Monday, February 18, 2013

Protection Starts With Good Advance Work

Protection Starts With Good Advance Work
This is true for your own protection, protection of your family, or if you are in the business protection of your client.  In the US Secret Service Advance work was the foundation of keeping protectee's safe.  If the President was going to a location for an hour, there would be days of advance work, sometimes weeks.  Even with all this time, we had a lot of base data we worked on compiling, that was integral to the success of our jobs.  Some of these where checklists, templates, and a lot of supporting documents.  Part of this book is what you where given during your training, the vast majority of this book is what you learned out doing the work.

I teach a lot of bodyguard and Corporate Security types all around the world, as well as do protective surveys, and security assessments all around the world.  I still use and refer to this book in my work.  You can do the same, it does not have to be some official book but it helps.

Start by doing a security survey of your home, understand the good and the bad, when you can fix the bad, great when you can not at least you know what vulnerabilities exist, and plan on how to mitigate them in the future.

Just a few notes: Locks, Many people concentrate on expensive locks, yet put them on weak doors, or doors, with weak door frames.   In most cases a decent 5 or 6 tumbler lock will be just what you need, with a good dead bolt to support it.  Spending a lot of money on a lock that can be bypassed by one good kick to the door, it not a good financial move.

                           Alarms, I have a good solid blog piece on alarms, but let me say, I would get one, it does not have to be expensive, but they are a great security value.  If you get one of the ones from a major alarm company often they will provide a decent system at a very low cost if you use their monthly service.  Do not let them talk you into anything expensive, stay with a basic system easy to use, and then you will use it. Make it complicated and it will rarely get used.  Like locks, there is not an alarm system that I can not beat, but it is almost as hard to beat the simple system as the complicated one.  Remember most burglars are not that good anyhow.

                        Safe Rooms, even if it is nothing more than your bathroom, have a place you can retreat to and call for help.  If the alarm is going off, the bad guy has to figure that some type of response is on the way, and can not afford to spend a lot of time looking for your or your valuables.

Next do a quick security survey of your office, if you are a corporate security type this can take weeks to get it done correctly, remember fix what you can, and plan to mitigate what you can not fix.  There is a blog piece here on boxes, in the US Secret Service one of the ways to look at things is boxes.  Basically you secure your boxes, like the home and office, and then work on the movement between them.  Many times we consider our vehicles as another secure box.

Vehicle security comes in two ways, one locking systems that work, and that you know how they work, and also a vehicle security alarm system that works, and you know how to best use.  There is a blog piece here on tips on driving to mitigate the car jacking and kidnapping issues.

A big part of advance work in knowing the routes available to you from your home to office and back.  Even now I get hired to do nothing but look at the routes executives and their families have to use.  Over many years of studying Terrorists, Kidnappers, and other bad guys, you learn how they think, and what they are looking for.  Remember the key is they want to control the situation, so they look for choke points, and or points you use everyday.

To do that they all to one level or another do surveillance of you and your habits.  Even purse snatchers do basic surveillance, the key is to be able to notice it.  If you know the choke points and are used to what is going on with the people around your home and office, then picking up surveillance teams is a lot easier.  Start today, take a quick google earth look at your home and of your office.  Now use the google map feature to look at the route.  Let google pick the best route, and then look at its options usually it provides two or three.  See if any fit how you actually drive the route, most of the time it will.  Now look for points that all the routes use, these often turn out to be the basic surveillance points for the bad guys, and usually will be near the end and start our your route.

Now here is a good page for your advance book, look for places you would divert to, if you picked up surveillance or a team moving in on you.  Find places where police are, like police stations, fire stations, hospitals, airports all have basic areas you can go to and get help quickly.

I hope your advance book is filling out, you have the survey of the home, the office, perhaps your church, or the kid's school, even your gym.  You have the page or pages of your routes with safe areas to divert too.  Look through this blog and you will find other tid bits to help your provide you and yours a safer environment to live and work in.

I will continue to keep adding to this blog, I hope you come back and visit often.  If you are in one of my classes you should come away with more than enough to build a substantial advance book of your own.  There is no secret to great security it just takes a little work and an awareness of what is going on around you.

Monday, February 11, 2013

IS-106.13 - Workplace Violence Awareness Training 2013

IS-106.13 - Workplace Violence Awareness Training 2013  This is another of the FEMA training series that should be taken by every mid level manager and above.  Then start back down the ranks, till everyone has taken it.  The last two courses we talked about dealt with security awareness, and active shooters, this takes us to the start of it. as far as being able to understand aggression and how it really is the motor for the rest.

