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Category: Security

What Is It Like Traveling In Pakistan?

The first thing you think of when it comes to Pakistan probably isn’t tourism but recently developments have tripled visitors since 2018. It’s not now and won’t be mainstream any time soon which makes it a very interesting place to visit for a certain type of traveler.

Tourism Infrastructure

Pakistan has a fairly developed tourism infrastructure. It’s easy and inexpensive to fly within the country and the buses are the most luxurious I’ve come across anywhere. There’s a solid middle-tier of hotels, Uber (and local Careem) ride sharing, plus a variety of food from street vendors to hipster burger joints.

karachi burns road

Like a lot of the country, there’s a broad blend across the tourism infrastructure. It’s not so developed that anyone can just pop in and hop a bus from Islamabad to Lahore. For travelers with a bit of experience who don’t mind a few rough edges in their journeys it will only add to the charm.

What Would You See? Do?

As the 33rd largest country in the world, the long shape of Pakistan makes it home to a variety of geographical zones. The second highest mountain, K2, can be found in the Karakoram mountain range in the north. Geographical diversity often means cultural diversity, with Tajikistan, China, and Afghanistan’s influences in the mountains, Punjab on the eastern border, with Karachi’s hot blend of spice and sea.

pakistan curries

In addition to the natural wonders, there are historical sites like Lahore Fort built half a millennia ago. And across all of it, there are hardly any tourists visiting. For adventurous travelers, that’s a plus; less experienced tourists might find that off-putting. It’s really the story of visiting Pakistan right now.

Safety Elephant In The Room

We know the reason few people are visiting – concerns about safety. In 2014, a terrorist attack on a military school prompted the government (with mass public support) to begin a campaign against terrorism. The following two years resulted in the deaths of 4,000 terrorists and since then, terrorism-related deaths have decreased dramatically.

karachi pakistan

“From 12,000 deaths in 2009 (32 per day), the number declined by 87 percent by 2017 and continues to do so. In 2019, fewer than 300 people were killed in terrorist attacks nationwide.” – Vice

Where that leaves Pakistan today is on the cusp. Having eliminated, so far, one of the primary deterrents for people to consider Pakistan a tourist destination, the first wave of travel first adopters is arriving. Backpackers, adventurers, and us blogger types are enjoying Pakistan on the cusp.

Pakistan’s reputation hasn’t recovered nor the infrastructure developed enough to attract casual visitors. On the flip side, it’s got more than enough in place to make it a unique, inexpensive, and relatively easy place to visit for someone with travel experience and inclination.

It’s too soon to tell if Pakistan will continue to improve the areas important for tourism – security, infrastructure, reputation. At this moment however if what you’ve read so far has you very curious, Pakistan might be a good candidate for your next destination.

Prevent People From Snooping Your Screen With A Laptop Privacy Filter

This is a sponsored post written by me Sponsored by 3M All opinions are 100% mine.

I use a privacy filter on all my screens so when 3M got in touch for this sponsored partnership it was a good opportunity to share the benefits with you. [What is this?]

3m privacy filter

We’ve all had the experience of people looking over our shoulder on the metro, bus, or planes, curious to see what we’re looking at on our phones. With smaller devices it’s easy to turn a shoulder but for laptops, keeping your screen private is more difficult, especially when traveling.

There are a lot of good reasons to keep the contents of your screen hidden from shoulder surfers sitting next to you on a plane: business travelers to keep important documents confidential, regulatory requirements in your field, and developers working on code. Disclosure of any of those, not to mention your passwords, name (when logging on to social media), can all be easily prevented with a privacy filter.

What’s A Privacy Filter?

These are like screen protectors placed on your laptop screen, except the 3M™ Privacy Filter limits the viewing angles. Basically the contents of the screen are only visible from one angle – right in front. People sitting next to you at a cafe or standing in an airplane aisle won’t be able to see your screen. You can watch the effect in the video below to see how even a screen image at full brightness disappears when you move a bit to the side.

