Q: Are Android phones tracking your every move, even after opting out of location services?

A: An investigation launched by Quartz has concluded that phones equipped with Android software are surreptitiously transmitting user location data to Google even with location services turned off, a spokesman of the company has confirmed.

The investigation supports the corollary that removing a phone’s SIM card, resetting the device to factory settings, and deleting all apps will not garner protection against the prying eye of Google. 

A phone’s communication with WiFi access points, proximal devices, and cell-towers are all implicated in pinpointing user locations.

Solutions for those wishing to stay clear of location snooping:

-do not carry a phone

-wrap your phone in aluminum foil to create a small-scale Faraday cage that blocks all signal transmissions

-dont use Android software, though other phone types may be afflicted with the same problems

-wait for a solution from Google

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I will now speak to you on the fundamentals of a shinobi’s art of intelligence. Source material for the following discussion includes the Yokan Denkai and Yokan Rigen manuals of ninjutsu written by Chikamatsu Shigenori. Also included are some of my own practices and thoughts on the art of intelligence and how it may prove useful to self-protection.

In my last video I explained why Sun Tzu’s writing on the Use of Spies was so fundamental to ninjutsu. Shinobi were first and foremost spies and therefore we should expect anyone who is attempting to recreate, discuss, or practice ninjutsu in accordance with what is verifiably true, to exhibit knowledge of  the art of intelligence as it is called today.

The art of intelligence has ancient roots. Veritably the most essential element to any successful military campaign, espionage and its fruits have has been embraced by multitudes of cultures and is still essential to military affairs today. It may be surmised that even prior to the teachings of Sun Tzu, spying on the affairs of others was practiced in the preservation of power or in facilitating an attempt to wrest power away from perceived enemies.

You can imagine the activities of these proto-spies, skulking around to eavesdrop on conversations that might produce vital information, but unfortunately imagination is all we have to animate a great many spies  who will never be known to human history…for  they dealt in the trade of secrets. Likewise with the shinobi, it will never be known just how many of them existed, or how it is exactly that they lived.

However, it is known that spies have existed and still do exist, also it is known that in the distant past they developed their methods of gathering intelligence under the constraints of their human senses and relatively inferior technology. Unlike the spies of the 21st century, shinobi did not have cameras or satellites, and so again their modes of intelligence work were confined to creativity and the human sensorium.

A shinobi, needed to have good senses and a robust memory, for it was through these characteristics that information would be recorded and transmitted to the interested party. Fortunately, the human senses can be trained, and I imagine shinobi had their own particular methods of sharpening them. But as tempting as the digression into this avenue of inquiry is, let us stick to the essentials of spying. All that we need to know now is that espionage in the past required acute senses and a good memory for the acquisition of select information.

Now, just what kind of information did the shinobi gather? Well, anything about the enemy disposition could have proved to be valuable. The Yokan Denkai places emphasis on retrieving details of the political situation circumscribing the enemy and their system of justice having to do with rewards and punishments, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of everything, including their fortifications, military command, military behavior and customs, and how many troops are stationed in a given area. There is a wide assortment of other information that ninjutsu manuals advise a shinobi to target, too many to list at this time.

Let me stop here and point out another component to good intelligence gathering. Implicit to the practice of gaining information on the enemy is secrecy, obviously. If a spy is not familiar with deceiving the enemy as to his presence, then he will not live long once he has been found out. This is where human creativity kicks in. The sundry details of ninjutsu dealing with Yonin disguises and In-nin infiltration techniques, as well as listening devices, lockpicking techniques, creeping around on rooftops, and moving beneath the still waters of a moat revolve around this fundamental intelligence principle, to be secret and to deceive.

In understanding this, we can see now that ninjutsu itself has at its core the principle of secrecy in gathering intelligence, and it is around this principle that ninjutsu seems to have developed.

The same principles intrinsic to ninjutsu are found within the details of modern intelligence modalities, and due to the timeless nature of these principles, we can still apply them to our lives today with a bit of creativity.

