Often times organized hostage takers will gather intelligence on possible targets by surveillance for days and even months prior to executing their take-down of the mark. Understanding this simple concept helps the vigilant traveler in mitigating their vulnerability by maintaining situational awareness and preemptively identifying surveillance, followed by counter-measures to avoid the abduction.
In this article we are going to share a simple yet often effective technique for identifying a tail by utilizing your cell phone. It should go without saying that if you recognize an unknown individual at multiple locations throughout your day or week it CAN indicate you are being surveilled, however even a novice surveillance team will take measures to avoid spotting.
One simple measure you can take to still recognize a repeat sightings without actually seeing the individual is by utilizing your cell phone blue tooth search function.
Before we dive into Bluetooth counter-surveillance, we’ll want to take a look at how Bluetooth itself works and understand what makes the technology traceable. Bluetooth devices use the free, 2.4-gigahertz radio band known as ISM, which is an acronym for industrial, scientific and medical devices. The band is unlicensed for low-power consumption use, so headsets and other Bluetooth devices utilize very little by way of batteries. While any two Bluetooth devices can share data at a range between 10 and 100 meters (33 and 328 feet), phones usually operate at the former, while laptops tend to fall in the latter. Most Bluetooth devices can communicate with up to seven other devices at a time.
After you turn any Bluetooth-capable device on, the most basic security feature on it is the ability to go into one of two modes: “discoverable” or “non-discoverable.” This information is typically found in the “settings” option of a device’s control panel, where you can select whether or not your phone or laptop is visible to others within the area. It’s exploiting this simple feature that allows you to expose a surveillance effort.
Simply utilize your blue tooth in discovery mode and make a mental note of the devices your phone picks up. If you notice the same device in multiple unrelated locations this could indicate a sign you are under surveillance and should raise your alert level. This technique like many used to expose a surveillance team relies on the criminals error, but with a little luck and a combination of multiple measures you can shift the odds to your favor and avoid becoming a hostage.
- Of note: It is not recommended that you continually leave your phone in discovery mode as this exposes you to other vulnerabilities. One of which is Bluetooth tracking a method of utilizing multiple Bluetooth devices to track a moving target. While not feasible for large areas it could be used in smaller enclosed areas like a hotel.
-Note: If you are high risk traveler you may want to consider our AT RISK TRAVELER PROGRAM.