Tag Archives: Smart

Self-Control

Self control is easier said than achieved. Your brain doesn’t like being in pain, it doesn’t like being angry or sad, so when a stimulus comes along to do just that, the brain responds aggressively and negatively, instinctively without thinking it.

 

Instincts are a powerful thing, everyone has their “breaking point”, and once they take over, it doesn’t matter how much you trained your brain, if enough distress is caused to the brain, I.E. once it “snaps”, there won’t be any control left, you will act as you were programmed to by millions of years of evolution. The ‘thoughts’ that will occur will be as a result of your brain desperately wanting to end the cause of your distress, which will result in you using violent means of doing so if necessary.

 

Self control is something that should be exercised 24/7. It’s not something that’s done selectively. The best way to be in control is to stop a situation before it begins, and the best way to do that is to not engage in the first place. When you haven’t been pushed to your breaking point, when you still have coherent thought process, that’s when you stop and disengage rather than let your emotions or ego take over. Stop. Think. Walk.

 

The fact remains, once you get involved, you won’t be in control anymore, your instincts, your emotions, your biases, your natural responses and your neurotransmitters will be. You won’t think clearly, coherently, calmly or even at all, you will be without a rational thought process, which often leads to individuals either ending up in jail, hospital or morgue.

 

Having self-control is generally a part of your everyday life. It’s not something that’s incident or situation specific. It’s just having good enough sense to not act in a way that needlessly harms you or others around you.

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Analyzing a video

Another facebook post/comment tuned blog post, I thought many might benefit from this.

This is in a context of analyzing a video that shows some sort of violence, to study the incident and then later modify our training to adapt to similar situations. This also helps you perceive violence differently than others and your previous self.

When I analyze these videos, I first prefer to know the full story or at least as much as possible about the incident that took place because any analysis without the full story will be filled with my own biases and experiences which will affect the outcome of the analysis.

After I’ve known the story, I usually have the data, the blanks that are filled in the categories of;
1- What instigated the incident?
2- What happened before the actual incident?
3- Who was involved?
4- Why did it escalate to this point?
5- What was the location?
6- What time? (This is often not mentioned though)
7- Which country did it take place in? (Cultural aspect)
8- Ages of the individuals.
9- Backgrounds of the involved (It’s not always full, but enough to make a ballpark estimation).
10- What kind of violence was it?
11- What means were used to accomplish the job?
12- What were the legal and other repercussions of this for both?

After I’ve got the above data, I then look at the incident itself, first from the assailant’s perspective;
1- Pre-contact cues.
2- Verbal cues (If audio is available).
3- Means of violence utilized.
4- Levels of violence utilized
5- Body language of the assailant.

Then I see it from the victim’s perspective;
1- What were they paying attention to before the assault?
2- How long did it take for them to spot the threat?
3- What was their reaction?
4- How quick and efficiently did they react?
5- What were the external factors that would/did hinder them?

Then I finally look for the bystander’s reactions.
1- When did they arrive at the scene?
2- What did they see?
3- How did they react?
4- Did anyone help?
5- What did they say after?

Finally, I put it altogether in my notes and add the previously received full incident data and see where I would fit, what I would be capable of doing and whether it would work for me. Of course, I do this from both perspectives, strange I know, but I first see if I would be successful if I were the predator, then if I were the survivor/victim. Then I add in some additional external factors, remove some factors that don’t pertain to my situation depending on my own location and I come up with possible solutions to these kinds of problems.

Luckily, since I’ve adopted this approach, I’ve been able to, on a certain level, know and avoid certain violence prone areas, so, now I don’t have to use it a lot. Which I think might affect my training, because there is no more testing to what I do. A cruel paradox.

This was specific to me analyzing videos of violence. The principle of getting the core information first then, looking at the presented information, can be utilized for analysis of any video or anything that you analyze and study.

That’s it. Thanks for reading.

Cyber safety (This is a reeeeally long one)

In this article I’ll be including a list of cyber threats to watch out for and some tips to be safe against identity and personal data thefts, along with some facebook safety points.

 

Starting with the list of threats. There are a lot of different types of threats, but I’m just going to include the most common ones and how to avoid them. I gathered the following data from different sources that list security threats.

 

Botnets

 

Undetected.

 

A collection of software robots, or ‘bots’, that creates an army of infected computers (known as ‘zombies’) that are remotely controlled by the originator.

 

  • They can send spam emails with viruses attached.
  • They can spread all types of malware.
  • They can use computer as part of a denial of service attack against other systems.

 

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack

 

When a user gets a network of ‘zombie’ computers to sabotage a specific website or server. The attack happens when the user tells all the zombie computers to contact a specific website or server over and over again. That increase in the volume of traffic overloads the website or server causing it to be slow for legitimate users, sometimes to the point that the website or server shuts down completely.

 

It could be possible for users to use our computer in one of these attacks. By taking advantage of security vulnerabilities or weaknesses, an attacker could take control of our computer. They could then force our computer to send huge amounts of data to a website or send spam to particular email addresses. The attacks are “distributed” because the attacker is using multiple computers, including ours, to launch the denial-of-service attacks.

 

 

The most common and obvious type of DDoS attack occurs when an attacker “floods” a network with useless information. When we type a URL into our browser, we are sending a request to that site’s computer server to view the page. The server can only process a certain number of requests at once. So if an attacker overloads the server with requests, it can’t process ours. The flood of incoming messages to the target system essentially forces it to shut down, thereby denying access to legitimate users.

 

 

Steps to reduce the risk:

  • Anti-virus softwares.
  • Install a powerful Firewall, and configure it to restrict traffic coming into and leaving your computer.
  • Applying email filters may help manage unwanted emails, by automatically processing incoming messages based on certain preset criteria.
  • If the Internet connection is unusually slow or I can’t access certain sites (and that your Internet connection is not down).
  • Avoid opening email attachments, especially if they are from people you don’t know.
  • If signs of a DDoS attack appear and/or persist, contact the ISP.

 

 

Hacking

 

Hacking is a term used to describe actions taken by someone to gain unauthorized access to a computer. The availability of information online on the tools, techniques, and malware makes it easier for even non-technical people to undertake malicious activities.

