Former CIA Officer Jason Hanson Reveals...

Spy Secrets That Can

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Mailbag Monday

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I’ve heard you mention that you use a flip phone for security reasons. Why can’t a flip phone be tracked?

-From Nick D.

Answer: Most flip phones are older, meaning they are not always connected to the internet and sending your information back and forth.

In addition, older flip phones are not GPS enabled, so you can’t use them for things like mapping or directions. Basically, since an older flip phone doesn’t have internet connectivity, your location cannot be pinpointed by Google or Apple.

However, any cell phone will use a cell tower when making a phone call, so phone companies can track your phone to a general location based on the cell phone tower it’s connecting to. (If you buy a flip phone, pay cash and have the store activate it for you, so that you’re not the owner of record.)


If Biden tries to take away our guns and sends police to pick up our lawfully owned weapons, can we just hand them the piece that carries the serial number ONLY? After all that’s the gun by definition.

-From Brad G.

Answer: Serial numbers are usually affixed to the part of the firearm that per the U.S. government is legally considered to be a firearm. For example, on AR-platform firearms, that part is the lower receiver.

Now, the specific part with a serial number is usually a critical part for the gun to function. So, in theory you are right, because once that part is removed the weapon can no longer fire, therefore it’s not a gun.

So, while I love your thinking, I don’t think government thugs care about the serial number only. They’re going to want the whole gun. (This is why you need to have several legally owned guns that are off the books.)


I’m looking at buying a new TV for the first time in 20 years. These days most of the TV’s for sale are “smart.” I’m concerned about security issues. I want to buy a new one but I fear it can spy on us.

-From Dave S.

Answer: These days, essentially all TV models have smart features. In fact, you would have to go back to 2013 or 2014 models to find TVs that do not connect to the web. The argument is that consumers now want streaming services, so connectivity is necessary.

Of course, this brings risks with it as well as you mentioned. There are two types of security issues when it comes to Smart TV’s: hacking and data collection. The best thing to do is to treat your TV like you would a computer when it comes to security.

For instance, you should use a virtual private network (VPN) on your Smart TV, cover the camera with tape, and always use a strong password for any accounts you access on the TV. The bottom line is, you’d really have to buy an older model TV to be 100% safe.


I just moved to the big city from a small town farm. My car has been broken into twice in the last few weeks. This is not what I want to deal with when starting my new job. Any advice to protect my car?

-From Lars F.

Answer: One of the most important things you can do is to choose where you park carefully. When possible, you should park in a well-lit area where there is as much foot traffic as possible.

Now, you should never leave anything in your car that could attract a thief. This includes any type of electronic charger or wires because the criminal might think the actual electronic is stored somewhere in the vehicle.

Plus, don’t forget that criminals like to steal stereos, so if you can remove the faceplate of the stereo that is a good idea. I don’t know what kind of care you drive, but I certainly wouldn’t be parking something like a BMW in Baltimore City.

Also, if you really want to go a step further, you can get something like looks like blood and put it all over your door handles.

This would obviously cause issues for you, but you could do things to make people want to avoid your car. (Like I said, this is extreme, but pigs blood works well.)

When I lived in Baltimore City, I was the only person I know who didn’t have my car broken into and this is because I literally kept nothing in the car. So, when they looked through the windows there was nothing there.


My wife and I are taking a Caribbean cruise with several shore excursions. You have indicated a number of times that tactical pens aren’t a problem on planes. Do you know if that’s true with cruise ships and shore excursions into foreign countries?

-From Bart I.

Answer: I have flown all over the world with my Tactical Pen and gone into court houses, and other highly secure buildings and I’ve never had a problem bringing my Tactical Pen.

So, while I’ve never taken it on a cruise, I doubt you’ll have any issues and if I were going on a cruise, I would definitely bring mine.

Also, check the laws in the locations where you will be taking excursions. If it’s legal to carry a knife I would do so. (Just remove the steak knife from the cruise ship, don’t try and bring one onboard.)


When I go out of state, how do I carry my gun legally with me wherever I go around the country?

-From Joe T.

Answer: If you have a concealed carry permit in your home state, you need to understand permit reciprocity and how it works.

Basically, you want to find out what other states recognize your permit and will allow you to carry a concealed firearm. If you go to your state’s permit website, they will tell you what other states honor the permit.

Never risk carrying a concealed weapon in a state that you cannot legally do so. This will cause more headache than it is worth.

For instance, I have 3 concealed carry permits, but when I go to California, I cannot carry my gun since California doesn’t recognize any of the states.

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