Included in this year’s travel security special edition:

Kidnap for Ransom: A Year in Review

Kidnap for ransom continued in historical hotspots such as Mexico, Nigeria and the Philippines throughout 2018. Yet the year also saw a rise in virtual kidnappings, where virtual kidnappers have become increasingly brazen in their attacks against Chinese businesspeople and students in Australia, Canada, the US, the UK and elsewhere. In this article, we explore regional kidnapping dynamics across the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Asia Pacific and Europe, delving down into key case studies indicative of the likely kidnapping threats faced by travellers to these regions.


Political Abductions

The emergence of several high-profile cases in 2018 has raised concerns that abduction by state actors is becoming an increasingly common practice. From Saudi Arabia to Vietnam, governments have used state-sponsored abductions to quell dissent both at home and abroad, testing the boundaries of traditional sovereign spaces. In this article, we highlight some of the most notable instances of state-sanctioned disappearances in the past year, and provide an insight into what we can expect 2019.



Cyber criminals have adopted ‘Catfishing’ – the use of a fictitious online account to attract unsuspecting victims – as a key modus operandi in recent online extortion cases. Although attack methods are manifold, the majority of victims are targeted through websites, including social media and dating or adult content sites. Cases have been reported across the globe, from Ukraine to the Philippines, and from Côte d’Ivoire to Morocco. In this article, we explore the methods of catfish extortionists and pinpoint key vulnerabilities of potential targets.


Underprepared and Overpoliticised: Government Response to Natural Disasters

As key players debate the impact of climate change on the international stage, domestically, governments across the globe are being put to the test in their responses to natural hazards. At a state-level, challenges such as urban migration, population growth and food security demands have increased the vulnerability of states to natural disasters and introduced new complexities in preparing for them. With little consensus on the international front, the absence of global guidance in preparing and responding to climate challenges and the presence of dominant domestic agendas, states will be isolated and likely inconsistent in their approaches to natural disasters in 2019.


Cyber Extortion: Trends and Case Studies

In 2018, the frequency and impact of cyber extortion and other types of cybercrime increased notably. Not only have the attacks become more frequent, but incidents of cyber-crime have also become more sophisticated, impacting a range of important industries, including healthcare, government, financial services and manufacturing. In this article, we delve into recent extortion cases across the globe, including Australia, UAE, the US, and Mexico, to highlight important trends could prevent individuals and corporations from falling victim to online extortion.


Outbreaks: Emerging and Re-emerging Health Threats

The outbreak of disease continues to impact global travel, leading governments and health authorities around the world to issue various travel warnings and restrictions. However, effective responses to disease outbreaks are not always possible. Under such circumstances, travellers are at a heightened risk of infection or, at the very least, are likely to experience travel disruptions. In this article, we explore recent disease outbreaks in Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia, and their associated impact on travel.


Active Assailants: An International Phenomenon

While active assailant cases are well documented in the US, these attacks have also taken place in less expected locations, such as Canada and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). In this article, we delve into the international phenomenon of active assailant attacks and the diverse range of motives, method and government response.

Mapping the connections between travel security threats, and their implications remains a primary focus for our team in 2019. Together with AXA XL, we will continue to help our clients prevent, prepare for and respond to the risks they face as they seek to harness the opportunities which abound in our interconnected world.

S-RM provides critical intelligence to support ongoing threat monitoring for international corporations, organisations and individuals. For further information regarding global and travel threat monitoring, analysis and mitigation, please see our Crisis Prevention services.