 

  • They find weaknesses (or pre-existing bugs) in our security settings and exploit them in order to access our information.
  • Install a Trojan horse, providing a back door for hackers to enter and search for our information.

 

 

 

 

Malware

 

Malicious software that infects our computer, such as computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, and adware.

 

 

  • Intimidate with ‘scareware‘, which is usually a pop-up message that tells us our computer has a security problem or other false information.
  • Reformat the hard drive of our computer causing us to lose all our information.
  • Alter or delete files on hard drive.
  • Steal private information.
  • Send emails on our behalf.

Take control of our computer and the softwares running on it.

 

Pharming

 

A means to point us to a malicious and illegitimate website by redirecting the legitimate URL. Even if the URL is entered correctly, it can still be redirected to a fake website. Copies the original site down to it’s smallest details to get us to enter our personal details.

 

Phishing

 

Fake emails, text messages and websites created to look like they’re from authentic companies. They’re sent by criminals to steal personal and financial information from us. This is also known as “spoofing”.

 

 

  • Trick us into giving them information by asking us to update, validate or confirm our account. It is often presented in a manner than seems official and intimidating, to encourage us to take action.
  • Provides cyber criminals with our usernames and passwords so that they can access our online bank account, shopping accounts, etc. and steal our credit card information.

 

 

 

Ransomware

 

Ransomware is a type of malware that restricts access to our computer or our files and displays a message that demands payment in order for the restriction to be removed. The two most common means of infection are via phishing emails that contain malicious attachments and website pop-up advertisements.

 

Two types of ransomware;

 

  • Lockscreen: displays an image that prevents us from accessing our computer.
  • Encryption ransomware: encrypts files on our system’s hard drive and sometimes on shared network drives, USB drives, external hard drives, and even some cloud storage drives, preventing us from opening them

 

 

Sometimes the notification states that authorities have detected illegal activity on our computer, and that the payment is a fine to avoid prosecution.

 

Paying doesn’t help.

Regularly back-up data with a removable external storage drive.

 

 

 

Spam

 

Mass distribution of unsolicited messages, advertising or pornography to addresses which can be easily found on the Internet through things like social networking sites, company websites and personal blogs.

 

Phish for your information by tricking you into following links or entering details with too-good-to-be-true offers and promotions.

Provide a vehicle for malware, scams, fraud and threats to your privacy.

 

 

Spoofing

 

Often used with phishing in an attempt to steal information.

 

A website or email address that is created to look like it comes from a legitimate source. An email address may even include our name, or the name of someone we know, making it difficult to discern whether the sender is real or not.

 

  • Spends spam using our email address, or a variation of our email address, to our contact list.
  • Recreates websites that closely resemble the authentic site. This could be a financial institution or other site that requires login or other personal information.

 

 

 

Spyware

 

Software that collects personal information about us without us knowing. They are usually a ‘free’ download and are installed automatically with or without your consent. They are difficult to remove and can infect a computer with viruses.

 

  • It collects information about us without us knowing about it and give it to third parties.
  • Send our usernames, passwords, surfing habits, list of applications we’ve downloaded, settings, and even the version of our operating system to third parties.
  • Change the way our computer runs without our knowledge.
  • Take us to unwanted sites or force uncontrollable pop-up ads on our screen.

 

 

Trojan Horses

 

A program that is disguised as, or embedded within, legitimate software. It is an executable (.exe) file that will install itself and run automatically once it’s downloaded.

 

 

  • Delete our files.
  • Use our computer to hack other computers.
  • Watch us through our web cam (even without turning on the light on the cam).
  • Log our keystrokes (such as a credit card numbers, passwords, etc.).
  • Record usernames, passwords and other personal information.
  • Uploading or downloading of files
  • Viewing the screen of the user
  • Wasting of computer storage and memory resources
  • Causing the computer to crash

 

 

 

Viruses

 

Computer programs that are often sent as an email attachment or a download with the intent of infecting our computer, as well as the computers of everyone in our contact list. Just visiting an insecure site can start an automatic download of a virus.

 

 

  • Send spam.
  • Provide criminals with access to our computer and contact lists.
  • Scan and find personal information like passwords on our computer.
  • Hijack our web browser.
  • Disable our security settings and antivirus programs.
  • Display unwanted ads.

 

 

When a program is running, the virus attached to it could infiltrate our hard drive and also spread to USB keys and external hard drives. Any attachment we create using this program and send to someone else could also infect them with the virus.

 

Things to check for:

  • It takes longer than usual for the computer to start up, it restarts on its own or doesn’t start up at all.
  • It takes a long time to launch a program.
  • Files and data have disappeared.
  • System and programs crash constantly.
  • The homepage set on the web browser is different (note that this could be caused by Adware that has been installed on the computer).
  • Web pages are slow to load.
  • Computer screen looks distorted.
  • Programs are running without our control.

 

 

Wi-Fi Eavesdropping

 

Virtual “listening in” on information that’s shared over an unsecure (not encrypted) WiFi network.

 

 

 

Worms

 

A worm, unlike a virus, goes to work on its own without attaching itself to files or programs. It lives in our computer memory, doesn’t damage or alter the hard drive and propagates by sending itself to other computers in a network – whether within a company or the Internet itself.

 

 

  • Spread to everyone in our contact list.
  • Cause a tremendous amount of damage by shutting down parts of the Internet, wreaking havoc on an internal network and costing companies enormous amounts of lost revenue.

 

 

Different Network Threats

 

The majority of security professionals group the various threats to network security in one of two significant categories. They are logic attacks or resource attacks.

 

 

Logic attacks

…are famed for taking advantage of already extant vulnerabilities and bugs in programs with the stated intention of causing a system to crash. There are cyber criminals who exploit this attack with the intention of willfully gaining illegal access to the system, or alternatively of downgrading the performance of a given network.

 

 

Resource Attacks

…are primarily meant to overwhelm important system resources, like RAM and CPU resources. This is principally accomplished via dispatching numerous forged requests or IP packets to the network in question.

 

 

Keylogger

 

Keeps a record of every keystroke you made on your keyboard. Keylogger is a very powerful threat to steal people’s login credential such as username and password. It is also usually a sub-function of a powerful Trojan (see above).

