveling.  

We would not exist today as a species if our ancestors did not have the urge to move, explore, travel and visit. While every possible foreseeable precaution is taken to ensure our survival and wellbeing, it is nearly impossible to anticipate all possible contingencies. It is critically important to plan ahead before going on a vacation or business trip, and you should also also take into consideration local conditions at your destination.  Another thing to remember is for you to accept the fact that no travel is completely without risk. The key to travel security is to be well informed about the latest developments in the country you are visiting.  I highly recommend that you read up on the the country or city you are visiting.  Learn about their culture, past security issues, the political situation, and seasonal weather patterns.

Lesson # 3: Violence against travelers is the new normal.

Criminal violence including terrorism is the new normal.  Violence against travelers happens everywhere and each one of us must accept that we cannot assume “it will not happen to us.” Complacency, ego, and travel ignorance are the greatest challenges you will face as a traveler.  The new normal is here to stay and all travelers must realize that there have always been threats to travelers.  There seems to be an idea or theory that Europe has always been a safe place for travelers.  This thought process or belief is risky.  The most recent wave of terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels are part of a long history of violence against travelers in Europe.

Lesson # 4: Make your travel fears concrete and specific in order to overcome them.

From personal experience, I can assert, that the best way to handle fear is to make the fear concrete and specific.  During my travels, I’ve had considerable concerns about the overall level of violence in some of the countries I was in,  however after introspection and time in the country, I realized that an unspecified fear was a psychological issue and not a real issue that could be managed. I have learned to develop the insight that nothing will screw/mess-up with my mind faster that my own brain. I was finally able to make my fear specific when I realized that my real fear was being taken hostage and losing control over my free-will.  Coming to this realization allowed me to better deal with my fear.  You cannot fight a defeat a ghost or an illusion. To defeat a real or imagined enemy you must first make your fear concrete and definable.

Lesson # 5: Stay informed and alert during your trip.  

It is very important that all travelers stay informed.  However, do not preoccupy your mind with rumors or second hand information.  Instead, rely on credible primary sources such as officials in the area you are visiting, or credible news sources with an established local, domestic, and international reputation.  This credible sources could be the Embassy/Consular officers of your nation of origin in the region. Remember, that not all the sources of danger come from the criminal or violent actions of others; but also from Mother Nature herself.

System Failures: We live in a complex technologically advanced world where the biggest source of danger and fatalities come from the system we depend on. Planes crash, ships and other maritime conveyances sink, buildings/hotels/hostels collapse or catch fire. These types of system failures are reported throughout the world on a daily basis.  Therefore, research and gather all the information you can on your airline, cruise ship company, hotel, and tour company.  It is your responsibility to make well informed decisions before and during your trip.

Natural Events: This includes all events caused by nature, from volcanic eruptions, floods, tsunamis, typhoons, hurricanes, tornados, intense rain storms, pandemics, epidemics, infectious diseases, avalanches, etc. Natural events are of such a large scope/magnitude they cannot be avoided unless we take precautions to evade them once their possibility has been defined or established by a credible source.  Several years ago, a volcano erupted in Iceland causing all commercial flights in Europe to come to a halt.  You should always plan for these types of delays by having emergency funds for food, hotel, and transportation.

Criminal Activity: This is by a the most statistically probable event you are likely to experience. Travelers are victims of crimes all over the world. Travelers can avoid being victims of crime by staying alert, being well informed, and exerciseing common sense.  This can be summed up in two words: Imprudence or Inattention. If you analyze all instances of victimization the cause of the all events is inescapable; it is one of the two “I’s) or a combination of both.

Terrorism: While terrorist incidents receive a lot of media attention, they are statistically the least probable to occur to you while traveling. They are commonly classified as “low probability/high consequence.” Remember, terrorism is political theater designed to frighten people and coerce a change in their normal routines and prove government and authorities are unable to provide real security. Unless you plan to travel into a “hot” zone known for political violence and instability, you should not worry about the unspecific fear of “terrorists.”  To be sure, travelers have been victim to terrorism, but as mentioned before, you are more likely to be a victim of crime or having your flight delayed while traveling.

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Security Tips for the Business Traveler


Travel Security


 

 

 

 

 

An increasing number of Americans are fortunate enough to combine work related trips with brief vacation stints or getaways. This opportunity of combining work and pleasure, is great if we keep in mind how to avoid unpleasantness. The risks faced can be avoided if we keep a few security recommendations in mind. First and foremost, is the mindfulness to the safety and security recommendation in previous posts.  Specifically, what we referred to as the “Ice Cube” (I3) model ̶ to remind ourselves of the behaviors we should avoid to stay safe:

Ignorance

Stay informed of general conditions at your intended destination(s). Monitor developments via news media, social networks, and hotel concierge.  Word of mouth from other travelers or tourists is another good way of staying informed and up to date with local news.   A word of caution, rumors generally lack specificity or credible details, while objective facts are rich in specific details of what, where, when, and who.

Inattention

Whether in the business or pleasure portion of your trip, remain mindful of your surroundings and pay close attention to people, events, and conditions that applying your experience are not normal.  Always trust your intuition and act on it immediately.  Taken action will keep you out of harm’s way and it will also buy you time to make a decision that best meets your immediate needs.

Imprudence

The third element of the “Ice Cube” model is imprudence.   We are all familiar with this behavior, most of which includes activities that are unwise, injudicious, incautious, indiscreet, misguided, ill-advised, ill-judged, impulsive, brash, careless, foolish, and ultimately dangerous.

The main idea to keep in mind when combining work and pleasure trips is legal liability. What actions would be considered “within the scope of one’s employment and which one were of a purely personal nature; should an unforeseen contingency ranging from death or disabling injury occur – the “scope of employment” will be key in determining legal liability. This will apply to people who are employees of a company, as well as those that developed and lead their own enterprises, like entrepreneurs. Legal liability will determine who gets paid, how much, and under what legal doctrine. Its importance cannot be overemphasize.

