Any person traveling abroad on business should be aware of the fact that they could be targeted by an intelligence agency, security service, criminals or, for that matter, a competitor if they are knowledgeable of, or carrying, sensitive or proprietary information. In the course of doing business abroad, there are certain indicators that may occur which should be recognized as potential hazards and indicative of unwarranted interest in your activities. These situations should be closely scrutinized and avoided if at all possible. A few of the most common scenarios that have been utilized by intelligence/security services and have led to successful targeting and acquisition of information are listed below:
- Repeated contacts with a local or third country national who is not involved in your business interests or the purpose of your visit, but as a result of invitations to social or business functions, appears at each function. This individual’s behavior may indicate more than just a passing interest in you and your business activities.
- A close personal social relationship with a foreign national of a hostile host government is often unavoidable for business reasons. In these instances, be cautious and do not allow the relationship to develop any further than the strictly business level.
- Be suspicious of the accidental encounter with an unknown local national who strikes up a conversation and wants to:
- Practice English or other language.
- Talk about your country of origin or your employment.
- Buy you a drink because they have taken a liking to you.
- Talk to you about politics.
- Use a myriad of other excuses to begin a “friendly” relationship.
In your hotel room, assume that the room and telephone are being monitored. DO NOT try to play investigator and start looking for electronic listening devices. This again could send the wrong signals to the surveillant. Just make sure that you do not say or do anything in your hotel room that you would not want to see printed on the front page of the Times. If any of the above or anything else occurs which just does not ring true, BE SUSPICIOUS!! It may be innocent but, exercise prudence and good judgment at all times.