Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

Advisory from the United States Department of State

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

This is directly from the Department of State. Although this applies directly to Hungary, several Eastern European countries have these issues too.

There are several clubs and restaurants in Budapest about which the U.S. Embassy has received numerous complaints from U.S. Citizens for engaging in unethical business practices. Victims have reports with the Embassy describing the following practices: excessive billing of customers, physical intimidation to force customers to pay exorbitant bills (including holding a member of a party while others in the group pay the bill at ATMs, 24-hour cash facilities), and assault by club/restaurant employees for non-payment of excessive bills. There have been incidents, albeit rare, where U.S> citizens unknowingly have been drugged.

Further, do not let seemingly helpful taxi drivers or local women lure you to an establishment they recommend – they may receive a commission for bringing victims to the club/restaurant. It is also advised that you not patronize clubs/ restaurants that do not list prices or provide a menu with prices. Always verify the cost prior to purchase. Be aware that a menu switch may occur at the time of a billing complaint/dispute, for you may be handed a menu that lists higher prices and other hidden charges.

This list is not all-encompassing, so please use common sense and take note when/where one or more local women approach U.S. Citizens in the guise of friendship. Please note that most of these places are located in the Budapest’s fifth district, on/near the main tourist street, the Vaci utca.

Varoskozpont (accessible by an outside elevator)
Galaxia etterem, bar
La Dolce Vita
Nirvana Night Club
Ti’Amo Bar
Diamond Club
Pigalle Night Club

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Top 7 Security Ideas 2010

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

With the anneversery of the Attacks in Mumbia and the Christmas Bomber, it may be time to look at how safe we are on layovers.

  1. If leave a hotel, make sure you have 1 credit card on you
  2. If there is a situation at your hotel and you have to leave, take a credit card with you.
  3. If you are going to place where tourists hang out be careful
  4. If there is a terrorist attack, go several blocks away from your hotel.
  5. If your atributes do not match the majority of the people around you, go into a hotel, use your card, get a hotel room.
  6. Once in the hotel room, do not put out the ‘Do Not Disturb Sign” out on the door and contact your company or embassy.
  7. Tell the embassy where you are and give them a ‘password’ to use to positively Identify they are the good guys.

Seems clock and dagger, but it will save your life.

Please pass this on to all you know. It may save their life. If you would like more travel tips from expert travelers, go to the Road Warrior section on

Internet Identity Theft

Monday, May 11th, 2009

You can lose your identity on the computer in that hotel office center. It is very easy and it can happen without you even knowing it. This article tells how it can happen to you.

I was in the Sheraton Lagos Nigeria. Even though the country was very unstable, I was informed that the hotel we stay in would be extremely secure. I had no reason to dought that it would not be secure, we were in a well know hotel that my employer trusted. That was my first mistake.

A member of the crew I was with told me to be careful of the computers because this was the spam center of the universe. I kept that in the back of my mind. I decided to try the hotel’s computer to not risk my own computer of getting a virus. That turned out to be the smartest thing I did. But that doesn’t say much.

I decided I would use a messaging program that would have a whole security team behind it, Facebook. Their security was impeccable, but the hackers had a tool that all the security defenses can’t stop. My first clue was when I signed on to Facebook and a warning came on to ‘VERIFY MY BIRTHDAY.’ That spooked me and I shut down the computer and left.

That should have been the end of it, until I saw another crew member later that day get on to their account. That gave me a false sense of security because they would never get on to it if they thought it was safe, right? They had done this trip before. That was my second mistake.

I wrote several messages, signed off the computer, and left for home. When I signed back on to the account with my computer, I was informed my account was suspended because I had misused my account. I quickly called my computer expert and they said the hackers used a Key Logger program to get my information.

How they did It
It turns out that someone who used the computer before me either intentionally, or unintentionally downloaded a virus that logged keystrokes on your computer. No mater what you do, I am not aware of any practice that can prevent them from succeeding. That marketed the security failure of my account.

The Warning Signs
There are things to look for. If you see any of the warning signs, understand any information you put on the computer will compromised. These computers are only good for getting innocuous data from general websites.

First, be aware of you surroundings. If you are going to an area that has a history of hacking such as Nigeria, China, or Russia, know you can only use computers from trusted sources. These sources could be the company you work for that has an IT security department, or a very good friend that you really trust.

Second, if anyone with previous experience tells you that they don’t trust the computers, listen to them. That is the only thing that saved me from hackers damaging my main computer.

Third, if the computers in the area have open access to for anyone to use, be very cautious no mater where they are. The computer I used was in the Lobby a well known hotel, the Sheraton. What I failed to recognize is that ANY person could get on.

This means a person could go to sites they would never go on with their own computer and get a bad viruses. It also means someone could log on and set up the computer to take your information. If they don’t have a person to talk to that can track who can get on, be careful.

Finally, if you get a message that tells you to verify your identity, be cautious. It could mean that someone is phishing for your information or the site you are using has prior knowledge of problems. If is the latter, don’t take the chance. Use that piece of information that there is a security problem.

