How to be a spy

Well, not quite.

However, with the concluding episode of the English Spy Mysteries out today, Assassins Retribution, I thought I’d take a look at some best practices that will keep you safe at home and while you’re travelling.

Some of these will sound like they’re straight out of a spy novel, but during the course of my book research it’s been a real eye-opener about these things, and we can all do something to protect ourselves and our privacy.

Assassins Retribution 3D cover no spine

Lose the mobile phone

Ouch. Yeah, I know.

So, what can you do to protect your security if you don’t want to go to this extreme?

Ever wondered why those annoying adverts appear in your Facebook or Instagram feed? Turn off the location services on your phone, keep the search cache clear, and make sure you lock down your Facebook profile to “friends” not “public” to keep private stuff just that.

In addition, make sure you update your software when that notification pops up on the screen – these are to protect you against newly discovered security flaws as well as improving the efficiency of the operating system.

Person using iPhone with purple background vertical

You can also use a secure lock screen – it’s easy enough to change your phone settings to do this, and will mean that only you can access the data.

Sure, all of the above can be undone by an unscrupulous thief if they really want to, but at least you’re safe all the time that phone is in your possession.

Having said that, you can set up a remote wipe for all the data on your phone if it is stolen – as long as you’ve got it backed up to iCloud, Google Sync or similar.

You can find out more about how to up the ante on your mobile phone privacy here.

Alexa? Where's my spy?

On the subject of mobile technology, you’re going to have to lose that smart TV, the Google Home and the Amazon Alexa.

Personally, I don’t ever want one of these appliances in my home – they’re too easy to hack, because objects such as TVs, refrigerators, and the like weren’t designed with your security in mind.

I won’t even wear a fitness band – I’ve already researched these for a short story I’ve written about a stalker, and it’s truly frightening what sort of information someone can find out about you and your routine.

If you do like your smart gadgets though, then have a look at this article to find out how to protect yourself.

Person wearing a fitness tracker on their wrist

Check out your hotel when you check in

You don’t have to be a real spy to do this, but it’ll serve you well anyway from a personal safety and security point of view while you’re travelling at home and abroad.

For a start, make sure you book your hotel in a reputable location.

When you first check in to the hotel, suss out the fire exits and where the stairwells are located.

hotel room door lock

Make sure the lock to your room works properly, and if you’re travelling with someone, get them to stand outside the door and test it.

If you’ve got any concerns, report it immediately and either get a new key, or a new room if the lock can’t be replaced. 

Once you’re in your room, read the emergency response procedures that are usually taped to the back of the door or contained within the welcome pack to familiarise yourself with the escape route.

Next, put all your valuables in the safe – passports, spare cash, jewellery, the lot. Pack a small flashlight, and place it next to the bed so if there is a power failure, you can move about safely in the dark.

I could go on, but there’s a great article here about hotel safety, and there are some great tips that I’ll be implementing on my next trip


Always have a way out

Finally, a wise person once said to me: “always have an up to date passport and an up to date resume, so you can do a runner at any time”.

Keep your passport and any other identity documents locked away somewhere safe in your house.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog post, and I’d love to know what you do to keep yourself safe at home and whilst travelling!

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