THE ART OF ESCAPE GETS COMPACT, GOES HOLLYWOOD

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"They came as targets, but they left as hard targets."

- Rift Recon Trainer Brian O’Shea

Rift Recon’s Art of Escape trainings are notorious for cramming boatloads of vital information into two full days of coursework, followed by an entire day of practical field application. The challenge of succeeding comes predominantly through mastering the sheer volume of material. So what happens when you only have 24 hours to absorb, apply, and come out on top of the entire course?

Nine participants in a corporate training in Los Angeles on June 28th got to find out. The group consisted of business professionals from an array of backgrounds: finance, advertising, aerospace, and the tech industry among them.

Lead Trainer and Rift Recon CEO Eric Michaud noted, “It was a very sharp, deeply motivated group  - lots of Type A personalities. Their enthusiasm and focus certainly helped them conquer the compressed nature of the course.”

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To accommodate the 24 hour window, Michaud and Assisting Trainer Brian O’Shea collapsed the curriculum into three modules: lockpicking, escaping restraints, and a new module called “The Art of the Con,” which combines social engineering and evasion techniques. Michaud and O’Shea then thrust the students into a high-intensity kidnapping simulation, where they had to escape their captors and rendezvous at the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater, evading abduction and garnering multiple disguises along the way. Once at the Theater, students had to deftly employ social engineering tactics to engage and gain the trust of the locals, including the costumed actors performing in front of the Theater.  They were tasked with getting them to “break character” and divulge their “secret identity”, aka personal information about their lives. Armed with this information, the students could then report back to Michaud and O’Shea and cross the proverbial finish line, and the trainers were thrilled to report that each participant excelled.

"It was rewarding for us as instructors to watch a very talented and competent group of people who are already wildly successful open themselves up to learning new skills and new challenges,” remarked O’Shea, “[The Art of Escape] taught them how to manage captivity, how to evade aggressors, and how to elicit valuable information from total strangers. Those skills could save their lives as well as save their businesses.”

“I’m really excited to see people taking both their personal and general security into their own hands,” said Michaud, “And I’m glad that Rift Recon can equip them with the tools to do so.

- Arianna Travaglini

Executive Assistant at Rift Recon

CEO ERIC MICHAUD RUNS SF MARATHON BENEFITTING THE TREVOR PROJECT

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Sunday July 27th marks the annual San Francisco Marathon, where thousands of runners pound pavement around a loop course through the city, hitting gorgeous locales and iconic landmarks all along the way. Some runners race competitively; others make the trek more casually alongside friends and family. Many participants, like Rift Recon CEO Eric Michaud, fundraise as they train in preparation for the big day, donating all the money raised to a worthy cause. In this case the worthy cause is The Trevor Project, a national 501(c)3 non-profit organization .

Founded in 1998, The Trevor Project is the only national organization providing suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth in crisis. The Trevor Project serves more than 100,000 LGBTQ youth every year with their life-saving programs that include the Trevor Lifeline, TrevorChat, Ask Trevor and TrevorSpace.

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“Suicide is a heartbreaking consequence of coming out [as LGBTQ] at a young age, and it’s very much underreported,” says Michaud. In fact, lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are more than four times more likely than their straight peers to attempt suicide, and youth who are questioning their sexual orientation are three times more likely. “I wanted to do my small part by bringing more visibility to the issue, as well as ensure that the funds raised were going to directly impact dynamic advocacy and education initiatives.”

So far Eric has raised $660 out of his $1,000 goal, and there’s still time to show your support! Making a donation is fast, easy and secure, and no donation is too small - just click HERE. You can also help Eric reach Rift’s donation goal by sharing this page on Facebook or Twitter, or by emailing this page to anyone who might want to help.

For more information on the San Francisco Marathon, visit www.thesfmarathon.com.

For more information on the Trevor Project, visit www.thetrevorproject.org.

