how to tell if you are under surveilance

How to know if you are under surveillance?

How to know if you are under surveillance? We are all under some degree of surveillance every day. Whether you are being tracked by cameras on public roads or monitored by sensors in shops, the reality is that the modern world is a surveillance state.

  • But, what happens when everyday surveillance by cameras and sensors becomes hostile?
  • How do you protect yourself and your loved ones from being watched by those who want to harm you?

The answer lies in knowledge and tactics. Understand what surveillance is, recognise such activity and anticipate the threat. Knowledge dispels fear.

Surveillance of persons, places or objects involves watching and observing. Sometimes this surveillance is conducted openly but more often it is covert.

As a technique for gathering information, surveillance is a powerful tool. Surveillance can help the observer make connections, identify relationships, produce new leads to collate evidence or simply monitor types of behavior.

There are three common surveillance methods:
  1. Human,
  2. Electronic
  3. Aerial.

These methods can involve either audio or visual. Aerial ( eg: drone) and satellite surveillance involves more complex methods.

Whatever methods are used, learn how to protect yourself from hostile surveillance.

  • Are you a target of surveillance and, if so, by whom?
  • Do you have a jilted lover or aggrieved work colleague?
  • Do you have a special skillset?

Sometimes, you might simply be perceived to be a kidnap target and attract unwanted attention.

Every surveillance operation begins with target identification. The hostile surveillance team needs to know who you are and where you live. Can you identify suitable ” perches” that could be used to view activities in your home? If you park in the street, can someone attach a GPS device for tracking or monitoring purposes? When walking or driving alone , do you feel confident or scared?
Such feelings might help save your life.

What can you do?
  1. If you suspect electronic surveillance using video and audio, consider where such covert device could be physically placed. Good equipment is difficult to find, so it is recommended to use a TSCM debugging service.
  2. When driving, always maintain situational awareness. Observe vehicles up to 3 hours behind and keep turning left in a square toidentify who is following you. You could consider driving into a cul-de-sac and, with another friend, block the tailing vehicle. This will give you an opportunity to learn about the surveillance team.
  3. When walking, casually bend down to pick up some litter. From this position look around you to identify a ” pavement artist”. Go into a shop and travel the escalators to a higher floor. Activate your Bluetooth app to check for repeat connections and move in a way that comprises areas of cover.

Much counter and anti surveillance techniques are used to ensure that you are not under surveillance. You then need to develop best practices by hiring a professional TSCM sweep team.

To learn more on how to know if you are under surveillance; visit this website.

To learn more on hiring professional TSCM sweep teams throughout Africa, visit our website.

grab bag

Which bag to choose in an emergency?

Which bag to choose in an emergency? There are many descriptions of the type of bag to take with you in an emergency. However, whatever the bag is called, the contents need to be lightweight, functional and applicable to your surroundings. To help you choose those contents, consider these two types of bags: a ” grab bag” and a ” bug out bag”. The former supplements the latter rather than being exclusive use.

So, what is a “grab bag?”.

The bag is small, lightweight and should hang behind the bathroom door in your hotel room. At home, it could be near the door you most commonly use to exit the house.

The grab bag needs to sustain you for the first 24 hours during an emergency. Looking at the contents of the bag, could you survive for a day or longer? If not, review the contents and adapt them to your environment and anticipated disaster eg: emergency evacuation, forced relocation, natural or man-made disaster.

The contents should include: 2x bottles of water and some snacks. Pack a warm and waterproof jacket and a pair of clean socks. Have a knife, fire kit, torch and small medical kit. Ensure you have a fully charged phone with a local sim card, pre-programmed emergency numbers and a solar powered power bank.

Surprisingly, given the light weight and size of these items, you will be able to survive the aftermath of any disaster for at least a day, often two.

A “bug out bag” has a different purpose.

The bag should also be light but this is because you might have to walk long distances or over obstacles. Combining the contents of both bags will help you survive for a week or more after a disaster.

You can choose a more comprehensive range of gear because you might need to survive for 3 days or more following a disaster. Rarely do emergency services respond quicker than that timeline In African countries, so you have to be self-reliant. But, realize that you can survive any disaster if you remain dry, warm, rested and hydrated. The following kit list will help.

1. A fire kit:

Containing a full lighter, ferro rod with striker, tinder and matches. Fire has many uses, not least being a morale booster.

2. A bottle of water:

Locally purchased. No need to sterilize bought water.

3. A survival filter:

Plastic bag and water sterilization tablets. Use the plastic bag as a spare water container.

4. A small stove:

Consider carrying 4x wall nails, a small pot or enamel cup and a spoon. Fuel can be natural or manufactured. Start a small fire with a tampon or cotton wool balls smeared with Vaseline

5. Pack a shemagh and a pair of gloves:

To supplement the spare clothing in your grab bag . For extra warmth, include a set of women’s tights. They are also an effective barrier against mosquito bites.

