How to protect executives traveling to hostile countries

Slashdot ran a story about executives being targets in high-end hotels in the Far East. I didn’t realize this was a new phenomenon; perhaps I just assumed it’s been going on all along.

At any rate, it’s possible to protect against it.

The excellent Risky Business podcast had a podcast about protecting one’s self in hostile environments last summer. Counterintelligence specialist The Grugq discussed various security methods, from tunneling all communications to basic operations security to prepare your equipment, detect any funny business, and, to some degree, prevent or at least minimize said funny business.

For tunneling communications, The Grugq recommends a portable TP-Link router running his custom firmware called PORTAL. By disabling all network interfaces except the wired interface and plugging into the PORTAL, network communications are safely encrypted so they can ride a hostile network. By loading VOIP software on the computer, executives can also protect their voice communications.

The important thing to remember if you’re in business is that if someone wasn’t after you yesterday or today, they will be tomorrow, so it’s never too early to start protecting. That message gets me in trouble sometimes, but if we keep putting security off until tomorrow because it seems too inconvenient, someday it will be too late.

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