 

 

Adware

 

Form of threat where our computer will start popping out a lot of advertisement. It can be from non-adult materials to adult materials because any ads will make the host some money. It is not really harmful threat but can be pretty annoying.

 

 

 

Backdoor

 

It’s not really a Malware, but it is a form of method where once a system is vulnerable to this method, attacker will be able to bypass all the regular authentication service. It is usually installed before any virus or Trojan infection because having a backdoor installed will ease the transfer effort of those threats.

 

 

 

Wabbits

 

It’s a self-replicating threat but it does not work like a Virus or Worms. It does not harm our system like a Virus and it does not replicate via our LAN network like a Worm. An example of Wabbit’s attack is the fork bomb, a form of DDoS attack.

 

 

Exploit

 

Exploit is a form of software which is programmed specifically to attack certain vulnerability. If our web browser is vulnerable to some out-dated vulnerable flash plugin, an exploit will work only on our web browser and plugin. The way to avoid hitting into exploit is to always patch our programs with software patches, they’re made to fix vulnerabilities.

 

 

 

Dialer

 

This threat is more existent where we still access the internet using a dial-up modem. What it does is it will make use of our internet modem to dial international numbers which are pretty costly. Today, this type of threat is more existent on Android phones because it can make use of the phone call to send SMS to premium numbers.

 

 

 

Dropper

 

Looking at the name, a Dropper is designed to drop into a computer and install something useful to the attacker such as Malware or Backdoor. There are two types of Dropper where one is to immediately drop and install to avoid Antivirus detection. Another type of Dropper is it will only drop a small file where this small file will auto trigger a download process to download the Malware.

 

 

 

Fake AV

 

Fake Antivirus threat is a very popular threat among Mac users. Due to the reason that Mac users seldom face a virus infection, scaring them with message which tells them that their computer is infected with virus is pretty useful where it results them into purchasing a bogus antivirus which does nothing.

 

 

 

Cookies

 

Cookies is not really a Malware. It is just something used by most websites to store something into our computer. It is here because it has the ability to store things into our computer and track our activities within the site. We can choose to reject using cookies for some of the sites which we do not know.

 

 

 

Bluesnarfing

 

Bluesnarfing  is all about having an unauthorized access to a specific mobile phones, laptop, or PDA via Bluetooth connection. By having such unauthorized access, personal stuff such as photos, calender, contacts and SMS will all be revealed and probably even stolen.

 

 

 

Bluejacking

 

Bluejacking is also uses the Bluetooth technology but it is not as serious as Bluesnarfing. What it does is it will connect to our Bluetooth device and send some message to another Bluetooth device. It is not as damaging to our privacy or device and system compared to Bluesnarfing.

 

 

 

 

 

Boot Sector Virus

 

It is a virus that places its own codes into computer DOS boot sector or also known as the Master Boot Record. It will only start if there it is injected during the boot up period where the damage is high but difficult to infect. All the victim need to do if they realize there is a boot sector virus is to remove all the bootable drive so that this particular virus will not be able to boot.

 

 

Browser Hijackers

 

A browser hijacker uses the Trojan Malware to take control of the victim’s web browsing session. It is extremely dangerous especially when the victim is trying to send some money via online banking because that is the best time for the hijacker to alter the destination of the bank account and even amount.

 

 

 

Mousetrapping

 

It traps our web browser to a particular website. If we try to go to another website, it will automatically redirect us back. If we try clicking forward/backward navigation buttons, it will still redirect back to it. If we close our browser and re-open it, it will set the homepage to that website and we can’t get out of this threat unless we remove it.

 

 

SQL Injection

 

SQL injection does not infect the end users directly. It is more towards infecting a website which is vulnerable to this attack. What it does is it will gain unauthorized access to the database and the attacker can retrieve all the valuable information stored in the site database.

 

There are sub-threats of these main threats. Different variations of these threats exist as well. There are over 500,000 different kinds of threats on the internet (estimated).

 

Here is a security threat list site for some interesting articles – https://securelist.com/

 

That’s the end of part 1 – Part 2 Covers some additional online safety measures for social media.

Thoughts

So, I was reading an article about an incident, then moved on to comments and saw many people just recommending many different opinions than what was stated.

Then while I was in the shower, mid shower, it made me think up a question and a possible answer to it.

So, here it is;

Did you know that words can expand and contract?

Yes, you read that right. Words, before becoming words, are thoughts, and usually after becoming words are actions.

Remember the term “It’s easier said than done”? Well, it’s because when those words are thoughts. they’re contracted in our head, but expand exponentially when materialized.

Let’s take an example here; “I will climb mount Everest”. Now, think this sentence in your mind. Now see yourself on top of that mountain. Just standing at 29,000 ft. How easy it was to do that, easy enough, right? No doubts about just thinking of you doing it.

Now say the same thing out loud, and ask yourself if you truly believe that you’ll do it. The task, now that you have said it out loud seems more out of reach than you thought it, correct? Bordering on ridiculous.

Now, try doing it. Try climbing mount Everest tomorrow or in a month. Oops! Can’t do it, can you?

That’s what i mean when I say that words can expand and contract. This happens because the more effort you have to put in, the harder the task will be to accomplish.

Since thinking and imagining you doing something doesn’t require much physical or psychological effort it is the easiest task, but when you start saying it, you require more effort than thinking, it will require more processing power of your brain, more physical power of your mouth, etc etc. so now it will start to seem harder to you, now moving on to doing it, well, it will put tremendous stress on your body and mind, as a result, the task, by the time you go from thinking to doing it, will seem nigh impossible, as it has expanded to something much more than an abstract concept.

This would explain the behavior of many armchair quarterbacks and back seat drivers. Thinking is easy (for some), but doing it, putting it into action is a whole another thing.

This would also explain many people who judge other people’s actions in an assault or a police arrest situation. “Oh why did he have to do that, that was unnecessary”. In their minds, it’s an easy task to not injure, kill, etc and still come out unscathed. Because the words are easily said, without knowing the context, full story, etc. It doesn’t require much effort, just like the thought process of an average individual. Thoughts pop up, words are said, but when it comes the time to act on them, virtually no one will do what they said.