 

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15 Second Installation

The collaborative nature of a laptop – it can be your business work space or television in one – means you don’t want to always restrict your screen for your eyes only. To make using a laptop privacy filter practical, 3M developed its 3M™ COMPLY™ Attachment System. For people who don’t want to stick anything to their screen, the way the 3M™ COMPLY ™ Attachment System works is by using two adhesives to the exterior or your laptop. Fast, and easily removable without residue if needed, you can see in the video below how the 3M™ COMPLY™ Attachment System allows you to simply flip a privacy filter up or down as needed.

3m privacy filter

What I like about the 3M™ Privacy Filters is they’re designed (with a feature called 3M™ COMPLY ™ Attachment System) so you can get switch between private viewing and sharing with little effort if needed. You might be on a flight and want to share your screen with a friend or have a meeting where a privacy filter might hinder your group’s view.

Worth The Effort?

You may be thinking whether or not a privacy filter is excessive but if you travel for business in particular, it can help maintain your company’s proprietary information. Digital nomads or other small, independent business owners, the same goes for you. A displayed password, code snippet, or other personal information caught at a glance by a shoulder surfer could cause you potential headaches a 3M ™ Privacy Filter can prevent. The 3M™ COMPLY ™ Attachment System is an elegant way to implement a laptop privacy screen in a way that you’ll actually use it in multiple situations and is a portable, effective, and inexpensive way to maintain your privacy on the road.

Why You Should Never Use Airport Charging Stations Unless You Do This

Airport are usually the only place to you’ve got to charge up a 1% battery in between flights, but as tempting as USB ports near your gate can be, they pose a big security risk to your privacy. In the video above I explain the risks and why your should treat public USB ports like public wifi networks. USB ports can transfer data as well as power, the former potentially exposing your phone to malware. A tool like the PortaPow, which blocks those data connections should be considered essential gear every time you plugin at airports, cafes, or any public USB port.

Keep Your Feet Off The Car Dashboard To Avoid Gruesome Airbag Injuries

dashboard airbag

It’s a fairly common sight, particularly on highways to see someone in the passenger seat of a car have their feet up on the dashboard. Few worry about the consequences of being involved in one of the 3,400 car accidents that happen daily, but it’s actually the device designed to keep you safe that can (literally) destroy your legs.

Here’s why you should never put your feet up on the car’s dashboard, if you’re not entirely convinced already.

Airbags Faster Than You

Car airbags are designed to deploy in accidents as slow as 12kph (8mph) into a solid barrier. The average car airbag inflates completely within 1/20th of a second, about twice the speed of an average eye blink. An airbag needs to get in place (and even begin partially deflating) before your head collides with the windshield or dashboard. Airbags are faster than a human blinks, let alone physical reactions.

So it’s impossible to move your legs out of the way in time during an accident.

romania car drone

Achieving these speeds requires a lot of force (roughly 3.33×104 Newtons) – one good reason you should never put your phone or any other object over the airbag ever. When your airbag deploys it can turn an air freshener or your legs into a powerful projectile.

Knees Coming At You

Overestimating how fast you can react to move your legs out of the way is something many passengers do, as is underestimating what an airbag does to your legs. Numbers and Newtons are hard to grasp but the Mythbusters video below does a good job of showing you how bad things can look.

Part of the issue might be the name “air” bag. We tend to associate air with something soft. Bags are those fluffy things that hold our groceries but Audra Tatum’s story might change your mind on both counts.

Adding Injury To Injury

Make no mistake about it – when an airbag deploys if your legs are in the way they’ll be forcibly displaced. Some people have their faces damaged or eyes lost because your knees come hurdling back under the strong force of the airbag. Others, like Tatum, suffer severe compound leg breaks, as you can read below (or click on the link to see a photo which should be warning enough).

“The airbag went off, throwing my foot up and breaking my nose,” Tatum, who wasn’t wearing a seat belt, told CBS. “I was looking at the bottom of my foot facing up at me.” Besides her nose, Tatum broke her ankle, femur and arm, telling CBS she still walks with a limp and can’t stand more than 4 hours at a time.

Another thing to note is airbags don’t always deploy due to a collision, millions are recalled each year due to malfunctions like activating when they’re not supposed to. I won’t bother telling you stories of people who had their legs out the window before an accident. Needless (I hope) now to say, don’t put your feet up on the car dashboard, they’re hardly as safe as planes, and rather let airbags do what they’re good at. For those of you who travel with pets, don’t let them hang out in the front seat or better yet, make sure they’re secured in a proper car harness in the back.

