4) Track and Communicate with Your Staff in Sensitive Fields

Morton SecurityIf you’re looking for secure, affordable emergency communications devices/applications, some have found them at Morton Security Solutions. MSS offers a multilayer redundant approach to emergency communications and people tracking, using satellite and cellular networks. MSS has two apps that you can download on your iPhone, Blackberry or Android, consisting of an SOS app and a Check In app that allows MSS to securely track its customers. Both apps are highly encrypted and MSS does not broadcast any personal information, using ID numbers instead. They also offer Satellite GPS rentals of SPOT and Delorme as well as Iridium Extreme Sat phones. Go to

to find out more or call them at 1-855-572-3156. Their site looks like it’s geared for commercial organizations, but there is a reason for that and we all know what it is. According to its founders, this organization is dedicated to serving you.

10) Cool Tools: Secure Your Email —

If you’re using Gmail or the equivalent (seems like almost everyone has switched), you’re probably good to go. Many vendors (like Gmail) are fairly secure now, if you’re logging on to their server (and you trust their staff). Look for the “padlock” or “https” address in your browser’s URL web address box. We previously recommended Hushmail — and while it’s still a great option, in spite of a few recent interface polishes, Hushmail is looking a bit old-fashioned compared to Gmail. And Gmail seems always to stay ahead on the secure online storage offered for free — remind me again why we’re paying for Hushmail? :-)

For my own purposes, I refuse to switch to a web-based email solution like Gmail as my primary email client because I want to be able to even when I can’t find a source for Internet. I realize I’m probably in the minority these days, but for my life, it still makes sense. If yours is similar, make sure you’re logging on to a secure email server. Check yours and take the necessary action. Or surround your entire computer with a secure “wall” by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). StrongVPN


are both great solutions. StrongVPN seems to have better customer service. Not only will a VPN keep prying eyes from seeing your internet (as it leaves your computer all the way to your VPN-provider’s server), but it will also likewise secure your web-browsing as well. Find out where your VPN is based (for example, Sweden or Vancouver). If a secure route out of your sensitive field is all you need to “get into the clear,” then you’re golden. If you need end-to-end encryption with your home or office, look for a tech that can hook you up with a home-brewed VPN. Be prepared to manage the extra technical needs. As with everything else, sort all this out before you board the plane.

11) Cool Tools: SatPhones – Love ’em or Leave ’em?

If you’re working in a sensitive location and/or you’re unsure about relying on cell coverage for any reason, talk to vendors like…

The cost will likely be prohibitive for many of us… unless you’re about to be kidnapped and you need to get a call out. Then the cost will be minimal. :-)
Why? With a satphone, you have the ultimate “high ground.” If the bottom drops out of the government and cellphones become useless, satphones still deliver.

Why might you not want to rent a satphone?
*** Some have ventured a guess that it raises one’s profile with immigration and customs officials (to my knowledge, this is totally undocumented, by the way). They might think of you as “C.I.A.” or, just as bad, a drug runner.
*** Satphones are expensive. Phone rental might be $8-15/day. Airtime will likely run another $1/minute, even with the newest plans (such as those from “Spot”). Incoming calls are free, along with text messages. But it’s usually the outgoing text or call that means the most (e.g., “We landed and we’re fine.”) (Note: there are now other, less expensive solutions for this purpose. See SpotMessenger, for example.)
*** Satphones have to “see sky” to function well. This can be unhandy in winter climates or in sensitive situations.

Remember, “Half a sky” won’t do. (You can’t call from indoors or in a car unless you install an external antenna.) Costs will run somewhere in the $6-12/day, depending on the unit you choose… and throughput charges are extra. Plan on $6/megbyte. For perspective, your 10 mega-pixel camera probably captures a 5-megabyte image. Ouch. Expensive. Use a SpotMessenger-type beacon if it will get you by.

9) How to End Terrorism

I’m so tired of terrorism. I remember early on, hearing George Bush say, “We won’t quit until we defeat terrorism.” I would hear him say that and I wanted to believe him, but I remember thinking, “How does that work? Because — these guys are basically stateless. If you destroy one cell, won’t there just be 5 more rise up to take its place?” Here we are, more than 10 years later, asking the same questions. Does anyone out there know how we can truly stop terrorism? I mean end it for all time?

11) Calling All Security Advisors: Where Do You Get Your Updates?

Suppose you advise your church or agency on global terrorism, security, emergency response procedures and more. What websites do you frequent? Where do you get the lowdown on events like… demonstrations in Bulgaria, or the impact in France on French intervention in Mali? We’re not looking for the ones that are so secret that, if you told us, you’d have to kill us. :-) We’re just hoping you’ll share the ones that are already public on the web anyway. :-) Please make a comment on the web version of this post, using the link below.

14) TheBackPage: Assessing Your Threat Level Awareness Color

Last week, I traveled through Haiti with a new friend who happens to be a law enforcement officer. It had been a while since I traveled with anyone quite so aware and in touch. When I commented to him about it, he explained a “threat level awareness color” system that they had taught him at his police academy. You can see a very similar presentation at…

As you can see, the principle behind the color metaphor is that we don’t want to walk around at condition “black” unnecessarily. We’d eventually burn out. But the implication is that we probably SHOULD consider perking up to condition “yellow” a lot more often than we do.

