You may be subject to intelligence espionage while you travel in foreign countries. There can be a number of reasons whey you can be a target. You can be government officials or may be a business person. If the intelligence agency in the foreign country thinks you possess valuable information, you can be a victim. This post helps you identify the clues that may suggest that someone is trying to gather intelligence from you while you are travelling the host country and helps you to mange your travel risk to a mimimum level.
As a traveller you need to lookout for clues and avoid certain circumstances that may encourage you to share information with unknown contacts in the visited country.
You may a target of foreign intelligence if you are one of the following (but not limited to):
- You are a government administrative official government,
- You are working in utility companies (electricity, gas, telecommunications, software etc.)
- You are a researcher involved in research that is valuable to the foreign government.
- You are a business owner or executive in the industry that is valuable to the local industry.
- You have friends and relatives in the visited country and you speak their local language.
- You were previously involved in criminal activities.
- The local government has information that you are carrying valuable information that may be beneficial to them.
- You are associating with individuals the host government considers as political dissidents.
Methods that foreign intelligence may use to
Here is the list of some methods that might be used to extract secret information from you in an unobtrusive manner.
- A local in the foreign country may start a friendly discussion with you and try to find out if you have any valuable information to share or if there is any type of personality weakness in you that can be exploited to get that information. So, next time you visit any country look out for the people that appear to be friendly and offering you their service for free of cost as a gesture of friendship.
- Someone may try to eavesdrop your conversation. If you are talking on phone in a restaurant or in a public transport make sure you are not sharing any information over the phone that can give clues to the others that you have some valuable information.
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi while you are in a restaurant or in public transport.
- Intelligence agency may conceal audio or video device in your hotel room, bathroom, taxi, restaurants etc. so, you are not safe even if you are using private place.
- Secrete agents or hotel staff may check our personal belongings (laptop, camera, storage device, photos etc.) in your room when you go out to have a look around the city. So, if you have anything important with you carry it with you in a bag, if possible.
- Someone may follow you to determine if you have any local contacts.7
- A secret agent disguised as a thief may steal your bag, laptop or anything that they consider may reveal important information.
- Take special care of your digital devise, especially laptop and mobile phones. If you have anything valuable encrypt it and use laptop tracking software. Remember that theft of laptop from airports and hotel room is very common.
- When making overseas calls or sending email, you need to extra careful because agents may intercept your electronic communication. Remember that most of foreign communication operators cooperate with the security agencies.
Things you can do to protect yourself when travelling foreign countries
By following a few simple instructions, you can protect your secret information from being exposed to the foreign intelligence agency. Have a look at the following tips:
- If possible talk to the homeland security office of your country for pre-travel instructions and also make sure if it is safe to visit that country and if there are any specific location and activities that you need to avoid while you are in that country.
- When you carry any valuable information or data, make sure you keep all those sensitive documents with you all the time. Never leave your valuable belongings to the hotel room or anywhere else.
- Never discussion on any sensitive issue in the public place such as restaurants, tourist places or even hotel rooms.
- Do not use public computer to any other communication device to send messages.
- Never discuss about your secret information in front of the unauthorized person. If you have instruction to communicate specific information to a specific person, do it so only with that person.
- If anybody ask you about your business or want to know your personal details, avoid giving them any details or deflect the conversation to something else that is not important.
- If you have to dispose any documents, dispose it securely so that no one can retrieve any information from it.
- Keep your laptop and other storage media with you in a hand bag. Avoid keeping it in a carry-on baggage while travelling by air.
- If possible use secure communication device to discuss your business matters or any other important conversation that you consider sensitive.
- When you suspect you are under surveillance contact your embassy or consulate office. It is better if you can collect the correct contact address of your embassy or consulate office before travelling to the foreign county.
Finally, if you think that the country you are going to travel is going through political turmoil, violence or have any diplomatic problem with your country, make a plan to the travel to a friendly country where you can have real fun and relax.However, you can signigicantly minimize your next international travel risk by following the risk management tips shared in this post.