6. Additional food can be carried, especially if you anticipate bugging out for a few days:

Carry a brew kit, which should include the means of making several hot sweet drinks or cups of bouillon. Apart from nuts, dried meat, packed tuna and dried fruit, carry rations consisting of oatmeal, rice, noodles and boil-in-the-bag or freeze-dried meals. Include some salt and spices to provide at least one palatable meal a day. A small tin opener will prove useful.

7. The torch in your grab bag can be supplemented with a head torch and spare batteries:

Extend your peripheral vision by strapping the head torch around your waist rather than on your head. You will illuminate a greater area of the ground in front and around you.

8. A medical kit:

Contained in a small and sealable plastic bag, should include tablets for various ailments such as pain, nausea and diarrhea.

9. An encrypted flash drive (digital copy)of your vital documents.

The original documents (eg: passport, driver’s license and credit cards) should always be concealed on your person.

10. Pack a multi tool or folding knife

7 meters of paracord for cordage and a compass for navigation.

11. Carry cash to the value of $ 500.00 in both local and foreign currency.

This money can be used to bribe others or buy supplies.

To learn about what kit to carry and how to use it effectively, attend one of our courses.

To learn more about corporate security throughout Africa, visit our website.

How to save a life when travelling

How to save a life when travelling

How to save a life when travelling. Travel can be dangerous, especially if an emergency occurs and there is no suitable medical infrastructure or resources available. If this happens, you need to be prepared and use your individual first aid kit ( IFAK). Your IFAK can be small and compact but needs to be more comprehensive than a few basic first aid items often carried by travellers.

What should you pack? The contents of your IFAK should reflect the nature of the environment you are travelling to and your anticipated medical risks. To help you prioritize, use this acronym: MARCH.

M= multiple hemorrhaging.
  • Bleeding to death can occur in seconds unless treated promptly. Carry two CAT tourniquets, an Israeli bandage (T3) and Quikclot.
A= airway.
  • Always ensure that the patient’s airway is clear and they can breathe. Carry two pairs of nitrile gloves and trauma scissors to remove restrictive clothing. Use Artificial Respiration (AR) by lying the patient on their back. Tilt their head back, raise the chin, pinch the nostrils and breath into their mouth. Carry a nasopharyngeal airway device (NPA) to protect yourself when performing AR.
R= respiratory.
  • Make sure that the patient’s heart is beating. This ensures that oxygenated blood is reaching the brain and other organs.
C= circulation.
  • Ensure that the patient’s heart is beating and oxygen is being delivered throughout the body. If the patient is not breathing, start chest compressions. Perform this CPR until the patient can start breathing naturally. Carry two chest seals and some duct tape.
H= hypothermia.
  • Wind, cold, wetness and tiredness cause hypothermia. Move the patient into shelter, remove wet clothing and wrap them in an emergency blanket.

You can supplement the above emergency first aid items with medication to counter pain, diarrhea and nausea. Also, carry some rehydrate to replace electrolytes and bandages with an antiseptic for dressing minor cuts.

Learn how to save a life when travelling. Get the medical knowledge and practice you need by joining one of our H.E.F.A T. courses. Click here now.

For more information on corporate security throughout Africa. Click here now.

travel risk assessment

Never travel without this risk assessment

You should never travel without this risk assessment. The security professional is responsible for protecting these 4 key assets of an organisation: Property, People, Information and Reputation.

Yet, each industry has its own focus on risk whether it be financial, operational or digital. However, only one risk has the potential to create a perfect storm and adversely affect all those 4 key assets contemporaneously: Travel. Read more

How to tell if someone is lying

How to tell if someone is lying

Despite the prevailing use of polygraph testing in some national intelligence agencies, law enforcement departments and businesses, there is no evidence that the tests work.

A lie is a verbal statement that is supposed to be false. Whilst there are many reasons as to why people lie, all lying has the intention to mislead. As such, it is generally viewed as wrong. But, the theory behind polygraph testing is incorrect as there is no evidence to support the theory that there is a pattern of observable responses which are unique to deception.

You might scratch your nose when asked a question because you have hay fever. You might avoid your interrogator’s gaze because you lack social skills. However, many polygraphers do secure admissions because they ask good questions in the proper sequence. Or, the subject is convinced that the polygraph machine does work.