Aggression is the start of violence and when if we notice it, we can track the record of the person from being just a loud mouth or depressed introvert, to a person that is going to hurt people or themselves.  By understanding the types triggers, and levels of workplace violence,  You will understand and be able to better identify aggression.

Did I mention that this course takes less than an hour and is free.  Most firms can not afford this type of training at any level.  I give courses like this to everything from large private firms to Government Agencies.  This is not only a very good course you take on your own, but hits all the points needed for Workplace Violence Awareness.  This once again helps mitigate liability to your firm, but also has a great chance to save lives.

IS-907 - Active Shooter: What You Can Do

Emergency Management Institute 

IS-907 - Active Shooter:  What You Can Do

This is another free course all in security should take, if you are experienced to get on the same page with everyone else being trained, if you are a beginner it is a great basic course.  All managers Government as well as Private Sector, should take the course and then decide who else should receive the training.

Every security person from guard standing a post to the security directors should also take this course.  If you are writing a guard contract, it should be added to the requirements, for existing contracts, it is tough to make it a requirement, it is possible to add this as one of the criteria looked at for advancement in the guard force.

There is a basic plan outline here, as well as a booklet and poster that can be printed out and made available to all workers.  Every business, every facility could well be the next target of an Active Shooter, this provides them with the basics of how to plan, develop, and train for a coherent response to an incident.

For you owners and managers, if an incident happens, this course would be a great way to mitigate liability.  Just requiring your staff to take the course, means you have addressed the issue.  It is hard to get up in a court raise your right hand and explain to the Jury that you could not afford a free online course that could help protect your clients, staff, and visitors.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Surveillance Awareness: What You Can Do

Surveillance Awareness: What You Can Do 

This is a free online security course that all Americans should take. It will cost you less than an hour of your time, and will provide the Security Expert or the Jr. High School Child a very good foundation to not only counter terrorism, but how to protect yourself from all types of crime or violence  by enhancing your awareness.  I truly like what we at CTI have done and provide via You Tube and our Blogs, but this is really well done, (they may have had access to more funds than we) and provides you with a certificate of completion at the end, after you take a test.

I have written quite a bit lately on Security Guard Training, this is  exactly what I was talking about.  This is free training that every security guard should have.  If I were putting out a guard contract in the near future, this training is one of the courses and certificates I would require all guards to have.

If you are in a terrorist target area, like an airport or large Corporation in NY, LA, DC, Chicago, or any large City, I would require all cleaning staff, security personnel, parking attendants, and as many staff as you can to take this course.  We have a real chance here to put a lot of eyes and ears on the street, and that is our best chance of success .

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Overview of how the different layers of security came together in last week's embassy attack in Ankara, Turkey

There is no single security solution that will stop a determined attacker. The best options are comprised of multiple layers; in this case those layers were adequate physical security design and controls, a properly trained guard force, and procedures designed to address the known threats.

When it works at its best, security will keep the threats at the perimeter and protect those inside. At a minimum, it should delay an attacker long enough to react and try and mitigate the threat, or get out of harm's way.

When Security Measures Work | Stratfor

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Other Simple Espionage Devices Are Found in Hotel Rooms

After my last blog spot on finding a simple RF transmitter (bug) or espionage device in my hotel room last year, I have received a number of other reader’s stories of hotel rooms having what look like bugs being left behind, and either found by accident, physical search, or simple RF detection (as I found my last device). One submission was especially Interesting.

I received a photo of the device, and a frequency that it was working at. Like mine, the device was almost dead, and was barely detectable with an RF detector identical to mine. As batteries get low on many of these cheap devices the frequency also moves, sometimes very slightly, sometimes by a few megahertz. This person obtained the frequency by taking the device to a friend with a wide band spectrum analyzer, like we used in the US Secret Service. (The reader unhooked the battery before taking it with him, since detection by the TSA could conceivably  place you in a small airport lockup for a few hours.)

I started looking at baby monitoring devices immediately based on the size and frequency of the device; 49 megahertz is a frequency used by many low power transmitters, including baby monitors. But the cheap walkie-talkie you got for your kids for Christmas also works in the FCC 15 band, which refers to the FCC regulation covering these low power transmitters.  There are groups that still call themselves 49’ers (not the Football team) and play, which you are allowed to do in this frequency and low power range.  In any case if you do a lot of counter espionage searches, you always want to look at the 49 megahertz range. Most walkie-talkies can pick up baby monitors and cheap cordless phones because they pickup everything in the 49 megahertz band.