The second key consideration of mixed travel is protection of proprietary information, documents, and technology.  Ensure you protect proprietary information, which ranges from equipment, documents, and even casual conversations concerning work related information.  It is important to remember that personal or work related information should not be disclosed in public or to temporal acquaintances without a clear and objective need to know. There are documented cases where casual seemingly innocent remarks have resulted in assaults and deaths where the motive was profit and the perpetrator relied on casually overheard innocently shared comments.  Information collection is standard trade-craft for criminals, spies, and terrorists. Generally, discretion on personal and work matters serves your best interests while traveling.

Writing for a magazine whose primary audience is former government law enforcement officials, an executive and former law enforcement officials herself wrote an article “Travel Insurance Ensures Peace of Mind” which includes several excellent recommendations, well worth keeping in mind. (Travelers’ Notebook, Travel Insurance Ensures Peace of Mind, By Sherri Rost, Castaic Travel. The Grapevine, July 2016. P. 28)

The following excellent advice was extracted from the article.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance typically costs 4 to 8 percent of the total cost of the trip, but it is invaluable in the face of unpredictability. Sometimes randomness can be expensive. Long anticipated trips sometimes have to be cancelled abruptly or even interrupted once in progress. If the employer pays for insuring the business portion of the trip, but not all do since it is a controllable expense. If the traveler is willing to cover the insurance for all portions of the trip, which requires a cost/benefit analysis, insurance offers protection for the investment made by recouping they monies spent for accommodation, transportation, etc. To be on the safe side the traveler should discuss plans with corporate travel, if employed to ensure clarity of limitations and liability.

The comments here do not refer to Policies purchased at a Kiosk at the airport, but the purchase of policies that actually fit your specific need and requirements. The four basic areas to consider are:

Trip cancellation and interruption

Cancellations on pre-paid trips are very expensive, the insurance will reimburse non-refundable costs in the event of illness or other personal issues, including illness, work issues such as lay-offs, family emergencies (a death), the policy can cover financial losses as well as penalties incurred for a prepaid tour or flight.

Insurance can also cover trips cancelled or delay due to natural disasters if carrier in unable to reschedule, or goes out of business. In cases covered by the policy money can be recovered.

Medical Issues

Many insurance policies, Medicare included do not cover you while traveling internationally. In an emergency situation, a health provider will work with a travel insurance company on billing. Without insurance, foreign hospitals or doctors may expect a significant cash payment before treatment.

It is very important to include a “pre-existing conditions waiver” in any type of travel coverage. Travel insurance policies typically cover unexpected injury and illness, if you have consulted a doctor 60 to 180 days before the trip, insurance will not cover it without this waiver. To be eligible for this waiver, you have to buy travel insurance within 7 to 30 days before making the first payment for your travel. Waivers have to be included waivers for traveling companions.

Evacuation

Without sounding alarmist, evacuation coverage can be a lifesaver, in case of an accident or illness requiring emergency medical transportation can easily run into tens-of-thousands of dollars. This contingency alone, which is a form of “medical repatriation” will get you home or to a major hospital in your country of origin than can render the required life-saving treatment.

Baggage insurance

This not necessarily needed in short-term business/official trips, but longer trips that include transportation of expensive items/jewelry/professional apparatus and medically essential items will appreciate the coverage.

Advantages

Travel insurance policies sometimes include little-known perk that can have a big impact on the quality of a trip – concierge service. This typically is a 24 hour assistance program that provides quick referrals for local restaurants and entertainment venues; they can also include tickets for local events – arts, theater, music and sporting venues. While some high-end elite credit/travel cards provide concierge services, these are not available to all.

Travelers should consults with their employees, or professionals (physicians, legal counsel or travel agency representatives) to ensure foreseeable contingencies are covered and planned for.

Enjoy and safe travels!

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11-M: A DAY OF REMEMBRANCE/ 11-M: UN DIA DE MEMORIA


Travel Security


 

Originally posted on History Hiker on March 11, 2014

By Samuel Garza & Jim Sutton

This post is dedicated to the victims of the Madrid train bombing and also Francisco Javier Torrenteras of Spain’s Special Group, who gave his life in defense of his country.

Ten years ago, several bombs were detonated on four commuter trains in Madrid, Spain. The bombing sent shock waves around the world. One hundred and ninety one people were killed and 1,800 were injured*. March 11, 2004 locally known as “11-M” is a sad day in Spanish history.
This past week, I visited the Atocha train station where one of the 11-M memorials is located. Once I arrived, I was greeted at the door and received a very warm welcome. I walked in and I was immediately confronted by the 191 names of the the people who died on March 11, 2004.

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Names of the victims.

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I was frozen. I couldn’t help but begin to read the names that were in front of me. In fact, I found myself reading the names out loudly. I finally stopped and walked through the second door into the remembrance chamber.

I found a seat and watched people stand under the light. I wanted to join them but instead, I found a seat and focused my eyes on the light. I thought about where I was when I heard of the attacks and what significance it had to me as an American.

Words of remembrance.

Words of remembrance.

I made my way into the chamber to read the words of remembrance by many Spaniards discussing 11-M. Then I slowly made my way back to the exit and I made one last stop and looked at the names and said a prayer for the victims and their families.

IMG_9032

After leaving Atocha, I walked a few blocks to the Parque de el Retiro where another moment, the Bosque del Recuerdo was built to honor those killed in the Madrid attacks by planting 192 trees (191 for the 11-M victims and one for Torrenteras).

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The Desecration of Torrenteras’ Grave

Shortly after the attacks on the Spanish rail system, Spanish authorities tracked down several key suspects to Leganes, a suburb of Madrid. Once the Special Forces approached the apartment where the suspects were hiding a powerful bomb exploded. The suspects had committed suicide and sadly, the bomb also killed Francisco Javier Torrenteras Gadea.
Over a month after Torrenteras was buried, his body was removed from his tomb and was destroyed by a pick and shovel. In addition, both his body and coffin were set on fire.  This incident was not well reported internationally.