As I watched my friend at work, I realized that I had probably been very lucky in my life (maybe guarded by angels? … and, certainly, the recipient of a lot of prayer). I determined to learn from his example and open my eyes and scan my horizon a lot more often than I ever had before.

As you’ve traveled cross-culturally, have you experienced “condition orange” circumstances? If so, without revealing any sensitive information (feel free to speak anonymously), can you tell us how you reacted, what came down, and what you learned? Just use the comment box following the web version of this item at Thanks for sharing


7) Four Common Attack Vectors For Stealing Email Accounts

Greg, our I.T. guy, shared these with me yesterday, after two more of our staff people were each hacked in their email accounts. I was trying to imagine — how do people most easily make off the keys to someone’s email accounts? Greg filled me on the most common 4 Attack Vectors:

1.  Weak password storage on the server that got hacked.

2.  Re-usage of the same username/password across accounts, typically linked grabbed from one of those servers that got hacked.

3.  Spyware/viruses stealing info

4.  Weak implementation of the “Security Question” model.

I thought each of these represented a different, yet related sphere.

3) Survive Active Shooter Incidences —

The City of Houston, in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security, has developed a short training video regarding “active shooter” events. Although this video was designed for domestic audiences, the principles apply anywhere, and even more so in countries and settings where law enforcement help may not be available.
See the video at…

5) Six-Session DVD Series to Prep for Int’l Travel Security —

Are you traveling to a dangerous location? Or … maybe you’re just traveling to a location that can BECOME dangerous by a person that is emotionally haywire. Here’s a group that offers a six-session DVD course featuring David Dose, a well-known trainer on questions of security and travel risk. Check out mini-video-introductions the 6 sessions at the bottom of the home page.

6) Department of State Updates Worldwide Caution

The Department of State recently updated its warning against the continued terrorist threat against USA citizens and others. They reminded travelers and citizens to be vigilant throughout the world. They highlighted al-Qaida and its affiliates. They mentioned suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings. Although the warning is somewhat generic, it’s a chilling reminder that bad guys can use conventional or non-conventional weapons, and target both official and private interests. It appears that practically no environment is exempt. The warning asks us to be very aware at “high-profile sporting events, residential areas, business offices, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, public areas, and other tourist destinations both in the United States and abroad where U.S. citizens gather in large numbers, including during holidays.” The translation is — just about everywhere, at any time, you could become a target. Yikes.  There were regional warnings too. See the entire warning at…


7) USA Citizens can Enroll in “STEP” —

The USA’s “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program” is a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. STEP allows you to enter information about your upcoming trip abroad so that the Department of State can better assist you in an emergency. STEP also allows Americans residing abroad to get routine information from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Sign up at…


The US gov’t promises they “will not disclose the information you provide us in your STEP application to any third parties unless you have given us written authorization to do so, or unless the disclosure is otherwise permitted by the Privacy Act.” By signing up, you can get special updates from embassies and other USA sources about the places you’re visiting or the countries in which you’re residing. Worth it.

2) With All the Instability this Spring, Need Video Security? —

Now you can order it — affordably. Just visit…


Check out the Dropcam basic (no audio) for $199 and the Dropcam Echo, with audio, for $279. Both are relatively easy to install. You won’t need an I.T. degree or even a book. All you’ll need is access to your wifi router. (If you don’t have one, then yes — you might need some help setting one up.) Highly recommended.

4) Plan Now for Child Safety Network in Asia, November 2010 —

In November, the Child Safety & Protection Network (CS&PN) Seminar will be held in Asia with family friends.. For more information on CS&PN please click

You can register for the Network Seminar either as a stand-alone one day preconference for missions organizations representatives or as one of your days of attendance at ICEC.

To register for the CS&PN preconference and/or the entire ICEC conference

For more information regarding the 1 day preconference and/or the entire ICEC conference click

6) Upcoming Workshops on Security from Crisis Consulting Int’l

Check out these upcoming workshops, led by CCI:

Field Security Seminar – April 14-16, 2010 – A three-day program that instructs on target hardening, profile management, disrupting the terrorism and attack cycles, managing violent encounters, convoys, checkpoints/ambushes and dealing with landmines, UXO and IEDs.

Crisis Management Seminar – April 19-21, 2010 – A three-day program that instructs on risk assessment, current threats and trends, policies, contingency planning and crisis management; includes the EZRA risk assessment instruments.

These seminars will be held at the JAARS campus in Waxhaw, North Carolina.  To register or get more information, please visit their website at

3) Transparency in Mission: Promoting Health/Safeguarding

kellyodonnell2.gifWe heard this past week from Kelly and Michèle O’Donnell, authors of several industry-defining books on member care. They had updated their site at…

dealing with the tough questions of, “How transparent should we be in our work and lives?” on the international weblog “Reflections and Resources for Good Practice.” The entries include definitions and applications of transparency in mission, personal stories from Dr. Kelly O’Donnell, and photos. They also highlight several core resources/links including quotes from Bennis et al’s amazing book Transformation: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor, a link to the Summary Report from Transparency International on Preventing Corruption in Humanitarian Assistance, and a link to the ECFA’s suggested guidelines for dealing with misconduct and whistle blowing. They personally invited Brigada users in particular to peer into their souls, leave a comment, and join the interaction.

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