Burn Notice Spy Tips Season 1 Episode 8

Spy Tips on Fight Bigger Opponents, Using Paranoia, and more

When you’re giving five inches and a hundred pounds to a well-trained opponent, it helps to know the terrain better than he does.

A good cover identity is a team effort. If you want to meet someone, it’s a good idea to play a little hard to get. Put people between yourself and the target. Make them come to you.

Clandestine meetings are never fun to arrange. It’s a big part of the job for a covert operative, but it’s never pleasant. It’s not so much the fear of death that bothers you. It’s driving to the meet with a bag over your head.  

It’s tough to compromise a well-thought-out security system, but making someone think you can compromise it, well, that’s much easier. Take surveillance cameras, for example. You can disable one by shooting a laser at it and overloading the light-sensitive chip. Leave around some telltale signs of surveillance, like cigarette butts, a forgotten camera-lens cap. And the more security there is, the more likely they are to think they’ve got a very serious problem. Even the security team itself can be an opportunity. The more employees you have, the more you have to worry about. Deliver some vague threats and a few hundred bucks to a security guard. If he’s honest, he’ll tell his boss, who then wonders who wasn’t so honest. For the cost of a nice dinner, you can get a whole security team canned.

One of the dangers of any kind of psychological warfare is it can be too effective and send the target into a paranoid tailspin. That paranoia can be useful… or deadly.

The key to good security is good systems, consistency. But those very systems make you predictable. Where will you take your valuables? A bank you trust. How’re you going to get there? With armed men in a big SUV. When will you go? When the bank is least crowded. All good procedure, all one hundred percent predictable.

If you know someone’s going to be at a bank at a particular time, it’s not hard to make it look like they’re robbing the bank. Shoot out a few video-surveillance cameras. Block off the street with a stolen car, like they’re preparing an escape route. Fire up a spark-gap transmitter to kill the security radios at the bank, and they’ll really look like they know what they’re doing.

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