- Arianna Travaglini

Executive Assistant at Rift Recon

Strategic Cyber Intelligence on the Darknet: What you don’t know can hurt you

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Rift Recon’s Darknet Research Team work to increase the security posture and awareness of our clients in matters related to Darknet information. Our team specializes in strategic Darknet cyber-intel, specifically in the arena of search.

Google (and other search engines) removes results to illegal sites, and this is a double-edged sword for our clients. For instance, this practice reduces the ability for you to find out that someone stole or leaked your Social Security Number on a carding forum or a pastebin-like site: in this climate, only the bad guys know where to go.

With permission from a current client, our researchers are able to share an alarming discovery that doesn’t come up in standard search engines, and reveals that what we don’t know can most certainly hurt us.

In the course of Rift’s engagement, we encountered the present-day PII (Personally Identifiable Information) of various Twitter founders, and its current CEO. The .onion site hosting the sensitive information explains that the posting has been done as retribution for the closing of a Twitter account.

These are redacted screenshots showing the Social Security Numbers and home addresses (as well as previous addresses) as discovered by Rift Recon:

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Background: About Tor Hidden Services

As take downs of carding sites and other information portals has become routine for search engines, the admins and copycats have been quick to move onto the TOR Hidden Services also known as .onion (“dot-onion”) sites.

Tor makes it possible for users to hide their locations while offering various kinds of services, such as web publishing, or an instant messaging server. Using Tor “rendezvous points,” other Tor users can connect to these hidden services, each without knowing the other’s network identity. This hidden service functionality allows Tor users to set up a website where people publish material without worrying about censorship. No one is able to determine who might be offering the site, and those running the site wouldn’t know who was posting to it.

The Darknet adds layers of complexity to anything related to discovery. It’s actually a variety different software/hardware platforms which provide a another layer that Google may not be indexing (or if it’s through sites like onion.to or tor2web, it will index very deep, and move on). These come in a variety of flavors such as open or closed (meaning you’d have to know someone), point to point VPN tunnels, and onion-style routing like TOR and I2P.

The Darknet is vast, and growth is explosive. There is no exact number of sites in operation, or way to obtain a correct total (and this is by design). Even still, in the last six months various entities claim estimates of the .onion address space to range from 80,000 to 400,000-600,000 (sites). Meanwhile, the TOR Project estimates potentially around 2.5 million users of the service. One certainty is that as of this writing, there are 5336 Tor Routers with which to mask one’s identity.

Rift’s Darknet Research Team specializes in resolving issues related to information on the Darknet. Contact us.

-Rift Recon

Press: press@riftrecon.com

Client inquiries: info@riftrecon.com

Rift Recon contacted Twitter prior to publication of this post.



A Great First Year, A Thank You, a Gift, and a Product Upgrade

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It seems like just yesterday that we launched, but, unbelievably, it’s almost been a full year. We’ve grown exponentially since we filed in May of last year and our official start in July 2013, going from zero customers to over two thousand of them, and there have been a lot of changes.

We moved our fulfillment center from a remote space in Arizona to our home turf in San Francisco, and this has allowed us tighter control over orders, increased efficiency in processing and shipping, and a more comprehensive understanding of our client base. In doing this we’ve been able to reduce shipping times provide better customer support.

Additionally we’re now doing custom software & hardware development in conjunction with facilitating public and private trainings, consulting, developing innovative products, and maintaining an influential presence at international conferences and consortium’s.

However, along with the changes came lots of growing pains, and we are so incredibly grateful to our customers for their patience with and commitment to our company throughout the year. We feel very fortunate to be a part of a community that continues to provide us with comprehensive, constructive feedback on how we can do things better.

As a way of saying “thank you”, existing customers can use the discount code we are sending by email (contact us if you miss it) to receive 15% off anything in our store till July 3rd. New customers, we appreciate you too! You can enjoy 10% off by using the code BYPLONULD3JY.

