How to Avoid Pickpockets, and Other Horror Stories

Excerpt

Think sensibly, and act with confidence

Security expert Bruce Schneier takes a much-ado-about-nothing view of terrorist fears. The odds of such an attack are close to zero, so better to worry about things that have at least some likelihood of occurring, he maintains.

"We as a society always fear the rare and spectacular more than the pedestrian," says the cyber-security whiz and author of Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World (Copernicus Books, $25).

Though not geared specifically to travelers, his new book espouses the notion that security measures involve trade-offs — both monetary and personal. The book maps out a five-step plan to help individuals assess whether those trade-offs are worth it.

"The question you always ask in security is not whether it will do any good, but whether it's worth it," Schneier says. For instance, a bulletproof vest might prevent a gunshot wound, but it likely isn't worth the hassle of wearing one.

Among Schneier's suggestions to ward off crime while traveling:

  • Act confident. "People who are targeted for street crimes look like victims."
  • Keep a spare credit card in your hotel room so you won't be without one in the event of theft or loss.
  • Carry a photocopy of relevant information in your passport.
  • Use a money belt, and don't carry all your cash in one place.
  • Relax. "Wouldn't it be terrible if vacations were ruined because of fear?"

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Photo of Bruce Schneier by Per Ervland.

Schneier on Security is a personal website. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of IBM Resilient.