Anyway, just something to think about. Maybe I’m wrong or maybe I’m overthinking it too much.

Mindset

So, I’ll start by asking a question here, What exactly is “The Mindset”? I often see many talk about having a good mindset, having the mindset to deal with threats, etc. etc. So, what does the mindset entail exactly then?

See, the main, the basest mindset that every living creature on this planet has, is of Survival. Survival at all costs. Even sexual reproduction was evolved due to Survival being programmed into the genes of complex multi-cellular organisms, from reptiles to mammals, every creature has a survival instinct.

For us humans though, it gets a bit more complicated, see, maybe our stone age ancestors got by on the same survival instinct back in the day, but we, as we’re today, are not the same as we were a few hundred thousand years ago. Today, there are a lot of implications for having a total survival based mindset. It has consequences on a societal level and legal and moral level as well. Think about making a choice between saving you and some stranger from being shot, who would you choose? What about the aftermath of that choice, if you chose you or if you chose them? Both will lead to destructive aftermaths.

The thing about having a particular mindset is to have an appropriate mindset according to where you are, who you are and when you are and taking into account the future of where you will be. Military personnel will have different mindsets, but even then, different military personnel will have different mindsets, for example, a Marine would have a different kind of mindset, but a Military Police would have a different mindset, but an administrative clerk in the Military will have a different mindset, and a General will have a different mindset, etc. and so on.

Now this is just talking about the military mindset. What about the mindset of a police officer? Can their mindset be the same as a soldier? Well, that would depend on many different factors wouldn’t it? Firstly, where they are, do they have a desk job? Or are they out on the street? If it’s the second one, are they in a low crime or a high crime area? Both will require different mindsets, mind you. High crime will require high level of vigilance and the officer will have to be extra careful if they are talking to someone, or pulling someone over, but in a low crime area, even though, threats may exist in those areas as well, maybe some violent individual has crossed into that part of town, either way, in that area, having high vigilance might cause an overreaction in a small matter that didn‘t need to be escalated, leading to an unnecessary negative outcome. Here’s the thing though, even in the high crime area, a police officer cannot have the same mindset as a soldier in combat. Because killing someone by sniping them, may lead to extreme consequences. When soldiers do so, they are following orders, their goal is to fulfill the order given to them by their superior. In a police officer’s case, they have to make the decision themselves, there are no superiors giving them orders at the time of a violent situation. Their mind will need to process everything and make a decision as opposed to a soldier following orders, they already know what they have to do, of course that doesn’t mean that a soldier just blindly goes into combat, no, what I mean by that is the end goal is much clearer to a soldier in combat, than to an officer in a possible life threatening situation.

The mindsets, as a result will change a lot between these two. One has to make decisions based on the orders given to them and are often with a team and back up, and possible aerial support and complete the mission by any means necessary. The other, is on their own, often have no back up or the back up is minutes away, and has to take everything into account, and make a decision that will alter their life regardless of what happens.

Two extreme situations, the threat, the violence is often very high in both situations, but the mindsets required to navigate through those situations, will differ. They have to, in order to make sure that least possible damage occurs to the individuals involved those situations.

Now those were extreme situations for professionals, but what about a normal everyday individual with no experience with violence, suddenly coming in contact with a violent situation? What about their mindset? Well, as I wrote earlier, regardless of what or who you are, you have survival instincts ingrained into your genetics. The only difference is that the above mentioned professionals, have trained to cultivate a certain mindset appropriate for their professions as a necessity, but an average individual, with today’s availability of food, clothing and shelter, don’t need to have that survival instinct, they have everything they need to survive, and as a result, will not have cultivated that mindset. So, when they come across a violent situation, the only response their brain knows, is nothing, which translates to freeze response. The brain cannot access the genetic area where survival is programmed, due to not having accessed it before. So, an average individual’s mindset is basically composed of, going to work, eating, coming home to their family, maybe having a little fun, watching t.v., going on a holiday, having sex, shitting and sleeping, not necessarily on the same day and in that order, but yeah, that‘s the gist of it, they don‘t need constant vigilance, they don’t want it and they don’t even know what it is.

On the other hand, take a violent individual, who has experience in really hurting someone. Let’s say a home-invading serial killer/rapist. I’m purposely taking that extreme example here to contrast the previous one. Well, this individual, has most probably their whole life hurt others to get what they want, to intimidate and then mutilate because it makes them feel like a god who is in control of life and death. They enjoy the rush of seeing someone writhe in pain, they get off in seeing children cry and make their mothers cry harder. This individual in their whole life has seen and done violent things that would make someone like the above, puke in their mouth. This violent individual is most probably searching for a new victim because he/she is bored and wants to feel the rush. So, at this point, let’s say they come across an average individual, following him to his house. Now, this average joe, not having the vigilant mindset that of a soldier or a police officer or even just a trained civilian contractor, etc. doesn’t notice the stalker and leads him to his home, giving the stalker, an easy target. Now what kind of mindset will this violent individual have? This one will most probably be a psychopath, so lack of empathy, an adrenaline junkie, probably an addict, narcissistic, manipulative, pathological, most likely delusional, extremely violent, will do anything to get what they want, etc. etc.

Now, based on the above description, what chance does an average joe stand against someone who is far more experienced, far more skilled in violence and far superior in a predatory mindset than himself. How does he protect his family? By training, you’d say. Fine. Yes, that makes sense, but unless he can be trained in the next few seconds before he and his family are slaughtered like cattle and eaten, training now isn’t gonna do much, is it. What can happen though, is the natural survival instincts in him, the pre-programmed survival response, might be triggered, because now, not only his life is threatened, but the life of someone who will help carry his genes forward and a part of him, his child, are threatened as well. It might be that he himself may not survive, due to lack of his brain’s ability to respond, but chances of his family surviving, would be increased. It might even happen that a response may be triggered in his wife, and she might help in taking down the predator as well. Strength in numbers just might give them a chance.