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Finally, after a brief hiatus, we’re thrilled to announce that our signature Red Team Pro Kits and upgraded Red Team Pro Mini Kits (which now fit up to 13” laptops) are back on sale by popular demand! Get your hands on the kit that everyone is talking about. It’s absolutely essential for physical assessment and penetration test needs, and is equipped for use by the beginner auditor to the seasoned professional. Bulk volume purchasing discounts available by emailing sales@riftrecon.com!

-Rift Recon Team

Art of Escape Lands in the Big Apple on August 29th

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For the past five months Rift Recon’s renowned Art of Escape (AoE) trainings have been at the forefront of a surging survival subculture. Those living within accessible distance of San Francisco, the company’s home base, have inarguably been the most fortunate. As the rave reviews came pouring in, however, so did the requests to bring AOE to different parts of the country. Rift Recon is proud to announce that the first satellite AoE intensive will be held in one of the most fascinating cities in the world: Manhattan, NYC.


East Coast participants can expect to garner the same skills as they would in a standard training, such as how to pick, bypass, and open locks; open handcuffs, duct tape, and rope; as well as effectively utilize social engineering and active confidence schemes to their advantage. The training, led by lead trainer Brian O’Shea, CEO Eric Michaud and Rift staff, will close with a day-long abduction simulation designed to put the students’ newfound knowledge into practice. They’ll have to gain the trust of their captors, break free of their restraints, escape by gaining access to restricted or unauthorized areas without detection, and much, much more. In addition to the pre-existing curriculum, the training will include specially tailored lessons and challenges that are specific to NYC. Participants should prepare for the unexpected, the unknown, and the unimaginable.

When: August 28-30 2014

Where: Manhattan, NYC

Cost: $950 (Introductory Price)

Tickets: Art of Escape: NYC

RIFT RECON WELCOMES CARL VINCENT

With 10 years of information security experience, Carl Vincent joins the team as an active consultant and special project developer in the newly formed Rift Recon Development Group (DEVGRU).

When Rift Recon CEO Eric Michaud began looking to bring additional consultants on board his flourishing team, his attention was immediately drawn to Los Angeles-based information security specialist Carl Vincent.

“Carl is as skilled as he is passionate,” says Michaud, “He’s made it his life’s goal to teach, and that makes him the ideal candidate for a consulting and development position.”

Mr. Vincent possesses both professional and volunteer experience in penetration testing, threat assessment, application design, protocol evaluation, reverse engineering, malware analysis, and red team operations. Not only that, but he functions as a general knowledge base at the intersections of a wide variety of sub-disciplines within the information security field.

By leveraging his knowledge, Vincent has accumulated accolades that include multiple conference speaking engagements, an international rapport, and a thirst to maintain an ever broadening skillset that manifests beyond his professional attitude and exudes itself as a primary component of his everyday life’s pursuits.

“Carl has worked for and collaborated with everyone from Fortune 10 to Fortune 500 companies,” Michaud concludes, “Rift Recon feels extremely privileged to have him join our ranks and improve the already profound quality of our services.”

For more on Rift Recon’s trainings, products, and consulting offerings, please visit www.riftrecon.com.

About Rift Recon

Founded in 2013, Rift Recon is a premiere physical security agency comprised of researchers, former military and private security detail contractors, and computer and hardware hackers that equips its clients from a suite of exclusive services including specialized trainings, hardware tampering and forensics work, assessment reports, tool creation and team outfitting. Visit http://www.riftrecon.com or follow @RiftRecon on Twitter for more information.

Rift Recon Presents At The 2014 Oslo Freedom Forum

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Rift Recon LLC and the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) join forces to present a comprehensive security workshop at the 2014 Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF) next month. The workshop will be geared toward protecting high-risk individuals in possession of sensitive information.