Why should we incorporate the art of intelligence into our own system of self-protection or preparedness skillset? Because according to Sun Tzu, we may be sure to defeat our enemy only with the fulfillment of two conditions: knowing ourselves and knowing the enemy. Introspection and self-assessment in relation to the abilities of others can help us fulfill the first condition. The second condition can only be fulfilled if we understand and apply the art of intelligence.

One caveat here. Do not fall into the tendency to see your enemy through your eyes alone. It is just as important to your strategy that you see yourself from the enemy’s point of view- through the enemy’s eyes, for he may be studying you without your knowledge. In this respect, one can see how every bit of information you publicly divulge about yourself can be used against you if your enemy has the know-how. Social engineers offer prime examples of this and if you do not know what a social engineer is, I advise you look up the term.

Anyway, applying the principles of ninjutsu to a modern context requires creativity and common sense of the times. It would not be wise, for instance to emulate the dress of a shinobi in Yo-nin get-up while trying to gain entrance to some place of informational interest. As entertaining as this sight would be, it offers no value to your self-protection.

Now that we have covered the theoretical, I will now give you the practical content. These are not authentic ninjutsu exercises. They are exercises that you can use to develop your senses.

Sensory Training: Attire Identifiers

This exercise is all about developing short-term memory as it is applied to retaining a picture of what a person is wearing. Find a place to people watch. Enter the area and begin observing the people around you. Be sure not to make it obvious that you are watching them. You can opt to wear sunglasses or a rimmed hat to conceal the fixation of your eyes if you wish. When you are ready, select a random person and briefly scan over their manner of dress. After a few seconds, look away and try to hold the image in your mind as long as possible. You will notice that the image becomes more and more distorted in your minds eye as time goes by. With practice, you will accustom your mind to holding the image for longer periods until you are ultimately capable of scanning a person and remembering hours later exactly what they are wearing. How detailed can you get? Is the person wearing a watch, or necklace? How is the hair styled? What is the person doing? You can increase the difficulty of this exercise by entering an area, selecting three or more people, briefly scanning them over, and then leaving. Afterwards write down everything you remember.

Sensory Training: Candle Meditation

Get a candle and place it a few feet from where you intend to sit. Light the candle, dim the lights, and assume a comfortable meditation posture of your choice. Focus your concentration on the flame. Notice its size, colors, and movements. Relax your breathing. At varying intervals, take a mental snapshot of the candle and hold it in your mind’s eye as long as possible before returning to the stare. Continue as long as you like.

In the U.S., the criminal activity of child trafficking is an ongoing law enforcement vexation. Some child predators have been so bold as to commit kidnappings in broad daylight, even in front of their parents. One child safety advocate has repeatedly exhibited just how easy it is to kidnap a child (and it is even easier to do when the parents have their vision transfixed on their smart-phones):

Naturally, concerned parents have taken up defense against such predators by keeping close watch over their children and organizing neighborhood communities that are vigilant of suspicious activity. These are good measures to take in response to child trafficking. But what might yield additional security benefit for families is to mitigate informational indicators that cue predators in on potential targets.

What is an indicator? Any bit of information which when collected allows for inference on the nature or disposition of a given target. For example, one indicator a child predator might look for, to identify homes housing children, would be the presence of toys in the yard. By learning to mitigate these indicators, you increase your security.

https://youtu.be/ajwJSsRmDhA

Notice that this concept of indicators need not only apply to deterring child predators. By coming to view the world through a lens that colors everything as information which may be collected, manipulated, and exploited, one can begin to identify what potential inferences any type of threat may make about you.

Ask yourself, if someone were to ‘case’ your home, what informational indicators might you have left around the exterior that could work against your security (be the threat a burglar, armed invader, or nosy neighbor)? You may suffice an answer by taking a step outside and viewing your home while imitating malicious and/or investigative thought processes. Ask questions such as:

What do your lawn decorations say about you? Do you have flags? If so, of what? What do they imply to others? My wife and I often play a game of estimating the political bent of a given home’s occupants just by these sorts of things as we casually stroll in different neighborhoods. Putting the occupants of a home on the left-right spectrum is as easy as viewing a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag or colorful “Obama” bumper-sticker. Understand the advantage and disadvantage of flaunting such things. Once you do, the greatest deceptions/ false facades can be devised to your benefit (i.e. Don’t own a gun but want extra security? Post up a bluff, “Beware Trespassers Will Be Shot”. But hope hardened felons looking for guns don’t come your way).