Torrenteras

Francisco Javier Torrenteras

Interview With Mr. James Sutton
For more about 11-M attacks and its impact on transportation security, I interviewed Mr. James Sutton. Mr. Sutton is a former colleague, mentor, and friend. Currently Mr. Sutton is the Latin American and Caribbean Regional Director for Global Sigma.

Q&A

Samuel Garza: How did you hear about the attack?
James Sutton: At the time, March 11, 2004, I was conducting a threat risk and vulnerability assessment at Walter Reed Medical Center, a military hospital in Washington D.C. News of the bombing in Madrid interested me because I have family living in Spain, I have visited Madrid numerous times in the past and love the city. Finally an attack against a public transportation system — in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, is noteworthy.

Samuel Garza: How has the bombing changed Spain?
James Sutton: The same way the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington changed the United States. While physical evidence of the attacks is beyond question, many conspiracy theories have developed during the years. These theories make claims that while may sound credible to many people are simply not supported by the evidence.
The death of 191 people and wounding 1,800 left a profound wound on the psyche of the Spanish people; just as September 11 changed the American psyche.
In both countries, there is an increased sense of vulnerability, a suspicion that the government has failed to disclose all the facts and evidence.
This sense of vulnerability is aggravated by all the security protocols that have been imposed at public buildings, aerial, naval, rail, and ground transportations systems. During every visit we are reminded that we are still vulnerable. Periodic assaults against transportations systems, hotels, and public buildings remind us of the continuing danger of another attack as well as the continuing struggle between the radical Muslims (Jihadi’s) and their perceived enemies. We need to remember the goal of terrorism is to terrorize civilian populations, we have acknowledge that the actions of few insane people willing to die and kill in the name of their God continues to preoccupy Spain, England, and the United States.

Samuel Garza: What was learned from the attack and how have those lessons changed transportation security?
James Sutton: It is impossible to protect 100% of any potential target, 100% of the time. We have to live with the knowledge that the best defense is an actively aware public that reports to the authority’s suspicious people and activities and security officers effectively trained and well informed on how best to handle, respond, and neutralize potential threats according to the rule of law. We cannot guarantee there will be no future assaults; there will be, but we can learn from past experience and mitigate or minimize the damage from upcoming attacks.
We need to keep in mind that modern technology such a video surveillance, metal detectors, and other modern technology has improved security.
The most important lesson we learned from recent terrorist attacks around the world is the importance of vigilance, effective response to suspicious incidents, public support of law enforcement (police/Guardia Civil) and for governments to provide long term economic and psychological support to the victims of these incidents. A major issue with the victims of 11-M is that to date many have not received adequate support to meet their needs. The economic challenges currently faced by Spain aggravate the problem, but there is room for improvements. As is the case with the victims of the New York and Washington attacks of September 11, 2001 many of which still face emotional and economic challenges all by themselves.

Samuel Garza: Do you feel that ETA had any evolvement in 11-M?
James Sutton: Everything is possible; however, the evidence to date indicates that although the explosives used were obtained in the Basque region of Spain they were not provided by ETA. The modus operandi of 11-M is not one typically used by ETA. While ETA is known to have operational linkages with insurgent radical groups in Colombia and Ireland, ETA’s struggle is political and social, while the 11-M bombers were involved in a religious/political struggle. I think the confusion arises from the fact that the explosive used by the assailants was Goma-2 ECO, often used in ETA attacks; also that the attackers — in fact — obtained the explosives from miners in Bilbao.

Samuel Garza: Has cooperation involving terrorism between Spain and the United States improved since 11-M?
James Sutton: The level of cooperation and collaboration, at the tactical, strategic, and political level is now significant and a partnership to deal with common enemy’s terrorists and drug-traffickers is excellent.
I had the pleasure of serving with the Spanish armed forces in the Western Region of Afghanistan, Badghis province. Also during my service a Special Agent of the FBI and Intelligence Analyst for the U.S. Department of Justice I had a chance to collaborate with the Spanish intelligence services and was impressed by their commitment, loyalty, and professionalism. I am sure that further improvements and collaborative efforts will be made in the future.

Samuel Garza: Where are there still vulnerabilities in the global transportation system and how can we prevent more attacks of this magnitude?
James Sutton: Any location in which a substantial number of people gather for a needed service, theaters, embassies, airports, buses and rail stations is vulnerable to an attack. Unfortunately this is the new normal and the threat cannot be completely eliminated. However, the average person can protect his or her own security by following three simple steps: (1) Stay alert, this includes being well informed of current events, (2) Have an action plan, what can you do in the event of a major incident, how can you limit harm to yourself and loved ones. (3) Trust your intuition; fear is subjective and psychological, while intuition is represents the knowledge of many generations which we often refer to as common sense.


 

Spanish/Español

Samuel Garza: ¿Cómo se enteró del ataque?
James Sutton: El 11 de marzo de 2004, estaba llevando a cabo una evaluación de riesgos de amenazas y vulnerabilidades en Walter Reed Medical Center, un hospital militar en Washington DC. Noticias del atentado en Madrid me interesó porque tengo familia que vive en España, he visitado Madrid numerosas veces en el pasado es una ciudad que me encanta. Por último un ataque contra el sistema de transporte público – en una de las ciudades más importantes y bellas de Europa es un incidente que merece considerable interés para un analista de inteligencia como yo lo era.

Samuel Garza: ¿Cómo ha cambiado el bombardeo España?
James Sutton: De la misma manera los ataques del 11 de septiembre de 2001 en Nueva York y Washington cambiaron los Estados Unidos. Mientras que la evidencia física de los ataques está fuera de toda duda, muchas teorías de conspiración han desarrollado durante los últimos años. Estas teorías hacen afirmaciones que, si bien puede sonar creíble para muchas personas simplemente no están respaldadas por las pruebas.
La muerte de 191 personas e hiriendo a 1800 dejaron una profunda herida en la psique del pueblo español, del mismo modo 11 de septiembre cambió la psique Latina.
En ambos países, hay una mayor sensación de vulnerabilidad, la sospecha de que el gobierno no ha revelado todos los hechos y las pruebas.
Esta sensación de vulnerabilidad se agrava por todos los protocolos de seguridad que se han impuesto en los edificios públicos, estaciones de tren, aeropuertos, embarques marítimos, y los sistemas de Autotransporte de tierra.
Durante cada visita se nos recuerda que aún somos vulnerables. Ataques repetidos contra los sistemas de transportes, hoteles y edificios públicos alrededor del mundo, nos recuerdan del constante peligro de otro ataque, así como la continua lucha entre los musulmanes radicales (yihadistas) y sus supuestos enemigos. Tenemos que recordar el objetivo del terrorismo es aterrorizar a la población civil, hemos de reconocer que las acciones de unos pocos locos dispuestos a morir y matar en nombre de su Dios continúa preocupando a España, Inglaterra y los Estados Unidos.

