When speaking of countersurveillance, we have two expansive areas of content to cover. A post will be made following this one, to cover the alternate methodology of countersurveillance. This post will focus on surveillance countermeasures having a heavy focus on the human definition of the subject.
Even in today’s increasingly digital world, surveillance is mostly conducted utilizing human intelligence gathering techniques. This is employed by various government agencies, militaries and detective agencies when they send operators, agents or detectives out into the field for the sake of gathering intelligence. This intelligence is then relayed back to an operations command center, which decides what to do with the intelligence gathered. Because of this, methods to counteract attempts at surveillance have developed. More surprisingly, you would be very surprised at how accurately these methods are portrayed in films and television.
Slip Away And Disappear. If the professionals are after you, chances are that you will never know it. Law Enforcement agencies have considerable resources to conduct full scale surveillance; resources such as a stationary surveillance relay, trail skipping mobile surveillance and leap frogging a team of assets are carefully laid out to ensure that you would not know that you are being followed. However, if you catch an amateur on your trail, it is best to slip away and break visual contact. First, you need identify who is after you and how many individuals are working together. Don’t think you got the upper-hand simply because you identified one person. There might be other assets tailing you. Second, do not make it obvious that you know you are being tailed; do not look over your shoulder so much that it gives you away. Now for the fun part: Casually give the slip. Whichever mode of transportation you are utilizing(on foot, vehicle, etc), you are going to want to ditch that method immediately for an alternate method of travel. You’re going to want to do so in a manner that confuses whoever is following you. If on foot, try heading down into the subway. Walk toward a train that is boarding and feign as if you will also be boarding it. Then, at the last possible moment, make your way over to a train departing in the opposite direction. You don’t want to give them the chance to get through the doors with you. If in a vehicle, consider ditching the vehicle for quick stroll through a large, crowded park, then hailing a taxi. If someone is following you, they probably ditched their vehicle to follow you on foot. If they haven’t lost you by that point, they’re sure to lose you in the confusion of seeing you revert to automobile travel; especially if all they can do is hail a cab. It is against all cab dispatch companies policies to tail other individuals. In fact, it is even illegal in most states.
Disappear Into a Sea of People. The key here is to break visual contact. If someone has eyes on you, they have have visual contact. You want to break their surveillance. A large crowd is a good place to do it. Once you know that you have traveled deep enough into a crowd or gathering and they’re right behind you, this is when you can change directions without being seen. Just lightly push through in a different direction until you have lost the individual. It is at this point that you want to put a little distance between yourself and your pursuer, as well. Now, this is the tricky part. You have a decision to make. Each decision will have a various set of different outcomes. You can start circling back and, in turn, establish visual contact of your pursuer; thus establishing surveillance on them. However, be careful, if you are not properly trained, you can be made and your pursuer can turn on you. They can even execute an attack, if they mean harm. Another option would be to circle around exit from the direction that you came from. Then, from there, regroup and plan a proper EXFIL(exfiltration) route, to properly and covertly extract yourself from the area without being pursued further.
Work In The Shadows. This is my personal favorite but it doesn’t work for everyone. Everyone develops their own niche. This concept, simply put, is just hiding. There are several ways to hide, whether hiding in plain sight or hiding remotely. When being pursued, you want to break visual contact for a brief period(again). The point of this method is not to completely break visual contact but to break it just long enough to find a hiding or vantage point. Then, you watch your pursuer depart the area when they assume you have simply continued on a specific path. If you are being pursued on foot, you could briefly turn at the next corner(while sticking as close to the building as possible). This will temporarily break visual contact with your pursuer. Whoever is tailing you will not panic or rush to re-establish visual contact. They typically assume that you took a natural path of travel. Then, once you have turned the corner, quickly identify a hiding spot and set up a position there. You will see your pursuer follow along and then look lost as soon as he turns the corner. You will also notice that he will quickly scan the area and then move onward, assuming you continued your path of travel. Where you hide depends on the environment but use it as best as you can and be creative. If at night, it is easy to find a large shadowy spot and hid in it. If during the day, look for alternatives. You can quickly duck into doorways and get deep enough into the hall where you can observe them but they cannot view you. Sometimes, you might even have to improvise so drastically that you hide behind a dumpster. Work with what you have and make it work for you.
Look Over Your Shoulder. The most important and simplest method of Human Countermeasures is to just look over your shoulder. Do not peak over your should so much that your tail will know you have spotted them. Do so in properly spaced intervals. When doing so, be sure to pay attention to patterns and frequency. Make sure you make note of anything that appears a little too often and for how long. More than likely, if it has continued for longer than a set duration of time, you are being followed. If in a vehicle, do not get paranoid. However, if you are taking a very indirect path of travel, and you spend the last eight miles observing the same vehicle in your mirror, chances are that you are being followed. Again, be careful with getting too paranoid, though. Make sure you quantify the duration of the experience, otherwise, you might be placing too much importance on something that is not there.
These are the general core concepts. Remember that everything in this field of work expands. Due to the nature of this career field, nothing is ever solidified. By this, I mean that things will deviate from standard patterns. When you’re in the field, there is no telling what can or will happen. You can produce the same results on most cases but there is always that one case that comes and completely shocks you from the routine of what typically occurs. The best bet is to always be prepared for the unexpected.