JournoSec is a column aimed at helping journalists better under the security, privacy and anonymity challenges they currently face, and steps they can take to protect themselves. Managed by OpenITP Outreach Manager Sandra Ordonez, it brings together leading voices from the community behind open-source technologies that circumvent censorship and surveillance. For more information, follow @OpenITP. To become more involved, contact sandraordonez AT OpenITP DOT org.
On my first trip to Iraq in 2005, I remember being very aware of my security situation. At the time, I had not been to hostile environment training, and when I arrived, the hulking South African ex-special forces Personal Protection Officer who was lucky enough to have been assigned to babysitting me for the next week, turned around to me in our B6 armored suburban and asked me, “Do you know the number one thing you can do today to get home safely?”
Looking awkwardly at the weapon sitting next to me while fiddling with the Velcro on my body armor I responded timidly, “No. What?”
“Fasten your seatbelt,” he said with a laugh.
The lesson is: Often when we get out of our comfort zone we forget to do the most basic safety customs like fastening your seatbelt or looking both ways to cross the street.
Below are some tips and tricks I learned while living and working abroad over the past 15 years. My mantra is not to forget the small stuff; more than likely you are going to be injured in a vehicle accident, a natural event such as an earthquake, or a random act like a hotel fire rather than the spectacular events we see every day on TV.