That being said, logically, if it’s a sudden invasion, which it usually is, who has a greater chance of winning here? The predator with experience and the willingness to be violent or the one who hasn’t come across anything remotely violent since he had a small fight in high school, which was broken up by the principle. Did you say the first one? Well, in that case, you’re the predator, aren’t you? You are the serial killing home invader, because that mindset came from him doing that for years, he wasn’t trained in it. If you said, the second one, well, that’s because you most probably are one of the individuals with that mindset, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of, this is the normal mindset according to the time we live in, you don‘t need violence to survive, to get food or fight over territory, you can just buy a home or rent it, so the violent nature has no use of it in your daily life, unless you‘re a professional who deals with it as a part of your job. That being said, it does not mean that the second mindset won’t win against the predator, why? Because external factors will play a role in the outcome. Plus another factor will play in, it’s the most important and the most natural one, it’s your preprogrammed survival instincts. You were made to protect yourself and your genes. Since now, not only you, but your gene pool is threatened, chances are you will fight back and probably even win, you may not survive the ordeal, but your family does have a chance. People with zero training have survived career criminals and done incredible things. They have surprised themselves. When the survival instincts have been activated, even the most calm people, are capable of extreme violence in order to protect their own.

So, a question here based on all of that. Which mindset is better to have? The very first one of a soldier, the second, of a police officer, the third of an average joe or the fourth of a predator, or an unmentioned fifth one, of a trained civilian? The answer isn’t as simple as one might think, you see, if you chose the last one, the trained civilian one, well, it’s not the best answer, why? Because, first, that mindset, doesn’t technically exist, and two, let’s face it, many “combatives” instructors who do train civilians, basically either give you a mindset of a soldier or a mindset of a criminal, there are some who even try and give you the mindset of an action movie star, avoid them like the plague!

Very rarely someone even tries to get close to something like a trained civilian and even then, it’s still more physical violence oriented, which again doesn’t take into account other factors involved before, during and after, the legal, the moral, the psychological, the societal, environmental. They are just trained like they would a police officer or a bouncer. Maybe a lock or a joint there or a punch and a palm heel strike there.

So when people say ‘have a proper mindset’ what exactly does it mean? Well, I don’t know what they mean, but for me, it’s having the basest need to survive. Having the on and ‘off switch’ in you. I have even written an article about that before. For me, it’s not training like a soldier, or a police officer or a career criminal that helps, but instead training like a survivor that does. I don’t need to know how a sniper rifle works, I’d love to know out of sheer curiosity, but not because I want to snipe people out of existence. Same way, I don’t wanna learn how to arrest people, that’s not my job, it’s the brave people’s job.

My only job and my duty is my survival, my protection and I prefer to train that way. But here’s the thing, it’s not just physical survival, that’s where this differs from the above mentioned complete survival instincts from the stone-age times, no, since there are consequences of our actions, our actions should be based on survival from all aspects of today’s society, such as legal aspects. I prefer to have a mindset where I do and don’t do things to keep myself safe from all possible angles beforehand, before the violent situation has even come across me. I develop my mindset, according to my situation and my needs. This is the same thing that should be done, that should be trained, you train as per your situations and your needs. You are not training for violence or to counter it, you are training to educate yourself on what violence entails and how you can avoid it and keep yourself safe from it and from all fundamental aspects of dealing with it. Safety and survival of your genes is important and what your mindset should be and is naturally, it definitely should be that fundamentally simple, but as we have evolved, our societal constructs have evolved with us. As a result, we need to evolve in our methods of being safe to suit those constructs. Taking into account all those factors which would affect us beforehand, during and in the aftermath, is what’s truly a modern survivor’s mindset.

Well, that’s it. Hope I got my point across. Thanks for reading.

Linguistic Barriers And Some Other Safety Issues While Traveling

So, in today’s post, I’d like to talk about a pretty common problem while traveling, at least for those who aren’t multi-lingual. The problem being not able to speak the native language, which sometimes leads to miscommunication, which often leads to some sort of trouble arising, from a minor one like wrong hotel booking to a major one like an escalated confrontation. I’m going to write about the latter one today, since that is much trickier to handle than a wrong booking.

Firstly, I want to address a simple fact that is true whenever we travel. You see, most of the times, when tourists visit a country, they stay in the “tourist areas” of the country, in specific areas of a popular city, for example, India has Delhi, Mumbai, etc. Thailand has Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, etc. America has Las Vegas, Beverly Hills, Chicago, etc. etc. These tourist areas are usually very low crime areas, they have all sorts of points of interest for the tourists to enjoy, great restaurants, attractive shopping locations, beautiful and/or historic landmarks, and so on. But sometimes, some tourists, due to curiosity or simply wanting to see more than what they are offered in these created paradises, often get out of the “designated tourist areas” and out of the safe zone created by the local authorities to give tourists a pleasant experience and go explore the “non-tourist” areas of the country, in “non-tourist” cities, a.k.a areas that are not as safe for people who don’t know the localities, which basically holds the reality of the country the tourist is visiting.

Now these places are usually where most tourists victimized, the side of the countries that the local governments often try to hide in order to bring more money via tourism or due to national pride or to hide the ineptitude of the governments in dealing with the crimes, poverty, education in their country.

But we’re not here to discuss politics or anything even remotely close to it. No, we’re here to discuss how you traveling to a country and going to a place where people may not speak your language (not fluently at least, I‘ll get to this point in the next paragraph), can affect your ability to keep yourself safe from not only violent threats, but also from con men.

So, let’s start with an example here. Let’s say you go to a country where your language is spoken, but not in areas outside of the tourist zones, not very well at least, now in those areas, people may lack the education necessary to even speak the basest level of the language or it might be that your language is simply not one of the native languages spoken. (I haven’t specified a specific language because I don’t want to create some needless and possibly incorrect stereotypes about some countries). But of course, since I’m typing in English, the primary language I’ll use as an example is that. Now, most people in just about any country do speak English, but there are still places in the world, where only a handful of people speak English and it’s not fluent or even close to it. Although, with the digital age growing, maybe that won’t be an issue in the future, but it is currently, so bear with me and don’t take anything I write to illustrate a point, personally.