Is your home well-maintained? Might one infer your socio-economic status by the site of it? Cracked side-walks, litter in the yard, peeling paint, and a rusty automobile give you a pretty good idea of the social status an occupant holds. From a criminal perspective, high-dollar cars in a lot adjacent to a beautiful three-story mansion is an obvious indicator of wealth and hence a burglar’s potential target.

If someone wanted to break-in, what are the obvious entry points? I have taken time walking the exterior of my home to identify the easiest ways in.

Do you want your home to stand out or blend in with the motifs of other homes? If so, it is important to start paying attention to the informational indicators of all neighboring homes to gain a base template.

Overall, it is important to recognize how we present ourselves to the world. Only by learning to view yourself through the eyes of others can you learn to truly deceive for your sake or that of your loved ones.

Truth is hidden by deception, and an apparent truth might conceal deceit.

This principle is extraordinarily useful…

 

 

Craig travels alot.

His vehicle has become a mobile life-preserver, for he has experienced one too many uncomfortable perils that the road has to offer.

Once he found himself stranded in the dark on a country road with coyotes sounding in the distance. His tire was blown out and he was not prudent enough to make sure he had a car-jack that could raise his vehicle up to proper height for a tire change. The mud and the rain didn’t help either. Every time he cranked the car-jack, the other side of the vehicle sunk deeper into the road. Fortunately, Craig was a scholar who had this habit of carrying lots of books everywhere he went. He repurposed those books as blocks to bear the weight of the vehicle and stand the car-jack on. He made the tire change and made the sour occasion a lesson. He carried a proper car-jack from then on.

As mundane as they seem, lessons like these have led Craig to refine his notion of ‘vehicle security’.

“In preparing a vehicle for travel, you don’t need to pay attention just to the obvious.”, he says, “Knowing how to change a tire is important, but what is more important is fine-tuning your sense of awareness about vehicle preparedness in terms of what could go wrong -you know, things out of the ordinary.”

He cites urban riots as reason to map out alternative traffic routes in the event egress from the city is necessary. He also has loaded his vehicle with enough supplies to last him at least 3 days should he be stranded. He has now turned ‘vehicle preparedness’ into a “thing”.

“What about food or water? Do you carry the life essentials in your vehicle?” He says the world is becoming progressively more unstable and unpredictable. In keeping with the times, he has educated himself on ‘vehicle security’ and put his knowledge into practice.

Here are a few of his pointers:

  1. Prior to any excursion, perform a thorough vehicle inspection. Check your lights, brakes, the tread on the tires. Get underneath the vehicle and look for any loose undercarriage or fluid leaks. Pop the hood and check your fluid levels (don’t forget the blinker fluid 😉 ). Are there any cracks in the hoses or belts? Do you have all the equipment you will need in the event of a flat (car-jack, roadside flares, tire-iron, etc.)? Once again, be THOROUGH. You might consider compiling your own checklist and leaving it in your vehicle.
  2.  Make a habit of keeping your gas-tank at least half full. You may even store fuel with stabilizer in your garage or keep a bit in or on your vehicle. You never know when you will need it. Just be sure to rotate the fuel from time to time.
  3. Include a medical kit, shovel, water filter, and rations in your vehicle inventory.
  4. Carry an extra set of clothes and footwear appropriate for the season.
  5. Practice defensive driving. Don’t allow yourself to be boxed in by cars at a traffic-light when panic ensues. Leave at least 3/4 of a car-length between you and the vehicle in front of you so you can maneuver around if you have to (stay in the right lane when possible).
  6. Never leave your keys in your car, not even a valet key.
  7. Wear your seat-belt.
  8.  Refrain from using your phone while driving 😉 .
  9.  Purchase hard-copies of highway maps and stow one in your vehicle.
  10. Plan primary AND secondary routes.