The sixth annual OFF will take place on May 12-14th. Former Russian political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, American actor Jeffrey Wright, and iconic Turkish protester Erdem Gunduz will join 25 other remarkable speakers. OFF will bring together a diverse and global audience to share experiences and discuss how to best promote free and open societies. Rift Recon CEO Eric Michaud and Senior Intelligence Advisor Brian O’Shea will be joining the ranks of some of the world’s finest minds and bringing their security talents within easy reach of the people that need them most.

"You can’t help being a target, but you can help what kind of target you are," advises O’Shea. "Our workshop in Oslo will provide a remarkable opportunity for Rift Recon to aid at-risk individuals who we wouldn’t normally have access to."

Michaud and O’Shea are facilitating the workshop in collaboration with representatives from HRF, whose team members reached out to Rift Recon after hearing about their cyber and physical security intensives. OFF workshop attendees can expect a fast-paced, in-depth security training that focuses on identifying when you are being targeted by hostile entities, introducing premeditated protocols you can practice to lessen your risk, and how to swiftly minimize damage should your security be compromised. The training will draw largely from Rift’s Two-Day Employee Physical Security Intensive and the soon to be available Social Engineering course.

"Dictators have access to billions of dollars and the world’s most advanced surveillance and spying tools," said HRF president Thor Halvorssen. "We have to acknowledge that challenge, and the first step is to connect communities of human rights defenders and at-risk journalists with experts who can show them how to keep their communications and actions private."

In this workshop, the instructors will focus on protecting sensitive information through examining the flaws and benefits of various communication devices and attacks by various offensive entry tools, as well as how to strategically react to a security breach. Social engineering techniques will also be examined, including reading body language and establishing stranger intent to better protect participants. Participants lastly will also learn how to tell if their workspaces have been intruded upon, how to deploy tamper-evident devices to sensitive equipment and work spaces, and many more invaluable skills. For more information, and to view a complete list of this year’s speakers, visit http://www.oslofreedomforum.com.

About Rift Recon

Founded in 2013, Rift Recon is a premiere physical security agency comprised of researchers, former military and private security detail contractors, and computer and hardware hackers that equips its clients from a suite of exclusive services including specialized trainings, hardware tampering and forensics work, assessment reports, tool creation and team outfitting. Visit http://www.riftrecon.com or follow @RiftRecon on Twitter for more information.

About Human Rights Foundation (HRF)

Founded in 2006, HRF is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies. HRF unites people in the common cause of defending human rights and promoting liberal democracy. Our mission is to ensure that freedom is both preserved and promoted around the world. Visit http://www.humanrightsfoundation.org or follow @HRF on Twitter for more information.

Rift Recon Appoints Brian O’Shea As Senior Intelligence Advisor

With over 20 years of international security, risk, and intelligence experience, Brian O’Shea joins Rift Recon as Senior Intelligence Advisor and Trainer.

Rift Recon, a San Francisco-based physical security, risk and training firm, recently concluded its third public urban escape and evasion training, the “Art of Escape,” in the Downtown Bay Area. Though the prior trainings had been remarkably successful, March’s run was particularly so due to a brand new addition to the team: seasoned Intelligence and Solutions expert Brian O’Shea.  

O’Shea lends his considerable expertise in social engineering, improvised weapons, risk avoidance, and many more subjects. He is a certified and experienced instructor with credentials from the U.S. Intelligence Community and a professional license from a state private security regulating authority. As part of Rift Recon, he brings a crucial skill set to the team, rounding out Rift’s already “Best in Class” offerings.

“We teach these skills because we want all of our clients, students and friends to be safe, no matter where they are,” states O’Shea, “Hostile situations can be overcome by having the proper training and exposure.”

“Brian’s resume and experience speaks for itself. He has been an intelligence collector all over the world, has authored and executed numerous risk and security plans for some of the world’s top executives, and has established active networks all over the world for his own survival,” said Rift CEO Eric Michaud.