Samuel Garza: ¿Qué lecciones de seguridad aprendimos como resultado del asalto y que impacto tienen ese entendimiento para mejorar seguridad en el transporte público?
James Sutton: Es imposible proteger un recurso completamente 100 % del tiempo. Por eso tenemos que vivir con el conocimiento de que la mejor defensa es un público activamente consciente que informa a autoridad sobre condiciones, actividades, e individuos que son anormales o sospechosos.
Por su lado, las autoridades, tienen que estar efectivamente capacitados y bien informados sobre la mejor manera de manejar, responder y neutralizar amenazas potenciales de acuerdo con la ley vigente.
No podemos garantizar que no habrá asaltos futuros, inevitablemente los habrá. No obstante podemos aprender de la experiencia pasada y mitigar o minimizar los daños de incidentes futuros.
La lección más importante que hemos aprendido de los recientes ataques terroristas en todo el mundo es la importancia de la vigilancia, la respuesta eficaz a los incidentes sospechosos, el apoyo público de las fuerzas del orden (policía / Guardia Civil). Pero también la importancia que las autoridades proporcionen apoyo económico y psicológico — a largo plazo — para las víctimas de estos incidentes.
Recordemos también que los nuevos sistemas de video vigilancia, sensores de metal y otras tecnologías modernas han mejorado nuestra seguridad común.
Notablemente hasta la fecha actual muchas de las víctimas del 11 -M no han recibido suficiente apoyo para satisfacer sus necesidades. Los desafíos económicos que España enfrenta actualmente agravan ese problema, pero si existen posibilidades para mejorar ese problema.
Los mismo ha pasado con las víctimas de los atentados de Nueva York y Washington del 11 de septiembre 2001, muchos de los cuales todavía se enfrentan a desafíos emocionales y económicos por su propia cuenta.

Samuel Garza: ¿Cree que ETA estaba involucrada en el asalto de 11-M?
James Sutton: Todo es posible, sin embargo, la evidencia hasta la fecha indica que a pesar de que los explosivos utilizados se obtuvieron en la región vasca de España, esos mismos no fueron proporcionados por ETA. El modus operandi del 11-M no es uno utilizado habitualmente por ETA. Mientras se reconoce que ETA tiene vínculos operativos con grupos radicales e insurgentes en Colombia e Irlanda, la lucha de ETA es política y social, mientras que los atacantes del 11-M estaban involucrados en una lucha religiosa y política. Creo que la confusión surge del hecho de que el explosivo utilizado por los asaltantes era Goma-2 ECO, de uso frecuente en los atentados de ETA, y también que los atacantes – de hecho – obtuvieron clandestinamente los explosivos de unos mineros en Bilbao.

Samuel Garza: ¿ Mejorado la cooperación contra el terrorismo entre España y los Estados Unidos desde el 11-M?
James Sutton: El nivel de cooperación y colaboración, a nivel táctico, estratégico y político es ahora excelente, para hacer un frente a los retos en común; los terroristas y narcotraficantes.
Tuve el placer de servir con las fuerzas armadas españolas en la región occidental de Afganistán, la provincia de Badghis. También durante mi servicio un agente especial del FBI y Analista de Inteligencia para el Departamento de Justicia de EE.UU., tuve la oportunidad de colaborar con los servicios de inteligencia españoles y quedé impresionado por su compromiso, lealtad y profesionalismo. Estoy seguro de que más mejoras y esfuerzos de colaboración se realizarán en el futuro.

Samuel Garza: ¿Dónde todavía hay vulnerabilidades en el sistema de transporte global y cómo podemos prevenir más ataques de esta magnitud?
James Sutton: Cualquier lugar en el que se reúnen un número importante de personas, para utilizar un servicio esencial, tales como, teatros, embajadas, aeropuertos, centros de transporte autobuses y estaciones de tren son vulnerables.
Por desgracia, esta es la nueva normalidad y la amenaza no puede ser eliminada por completo. Sin embargo, cualquier persona puede proteger su propia seguridad siguiendo tres pasos simples: (1) Mantenerse atento(a) al ambiente inmediato, esto incluye estar bien informado de los acontecimientos actuales, (2) Tener un plan de acción, como reaccionar a una contingencia inesperada, de cualquier magnitud. Considerar cómo uno puede limitar el daño a sí mismo y a sus seres queridos. (3) Confiar en la intuición, el miedo es subjetivo y psicológico, mientras que la intuición representa el conocimiento de muchas generaciones que a menudo nos referimos como el sentido común. Pensando en casos desagradables o peligrosos en nuestro pasado, recordamos que nuestra intuición nos indicaba las cosas no iban por un buen camino.


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Preventing Petty Crimes Against Tourist

purse robbery

Petty crimes against tourists are the most ubiquitous forms of illegal behavior around the world. No major urban area is safe from them. Even though they are costly and common, exceeding millions of dollars and euros and making up over half of all crimes committed, they are not always prosecuted.

Don’t Be a Victim

Despite these trends, you don’t need to become a victim. You can have control over your own safety. As WTT has emphasized, this requires being well informed, alert to the environment, and exercising prudence as all times.