6 ways to identify a liar

  1. Research the subject and their employer to gather some background intelligence.
  2. When meeting the subject, put them at ease. Observe how they behave in a relaxed environment. 
  3. Ask some personal and non-commercial intrusive questions about themselves that they have no reason to lie about.
  4. Ask some questions about which you know the answers but the information is negative. See how they answer the questions and whether they are lying or being untruthful. You want to create a comparison between their answers when they are truthful and when they are not.
  5. During your questioning, look for clusters of possible indicators such as- avoiding the answer, head shaking, legs pointed away from the body or overreacting.
  6. An effective technique used by successful interrogators is to ask a sequence of SKY questions. This refers to: S (whom do you suspect?); K (whom do you know did it?) and Y (did you do it?). Give the subject an opportunity to elaborate about their answers.

To become a human lie detector and prevent being ripped off, attend one of our courses and know how to detect deception.

H.E.A.T. tip: As a professional interrogator, confirm with the subject that their version of events is totally accurate. Then, ask them to tell you the same story but backwards. If the subject is lying, you will notice inconsistencies and indicators of deception.


6 Step Workout for Optimal Fitness

Most people cannot run a mile ( 1600 metres) or do 10 push ups. Are you fit enough to survive in a hostile environment?

A hostile environment is characterised by a natural or man-made made disaster; no rule of law; collapsed infrastructure; unexploded landmines; sectarian violence and armed militias. Generally, you face two choices in such environments: evacuate to a safer location; or stay behind. Either way, you need to be fit enough to run away from danger, dig through rubble, carry water and climb obstacles. 

The benefits of being fit in such environments go beyond your ability to carry heavy loads. If you are unhealthy and have to rely on medications, realise that pharmacies will not be operating and there will be a ruthless black market for critical drugs. So, you should start conditioning yourself before you find yourself in an environment where you cannot drive, the shops are closed and the grid is down.

After a 5 minute warm up of skipping or a cycle of arm circles, jumping jacks, squats, press ups, burpees and leg scissors, start your workout. 

6 step workout for optimal fitness

  1. Pull

Complete a set of reps that includes pull ups, inverted rows and chin ups

  1. Lift

Complete a set of reps that includes handstand negatives, 

  1. Push

Complete a set of reps that includes push ups, tricep dips and one- arm outrigger push ups 

  1. Squat

Complete a set of reps that includes goblet squats, lunges and burpees

  1. Explosive

Complete a set of reps that includes floor heaves, squat to push opress

  1. Core

Complete a set of reps that includes sit ups, leg raises and crunches

Each set should include 15 to 25 reps with a 30-second rest after each set. Build up to 6 sets.

Combine the above workout with 400 metre repeats and 100 metre shuttle runs.

Attend our Travel Preparedness courses and learn how to develop functional fitness, increase mental toughness, train without a gym and eat well when travelling.

H.E.A.T. tip: Develop a tolerance to pain with the Corsican Twins technique. Imagine that your pain is being felt by someone you do not like and work harder to punish them.


How to Blend in When Panic Reigns.

Hiding in plain sight is a useful defence strategy. Common in the natural world where chameleons look like twigs and fish lie on the sea bed, it is also useful when you find yourself in societal collapse.

Experience of various hostile environments in Africa has shown that mobs sometimes target specific ethnic groups. Government troops have been known to intern foreign nationals at will; and expats have become victims of home invasions, abductions and assaults.

Given such situations, you need to consider what to wear and what to carry with you.

Observe the local street scenes and determine a baseline of activities at a certain time of day. Dress as a local but favour neutral or dark colours in the local style. Do not wear camouflage or carry a military daysack unless absolutely necessary.

Always carry a 24 hour grab bag. The contents must sustain you for a day and provide the basics on which to build a larger kit. As such, the bag should include items for your protection, communications, navigation and some supplies.

6 items in your grab bag

  1. Depending on the local circumstances, arm yourself with  lethal and less- than- lethal weapons.
  2. Create a means of knowing where you are, where you want to go to and how. A map, compass and small GPS will help. 
  1. Keep an emergency stash of nuts and raisins.Other foodstuffs include powerbars, GU, raw chocolate and whiskey.
  2. Develop your communications protocols using paper and pen ( Sharpie), whistles, mirrors, flares, hand-held PTT radios and satellite phones. This provides you with various options when the cellular networks are taken down by the government.
  3. Carry a means of illumination. A torch can be used for signalling, lighting up an area and as a distraction weapon. Always carry spare batteries.
  4. Carry a lightweight and waterproof jacket. Often, hot days are followed by cold nights during certain seasons in Africa. Keep a pair of gloves and shemagh in your pack to protect your hands and face, especially in a riot.

Attend our Escape and Evasion course to learn more about what to carry every day, different types of weapons and covert movement by day or night.

H.E.A.T. tip: As tear gas is actually comprised of synthetic halogen compounds that are solid at room temperature, simply rinse your eyes and clothes with cold water. Do not use hot water. This will open up your pores and cause more irritation. 


