Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Important Security And Safety Tips When Lodging in A Hotel

Preamble: Some of us may have come across the reported ritual killing of a postgraduate student, one Timothy Adegoke Oladare at Hilton And Resort Hotel in Ife. He was based in Abuja but reportedly traveled to Ile Ife in Osun state to write his master’s degree exam but was allegedly murdered in his hotel room where he lodged. Similarly, it was reported that closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras allegedly hidden in Air Conditioners were discovered in rooms at the Pavillion Hotel, Ayepe, in the Odogbolu area of Ogun state.

Hotel Security Tips

  1. Before choosing a hotel, do some research and due diligence, probably online. Find out what kind of crime is common in that area? Is there a terrorist or kidnapping threat?  You may wish to use the street view functionality of Google Maps — if available — to get a visual sense of the hotel location.
  2. Choosing hotel room/Floor. For a high rise building, choose a room between the second and fourth floors (never the top floor), furthest away from the side of the lobby. The ground floor is too easy to access. Most fire truck ladders can reach up to the second, third and even fourth floors.
  3. Don't be gender-specific when reserving a room. Provide only your first initial and last name.
  4. Ascertain if there's deployment of armed security operatives or other government security agents in the hotel especially at night.
  5. Do well to study the hotel's layout, find exits or escape routes, count doors to stairways, identify the nearest emergency exit and staircase upon arrival at a hotel.
  6. When you arrive at the hotel, call to inform a family member or friends or colleagues about the hotel you are lodging in. Give them the name and address of the hotel.
  7.  It is advisable to pay for hotel reservation with bank/online transfer and not cash. This serves as an evidence that you lodged or paid for the hotel accommodation. Avoid any hotel that insists on cash payments and would not accept direct bank-facilities transaction. Scan the payment receipt and send to a family member, friend, or colleague.
  8. Always carry a personal flashlight or touch light (your phone's light can be useful too) should you lose power in an unfamiliar.
  9. Desist from discussing your business or travel plans and movements during your stay in a hotel, especially in public areas where people may eavesdrop your conversation. Also, do not discuss your room number while standing in the lobby (or anywhere).
  10. If someone knocks on your door claiming to be hotel staff and you haven’t requested room service, contact (call) the front desk before opening the door to verify the person is indeed a hotel employee.
  11. Always make your hotel room appear to be occupied by leaving the television or radio on. You may also wish to put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door.
  12. While in the room, do a physical inspection, scan the room, the wardrobe, windows, mattress to be sure that nothing, including a secret CCTV camera is hidden inside a fake smoke detector, alarm clock, or picture frame, AC power adapter, Alarm sensor, Telephone Desk, standing lamp, Power outlet, Wall clock, Mirror, Alarm clock, Soap dish, Toothbrush holder, Tissue boxes, DVD player or other set-top boxes. Detecting a Hidden Camera Lens. All cameras have a lens, and all lenses reflect light to some degree. One of the easiest checks for a hidden camera is to close the curtains, turn the lights off, and use your phone’s flashlight to look for telltale reflections where they shouldn’t be. Since light needs to hit the lens at the right angle to be reflected back to you, you’ll need to scan the room slowly, and shine the light from different spots. Note that this approach won’t work for a camera that’s hidden inside a mirror, or anything else with a highly-reflective surface. Detecting Infrared Light from Hidden Cameras. It is possible to use your phone to detect a hidden camera via the infrared light it emits. Turn off the lights, put your phone into selfie mode. Now, point a normal TV remote at the front camera, and push any of the remote’s buttons. If a small, bright light appears on your phone screen when the button is pushed, you’re good to go. There are various smartphone apps that can help you detect hidden cameras such as Hidden Spy Camera Detector, Radarbot, Detectify, Glint Finder, Hidden Device Detector, Ghost Camera Finder, to scan for frequencies used by recording equipment.
  13. Keep the door locked as soon as you enter your hotel room. A no-brainer, but it can be easy to forget. Always use the deadbolt and security chain regardless of how excessive it may seem.
  14. Don't open the door to strangers. It may be less obvious, however, if the stranger claims to be a hotel employee. If you're not expecting anyone, call the front desk to verify. When you do open the door, keep the security chain engaged until you're absolutely certain.
  15. During your stay in the hotel especially if you would be using the hotel’s Wi-Fi, use a VPN (VIRTUAL PRIVACY NETWORK). Otherwise just about anyone can access all the information on your device. Activating a VPN provides more security for your devices and the information stored there. Most computer security companies like Norton have VPN options.
  16. When leaving the hotel, inform a family member, a friend, or a colleague that you are about to check out. Walk with confidence and not like someone who doesn’t know his/her way around.
  17. Remain vigilant and situationally aware!

©Don Okereke is a security analyst, thought leader, writer, active citizen and ex-serviceman. He’s a passionate advocate for cyber/security awareness.

November 24, 2021