O’Shea complements the existing skills of the company with his own. Michaud has been featured in numerous publications on related subjects, has an active client list for those requiring unique security and risk solutions, and has recently been invited to teach workshops at the Annual Oslo Freedom Forum this May in Oslo, Norway. As an accomplished instructor, it was of paramount importance to Michaud that any addition to the company be an engaging and established educator.

“The most important thing is that Brian knows how to connect with the students and allows them to build their own solutions with a very effective, interactive and empathetic style of teaching,” Michaud adds, “I am thrilled to welcome him on board the Rift Recon Team!”

For more on Rift Recon’s Art of Escape and other training, products, and consulting offerings, please visit www.riftrecon.com.

About Rift Recon

Founded in 2013, Rift Recon is a premiere physical security agency comprised of researchers, former military and private security detail contractors, and computer and hardware hackers that equips its clients from a suite of exclusive services including specialized trainings, hardware tampering and forensics work, assessment reports, tool creation and team outfitting. Visit http://www.riftrecon.com or follow @RiftRecon on Twitter for more information.

About Brian O’Shea

Brian O’Shea is an international security, risk, and intelligence consultant to several Fortune 500 CEOs and NGO leaders.  Brian started his career as a trained Arabic linguist and led several small intelligence and collection teams while serving in 5th and 1st Special Forces.  Brian has also contracted with several government intelligence agencies and performed counter terror, counter proliferation, and special activities in South America, the Middle and Near East, South East Asia, and Europe.  Brian also is the owner of Striker Pierce LLC in Virginia, a boutique investigative and solutions firm. Brian has a Master’s in Criminology from Boston University, is a Certified Private Security Instructor, and has over 20 years of related experience.  Brian now is the Senior Intelligence and Risk Advisor for Rift Recon.  Brian instructs Rift’s Clients in Best Practices in order to avoid capture, harm, and potentially dangerous situations in domestic and overseas environments.  Brian was also featured in Janine Driver’s book “You Can’t Lie to Me” in which he teaches readers about body language reading, manipulation, and base lining. For more on Brian O’Shea please visit www.strikerpierce.com.


AFTER ACTION REPORT: MARCH’S ART OF ESCAPE

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April 15th, 2014

March’s Art of Escape was all about new faces, strange places, and facing unexpected obstacles with exceptional results. The first major change was staff-related: Rift Recon was thrilled to welcome Brian O’Shea to the team as a Trainer and Senior Intelligence Advisor. Brian brings over twenty years of intelligence and tactical risk experience to the team and proved to be an engaging Art of Escape instructor. He put an entirely new spin on using social engineering and tactical intelligence collection to gain valuable supplies and intelligence, and had a blast doing it! You can read more about Brian in the coming days, when Rift releases a “Trainer Spotlight” piece on him.

Now, onto the good stuff. For the first time, the majority of our participants hailed from local tech companies, undoubtedly due to the steady San Francisco designer, developer, and programmer boom. Despite their overall lack of prior escape and evasion training, they were strong-willed, creative, and resourceful. This was definitely the most connective class we’ve had yet. It was clear from Day One that the students were both incredibly forthcoming and receptive. Combined with Brian and Eric’s high-energy interactive teaching style, the first two days of class flew by. The students organically formed tight bonds with one another, bonds that proved fortuitous during Saturday’s highly-anticipated Field Training Exercise (FTX).

Here’s a fun game: See if you can spot the difference(s) between the Pre-FTX class photo……

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……and the Post-FTX class photo! (The winner gets a 15% discount to be used throughout our entire product catalog! Hint: Look for changes in physical characteristics.)

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This month’s FTX fell on the foulest of days, in the midst of a brutal, windy downpour. Not to be deterred, the students barreled off into the city after being thoroughly searched and relentlessly interrogated. Rift had applied the suggestions of former students and increased the intensity of their interrogation scenario for March’s Art of Escape. Participants were surprised by multiple unfamiliar captors, new restraint techniques, and psychological stressors. They navigated the situation like pros, and then were off on foot to face the freezing rain.