Top 3 Safety Tips for Traveling Abroad

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009


I was in a hotel in Lagos Nigeria when I met the head of security for a firm that protects VIPs. Lagos, being a very unstable Country, has some of the most challenging security issues in the world. Here is what they advise as the Top 3 Safety Tips when traveling abroad. These tips work anywhere which is why I thought it was important to point them out.

Number 1, wear clothing that blends in. Don’t be flashy. Jewelry will make you more of a target. If you stick out and attract attention, you will only endanger yourself and others around you. As a side note, try not to wear open toed, or high heals for that mater, when you are in a city. That makes you a mark because you cannot run.

Number 2, Have an attitude to match your surroundings. Being overly cautious will make you look like you have something valuable to hide. Be cautions of your surroundings, but being aggressive about it makes you more vunerable.

Number 3, don’t leave bags unattended. Not only can they disappear with your valuables in them, but you could possible become a Mule for contraband.

These 3 tips may seem like common sense, but they make up the lion’s share of security lapses that can get you in trouble. If you follow these tips, no matter where you are, you can greatly decrease the chance of being a target.

Swine Flu, What To Do – The Top 10

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

With the Swine Flu engulfing the world and the press spinning up hysteria to sell , it’s time to bring some sense to the Pandemic. I asked my wife, Who has a Doctorate in Pharmacy and is currently working in a hospital, what can individuals do to prevent getting Swine Flu.

First, Pandemic means it is spreading all over the world at once, not that we are all going to die from Swine Flu. Swine Flu has the same fatality rate as any other Flu we see every year. According to CNN, around 36,000 victims mostly the very old and the very young.

The big fear is that it will kill the young and strong which many are going back to the last pandemic to prove their point. What they forget to say is the last pandemic was around 1910 and we have learned much since then.

Next, good personal hygiene will help you prevent the Swine Flu and help recover if you get it. Covering your mouth, washing you hands is essential. Here are the top 10


1) Wash your hands, this simple task is ‘Number One’ because it works the best

2) Cover your mouth when you cough, this is more to prevent the spread

3) Cover Nose when you sneeze , see Number Two

4) Then, Wash your hands. Bacterial Soap will do no better than regular soap because this disease is Viral

5) Carry Hand cleansing lotion. It works great when you are not near a sink.

If you Get the Flu

1) Stay Home and get plenty of rest

2) If a family member has the Flu, Stay home.

3) Drink Fluids, keep yourself from getting dehydrated

4) Manage symptoms; if you have a headache, take medicine

5) Try to take Flu Medicines at the onset of symptoms to reduce the severity

So don’t panic, use common sense and we will all get through this.

Trapped in Mumbia – In Their Own Words

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

One of our own was trapped in Mumbia and took the time to write down his experience just before he left the country. Even though it is short, it gives a pretty good description of his harrowing experience. I don’t normally put things up like this, but in these unique times, it is best we stay informed of what we may experience. Like it or not, there are people who have issues with citizens of the free world, especially Americans.

This is why we have an “Emergency” section that displays the phone number and location of the Embassy, Police, and Fire Brigade on most of our cities on the “City” page. Just as you brief your crews on where to meet if there is an emergency on your layover, you should know where to find safety in any situation that may arise, no matter where you stay.



“It is now 3:15 am EST and I am near the Mumbai airport. I should be getting
on a plane in the next several hours to come home. . . with nothing but the
clothes on my back. I believe the fire in the Taj took all my belongings,
only a few of which were precious to me. I write notes to my girls and keep
them in my flight case, and they may or may … Read Morenot be recovered
later. Still too “hot” in more than one way to think about retrieving any
items. No passport, no uniform no airline ID, no computer, (this one is
borrowed),no suitcase, no flight case, but I am thankful. . .for the gift of
being ab le to come home and hug my girls. My daughters don’t really know
what happened and I prefer it that way, so please use discretion if talking
to them. I heard a lot of explosions, and gunfire, and had eaten at
Leopold’s a few hours earlier. The other First officer had been in his room
when the trouble broke out. He hunkered down for a while until the fire got
too close, then made a break for it.

Fortunately all xxx crews are accounted for and xxx has done a very good
job communicating with us and assisting from headquarters. I pretty much hid
for several hours in a cheap little hotel so as to stay out of sight (big
white guy draws attention) as I was not sure the streets were safe. At any
rate, I am coming home with no bags to check… Read More. Pray that India
and Pakistan doesn’t get violent in the next several hours at least. Also
pray for the hostages in the TAJ, as well as a couple xxx pilots still
unaccounted for that were staying at the Oberoy. That’s all for now. This is
pretty surreal!”

Lessons from Mumbia – How to Keep Terrorists Away

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

We have just received some new information about the Terrorist Plot in Mumbai. It appears that the Terrorists could not go to each room looking for victims at the hotel because there where thousands of rooms and they were a small force. Their solution was to knock on the doors that had a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the doorknob.

A solution to this problem is to call room service and tell them not to disturb you. Keep the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign off you door. Take advise from people who learned this lesson the hard way.

Please pass this on to all you know. It may save their life. If you would like more travel tips from expert travelers, go to the Road Warrior section on

Lessons from Mumbia – Deter Terrorists