Strong personal security practices include:

  • Avoid becoming a victim of a crime by considering the environment and situations where victimization can occur
  • Be aware that crime may occur at any time, in public or private areas, during the day or night

Petty crime against tourists take several forms and activities largely dependent upon the environment (street, restaurant, theater, hotel, taxi cab, etc.) and the perceived vulnerability of the victim. Perpetrators will likely assess the target’s vulnerability and do a cost benefit analysis of his/her effort. The greater the risk versus benefit that the perpetrator perceives, the less likely the crime becomes.

It is impossible to anticipate and prepare for every possible contingency. However, it is important to project an attitude of grit, resiliency and alertness that conveys the message, ‘Don’t even think of messing with me or my family/friend/companions.”

Petty criminals often see the following as vulnerable targets:

  • An unaccompanied small child; the younger the child, the more vulnerable they are
  • Unaccompanied females
  • A person who seems intoxicated or disabled
  • Someone who is inattentive, lost, confused, or otherwise not situationally aware
  • Ostentatious displays of wealth that are inappropriate to the environment. Jewelry worn to a gala event or secured environment is appropriate, the same cannot be said about such a display in a crowded public venue.

How Criminals Work

Historically, petty criminals rely on two basic techniques to accomplish their goal: distraction or force. Thieves typically prefer distraction over force.

In the case of distraction:

  • It minimizes the likelihood of a physical confrontation
  • It decreases the possibility of friends or by-standers coming to the aid of the victim
  • The victim is unaware they have been targeted and often finds out – much to their dismay – only after the loss has occurred. This makes capturing the perpetrator or recovering the property unlikely or even impossible.

Since the risk to the perpetrator in these sorts of crimes is relatively small, so are the profits, which normally consist of cellular telephones, purses, wallets, watches, high-end scarves, and jewelry. To make their quota criminals often rely on quantity versus quality. An individual or small group will typically target several dozen victims in a single day.  In these cases, there is little law enforcement can do other than take reports to analyze trends and patterns, and deploy officers accordingly.

Distraction is such a common practice that many entertainers use it to perform magic tricks or other acts, and distract the crowd with amusement and admiration at their skill.

Force is most often used when the perpetrator is desperate due to either psychological or physiological issues. Psychological issues may include pathological conditions that are often visible, such as strange or abnormal behaviors. Physiological conditions might involve ingestion or withdrawals from intoxicant substances. In both of these cases, there is usually a degree of unusual or atypical behavior. Exercise caution in these high-risk situations. It is important to maintain awareness of the immediate environment and trust your intuition.

Travel Smart

While petty street crime is common is all cities around the world, there are some regions where it may be more likely. Identification of these cities in no way implies they should be avoided. On the contrary, the gifts they offer surpass their risk provided that visitors follow low-key and prudent precautions.

  • Major cities in Spain, with a focus on Barcelona and Madrid
  • Major cities in Italy with a focus on Rome, Naples, Florence
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Tourist destinations in Colombia, Mexico, and Central Latin America including Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras
  • Major cities in South America, with a focus on Montevideo, Uruguay and the Casinos in Punta del Este; Buenos Aires and Rio de la Plata in Argentina.

The problem with “motochorros” is a special concern. These are criminals on motorcycles operating in packs, which specialize on “snatch and grab” assaults particularly outside of banks, shopping centers, where victims are likely to have money or valuables in their possession. The motorcycle allows the criminals to make a quick getaway.

  • Major cities in Europe, and including the countries of Holland, Germany, and Poland

Most of these areas have a high level of economic inequality, unemployment, official corruption, and a degree of impunity. This leaves young people, recent arrivals, and people experiencing homelessness few options to ensure their survival other than petty crime.

Absolute security is impossible, but smart goals include:

  • Observation
  • Knowledge
  • Awareness
  • Initiative
  • Prudence
  • Information

Key Concepts in Self-protection

Risk

The probability of a harmful event occurring as a result of behavior that you have control over.

Threats

Harmful events or situations intentionally carried out by other persons.

Vulnerabilities

Susceptibility or exposure to harmful events by nature of one’s self, behavior, actions, or status.

Security & Self-Protection

A combination of behaviors and attitudes a person can individually depend on to protect themselves, their families, and personal possessions.

A failure to identify, underestimate, or prevent a harmful incident will only increase its probability. Truly catastrophic events that can lead to death or grievous bodily injury come in two flavors:

  1. Sudden and unexpected. There is little we can do prevent them other than to have a contingency plan in place that contemplates the WHAT IF? What options do I have if X or Y happen?
  2. Unrecognized and slow to develop. Failure to recognize or act on a timely basis can turn an emerging event into a catastrophe. Think of a fire, tsunami, avalanche, or riot.

It is very important to keep in mind that risks, threats, and vulnerabilities are dynamic and can change in a short time, depending on location and immediate environment. This highlights the critical importance of staying alert and ensuring that the safety and security measures you adapt are appropriate to evolving circumstances.

When it comes to personal safety, a good memory hack is to keep the Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) in mind. This is sometimes known as the Rule of Parsimony. In essence, the rule notes that for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

PREVENTION = 80%

DETECTION = 10%

CORRECTION = 10%

As applied to personal security practices, 80% of your efforts should focused on anticipating or preventing an event, 10% on detection and observation, and 10% in changing your behavior to adjust to evolving conditions.

Obstacles to Prosecution

Although petty street crime is common, there are three major obstacles to detection and prosecution.

  1. Even though we all know someone who has been the victim of petty crime, public attitudes (other than the victim) are very ambivalent. Many tourists don’t report the crime, thinking it is not worth the time and aggravation.
  2. In some areas of the world, victims rightfully fear corrupt law enforcement as much as the thief.
  3. Even in locales with ethical and reliable law enforcement, all forms of street-level crimes are viewed as a nuisance. These petty crimes detract police resources, time, and effort from handling serious crimes such as assaults, rapes, homicides, and terrorism.

In this post, we’ve focused our attention on common street crime, the most pervasive crime around the world. In future posts we’ll address more serious forms of crime, such as homicides, rapes, abductions, hostage incidents, and life-threatening assaults. These are complex issues and we’ll be focusing on each one independently.