Once again like the toy wireless microphone discussed in the last blog, this one was built in China; most inexpensive rf transmitters are.  It is then sold under different names and brands all over the world, but these are mainly sold in the US.

I need to stress that if you find one of these targeting you, it normally means a very low level attack. The chances of a person finding a bug in a hotel (by hooking up their own baby monitor, or a couple of kids using walkie-talkies) are fairly high.  I should mention that another use of the frequency range is inexpensive radio controlled toys like cars or small planes.  Many users carry walkie-talkies with them to check for possible interference with their controls. Which means they may stumble upon a device in the frequency range as well.

On the other hand, your chances of getting caught using one of these devices for espionage is very low, and many baby monitors can be plugged into an AC outlet, and thus will run forever.  So you could rent a hotel room, plug one of these devices into an AC outlet under the bed or behind the TV stand, and just wait for people to use the room.  If your firm books a block of rooms in a hotel two weeks from now, the opposition can have someone rent the room beforehand and install a device. (The nicer the room, the better the likelihood that an executive will sleep there). 

I have actually seen one plugged into the same circuit as the clock radio on the nightstand. The snoop used an extension cord the same color as the AC cord for the clock radio, and then plugged the device and the clock radio into the extension cord. This meant a casual look by a executive or their security staff would reveal one plug being used by the clock radio. In this case I would guess that a spouse or significant other had done this one. 

When you pull the transmitter out of the case and tape it to help hide it, you have lost all chance of claiming it was an error that you left it somewhere.

Here is the bad news: when a transmitter is taken out of its original case, it is possible to quickly take apart a clock radio, TV, or other electronic or electric device in the room, wire the transmitter into that device, and put it back together.  Think of all the large cheap floor and table lamps in a hotel room; simply take the bottom off and inserting the device, wire it to the same AC cord inside the lamp, and put it back together. Now you have a transmitter that is both difficult to find and always powered. 

The US Secret Service and other agencies had a stock of ugly lamps wired up to install in hotel rooms as needed, using different frequencies.  If you look at the old RF device catalogs from Germany and other countries where a lot of transmitters where made, you will see a number of lamps, pre-wired.

In these cases, the simple RF detectors may have the best chance of detecting them.  It does take some time to find some of these.  If they use carrier current devices, they are even harder to find.  But we will discuss carrier current devices another time.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Espionage during travel is still a problem and is growing again

Espionage during travel is still a problem and possibly growing again. Here is one incident and some tips on preventing it from happening to you.

Late in 2012 I checked into a hotel that I had once used in the past. After I had settled in, I used my old RF signal detector to do a quick scan of the room. As usual, it took me a minute to get it calibrated to the area I was in: when I moved around the room I had a few chirps near the tv, which I turned off after checking it closer with the detector. When I continued, it chirped a few more times. Probably a police car or cab using a high powered radio. Once that cleared, I kept going.

When I sat down, I saw a little spike in the LED’s, but no chirps. I bent down near the headboard, and the device chirped once. I got down on my knees and checked the calibration again, making the detector a little more sensitive. I moved back to the headboard and got a fairly constant chirp from the device. I pulled the mattress and springs over to the side, and found a small transmitter taped to the frame of the bed.

After taking some photos I took the device out. It looked pretty simple, so I turned on the clock radio in the room and, holding the device close, I tuned through the FM radio spectrum. I found the device at around 100 M in the FM band. It was a very small signal, which usually meant that the battery was almost dead. I made the decision to not investigate any further, as it was pretty obvious it was not targeted at me, since I had not even made a reservation.

I thought it likely the work of a small time private detective working a domestic dispute. The recording of the device could not be used, but it would allow the detective to know what was going on, and when to have the wife or spouse knock on the door. (They used to play the tapes to the spouse, but too many times the spouse could not resist the chance to tell the other that they heard it all.  Which then allowed the other to move to eliminate any use of the information, and to start an investigation on the spouse on how they illegally obtained the recording.)

The battery was almost dead, and was taped and rubber banded into place, which showed a really unsophisticated device, more like something spouses would build themselves, or used in small time business disputes, although sometimes the big boys like to use these cheap devices since they are close to impossible to track, could be left in place and, if found, no one could glean much from it.

Later I discovered what I believe the device was: a simple toy wireless microphone made in China, sold at Wall-mart store in the toy section under the name Hello Kitty for under $20, sometimes even under $10, powered by two AAA batteries, or 3 volts. These devices can sometimes be boosted by adding more batteries, or, in this case, for longer life by using two D cell batteries instead of the AAA batteries. Not a particularly efficient or effective device, that with out batteries is about 3 inches long, 1 inch wide, and ½ inch thick.  I have seen some less than 1/3 that size and much more effective. Radio Shack sold one for years that was pretty effective and was run by two watch batteries.  People often took these out of their cases and put bigger batteries on them for use.  In my career I have found over twenty of these devices around the world, and perhaps another dozen of these cheap toy devices, of which only two I think where targeted at clients. One book written by a private detective in the Washington DC area claimed that at least one dead device could be found in every hotel room in DC, and often more than one.

