Hostile Surveillance Detection - Business Travel Safety

Hostile Surveillance Detection - Business Travel Safety

Why Should Business Travelers Understand the Basics of Hostile Surveillance Detection?

Those that may wish to inflict harm, either by attack, kidnapping, abduction or terrorist action often need intelligence on their target. It is extremely difficult to carry out hostile action on a person, group or place without information. They will most likely try to attain this through surveillance of that person or place. This will vary from the short term, rudimentary, basic observations of criminals looking for the best time to strike,  right through to gangs and organizations carrying out professional and focused observations prior to a kidnap. 

It is not only threat to life that may lead you to being the focus of surveillance. Corporate espionage is a global issue being carried out on a global scale. Executive travelers conducting sensitive business, or traveling with proprietary information may be the targets of Corporate and Government Intelligence Officers. 

What is Hostile Surveillance Detection?

Hostile Surveillance Detection (HSD) is the process of identifying whether surveillance is deployed on an individual or group. There is a lot of incorrect and misleading information in the public domain reference the terminology of anti-surveillance (AS), counter surveillance (CS), and HSD. First, it is important to understand the differences between AS & CS, and learn more about HSD:

Anti-Surveillance (AS)

Anti SurveillanceAnti-Surveillance is when a person who suspects that he/she is being followed carries out certain actions in order to identify whether there is surveillance following them, with the objective being to confirm or deny that they are being followed. This is achieved by drawing the hostile surveillance into positions where they can be identified.


Counter-surveillance (CS)

Counter SurveillanceCounter Surveillance is when a third party carries out actions in order to identify whether an individual (the target of surveillance) is being followed and by whom.  This can take place with or without the knowledge of the target being followed and can involve a mix of physical and technical measures.  


Hostile Surveillance Detection 

Hostile Surveillance Detection is the all-encompassing process of identifying if a target is the subject of hostile surveillance and can include AS and CS working in conjunction. In a nutshell, AS is what we would do ourselves to identify surveillance and CS is when we would get someone else to help us identify surveillance.  

Please note: A part of CS may also consist of ‘bug sweeping’ or Technical Surveillance Counter Measures (TSCM), which is a method of identifying if technical devices have been deployed by hostiles to garner intelligence. These could vary from listening devices to tracking devices. This is particularly relevant to business travelers if heading to areas of increased risk for Corporate Espionage, or if conducting sensitive business. 

Why is Hostile Surveillance Detection so Vital in Anti-kidnap Strategy for Business Travelers?

For the majority of business travelers, the main risk of kidnap will likely be from untrained or streetwise hostiles carrying out short-term observations looking for the best time to strike. It will most likely be for an ‘Express Kidnap’ that is becoming more and more popular throughout the world. 

For certain senior level executives of specific industries, and depending on the destination of travel (most likely Medium to High-Risk e.g. Venezuela or Nigeria) there may be a specific threat of kidnap. These individuals and groups are at much higher risk of pre-planned attack. Gangs or organizations may be targeting these individuals, groups and/or businesses specifically for either financial, religious or political reasons.

As previously mentioned, it is extremely difficult to carry out hostile action on a person, group or place without intelligence on the target, even low-level rudimentary intelligence such as timings. Hostiles will most likely try to attain this through surveillance of that person or place.

Why Do Criminals/Terrorists Undertake Hostile Surveillance:

What would these hostile people or groups be looking for?  Pattern of life, habits, routine, weaknesses, routes to and from hotels or places of work, is there security, are they aware, are they armed?  Do they drive, walk or take a bus?  Are they with their family? Do they have a family? All these questions and more the hostiles will be trying to answer so they can make an informed decision.  Can we attack them? Can we kidnap them? Is this person an easy target? is this building an easy target? (remember you may not be the target but just unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time).  

Click here to see a case study of when a French Businessman was kidnapped.

Could I be be Placed Under Surveillance By Governments or Competitors For Corporate Espionage Purposes?

Yes. We will be adding an article on this very subject soon.  Please sign up to our Newsletter to receive an update on when this article goes live. 

Why learn How to Undertake Hostile Surveillance Detection?

To be fully aware of our surroundings is paramount in keeping safe. Knowing what is going on around us and seeing, not just looking is vital in pre-empting danger. At the very basic level this is called Situational Awareness, and is one of the key pillars to personal safety - Click here to learn more about Travel Safety.

The more advanced level is that of Hostile Surveillance Detection. Learning how to identify these individuals or groups early, significantly improves our chances of not becoming a victim to crime or attack. Using tried and tested, but easy to learn techniques of increasing awareness and observations individuals can learn to identify potential threats. It is through this early detection that travelers will then be able to pre-empt threat, and carry out actions to avoid the danger. This can be achieved through basic training such as via the Explore Secure® Travel Safety Training and then be taken a level further by delving into operational HSD. Click here to learn more about how ETS can provide bespoke Hostile Surveillance Detection Training to organizations. 

What Other Anti-Kidnap Strategies Can Business Travelers Consider?

If you are or your employees are traveling to areas of medium to high-risk, and your career, activities or presence makes you a high-risk traveler then we strongly suggest you or your company consider the use of Secure Transportation and Executive Protection services