Spanish Version

Prevención de microdelinquencia/delitos menores contra turistas

Precauciones durante un viaje turístico

La microdelinquencia contra turistas son las formas más generalizadas de delitos menores y callejeros en el mundo. Ninguna ciudad en el mundo está libre de los mismos. Aunque son comunes, las pérdidas son cuantiosas superando millones de dólares y euros anualmente. También causan daño, merman el encanto, atracción, y reputación de un destino turístico. Esto también resultan en pérdidas económicas incalculables para personas que cuyo empleo depende del turismo.  Aunque la microdelinquencia y delitos callejeros constituyen más de la mitad de todos los delitos cometidos, su investigación, solución y consignación raramente ocurre, incluso donde el responsable es capturado en flagrante delito.

Como evitar ser una víctima

A pesar de estas tendencias, uno puede evitar convertirse en una víctima y sortear daño a la familia o acompañantes. Esto requiere con uno mismo se haga responsable por su propia seguridad. Puede tener control sobre su propia seguridad. Como los hemos enfatizado en previas ediciones de WTT, esto requiere estar bien informado, alerta al entorno donde uno se encuentra y constantemente ser prudente y ejercer sentido común.

Todos los casos es los cuales turistas son lastimados o dañados tienen solamente tres causas:

  1. Catástrofes naturales (Actos de Dios)
  2. Imprudencia
  3. Falta de atención

Prácticas de seguridad personal incluyen:

  • Constantemente tener conciencia de que un crimen puede ocurrir en cualquier momento, en áreas públicas o privadas, durante el día o la noche
  • Mantenerse constantemente alerta, perspicaz, observando analizando el medio ambiente por condiciones fuera de lo que sería común es ese tiempo y lugar. Reconocer condiciones anormales es un paso crítico para evitar ser víctima de un delito.

Atracos contra turistas toman varias formas y actividades que en gran parte dependen en el entorno donde uno se encuentra, por ejemplo, en la calle, transporte público, restaurante, teatro, hotel, cinema, taxi, etc.) Otro factor muy importante en el proceso de victimización es la percepción pública de la persona. Los criminales siempre hacen un análisis de riesgo versus beneficio. Este es un comportamiento que todos los seres humanos hacen cotidianamente. Si percibimos que el riesgo es mayor que un beneficio posible, evitamos el contacto o intercambio.  Por eso es importante cultivar una imagen de estar alerta, consciente de uno mismo, prudente, y defensivo. Entre más riesgo percibe el o los delincuentes menos probables es un acto criminal.

Como el delincuente y la vulnerabilidad percibida de la víctima. Los autores probablemente serán evaluar la vulnerabilidad del objetivo y hacer un análisis de costo beneficio de su esfuerzo. Mayor es el riesgo versus el beneficio que percibe el autor, llega a ser menos probable delito.  Es imposible anticipar y prepararse para cualquier contingencia posible, pero si es posible proyectar una imagen que transmite en mensaje: “Ni se te ocurra meterte conmigo, porque vas a salir perdiendo.” Esto no implica un comportamiento confrontacional o agresivo, pero si comunica estar alerta y capaz de reaccionar apropiadamente.

Los microdelincuentes/ladrones/pillos — normalmente consideran las siguientes personas como una objetivo o blanco vulnerable:

  • Niños/creaturas pequeñas no acompañadas; entre menor la edad, mas es la vulnerabilidad
    • Mujeres/jovencitas no acompañadas
    • Una persona que parece estar intoxicada o con discapacidad física o mental
  • Alguien que no presta atención a su ambiente, aparece estar perdido, confundido o no consciente de su entorno.
    • Muestras ostentosas de riqueza o poder económico constituyen una invitación al robo. Particularmente cundo no es apropiada para el ambiente. Usar joyas de alto valor son adecuadas para una recepción oficial que incluye seguridad, evento de galas (opera, obras teatrales, etc.) Lo mismo no es cierto en lugares públicos, mercados populares, plazas, museos, iglesias, centros turísticos, sitios donde hay muchedumbres o gran número de personas.

Cómo funcionan los criminales

Históricamente, delincuentes dependen de dos técnicas fundamentales para lograr sus objetivos: la distracción o la fuerza. Los ladrones normalmente prefieren distracción en vez de la fuerza. La distracción:

  • Minimiza la probabilidad de una confrontación física
  • Disminuye la posibilidad de amigos, colegas o acompañantes defiendan  a la víctima
  • La víctima no está reconoce — en el momento — que ha sufrido un robo y descubre el mismo – muy a su pesar – después de que la pérdida ha ocurrido. La captura del pillo o recuperación del artículo es improbable y frecuentemente imposible.

Desde que el riesgo para los microdelincuentes de captura o intercepciones son relativamente menores, es el mismo caso con los beneficios/botín. Bajo riesgo/bajo beneficio. El botín normalmente consiste de carteras, bolsos, cámaras, billeteras, teléfonos celulares, relojes, y joyería de fantasía.

Para lograr la cuota o ganancia deseada el criminal depende en cantidad en vez de calidad. El individuo o grupo microdelinquencial por lo general se centrarán en varias decenas las víctimas en un solo día. En estos casos, hay poco que la policía puede hacer, aparte de escribir reportes del incidente para analizar tendencias y patrones y desplegar agentes en consecuencia pera prevenir incidentes futuros.

La distracción es una práctica tan común que muchos artistas la utilizan para realizar trucos de magia distrayendo al público los cuales son divertidos y admiran la habilidad del mago o prestidigitador.

Así como la distracción es más común, la utilización de la fuerza es manos comunes por varias razones. Más a menudo se usa la fuerza cuando el agresor está desesperado debido a problemas psicológicos o fisiológicos.

Problemas psicológicos pueden incluir condiciones patológicas que a menudo son visibles, tales como comportamientos extraños o anormales. Condiciones fisiológicas podrían involucrar la ingestión o dependencia crónica de sustancias intoxicantés/enervantes. En ambos casos, generalmente hay un grado de comportamiento inusual o anormal. Es prudente y recomendado separarse del comportamiento raro e inusual. Mantener atención continua al medio ambiente y confiar en la intuición.

