Spartan9 Dispatch for February 2024

This month - updated application, Incident Manager in the wild, bags (almost) made, new books, extremely tired.

It’s been an exhausting month.

There’s lot’s to cover, so I’ll get straight into it.


What we’ve been doing, where we’ve been travelling, and what’s next.

Contingency Planning

I’ve just wrapped up a series of contingency planning projects focused on Cambodia and Nepal. The project involved developing robust plans for shelter-in-place, domestic relocation, and international evacuation, along with identifying competent local resources (security, medical, transport, accommodation etc). Interesting and engaging work.


Training workshops and customised training solutions.

Grey Catalyst

I recently introduced Grey Catalyst, which is focused designing and delivering workshops that meet the needs of individuals rather than organisations

If you haven’t had the chance to do so, please take a look at the new website, where I’ve added some courses and a bit of other information. Ignore the dates and pricing for now. There’s still a few things I need to work out before I’m able to confirm the details.

I’ve already received interest in the courses, so if you’re interested in attending one of them, please let me know. That will help me get a sense of whether this project is worth pursuing.


Updates on our applications.


Along with a co-founder, I’ve been running an application called Whistler since 2015.

Whistler is a simple and secure whistleblowing application that enables organisations to receive and manage confidential reports from whistleblowers. We originally built Whistler due to the inherent risks associated with using normal email addresses and telephone hotlines for what may be extremely sensitive reports.

As if I didn’t have enough on my plate this month, we started to experience issues with SMS notifications from the application. These notifications are a core feature of the application, but network outages and different restrictions due to SMS spam have made it too risky to rely on SMS going forward. Given the application is now 9 years old and is probably due for an update, I decided to rebuild the application from scratch.

There are a lot of changes and improvements. Here’s a few of the key ones:

  • We’ve upgraded report encryption from AE-128 to AES-256.
  • We’ve replaced SMS notifications with email notifications.
  • The Primary Account Holder dashboard is vastly improved.
  • Primary Account Holders can now send test reports.
  • Reports can now be archived.

There are plenty of other improvements. It’s quite literally a new application.

I’m really proud of the updates.

I’ve started the process of communicating the changes to our existing customers to move them to the new version.

If you’re looking for a simple and secure whistleblowing solution for your company, please reach out and I can provide a demo. If you know of anyone who might be interested in Whistler, please send them my way.

I’ll share a link to the website in the next newsletter, once we’ve had the opportunity to migrate our existing customers to the new application.

Incident Manager Application

I’ve provided several security managers with logins to a trial account of Incident Manager. The feedback so far is very encouraging. If you’re interested in trying the application, please reach out (corporate security managers only, please).

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be making a few improvements to the features of the application. I’ll also be implementing email notifications and invitation workflows.

I’m targeting these updates to be completed by the end of March (2024).

If you’d be interested in participating in an early trial of the application, please reach out.


Updates on our in-house gear, sharing a behind-the-scenes look at our design and manufacturing processes.

After months of agonising delays, issues with suppliers, and defective material, the production of the first batch of Station XV bags will be completed tomorrow, 1 March 2024. I almost can’t believe it… This project has been one of the hardest endeavours I’ve ever undertaken. There have been so many obstacles, and I’ve almost given up multiple times.

I’m heading to the factory in Vietnam over the weekend to oversee the quality control process.

While I’m there, I’ll be prototyping a few new designs that may go into the next round of production.

As mentioned last week, I’ve built the Station XV website and it’s up and running on a production server. Before I make it public I’ll need to do a final check through the copy and add some more product photos. Once I do make the website public, I’ll make a special announcement here.

For those of you with Street Satchel orders, I’m hoping to have these ready to ship by 12 March. I’ll be reaching out to you individually to see if you still want the bag.

I can’t wait to share the full details of the bags. They’re really cool.


Links to our latest articles.

Dangerous Travels

I’ve completed the painstaking process of editing the 52 Dangerous Travels articles. The edited articles are available at the Dangerous Travels website. I’ve also compiled the articles into a new book, titled… ‘Dangerous Travels’. More on the book below.


We’ve published a number of books on crisis management, travel security and security evacuations. These books have been purchased by travellers, security professionals, several global companies, and at least one prestigious university.

Dangerous Travels

I’ve completed editing the Dangerous Travels articles and have compiled them into a book. You can check out the book here. In all, there are 52 articles, 437 pages and around 100,000 words.

