“Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart”
This past week I finished up my final training trip for 2018. It was a busy year to say the least and I am so thankful for all of the opportunities I had to circumnavigate the country and share information that I am passionate about with so many of you. In addition to my “regular job”, these trips take a considerable amount of planning, preparation, and logistics to pull off. Standing in front of a new group of students who are eager to learn, in places I have never been to before is always such a pleasure.
I was stranded at the Pittsburgh airport during a snowstorm and power outage, and then the T.S.A. told me they had no records of my flight to Phoenix so they cancelled my returning flight. The story behind how that happened is quite interesting and I felt like I had accidentally achieved “Raymond Reddington” status. “How can I duplicate that in the future”, was all I kept thinking. I finally made it back home to South Florida eventually. I visited the Southwest portion of the country on four occasions, during the 120 degree summer heat and during a chilly fall season in the desert. I made friends in the Pacific Northwest after driving 110 miles through the mountain roads, and also enjoyed a West Coast sunset at a training facility that overlooked the ocean. From coast to coast in all directions via airlines and rental cars, each opportunity was an adventure I will always remember.
The law enforcement host agencies, military facilities, and corporate conference rooms were jam packed with students from all walks of life. The enthusiasm, discussions, and Q&A sessions were a learning opportunity for everyone including me. We went down a lot of rabbit holes and stayed on track a time or two also, discovering new ways of approaching privacy / security issues at every turn. Two FBI agents said they would put me on a watch list after attending the first day of class, and I had dinner with a group of truly fascinating heros who’s contributions to our national security will be redacted from history lessons forever. The food was amazing, and that’s all I can share.
Every class results in making new friends, exceptional contacts, and forming relationships with people I never would have met otherwise. Many of you stay in contact after the training days are done, and new ideas and solutions come out of those on-going discussions. I am always motivated by your enthusiasm and willingness to improve personal operational security. Some have worked with me to resolve op-sec issues in their personal lives and I am humbled by that level of trust. A lot of success has come from those consultations and also a lot of lessons learned.
I research a great deal, blog what’s on my mind occasionally, teach every chance I can get, and practice what I preach during op-sec trainings. Being a privacy enthusiast and advocating for better operational security is something I will always enjoy. An unexpected result of leaving my comfort zone and sharing knowledge with so many is the relationships that have come out of it all. I won’t name names, but you all know who you are and I am thankful for you this holiday season. Thanks for dealing with the extremes of a private lifestyle, putting up with all the idiosyncrasies that come with it, and for your willingness to share all the good Intel with others you know.
Many students have asked that I share links to some of the humorous videos that are shown after breaks in the training days. I will leave you all with a few of those below. The next year already looks to be a busy one. I can’t wait to have more adventures, make new friends who share common interests and to do what I can to lend a hand in your pursuit of taking “control” over what the internet knows about you. Cheers!