Nomadic OPSEC

Notes, Observations & Guidance

  1. Avoid apathy. OPSEC risks vary significantly from one country or environment to another. Generally, reputable hotels in major cities pose the lowest OPSEC risk, while hostels in small towns in certain parts of South America may pose the highest. However, this is just one aspect of the overall risk assessment. One of the most common OPSEC risks involves nomads becoming apathetic. This often occurs in idyllic beaches or cozy mountain towns after the nomad has spent several weeks there and starts feeling a false or exaggerated sense of comfort. While relaxation is generally positive, it can lead to apathy and subsequently neglect of OPSEC. Regular checks and audits of one's surroundings and possessions are essential to mitigate this risk.

  2. Cautionary Note on Hotel Safety Deposit Vaults: Avoid Usage

    Consider the following rationale: In developed countries and major urban centers with high-quality hotels like the Hilton or 3-5 star accommodations across Europe, the presence of safety deposit boxes in rooms is common. While these boxes provide secure storage, their utilization might be of nominal consequence. Given the lower likelihood of theft (whether by hotel staff or break-ins) in these more secure surroundings, storing belongings safely in the room and ensuring the door is locked upon exit is generally sufficient. However, in contrasting situations—such as stays in undeveloped or developing countries, remote homestays, beach cabins, or mountain lodges—where securing valuables becomes mission-critical, refraining from using safety deposit boxes is recommended. Requesting access to an analog safety deposit box at the front desk can inadvertently divulge sensitive information about assets. The manual nature of these boxes necessitates obtaining a key from the hotel staff, inadvertently signaling wealth or possession of valuable items. This disclosure could potentially attract unwanted attention from staff, bystanders, or even individuals to whom the hotel personnel might disclose such information, in extreme cases. A more advisable approach involves adopting a low-profile persona and maintaining consistency. Projecting oneself as a yogi, beach enthusiast, nomad, or surfer aligns with a deliberate choice to convey an appearance devoid of notable assets or valuables. Leveraging specific behavioral traits, demeanor, and appearance to cultivate this persona enhances operational security. By presenting a persona with no discernible possessions of value, one can minimize the risk of attracting undue attention. Safeguarding valuables becomes essential. Consistently storing valuables in secure areas within gear, kept in fixed locations, allows for detection of any unauthorized handling of belongings by staff. Intentionally maintaining an appearance of disorganization, covering gear with clothing layers, and performing routine physical checks on possessions every few days.

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