For the paranoid:

  1. Park outside of view of surveillance cameras.
  2. Watch for ‘tails’.
  3. John says you should wrap up your cell-phone in foil.
  4. Carry defensive precautions.
  5. Keep a knife at hand to cut your seat-belt in the event of a serious wreck.
  6. Avoid crop circles.

You are a law-abiding citizen.

You go to work, pay your taxes, and want nothing more than to provide a suitable habitat for your family in a world that, you trust, might exude good fortune from time to time. In other words, the pursuit of happiness is your ‘modus operandi’. Making enemies, or thinking the worst of people, is seldom a subject of concern for you.

Then one day you wake up to find some unknown assailant has slipped into your house to do you harm and steal precious belongings. This wasn’t expected.

‘Why is this happening to me?’, your internal soliloquy queries. There is no good answer.

The truth is the world we dwell in is chaotic and confused. You might have brushed someone the wrong way. Maybe you order too many packages from Amazon and the assailant is a delivery driver who has kept a tidy inventory of the shipments showing up on your doorstep. Perhaps an ex-lover has been stalking you, waiting for a chance to make you pay for his/her hurt feelings.  This is the reality, violent criminals can be anywhere and though crime rates might be low in your area, the minuscule probability of you encountering one has a way of sinking its teeth deep when you least expect it.

Should you be afraid of this reality? No. But an oft quoted axiom has it that ‘an once of prevention is worth a pound of cure’. You should not hesitate to educate yourself on defense and security.

Let’s back up the chimerical scenario above and assume the dark assailant is someone who has been stalking you for some time. How would he have found your address? The methods are extensive and many. Here are a few:

Casing

The premeditation of a forced entry can involve the ‘casing’ of the target. This simply means the would be criminal has taken steps to survey his target so as to provide sufficient ‘intel’ that thereafter informs his/her tactical process. Your run of the mill ‘thug’ might not do this, but you never know. They might watch for when you leave; when you come home; what cars are usually in the drive-way; if you have a dog or other form of security; etc. These observations will help them decide if you are an easy target. Try to withhold these indicators by any means. Park your cars in the garage, close windows, and don’t flaunt your wealth. Also, make friends with your neighbors. They can serve as an indispensable asset in the event someone has been casing your place (neighbors can be nosy 🙂 )

Stalking

Stalking has evolved. It used to be that a private investigator, ancient shinobi, or what have you, would pursue their targets by tailing (on foot or in vehicle). This method of stalking is still viable, but our digital age has created technological novelties such as gps trackers and smart-phone spyware that afford would be criminals new avenues of exploitation. Take for example of digital novelty the numerous online “background checkers”. For a small fee, these services allow one to look up anyone by phone number or name and gain sensitive information about you. Instant Checkmate, for instance, doles out addresses, phone-numbers, social media accounts, known relatives of the target, and even a map to pinpoint it all. These services are data-troves for social engineers (who are adept at manipulating human psychology for extortion and other purposes) as well as your well-meaning private investigator (who uses these types of services for resolving a client contract). To defend yourself against stalking learn to watch for someone following you, and opt-out from being listed on these background checking services.

Social Engineers

Social engineers are your modern con-men who are versatile in the trade of crime. They know how to talk or act their way into the ‘inner circle’ of sensitive information that reveals who you are and where you live. This isn’t all they do however, but it can be the case that a social engineer has decided to invade your home. The video below should give you a good primer about social engineering. Zip ahead to 17:00 if you want a cinematic rendering of their techniques:

So you don’t want your cell location tracked, for whatever reason, but you aren’t interested in buying any of those fancy signal blockers to slip over your phone. No worry, there is a very cheap way to ‘drop off the grid’, so to speak, with the knowledge of a basic scientific principle of electromagnetic radiation. But first, lets address the primary reason to learn techniques of ‘going black’.

In previous posts I have expatiated that your smart-phone is essentially a tracker’s dream. Rather than divesting resources to monitor targets through conventional private investigator means, people are literally doing surveyors a favor by purchasing a smart-phone which logs the location of the device along with a wide assortment of other identifying personal data.