Now that we‘ve gotten that out of the way, I’ll get back to my point, so let’s start off with a situation, let’s say a tourist wanders off into the “non-tourist” area and is exploring. Now maybe that area is not as safe as the tourist zone is, and there is a very high possibility that the tourist will stand out as an outsider, a foreigner to the locals, some tourists will appear totally clueless, in other words, obviously easy to fool. Unless you know how to be a ‘gray man‘ and know the local area very well, which is applicable to professionals traveling frequently due to work, but this does not apply for a tourist on a vacation buying all the local t-shirts and wearing them proudly, while taking pictures of everything they come across, so it’s safe to say that certain features always stand out in tourists like a sore thumb. Here’s where you are easily identified as a potential mark.

Now, let’s temporarily skip the stuff that will occur between them identifying you as a mark and making their move on you, whether it’s a full-on ambush or just luring you into a trap in the pretense of some lucrative offer, etc. Of course, you identifying the predator, will reduce your chances of becoming a victim, just keep that in mind, but let’s say you failed to do so, now the assault, or mugging, etc. begins.

Let’s just draw up a scenario here, okay?

A guy, friendly as ever, walks up to the tourist, “Hello friend! How are you? You come from out of town?”

Tourist replies, “Hello, I‘m fine, yes, I am in fact. I was wondering if you can tell me where I can find a good places to visit in this area?”

The guy replies, “Oh yes! I know place, very good food, I take you there okay? Come!”.

Tourist thinks, he’s found a friendly helpful local individual, so follows. Let’s ignore the fact of what the tourist should’ve done.

Continuing, the guy, brings the tourist to a small building. Not seeing anything special, not a landmark, not a restaurant nothing special, the tourist now begins to feel a little like things are off (intuition perhaps? Yes it is).

Now, what’s the above situation leading up to?

Well, Possibilities;

1- The guy really was friendly, and he brought him to a local place that cooks excellent food, it‘s just not an official restaurant, but a backdoor food place kind of deal?

2- The guy has brought him to something entirely different than what was asked for, maybe an adult entertainment location where they serve food, due to miscommunication, as the guy doesn’t speak the language well and didn‘t know what the tourist meant when he asked for a good place to visit?

3- The guy has brought the tourist into an ambush after identifying them as a mark and called ahead to his accomplices?
Well, if you’re lucky, it’s gonna be the fist one, if you’re not as lucky, it’ll be the second one and you’ll have a funny story to tell, but if you are hilariously jinxed, then it’s most likely gonna be the third one and here‘s how that will go.

Let’s say the tourist is wearing a nice watch, good shoes, has an iphone, some cash, maybe some jewelry.

Tourist- “What is this place?”

Assailant- “It‘s a good place! You have money? You give money, you get good price.”

Tourist- “What? What’s going on? Good price for what?”

Assailant- “You give me money, I bring you to a good place, now give me money.”

Tourist- “I’m sorry, I’m not giving you any money, you have brought me nowhere”

Assailant- “Ay! Give me money! Give me money!” and then gestures to the pockets, to the watch, etc.

(Now I‘m gonna use a different language here, since I only speak 4 languages, I‘m gonna use the one that is native to me, which is Hindi vs. English).

Assailant- “Saala ache jage peh lay aaya aur paisa bhi nahi dey raha hai! Nikal paisa! Arey paisa dey mujhe! Teri ghadi, chain, phone or jooteh bhi! Agar paisa nahi dey raha hai to yeh sab dey! Chal jaldi kar! Nikal! Dekh kya raha hai?!” his tone of voice is now aggressive and is gesturing to your watch, phone, chain, shoes, etc.

Tourist- “I don’t understand what you’re saying!”

Assailant- Takes out a razor blade or a knife, “Are pocket meh se paisa nikal or mujhe dey! Money! Money!” gesturing to and patting the pockets.

By this time, the tourist is well aware of the fact that he’s being robbed, so now in fear of his life, he will take out whatever he has and gives it to him or he might try to fight, but let‘s take the first example for now.

Tourist- Takes whatever he has and gives it to the mugger. “This is all I have”.

Assailant- “Bas itna hi? Or nikal! Are chal aur dey! Jootey or ghadi bhi! Shoe shoe!! Give me shoe! And ghadi” gesturing towards the watch. “Aur bhi nikal! More more!!”

Tourist- “I don‘t have anything else on me”.

Assailant- “Atm! Come to atm! Paisa nikal ke dey!”

Now, mostly, if the mugger thinks the loot is enough, they will run away. But in some robberies such as above described example, the muggers have often taken their victims to the atm to get the money out or they kidnap the victims, put them in a vehicle (if available), take their atm cards and drive to the atm to get the money out themselves.

Of course during the panicked state of mind, and factor in the fact that nothing that’s coming out of the mugger’s mouth makes sense to the tourist, except the gestures the mugger makes. Understanding these gestures and the tone of voice are what’s gonna help the tourist not make the situation worse and get them stabbed.

Since the initial aggressive behavior, the assailant has gone from using broken English to basically complete Hindi, which is more comfortable for him to speak due to it being his native tongue. For English readers who can’t speak Hindi, the above sentences are going be gibberish, except a few words, right?

That’s exactly what happens to most victims in an actual situation in a country where their language is not spoken widely, when they hear them talking. This is not just about one country, this can be applied to any country that doesn’t widely speak your native language. Hell an Indian who doesn’t speak English well or doesn’t speak Russian at all can be victimized in Russia or the US or UK or Australia and not understand what their assailants are saying, at least not fully, unless they follow the gestures, tone of voice, body language, etc.

It is actually a pretty common fact the assailants (and even people who are angry) often revert to their native tongue, which they’re more comfortable speaking. If you don‘t speak the same language, you’ll have to solely rely on their gestures, where they point at, their pitch and tone of voice, to know what they intend to do, etc. Which is where most people are either killed or beaten to the brink of death or even raped (but that‘s a different type of crime, as opposed to mugging, so let‘s stick to our current example for now).

So, why do they get beaten? Well, there is no one reason for it, there are many variables that determine the reasons. But miscommunication is one of the most common reasons. If the instructions in the form of gestures and tone of voice, aren’t picked up by the prey, the predator who wants control of the situation, will be frustrated. Finally, for them it will be easier and more convenient to just take you out and take whatever they want from your downed unconscious/dead body than wasting more time playing the mime version of 20 questions with you. This will not only, not waste their time, but there are also less chances of them being seen by anyone.