Viajes seguros e inteligentes

Mientras que el micro delito y crímenes callejeros ocurren en todas las ciudades del mundo, hay algunas regiones en las que este tipo de actividad es más probable. La enumeración o Identificación de estas ciudades de ninguna manera implica que deben evitarse. Al contrario, los beneficios turísticos que ofrecen superan su riesgo siempre que los visitantes sigan precauciones de seguridad discretas y prudentes.

Estos sitos son:

  • Principales ciudades de España, centrándose en Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla, Granada, y zonas costeras
  • Principales ciudades en Italia con un enfoque en Roma, Nápoles, Florencia
  • Praga, República Checa
  • Destinos turísticos de Colombia, México y Centro América Latina, incluyendo Guatemala, El Salvador y Honduras
  • Principales ciudades en América del sur, con un enfoque en Montevideo, Uruguay y los Casinos de Punta del Este; Buenos Aires y Río de la Plata en Argentina.
  • Otros centros urbanos en Asia, Medio Oriente, y ciudades principales alrededor del mundo.
Un crimen que es común en América del sur, particularmente Argentina son los llamados motochorros. Estos son grupos de delincuentes en motocicletas que se especializan en ataques de “arrebato” especialmente, de mochilas, y paquetes, a la salida de bancos, hoteles, centros comerciales, donde las víctimas son propensas a cargar dinero u objetos valiosos. La motocicleta permite a los delincuentes arrebatar el botín y escapar a gran velocidad.

La mayoría de estos centros urbanos tienen niveles altos desigualdad económica, desempleo, corrupción oficial, impunidad generalizada y aceptación popular del micro-delito. Esto deja a jóvenes desempleados, emigrantes, los recién llegados y personas en situación de desamparo con pocas opciones para asegurar su supervivencia, a las cuales no les queda otra opción de aceptar trabajo de explotación, el mendigase q que no sea de pequeña delincuencia.

Seguridad absoluta es imposible, pero metas razonables incluyen:

  • Atención y Observación
  • Conocimiento
  • Reconocer y darse cuenta de un problema emergente o una situación anormal
  • Prudencia
  • Información sobre antecedentes en la zona de fuentes fehacientes

Conceptos clave de autoprotección

Riesgo:  El riesgo es una vulnerabilidad de daño ante el peligro de que ocurra. Si bien no siempre se hace, debe distinguirse adecuadamente entre peligrosidad (probabilidad de ocurrencia de un peligro), vulnerabilidad (probabilidad de ocurrencia de daños dado que se ha presentado un peligro) y riesgo (propiamente dicho). La probabilidad de un evento dañoso que ocurren como resultado de un comportamiento que se puede controlar.

Amenazas:  Situaciones o daños causados deliberadamente por otras personas (terceros)

Vulnerabilidades:  las características de una persona o grupo que se basa en su capacidad para anticipar, sobrevivir, resistir y recuperarse del impacto de una amenaza natural, social o criminal.

Seguridad y autoprotección:  Una combinación de comportamientos, actitudes, presencia que una persona puede exhibir para protegerse ellos mismos, sus familias y sus pertenencias personales.

El no poder identificar, reconocer, o subestimar o prevenir un peligro aumenta la probabilidad de que ocurra.

Acontecimientos catastróficos que pueden conducir a lesiones graves o la muerte vienen en dos sabores:

  1. Repentinos e inesperados. ¿Estos casos hay poco de lo que se puede hacer para evitar los; aparte de pensar en posibles contingencias? Importante también es mantener conciencia a medida que el incidente se desarrolla. ¿Qué opciones tengo si pasa X o Y? (Si el avión se estrella y sobrevivo el impacto, o el barco de hunde y sobrevivo el accidente, un incendio estalla en el hotel, teatro, restaurante, etc.)
  2. De dimensión no reconocida e lentitud para captar su capacidad. La incapacidad de reconocer la dimensión real de un hecho lo puede convertir en una catástrofe mortal, por ejemplo, un incendio, una avalancha, maremoto acompañado por una marejada gigantesca, una muchedumbre.

Es muy importante reconocer que los riesgos, amenazas y vulnerabilidades son dinámicas y pueden cambiar en poco tiempo, dependiendo de la ubicación y entorno inmediato. Esto pone de relieve la importancia de mantenerse alerta y garantizar que las medidas de seguridad que se adapta son adecuadas a la evolución de circunstancias.

En cuanto a la seguridad personal, un buen hack es recordar el principio de Pareto (también conocido como la regla 80/20). A veces esto se conoce como la regla de la parsimonia. Esencialmente el principio reconoce que normalmente; aproximadamente 80% de los efectos vienen del 20% de las causas.

En términos de nuestra seguridad personal utilizamos

  • 80 por ciento de nuestro tiempo y esfuerzo en PREVENCION
  • 10 por ciento de nuestro tiempo y esfuerzo en la DETECCIÓN
  • 10 por ciento de nuestro tiempo y esfuerzo en la CORRECCIÓN Y MODIFICACIÓN DE NUESTRAS ACCIONES. Cambios de nuestra conducta para ajustarnos a la evolución de las condiciones.

 Obstáculos a la consignación y castigo de la microdelinquencia

Aunque delincuencia callejera es común, hay tres obstáculos principales para su detección y enjuiciamiento.

  1. A pesar de que todos sabemos alguien qué ha sido víctima de atracos, las actitudes del público (que no sea de la víctima) son muy ambivalentes. Muchos turistas no reportan el delito, pensando que no merece la pena el tiempo y la agravación.
  2. En algunas zonas del mundo, las víctimas tienen un miedo legítimo y bien justificado que las autoridades pueden ser tan corruptos como el ladrón.
  3. Incluso en lugares donde la policía es ética y confiable, la microdelinquencia es una distracción irritante, delitos mezquinos que le restan importancia a los recursos limitados de policiales el tiempo, equipo, y esfuerzos necesarios para esgrimir crímenes graves como agresiones armadas, secuestros, violaciones, homicidios y terrorismo.