Aiding in the legally sketchy surveillance of the cell-user are IMSI-catchers, commonly referred to as Stingrays, that covertly monitor your cell activity unbeknownst to you. Just how many of these surveillance apparatuses are currently operational is, according to Vocative, hard to determine:

“Almost by definition, it’s impossible paint a comprehensive look at stingrays in the U.S. That’s largely due to the fact that, as the FBI has testified in an affidavit, the devices came with nondisclosure agreements and police departments and agencies often promise the FBI to never admit they have such devices.”

So minus the determination to simply not carry around a cell-phone, it is a glaring uncertainty that you will not be tracked or surveyed. How do you increase privacy?

My preferred method of shielding a phone from unwarranted eavesdropping is to purchase some tin foil for a makeshift faraday cage which will block all electromagnetic signals from penetrating the conductive material. The foil makes good hats as well. 😉

In the video below I make a call to a phone and while it is ringing, wrap the device in foil. The ring-tone drops off but, as you can hear, the transmitting cell keeps peeling. The phone encased in foil simply cannot transmit or receive any signal. Do this if you want to ‘go black’ on the whim. But bear in mind, there are less technologically savvy ways to keep tabs on you.

 

Chicken-Wire Caltrop

Tetsubishi are nasty little tools that a shinobi-no-mono would use to puncture the feet of his pursuers. In those days, these testubushi  were made from bamboo or iron and carried on person as an aid to infiltration missions and emergency egress situations. It is documented within the Bansenshukai that, before stealing into a building, tetsubishi would be dropped around the entrances for assurance if something were to go wrong and the shinobi found himself being given chase by barefooted or sandaled warriors, these little traps would surely hamper his pursuers.

In the west we refer to these miniature weapons as “caltrops” from the latin ‘calcitrapa’ which literally translates as ‘foot-trap’, and armies since time memorial have utilized them with the same principle of shinobi-no-jutsu in mind – attack the means to pursue. Alexander the Great employed them, and even the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner to the CIA, is said to have used them:

“During World War II, caltrops were used extensively for Jedburgh team operations. The Jedburgh teams were created in the early days of the Office of Strategic Services—the predecessor of today’s CIA. The teams of American, British and French officers would parachute into enemy-occupied territory to conduct sabotage. The Jedburghs scattered caltrops across enemy aircraft runways. These caltrops were made out of hollow spikes, which could puncture a self-sealing tire and cause it to blow out. When a fighter plane rolled over a caltrop during take off or landing, the tires would blow out, causing the plane to go into an uncontrollable ground loop and eventually crash.”

Tetsubishi have since then been used in a litany of geographical regions for defense purposes, and now an example will be given of how you can use this principle in creating implements of home-defense.

Say you have an acreage; or you are a preparedness advocate; or you simply like medieval style weapons; whatever the case may be, tetsubishi like devices will probably be able to aid you in deterring home invaders, trespassers, and hordes of zombies (ok, maybe not that last one, but you get the idea).

Homemade Spike-Board

Spike-boards can be deployed beneath windows, outside or inside entrances, or along roads and even foot-paths. All that is really required are some nails or screws and wood. As shown below, you can even go so far as to have the boards painted and camouflaged by natural foliage. Specific uses are determined by the user’s circumstances.  Disclaimer: This is for informational purposes only.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t undervalue your common hoodie . Believe it or not, this modest article of fabric is brimming with utility.

I make a habit to always wear a sweater, whether on the hips or otherwise, simply because of its intrinsic value as an implement of self-defense. In this post, I will cover just two uses for a common hoodie.

CCW Permit Holster

For concealed carry permit holders, the hoodie can be easily purposed as a concealment and retaining holster for a firearm. Depending on the color of clothing and bulk of material used, this technique offers comparable performance as a concealment holster to that of standard holsters.