This is why learning to identify physical as well as verbal cues not only helps you identify threats, they also help you during an already out of control situation. If you follow the instructions and give them your watch, phone, etc. Chances are they will run away after. Of course, if they want more, I.e. you, then it’s a different situation, in which case, you also need to be able to identify their intentions from the way they behave, from their tone of voice or lack thereof as many predators will avoid conversing with their victims, if they‘re intent on harming the prey, it dehumanizes the prey further. Aggressive words are often used to intimidate the mark into giving up their valuables.

In the above example, chances are that the mugger introduces a knife early on in the mix, maybe the mugger is intent on using it or maybe not, but will, if presented with resistance or maybe is incompetent enough to not be able to if over-whelmed by the prey’s actions, there are still chances of the victim being cut, slashed or stabbed in either of those possibilities. There is an extreme amount of uncertainty of how the assailant might react. But one thing is for sure, if the tourist gets aggressive when the situation could be resolved without aggression, the chances of the tourist being stabbed or beaten by the mugger and his possible accomplices will significantly increase, even if they have to chase you down the road till they catch you. Remember, from an evolutionary psychology perspective, this is their domain, their country, their territory, you are an outsider, and they won’t tolerate being dominated by an outsider, so the locals will be extra aggressive to an individual who is from out of town, if they try to fight back with aggression. This is also true with bar fights. Locals are more likely to be extra aggressive towards rude and aggressive tourists in a bar/club confrontations, than they would be to the local individuals, especially if it involves local women as well (another topic, but still related).

Due to the linguistic barrier, the already dehumanized target becomes something even less to the predator, so the hesitation to cause bodily harm is now almost completely gone. If giving away your valuables saves your life, do it. If it’s your life they’re after and you have no escape or room for de-escalation or reasoning, then you won’t lose anything more if you do fight back, but may lose your life, if you don‘t. Prevention and Avoidance is something I always advocate, but if you fail to do so, then ‘Desperate times, call for desperate measures‘, will apply here. You need to be able to assess the situation in its entirety, and calculate the most effective solution to get through it without being harmed. That is something that I cannot write and show you, as an actual situation has too many factors and variables that just can’t be explained in writing. Focus on principles of survival instead. Focus on improvisation, focus on efficient problem solving. Focus on identifying a potential threat. Focus on finding an out.

There are various possibilities and many possible situations that can occur while you are traveling, but only if you’re not careful. Don’t let this scare you. Traveling can be extremely enjoyable and it broadens your horizons, if you’re smart enough to be safe while doing so, which is quite simple if you use basic common sense of not getting out of the safe tourist zones, especially created so the tourists can enjoy themselves.

The above example is based mostly on a mugging. Certain other types of situations require different approaches, which includes sexual assaults as well, but certain principles like identification of verbal cues, tone of voice, gestures, remain similar.

Finally, I’m gonna write down some bullet points below for you to keep in mind before and while you travel;

  • The first and best thing to do is to not get out of the tourist safe zone. It has all the local attractions, restaurants, entertainment, etc. for you to enjoy. So remain in it, but if you do want to go out and explore the country in it‘s entirety and actuality, never go alone, either go in a big enough group that is a hard target due to sheer numbers (6-10+) or ask the hotel staff to recommend you a trusted guide, but still don’t go alone with the guide, remember everyone is for sale, and you are in a foreign country, where you don‘t know anyone. This applies especially if you’re from a rich country.
  • Another thing you can do is learn the local police numbers. For example, India has 100, USA has 911, UK has 999, Thailand has 191, Singapore and Malaysia both have 999…so on and so forth. Just look it up and set them in your phone contacts before you go out.
  • Know the local crime rate before you go to a country or a city or a locality.
  • Know what crimes are prevalent in which areas.
  • Know which areas are most susceptible to what kinds of crimes; I.e. cons, assaults, muggings, sexual assaults, kidnappings, etc.
  • Know the cultural mindsets of the locals and alter your behavior accordingly while communicating with them.
  • Know which areas are guarded from the crime infested ones and stay inside them.
  • Search the local safety measures, like CCTV’s, Security, Secure Transportation, etc.
  • Search for the local police station and hospital and research how efficient they are.
  • Get a hotel that is in a very low crime (I.e. petty crimes) to virtually zero crime rate area.
  • Have at least some knowledge about the local language. Even if it is just the fundamentals, so that you’re not completely lost and oblivious to it.
  • Know which gestures and social mannerisms are considered offensive or rude or aggressive in the local culture and avoid doing them in public (some cultures forbid showing affection in public or wearing certain type of clothes in certain areas considered holy to the locals).
  • Respect the local traditions and laws or the locals will get aggressive or at the very least not be very hospitable to you. Remember, you’re a guest in someone else’s country, regardless of the local flaws, it is not your place to judge and decide what‘s right or wrong for them.
  • Be cautious of the tone of voice you use. Polite tone is universally considered positive, so stick to that.
  • Never be too obvious with anything of value, don‘t wear things that are or look expensive.
  • Never carry cash or at least not too much of it (if you absolutely do need to) and never take it out in public view. Get to a secure, out of sight place, then take the cash out.
  • Be cautious of the local cons. Always arrange your transportation, your guides, your accommodations and food arrangements, and your overall itinerary, from a trusted and positively reviewed travel agency in your own country, avoid hiring unknown local help/guide/transportation without checking the legitimacy of that individual, with the hotel that you‘re staying in and avoid going anywhere alone with them, try to gather up a group, if you do decide to do so (as stated above).

 

Remember, if you follow the local rules, if you stay away from the non-tourist based areas, if you acquire the necessary and useful details about the place you are gonna visit beforehand, if you plan your itinerary with the travel agency beforehand and arrange a legitimate and safe transport and guide (if you so wish), your travel experience will be much more pleasant, enjoyable and much more safer than it would if you are negligent about the little, but important details. A little caution goes a long way, as far as enjoyable travel is concerned, or just in general really.