6 Everyday radio calls in Morse

The SOS distress signal does not stand for anything. The … _ _ _ … was easy to transmit in Morse code.

Before the standardisation of an international distress signal in July 1908, other countries had their own signals. Germany used SOE, Italy SSSDDD and Britain transmitted CQD.

At the Berlin conference, it was recognised that in Morse code the letter E was represented by one dot (.) and could be mistyped.

The E was replaced with a S as three dots  (…) was more clear. Although the SOS signal was officially adopted in 1908 and used successfully in July 1909 when a shipwrecked occurred in Portugal, it was not used in April  1912.

 That fateful night, the Titanic radio operator first  transmitted the old CQD distress signal. Only afterwards did he try the new signal, commenting that he might never get the chance to try it again.

Although Morse equipment has been replaced at sea by the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, it is still useful to know some emergency Morse signals.

6 Everyday radio calls in Morse

  1. Starting:  _ . _ . _ .
  2. Over:  _ . _
  3. Wait:  . _ . . . 
  4. Roger: . . . _
  5. End: . . . _ . _
  6. Error: . . . . . . . . 

Learn this skill and other means of signalling for help on one of our courses.

What to do when a colleague drops dead when you are working together

The repatriation of a corpse involves body preparation, paperwork, certificates and the  transportation of the coffin or ashes to the home country and its final destination. You might have to handle the while process. Here’s how…

If someone you work with dies suddenly or unexpectedly whilst you are abroad, you should know what to do. Many countries have different rules and regulations regarding the repatriation of a body. In France, for example, you cannot arrange to transport a body without a police tag and the approval of the local mayor. In Muslim countries, and among those of the Jewish faith, the deceased must be buried- not cremated- within 24 hours and preferably without an autopsy.


In  the United States, embalming is a common practice and is carried out by a qualified embalmer. But, in Spain and Portugal, only doctors can carry out this procedure.

If the deceased is Zimbabwean, a total of seven documents must be completed and sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Harare before the body can be moved. Given the speed of mail sent in Africa, you and your Zimbabwean corpse need to have the patience of Job.

6 rules for repatriating a body

  1. Inform the relevant embassy about the deceased and request the  assistance of a  Consular or Diplomatic representative.
  2. Embassies do not pay for the repatriation of mortal remains, so do not sign anything until the payment issue has been clarified.
  3. Make contact with the next- of- kin or the deceased’s employer. Ask about their wishes or company protocols.
  4. Say nothing to the media. Perhaps extend your sympathies to the family and friends of the deceased but do not disclose operational details surrounding their death.
  5. Arrange to have a formal identification of the deceased. Some countries allow a colleague to make this formal identification but  other countries require a family member to do so.
  6. A death generates a lot of paperwork. You may be involved with collecting a letter from the police, burial or cremation permission, embalming certificate, list of belongings, original passport and postmortem certificate to name a few.

Learn how to repatriate the  body of a colleague from any African 

country by attending one of  our courses for corporate travellers.



H.E.A.T. tip:

Family and friends will want to know how and why the deceased died. Often, grief is manifested as aggression. Do not take this personally but answer their questions as best you can.

6 ways to survive when the taps get turned off.

Many people in several parts of the world face a daily struggle to acquire potable water. For some, the lack of infrastructure means using communal collection points. For others, natural disasters or armed conflict have disrupted water supplies. And for others, the freedom  of living off the grid outweighs the inconvenience of not having water at the turn of a handle.

Yet, the challenge of not having immediate access to water is a blessing. Whilst we know that you need to hydrate regularly or you will die, we often fail to see beyond our consumer and instant gratification desires. The  lack of water in your  taps requires a shift in your  thinking. 

You need to think out of the box. Attend one of our H.E.A.T. courses and learn how to survive when the taps run dry.

  1. Realise that no municipality or body corporate can control your right to life. You need to look for ways to become more self-reliant.
  2. Consider using a variety of containers to collect and store water empty bottles. But, first of all you must sanitise these water containers. To fill a bath tub that is dirty, has a coating of soap film and is exposed to falling debris, will only spoil the stored water and make it unsafe to drink.
  3. Understand the water flow in your premises. Shut down the incoming water flow until you have a filtration and purification system in place. As the water pressure in the pipes is reduced, the water from your taps could become  contaminated.
  4. Identify water storage units in your home. Toilet cisterns and geysers hold potable water. Car radiators do not.
  5. Cook using tinned foods. Freeze condoms for re-useble ice cubes.
  6. Invest in a water filter and purification system.

Carry a water spigot key. Whether you use it or not is a moral decision. But, circumstances might force you to hydrate before you comply.