En este post, hemos centrado nuestra atención en crímenes callejeros comunes, que son el delito más generalizado del mundo. En el futuro los reportajes serán enfocados en crímenes graves, teles como homicidios, violaciones, secuestros, incidentes de rehenes y ataques mortales. Estos son temas complejos y los analizamos en detalle e independientemente.

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Five Emerging Trends In Travel Security

Thinking about the intersection between travel and security is nothing new. A 2011 column (http://www.tourismandmore.com/tidbits/tourism-in-a-world-of-technology/ ) on the topic asked:

“How does it draw the line between technology and personal service? There is no doubt that technology plays an important role in tourism and travel. Most of us are now used to booking our airline reservations on line, dealing with telephone trees and other cost saving devices. These technological advances have allowed corporations to save on manpower while at the same time empowering customers to make their own decisions.”

Since those comments, where are we now and what can we anticipate for the foreseeable future? Five technological trends are already evident:

1.Volume

As enterprises become more data-driven, it’s not the hardware or the infrastructure that’s at issue. Instead, technology professionals with the skills to organize, analyze, and secure data are increasingly hard to find. Furthermore, the volume of data is growing significantly.

The Cisco® Visual Networking Index (VNI) predicts that the annual global IP traffic will reach 2.3 ZB per year by 2020. For travelers, this means potential data saturation and the inability to process all that information. Most of the connectivity will be carried by smartphones and other portable devices.

2. Velocity

The traffic from wireless and mobile devices will account for two thirds of total IP traffic by 2020. Likewise, global fixed broadband speeds are anticipated to increase. Travelers and other users can find out about violent incidents within minutes of their occurrence, nearly anywhere in the world. This trend can only accelerate in the future, unless there is some sort of global technological catastrophe that degrades the system worldwide.

3. Veracity

Coupled with the preceding trends, the issue of veracity and reliance on electronic media for reliable information becomes increasingly tenuous. The recent furor over false news reveals immediate and future challenges that face cybersecurity and digital governance. Damaging attacks are simpler to imagine and execute, using commonplace tweets, emails, and domains. Stolen identities and socially engineered data can also pose risks. Trustworthiness of information remains paramount, and travelers must remain vigilant about fake news and the potential for criminal imposters.

The Canadian firm Brand Protect provides clients with relevant, actionable information about cyber threats that can affect an enterprise’s customers, business, and reputation. Their weekly publication, Cyber Threat News Digest, keeps clients informed about macro-level cyber threats and related issues.

4. Validation

Individuals, whether traveler, government officials, or corporate executives, are responsible for validating the information they encounter. Remember to carefully consider the potential results of any decision or action that you take based on the information you’re given.

5. Internal Threats and Sabotage

No one knows our weaknesses and vulnerabilities better than our intimate companions, including family, friends, and close colleagues.

Complex systems such as social media are vulnerable to sabotage and may be used by individuals to cause harm to others, be it their families, colleagues, innocent people, or even the organizations they are working for. While social media has great utility as the source of useful information, recent events highlight the importance of trusting curated content over unproven or unverified data. Ill-intentioned individuals increasingly use social media to create, distribute, or perpetuate false information, exaggerating or distorting actual events.

Intel Security’s Eric Peterson cites CEO fraud (the FBI calls it business email compromise) – where individuals in companies are targeted through social engineering, and manipulated to fraudulently transfer money to criminal-controlled bank accounts. There have been instances where the attacks have coincided with business travel dates for executives, since this increases the chances of the attack’s success.

“Looking to 2017 and beyond, we might even see purveyors of data theft offering ‘target acquisition as a service,’ built on machine learning algorithms,” Peterson says. “We expect that the accessibility of machine learning will accelerate and sharpen social engineering attacks in 2017.” 

Social media platforms enable two-way interaction between all sorts of people and have become a game changer in personal, social, and political communication. Conventional media has arguably become less influential.

Don Peppers observation that most people don’t fully realize how social networks actually operate, and the important implications this has for how we use (or abuse), noted in a 2012 article on LinkedIn, remains true today. We are often surprised by social media functionalities and vulnerabilities that few outside industrial, technical, or academic environments fully anticipated. For example, one of the most influential members of Reddit in its early days was a man named Adam Fuhrer – who turned out to be a 12- year-old-boy living with his parents in Toronto.

“Multiply this by the hundreds of millions of social media participants’ around the world and we get an idea of the challenge faced by travelers relying on non-curated sources of travel security information.”

Staying Safer While Traveling

As the number of airport-related criminal and terrorist events proliferate, security precautions at airports are likely to undergo substantial changes in terms of configurations, operations, and procedures. Staying current on these changes wherever you travel and planning ahead to meet these changes is highly recommended.

Make back-up plans in case your mobile devices are lost or stolen. Many of us rely on smartphones for managing air travel, car rental, and even checking into and out of hotels. This increases our level of exposure and leaves us open to having emerging vulnerabilities exploited. Manual approaches might be less convenient, but they are also safer and more reliable.

Developing a degree of redundancy – a back-up plan – in the event portable devices are lost, stolen or quit working, is prudent practice and common sense. On a recent visit to the traffic-jammed metropolis of Mexico City, my host proudly mentioned he had a GPS device in his car. Everything went according to plan until the GPS device failed! The map function on my smart phone proved to be of little value as I had failed to buy the Mexico travel package. After visiting multiple gas stations in search of a map, I ended up purchasing the rather costly “Mexico City Travel Guide” (Guia Roji, Spanish Edition) which included far more information needed for our immediate needs, but proved to be invaluable for subsequent local travel.

Whether making trips for personal or business travel, or a blend of the two, we need to plan ahead to ensure our personal safety. Contingency plans should include how to safeguard information and maintaining reliable access to our portable devices.

The future has arrived. Smart travelers need to not only watch out for current threats, but anticipate a future where pressures will evolve faster than we are capable of adjusting to them. Situational awareness, technological flexibility, and personal adaptability will be key for security.