I’m releasing Dangerous Travels one month ahead of schedule, but I felt I had to get it done to free up capacity for other projects.

I’ve already sent out free copies of the book to all of our paid subscribers to the Dangerous Travels publication in 2023. Thank you again for supporting my work!

The Field Checklist for Hotel Security Assessments V2

I’ve released version 2 of The Field Checklist for Hotel Security Assessments.

If you happen to find yourself in a higher-risk location and need to conduct a security assessment of a hotel, you’ll find this book to be an invaluable resource. You can view the updated book here.

If you’ve already purchased The Field Checklist for Hotel Security Assessments, you should have already received an email with a link to download the updated version for free. If you haven’t received this link or if you have any problems downloading the new version, please let me know.

Bulk Orders

Several highly regarded organisations (and one prestigious university) have purchased copies of our books for their teams. If your team would benefit from the knowledge and experience contained in our books, please reach out. We can provide discounts for bulk orders.


Links to interesting articles worth your time. This month: Dating robots, the Indonesian exlections, ‘regime survival packages’ in Africa, Russian intelligence, gunfire sensors, fake ID factories, and other topics.

Don’t date robots — their privacy policies are terrible. Research from Mozilla found many AI companion apps fail privacy checkups and often don’t stand by what their chatbots ask of users (The Verge). Read here.

Experts react: Prabowo Subianto has claimed victory in Indonesia. What’s in store for his presidency? What can the world expect from a President Prabowo? How will he position the world’s third largest democracy in regional disputes and global issues of concern? The Atlantic Council polled our experts for their thoughts (Atlantic Council). Read here.

Chinese crime and geopolitics in 2024. part of a series titled “Nonstate armed actors and illicit economies in 2024” from Brookings’s Initiative on Nonstate Armed Actors (Brookings). Read here.

Revival of LTTE: NIA raids several locations in Tamil Nadu. The raids were conducted following reports of suspected funding for the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) being organised in the state in a bid to revive the outfit (Hindu Post). Read here.

Security firm now says toothbrush DDOS attack didn’t happen, but source publication says company presented it as real. Dental IoT devices caused millions of Euros in damages for Swiss company, says report (Tom’s Hardware). Read here.

London Underground Is Testing Real-Time AI Surveillance Tools to Spot Crime. In a test at one station, Transport for London used a computer vision system to try and detect crime and weapons, people falling on the tracks, and fare dodgers, documents obtained by WIRED show. Read here.

Global Terrorism Threat Assessment 2024. (CSIS). Read here.

How an Afghan Drug Kingpin Became Beijing’s Man in Kabul. Bashir Noorzai was once serving a life sentence in the United States. Now he’s the key conduit for growing ties between China and the Taliban (Foreign Policy). Read here.

An Instant Fake ID Factory. The site, called OnlyFake, threatens to streamline everything from bank fraud to money laundering, and has implications for cybersecurity writ large (404 media). Read here.

How PRC companies influence diplomatic switches from Taiwan in the Pacific. (ASPI). Read here.

Wagner in Africa: How the Russian mercenary group has rebranded. Russia is offering governments in Africa a “regime survival package” in exchange for access to strategically important natural resources, a major new report has found (BBC). Read here.

A Global Police Operation Just Took Down the Notorious LockBit Ransomware Gang. LockBit’s website, infrastructure, and data have been seized by law enforcement—striking a huge blow against one of the world’s most prolific ransomware groups (Wired). Read here.

Russian spies are back—and more dangerous than ever. The Kremlin’s intelligence agencies have learned from their mistakes in recent years (The Economist). Read here.

Preparing for war, social unrest or a new pandemic? Chinese companies are raising militias like it’s the 1970s (CNN Business). Read here.

Exclusive: Chinese police work in Kiribati, Hawaii’s Pacific neighbour. (Reuters). Read here.

Here Are the Secret Locations of ShotSpotter Gunfire Sensors. The locations of microphones used to detect gunshots have been kept hidden from police and the public. A WIRED analysis of leaked coordinates confirms arguments critics have made against the technology (Wired). Read here.

How the Pentagon Learned to Use Targeted Ads to Find Its Targets—and Vladimir Putin. Meet the guy who taught US intelligence agencies how to make the most of the ad tech ecosystem, “the largest information-gathering enterprise ever conceived by man.” (Wired). Read here.

That’s it for this month, folks.

Thanks for reading and stay safe out there.

Grant Rayner


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