How To Bug Sweep An Airbnb Or Hotel Room For Hidden Cameras And Surveillance Devices

Recently, I wrote how you can detect and find hidden cameras in an Airbnb and there are several ways to conduct a basic bug sweep. One of the most practical tools for travelers mentioned in that post is the MaQue Anti-Spy Bug Detector. They’re small, inexpensive, and fairly effective enough to give you piece of mind before your first night in an Airbnb.

In the video above you can see how the MaQue works – and in the video below, how to use it to check a hotel room or Airbnb for hidden cameras.

Feel free to let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!

How To Turn An Extra Phone Into A Complete Hotel Room Security System

Your valuables are often vulnerable in hotel rooms and while some Airbnbs may be watching you, keeping an eye on your stuff while you’re out for the day hasn’t been easy. The Haven app however, is designed to be a complete surveillance system you can install on a spare Android phone to be your eyes and ears when you’re not around.

What’s Haven?

Haven was designed by the Freedom of the Press Foundation and the Guardian Project (Edward Snowden is president of the former) to combat an “evil maid” attack. Basically, an evil maid attack is sort of what it sounds like, securing your stuff from someone with physical access to it is really hard. A hotel room is a perfect example, you can’t always take everything with you during the day when staff come in to clean the room.

mobile security system

What Haven does is turn an Android phone into a listening and video recording device that’s automatically activated by sound and motion, alerting you by text if something fishy happens.

How To Setup Haven

As you can see in the video above, Haven is a relatively quick and easy setup. (Currently it’s Android only.) There are two ways to setup Haven: using wifi only or by getting a separate SIM card with data. The wifi-only configuration is cumbersome and much less effective if you’re using it for hotel room security so I’m not covering it here.

The first step is to grab Haven, a free download, from the Play Store and install it on an extra Android phone. Stick in an SIM card with data and launch Haven.

nexus 5xLG Nexus 5x

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Once it’s installed, it will take you through some introduction screens.

  • Configure: The first configure button lets you set how sensitive the camera, microphone, and motion detection are. I would recommend going with the defaults, then run a few tests. If you end up with too many false positives, turn down the sensitivities accordingly and test until you get them as needed.

Next, you set a phone number (most likely to your primary phone) where you can receive texts alerts if Haven detects something after it’s activated. Haven also works with Signal the private messaging app.

Other Configuration Options

When you’re about to leave your hotel room (office, home, wherever you want monitored), open Haven, hit Start Now, and a 30 second countdown timer begins. That timer can be configured to be shorter or longer; notification intervals can also be set in Haven’s configuration options.

haven app

Haven Advantages And Drawbacks

Many people have voiced concerns about personal privacy using Haven. It’s true, if Haven’s creators wanted to spy on you using the app, they certainly could. However, the fact that Haven is open source (it’s code open for anyone to review) as well as the reputation of its creators being on the line, it seems unlikely Haven is some mass surveillance scheme. Yes, Haven needs access to your phone’s camera, microphone, and motion sensors to work properly but most people give those permissions to all sorts of apps that hardly require it.

Ideally, you install Haven on a spare, brand new, Android phone with a new SIM to ensure they’ve not been compromised or there’s no malicious code running on the device. Otherwise, if you’re still a bit paranoid, just use Haven when you’re away from your hotel room and turn off the phone otherwise. Even for hotel rooms with a safe (they’re not too hard to open) placing a Haven-enabled phone inside can catch a glimpse of a thief, potentially leading to the recovery of stolen items. Haven can also be used as a security system while you’re sleeping to keep an eye on the door and give you piece of mind.

Although Haven is fairly power efficient, but if you’re going to be gone for extended periods of time, you might want to plug in the phone to an external charger like the Anker Slim 5000, PowerStick+, or just a wall outlet. Despite its potential drawbacks, Haven is the most comprehensive, inexpensive, and simple solution to monitoring your belongings when you’re not near them. Combined with these other tools, Haven can help you protect and possibly recover your stuff if it gets stolen while traveling.

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