Note that, as with any concealment holster, this technique of drawing demands practice. The gun could snag; you may wear too thin of material that displays an obvious profile of the tool; you might even wear the hoodie too loose, thus potentiating the possibility of the firearm dropping to the ground. This article is for informational purposes only, and therefore I am not responsible for your lack of conscience in failure to train safely (also, CCW permits are typically required by law to do this…check your laws) . That being said, one technique of hoodie draw is described here:

 

The color scheme herein doesn’t matter, though I will say that using a darker color of hoodie allows for lower tool profile, which is important as it associates with the very function of carrying concealed. When draw is necessary, use your thumb to guide the firearm to open display (photo 2) then grip and draw. Once again, practice…practice…practice. Anyone who is desiring to learn this method, should go about their practice by first carrying an UNLOADED firearm around one’s own household. This is to condition comfort-ability and confidence with one’s technique so that awareness of how to keep the firearm properly holstered is developed. If you found the technique worthwhile, depending on your life circumstances, extra magazine holders and a specifically designed muzzle holder could be sewn on to your hoodie. Be creative, but be realistic. Hoodies are a common article of clothing, so think of how it can be used to benefit you aside from elemental protection.

Moku Ton-jutsu

For those of you out there familiar with my posts for their shinobi-no-jutsu content, here is what you are after. For those who are not familiar with moku ton-jutsu, allow me to expatiate a bit:

Gingestu Itoh, a 20th century researcher of ninjutsu has described moku ton-jutsu as,  “techniques involving evading, escaping or otherwise, concealing the body within trees or grasses.” (p.88 Ninjutsu no Gokui). As for historically documented, academic cases of shinobi climbing trees to evade capture, I cannot cite any at this time, though it is a certainty that the shinobi were familiar with a wide variety of methods of concealing themselves among the vegetation of woodland. The technique I provide below is a modern interpretation of what is observed in the following clip by a John Johnson:

So, rather than use an obi, as effective as it is, one can instead use a hoodie as a climbing implement for those stubborn trees without branches. The technique is easy enough. You may feel like a lumber-jack. I know I did. Just be sure to wrap your hands with the loose ends of the hoodie, otherwise you may end up with a couple of scrapes on your knuckles (it hurts to type).

 

 

So there you have it. Two unconventional uses of a hoodie. One with CCW and the other shinobi-no-jutsu.

To enhance your self-defense standing you might take some time to consider what aids to security you can furnish your home with, aside from the conventional firearm. The objective of security is to deter the actions of a would be intruder from targeting your residence for whatever malicious reason. In understanding this principle of security you can better your perimeter stances and simultaneously make your household less appealing to threats. The following list consists of ways you can harden your home:

  1. Get a dog: This may not be the most cost-effective solution to poor security, but it is certainly one of the most efficient deterrents to crime against you and your home. Dogs can serve in early threat detection and signal to you that something is not quite right outside your home. Interestingly enough, even the ancient shinobi were quite weary of the presence of dogs within the area they intended to infiltrate going so far as to concoct baked rice cakes packed with poison to deal with the canine nuisance. If you do get a dog, be sure not to leave it on a chain, as this can give an intruder easy estimation of how far that dog can move. Also, be sure to get a dog that is of a decent size (20 kg or more).
  2. Implement psychological deterrents: These are among the most cost-effective solution to home security and can take the form of anything, from a simple “Smile You’re On Camera” sign placed blatantly on the side of your house or fence, to realistic looking dummy cameras mounted above your entrances. Be creative. The idea here is to seem like a hard target.
  3. Add or change locks to all your entrances.
  4. Reinforce entrances with metal cored doors: Many residences feature doors with large windows that may put locks at risk of being easily compromised by an intruder. It would be wise to change these types of doors out with more robust options.
  5. Motion Activated Floodlights: The benefit of this one should be obvious.
  6. Get to know your neighbors: By creating alliances with your neighbors you essentially draft into service a surveillance team who can watch your home while you are away.
  7. Don’t leave your trash in plain sight: The box to the new TV you just bought is an indicator to a potential intruder that your home has high-valued goods. Break down your trash and keep it secured in a bin. Be especially aware that junk mail carelessly tossed into the garbage can be used by social engineers to plot against you for purposes of extortion or some other deviant goal.
  8. Research Crime Statistics: By knowing what crimes occur in your area you gain the benefit of being able to tailor your home-security plan to the most probable threat plaguing your community.
  9. Close the Blinds when You Leave.