 

I’d like to share a bit of my personal info when I traveled, it was for my training and research, so I regularly used to go out of the tourist zones and virtually lived in those areas and as a result often used to come across unsavory trouble, especially when I looked for it and certain kinds of individuals who did not want me there. So this article, in part, is also indirectly based off of my experience of not staying in the designated tourist zones. Anyway, just thought I’d share.

 

Oh and this article is geared towards a civilian traveling to another country, not a professional on a job. Certain things in that context will change, but as stated before, many principles will remain similar (read above for which ones).

 

Well, that’s it. Thanks for reading! And if you’re gonna travel, safe travels!

Common sense tips for social situations (Women)

The following points are kind of obvious things, but sometimes we miss what’s obvious so, when that happens, I, Captain Obvious! Comes to the rescue!

Here are some common sense tips for women, most of these would apply to young women.

  1. I’m gonna put this at number one because I think this is the most important, yet the most neglected and it‘s included in the men‘s common sense article as well, which is to always keep your hand over your glass or bottle. Once you’re drugged, you lose all ability to make any coherent decision.
  2. Avoid eating or drinking something given to you by someone, this is especially true for young women in colleges. Even if it’s packaged and not open, a syringe is enough to drug it without opening it.
  3. When you go out, try and go in a group of close friends, and stick with the group, do not get separated, due to any unforeseen circumstances, if the group does separate, try to at least stay with one of your friends, it’s better than being completely alone. This can apply to young women in schools and colleges as well as women who have jobs or if you‘re just going to social events, etc.
  4. Another equally important point is to avoid any conversation or any engagement with an individual you don’t feel comfortable around. You don’t have to talk to anyone you don’t feel comfortable around.
  5. Keep your phone handy and emergency contacts on speed dial.
  6. Turn on the GPS in your phone if you’re traveling or if you’re gonna be out late. This can backfire if you already have a stalker, but if not, it can be used by the authorities to track your location (as long as you have the phone) in case of an emergency (one example for that is, abduction).
  7. Which brings me to my next point, try not to stay out too late. That’s such a dad thing to say, right? Well, it has its merits. Especially in areas where sexual assaults and molestations and verbal harassments are a frequent occurrence.
  8. If you’re at a club or a party, avoid engaging in any violent confrontation, including a verbal one, it doesn’t take long for it to escalate if a single wrong thing is said to the wrong individual.
  9. Avoid public transportation after dark, if the public transport runs empty after a certain time of day. If you can afford it, get a car, drive. It’s the safest option as long as you gas up your car and maintain it properly. If your situation doesn’t allow that. Get a cab service like OLA or Uber, I’d personally recommend OLA if you’re in India or call someone you trust, maybe your spouse, if they can, to drive you.
  10. One other obvious, yet simple thing is to not always wear headphones with loud music or movies playing. No headphones.
  11. Don’t carry objects like taser or mace unless you know how to use them in a violent situation. Most of these aren’t effective against many threats anyway, at least not the most store brand ones people usually buy, but it will be effective enough against you if you don’t train to use it, the same thing you bought to protect yourself will be used against you. It will backfire in the worst possible way. Carry a gun where it’s legal, or a knife, but knife is almost never legal in many countries. So, basically just avoid carrying weapons, unless you are allowed and you know how to use them. Improvise if the need arises.
  12. I know most will hate this, but in certain situations, even though it’s painful to do so, if someone passes a derogatory remark about you, avoiding them and walking away is the best way to deal with it, especially if there is no help around or if they’re in a group. Chances of this situation escalating are enormous if not handled properly.
  13. This point connects to the previous one, even though I said not to engage, there are times and places, where you can and should engage to set boundaries. Setting boundaries, especially verbal boundaries is something that not many women feel comfortable doing, because of the social obligation to be polite. But remember, saying NO is not a bad thing. So, if someone is making you uncomfortable or someone crosses your personal space boundary, you are fully within your rights to tell them to go fuck themselves…politely, by saying NO. NOT INTERESTED. I’M NOT COMFORTABLE WITH THIS. STOP. Any of those will do, just take the context into account. ‘NO’ can be said in many ways, but at the end of it all, it still means ‘NO’ and nothing else. If this happens in work place, report it if it’s severe and continuous harassment, or give them a warning, if it’s not continuous or first time or an isolated incident, but still inform someone about it and warn them that you will report it, if there’s a next time. If this happens in college, warn the individual that you’re not comfortable with their behavior and want them to stop, if it persists or if your warning is brushed off, immediately report it to the concerned person who handles these matters. If this happens in school, warn the individual then alert your parents the same day. Remember, you don’t have to get someone kicked out or fired for a remark, unless the harassment has happened more than once, is continuous and severe and you fear for your safety. If it’s a first time, a simple warning is sufficient, if they brush off your warning and, then you may alert someone about this, and if it continues after that, you are justified in taking action of informing the concerned person. There are stages, which, if you overshoot, will not only ruin someone’s life who had no intention of hurting you, but will also reflect badly on yourself. Not to mention, if it severely damages someone’s life, there’s always a potential for payback/revenge. No one wins. Think logically, not emotionally, even if it is difficult to do so, especially in situations like these. Please try and avoid the worst possible outcome. Remember, saying NO, is not wrong, but wrongfully using excessive force is dangerous to everyone involved, and I‘m just not talking about physical force.
  14. This is something I wanted to include at number one, but it’s not as understated as many of the other above, which is, Trusting your intuition. It is the most important thing when dealing with potential threats. When you feel something or someone is off, it/they probably is/are, walking away from that environment, is the best decision you can possibly ever make.
  15. Another important one is, learning to distinguish between intuition and paranoia. Paranoia comes from irrational fear, but intuition comes from experience, training and carefully analyzing the environments and behaviors of individuals in your immediate vicinity. If you pick up odd behavior, it probably is likely there’s something wrong. Learn to recognize patterns in normal behavior so you can spot abnormalities in unusual behaviors.
  16. Finally, an obvious one I’d like to add is, just generally, Use common sense.

 

So, that’s about it. These are some basic common sense tips to know to make sure you remain safe in social environments. Thanks for reading!