A highlight of the day involved an elaborate manhunt in the Ferry Building, where Rift Recon staff (spies) had been planted to identify students, track their movements using audio and video equipment without being detected, and swiftly apprehend them. This resulted in tons of quality footage of acutely acquired social engineering tactics, as well as more than one frenzied chase through the crowd. March’s Art of Escape students proved to have some of the most elaborate disguises we’d ever seen, and even with numerous sets of eyes searching for them, they managed to avoid detection more often than not. They also completed all of the FTX checkpoints in record time, leading us to assume that even more must be needed! (Watch out, future participants!) At the end of the day, our students were exhausted and soaking wet with both rain and exertion, yet their smiles stretched ear-to-ear. Another job well done!

- Arianna Travaglini
Arianna Travaglini is an Executive Assistant at Rift Recon

AFTER ACTION REPORT: FEBRUARY’S ART OF ESCAPE

“Rift Recon’s Art of Escape was the best urban escape, evasion, and survival course I’ve had since training with the CIA.  Improvised lock picks; caching valuables; elements of disguise; and so much more… all capped off by a full-day field exercise, thoughtfully conducted to mimic real-life conditions and inject real adrenal stress.  I’m amazed at how much was covered in just three days, and can’t wait to take the intermediate course as soon as soon as it’s ready.”

Barry Eisler, best-selling American novelist & former CIA agent (photographed on far right)

If one thing can be said about February’s Art of Escape, it’s that as soon as you felt yourself getting complacent, you were knocked completely off your feet. This past month’s training was a totally different animal than it’s predecessor - a bigger, faster, stronger animal - and it had more twists and turns than an amusement park water slide.  Get ready, get set, get tactical!

Students began preparing for their Field Training Exercise on Day One, diving headfirst into the material. The curriculum covered topics such as navigation, adaptation, constructing disguises, and social engineering (otherwise known as “getting people to do things for you when you don’t have much to bargain with”). The day wrapped with a feature lesson on getting out of restraints, and boy, did folks get creative! While shimmying, wrestling, sawing, and slicing their way out of handcuffs, duct tape, and zip ties, several students began using elements of their environment to assist in their escape, completely unprompted. Doorknobs, pipes, and the edges of brick walls were all implemented with great success - turns out we had a bunch of natural Houdinis on our hands!

On Day Two, the skills got a little more technical, featuring an emphasis on lockpicking. Like the first Art of Escape, many students found the lockpicking segment exceptionally challenging, but everyone was able to pick at least one of their provided locks. The energy picked up during the second half of the day, when the instructors covered self defense maneuvers and manufacturing weapons on the fly, using a variety of mediums (text, videos, demonstrations, and personal stories) to create a multi-dimensional approach. The air buzzed with electricity as the class let out that evening, with everyone wondering what lay in store for them on Day Three.

Day Three proved to be a grand adventure, catching most of the students off guard with its intensity, commitment to detail, and authenticity. After answering some pre-exercise questions, with adrenaline pumping through their veins, students were cordoned off from the group, interrogated, and given a narrow opportunity to break free and venture into the city. Many participants were from out of town, so the San Francisco terrain was as unfamiliar to them as a foreign country’s, and the list of “missions” to complete throughout their grueling six-hour challenge was daunting. However, they continued to surprise the Rift Recon staff with their resourceful endurance. Students particularly excelled at hiding caches of valuables in strategic vantage points around the city, donning elaborate disguises, social engineering, and teaching others the skills they’d learned only days before. Even with pursuers hot on their tails, bent on deterring them from their missions by any means necessary, all the students made it to their final checkpoint by the predetermined time, and faces glowed as they reveled in their achievements. Another weekend down, another wildly successful Art of Escape on the books! Stay tuned for March’s AOE After Action Report, chock full of even more twists, turns, and triumphs!

 

-Arianna Travaglini

Arianna Travaglini is an Executive Assistant at Rift Recon

(Photos by John Cooney)

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