Snoops are most often caught when they go to retrieve these devices, so most people just leave them to die. I once asked a hotel manager for a charging cable for my MP3 player.  In the box he provided there were a dozen chargers of all types, a few batter operated tooth brushes, one vibrator, and three rf transmitters, all turned in by the cleaning crews.  I am not sure what the hotel thought the rf transmitters were, but I once found a device used to try and convert pay tv signals to a DVD writer, which looked a lot like the RF transmitters.  As the manager said, they see all type of things and really do not pay attention to them.

I have in a few investigations tried to get local police involved, but most of the time this proved fruitless; most had no idea what charge could be made, and suggested I get an attorney involved. In a case where the police did get involved, they wanted to know what my client could have been talking about that was so valuable. End of that case (see below).

In the government we knew how to handle these devices for both evidential purposes as well as political purposes. The devices were often expensive enough that we had a pretty good idea who made them, and if we waited long enough the snoops would come back and get the device. Most US government devices have serial numbers or a government property tag on them. When you go to court you had to be able to track the devices used, and when an agency is investigated they often have to be able to account for all the devices they have bought.

Finding them is often just a matter of looking for them visually, in fact the US Marines escort cleaning crews at our embassies around the world and find quite a few of them by simply staying alert and making visual assessments. I have taught a number of classes to guards overseeing construction of new embassies, and visually assessing the proceedings is crucial. I believe that if corporate security would provide the most minimal training to their guard forces, they would find more of these devices before they could do a lot of damage. I have taught executives of many of the top Fortune 500 companies on how to use a basic RF signal detector, and how to do a quick visual search of their hotels rooms; in many foreign countries the governments help their corporations by conducting espionage on visiting corporate executives.

A RF signal detector costs like this one cost around $100   , and I tend to carry one with me on all travel.  They are about 70% effective in finding RF Devices, but I have taught Executives for companies all over the world to use them, and how to do quick physical inspections of their hotel or conference rooms.  RF transmitters are only one way to get information from a hotel room.  Often industrial spies use the room next door, and use high efficiency contact microphones with amplifiers, taped to the wall. In some cases a private detective removes a electrical wall outlet or cable TV cover to gain access to the actual wall of the next room, sometimes even using a small tube to push into the other room for clearer audio.

Still, an RF audio device allows the bad guy to be a room or even a floor away, and get clear audio.  Gaining access is never too difficult: a quick story that you left something in a room, or that you want to take a picture and your room does not have the right view are common tricks.  There are too many other ways to gain quick access to cover here.

I have seen baby monitors used, cheap children’s walkie-talkies used as well as sophisticated transmitters.  It used to be that if you had a layover at either of the German Airports, you could go to the airport electronics store and buy some very well built devices, hidden in everything from ash trays to calculators.  They even had a TV remote with a device in it that could be used on most TV’s.  If you were going through Japan, you could always pick up the infamous Tarantula bug, sold at most discount electronics stores.  The nice thing is that the Japanese FM band is slightly larger that the US FM band, so you could buy a cheap Japanese transistor radio, and use the part of the band that the US radios cannot hear, and have a really good listening device. There were so many of these Japanese devices sold, I used to carry a picture of them to help hotel staff and executives keep an eye out for them.

In the US even possessing a device that is classified as a bugging device is illegal, so I would keep a list of the devices I used for training counter espionage agents available for the Federal folks. Usually someone from the government was in my class, or the government was paying me to give classes to foreign counter espionage students.

Most of the time it is such an iffy subject whether a device is used for bugging or another purpose, arrests are difficult and prosecution is near impossible.  I have seen wireless mics used by bands and TV crews being used as bugs more and more.  They are good quality, and if found are usually explained away as a lost or dropped mic.  When I have found them, we find the listening station usually fairly close. We get what finger prints we can off the device, as well as the battery and tape used to hold the device in some way.  I have never seen a prosecution, and seldom had a client ask for a legal investigation. Usually part of the defense is what was the value of information, which means the victim has to divulge the info, not what most clients want.

These devices are out there, and are for some reason on the rise in both domestic and business disputes. Please keep an eye open for them, and if you have a RF detector use it.