August 5, 2023

Before You Go: Essential Security Tips for Travel

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Travel inherently involves an elevated amount of risk. Anytime we change our standard operations or add an element of the unknown we increase our vulnerability to new and unique threats. Below are some things to consider when travelling. This is not an exhaustive list. Each situation is unique. Get in touch for security awareness briefs or bespoke travel advice.

Be security aware before you travel.

  • Look at Government of Canada country risk profile
  • Get additional information on particular areas you are visiting to determine if there are any concerns
  • Understand risks around travel and have a plan. Are there local scams to be aware of? Are Taxi’s safe? Do you need to get a driver, are there area’s you should avoid at night, are there protests schedule near sites you may visit?
  • It is always a good idea to connect with your local embassy to register and ask for any referrals for trusted vendors or services.

The border has it’s own rules

  • Know your rights when crossing the border. You can be thoroughly checked, asked for your phone computer and any documents. They can demand to know the purpose of your travel and who you are meeting with.
  • If you are travelling with work equipment be sure to ask about company policy about having devices scanned.
  • If you are searched – get receipts. Find out what agency, individual and on what grounds did the search occur.

The home team has the advantage

  • We provide a lot of information in advance that can be used to target us. The local law enforcement and intelligence players have relationships with telecommunications providers, hotels, transportation providers and others.
  • Local petty criminals can spot tourists and are experienced at targeting and exploiting them.
  • Honey traps are real.

Don’t let people know you are leaving

  • Make your house look lived in. Arrange to have mail picked up, snow shovelled and garbage bins put away. Use interior lighting to make the house look occupied.
  • Avoid indicating you are away on social media. Post pictures after you return. You may even consider having an uber driver pick you up down the street from your house so they do not see you take your whole family and luggage to the airport.

Tips to protect yourself during travel:

Separate your life as much as you can

  • Only take what you need to
    • Delete unnecessary apps from your phone
  • Change passwords to temporary passwords
  • Don’t bring both a work and a personal phone on the trip

Mitigate risks you can mitigate

  • Update Your Devices: Ensure that all your devices, including laptops, smartphones, and tablets, have the latest software updates and security patches.
  • Take a temporary phone (“burner”) phone.
  • Bring a bunch of pre-loaded USBs with your presentation or any other information you may need.
  • Don’t use any media provided by someone else
  • Don’t rely on local Wi-Fi – get a data plan
  • If your hand is forced at the border to unlock your phone, do it yourself, don’t give a password
  • Don’t have sensitive conversations where might know you’ll be
    • Hotel room / Plane / Taxi
  • Use discrete language to communicate

Positive control

  • Don’t leave things unattended
    • Don’t leave anything in a hotel safe
    • Don’t leave sensitive documents behind unattended
    • Bring hotel room key with you and shred it back home
  • Avoid routines – gym every morning etc.
    • If you do go somewhere, bring everything – Don’t create windows of opportunity where your items are left unattended at pre-scheduled opportunities
  • If you are going to a meeting and forced to leave phones behind, leave them in the possession of a trusted contact or member of your group.

Individuals face unique security challenges based on their profile, associations, exposures, and activities. Fortunately, Kirsch Group is here to help. By offering Private Client Advisory Services, Kirsch Group wants to ensure you have the support needed to protect yourself from any of these potential security risks.



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