Hunted (and how to win it)

Are you watching the second season of Hunted on C4?

We have had two episodes; the third will air later this week.

The basic premise (if you haven’t seen it) is that it’s a game show.

The challenge facing the game show contestants is that they must spend a month moving around the UK, whilst evading capture by a team of experts.

These experts have the full range of State information systems at their disposal.

CCTV, ANPR, etc (or simulations thereof).

The experts are able to access these systems in real time, and thus can track the progress of the game show contestants, also in real time.

Supporting the office-bound electronic intelligence/surveillance  experts are a national team of ‘hunters’, who are the arms and legs of the organisation; they will capture the prey.

And that’s it, in a nutshell, that’s Hunted: evade capture.

It is not about having a jolly across the UK for a month. If you think it is, you will be caught.

It is not spending a month ‘off the grid’. If you think it is, you will be caught.

It is not about ‘going on the run’. If you think it is, you will be caught.

The prize is a pot of £100,000.

This is divided by the number of winners per series (or, to put it another way, is divided by the number of game show contestants who successfully evade capture).

Hunted is, in its own way, quite an endearing game show.

But the contestants in series 2 are making exactly the same mistakes that the contestants in series 1 made.

Yet the series 2 contestants would have made special effort to record and watch series 1 many times, yes?

Yes. Obv. Else they would be terminally stupid.

So why are the contestants in series 2 falling to their hunters as readily as the contestants in series 1 did?

Because they haven’t learned from series 1?

Yes, it’s that simple.

So for the hard of learning, and in case anyone from any future seasons of Hunted should tune in before the show is filmed, here’s a few informed thoughts on how to get close to the prize.

And, for the record, I have worked for *** and also worked for ****.

Preparation: Cyber Security
The minute you mail in your application, you must burn every shred of your online presence. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Dropbox, YahooMail, GMail, GoogleMaps, Google+, YouTube, WhatsApp, Satnav, Periscope, Netflix, iTunes, Hotmail, Webforums/Chatforums, Online clubs, Online results for sports, Ebay, Amazon, all online accounts with everyone (Ocado, Cineworld, photosharing websites, games websites), even MySpace. In short, everything that you pick up a smartphone for, everything you touch a keyboard for. Burn it all. Do not plan on getting any of these services back after the game show. If you need any single one of these back, don’t do the game show

How do you burn them? Use a secure password generator, reset your passwords, and then close it all down. Everything. Close them all down

The show will want an email address for contact. That’s fine. Give them the email of your boyfriend, or your girlfriend. Do not sign up to a new account. Every time you email the show your IP address will be captured and yes, they will use it to trace how you access the Internet

The show will ask for a phone number. Get someone to buy a used phone on eBay for you. Buy a PAYG SIM, and give the show this number. As soon as the show starts, throw the phone away, do not retain it for ’emergencies’. Bin it

Tablets. Smartphones. Laptops. PCs. Any devices that you have ever signed in to any web-service with. Destroy it. Destroy them all. If you hide them, they’ll be found. When they are found they will be hacked, and no matter how carefully you hide them, they will be found. Destroy them now

Preparation: Build a network of cut-out contacts
Use your friends to use their friends to use their friends. Your 2nd/3rd layer conduits must not be people who you know. Your end-destination contacts must be someone you have never met. They must be people from a different world to the one you know now. You must not make direct contact with your end-destination contact. You and they should use spook tradecraft to communicate: dead-letter drops are ideal, with signals to signify when a message or a response has been dropped. I’ll say it again for emphasis: do not make contact directly with your end-destination contact. You should not know their name or what they look like. They should be unaware of your appearance and real name. If there are no isolated cut-outs between you, you may as well just invite them in to meet your friends and family. If you ever contact a real friend, by any means at all, you are wasting everybody’s time by entering Hunted, because you will be caught.

Preparation: Identity
Get a dummy address. Use your end-destination contact for this. Build a new persona. Right now. The minute you email your application off, put together a new you. Create some ID. That’s a huge step forward. Get a library card in a nearby town/city to your dummy address (not in the same town/city though). Start to build the new you a track record of information. Buy a TV licence in your new name at the dummy address (pay by instalments so you can bin the cost once you have what you need). Build a profile at your dummy address. Do not bring any of this information in to your home or in to your workplace. Do not write it down. It’s a long haul, but you need to begin collecting, in your new name, at your new address, anything official. Invoices, bills.

Preparation: Lifestyle
Move to cash. Do it now. Get used to a cash economy. It’s a big transition. If you have any credit/debit cards the temptation to use them will be strong and if you do, you will be caught. The show gives you a small amount of cash on a debit card. Get it all out in one go the minute you start your run. Just about every cash machine in the UK is covered by CCTV. Throw the card away as soon as you have withdrawn the money. Learn to live with less. Your ‘absolutely necessary belongings for a month of avoiding capture’ should be the epitome of travelling ultralight. Oh yes, and get fit.

Preparation: Planning
Have a plan. You obviously need to avoid ANPR and CCTV, but you are also required to move around. Plan this. Plan how you are going to move around, and where you are going to move to next, and next after that, and next after that and so on. Have a plan for the whole month. Be meticulous and detailed. Also, have backout plans, in case your plan goes wrong. You must have alternatives. Again: if you have no plan you will fail. CCTV is almost everywhere, but use a little of the time now to see where CCTV isn’t. Use maps. Use common sense. Do reconnaissance if necessary. You will be surprised how much of the UK isn’t covered. Build your plans for the month around these places. Plan earning a living. You need to eat, but you need to avoid looking like a tramp. You have a very small amount of money, but it is insufficient to live on for a month. Plan how you are going to earn money, and what you are going to do. Plan where you are going to do it. If you do not have a plan for survival you will be caught.

Preparation: Appearance
Plan to change your appearance within 24 hours of hitting the road, when you are in your first safe house. Have preparations to be able to change your appearance several times during the month. Think long-term, do not think ‘once’. Any appearance changes should be very simple to effect. Change your walk. Skilled spooks can spot you in a crowded train station on CCTV by your walk. The simplest way to throw spooks off this trail is to put a small stone in your sock. Really. Also, don’t look as if you are looking for a pursuer. There is nothing more suspicious than a sweaty person who is looking hunted. Let the hunters look as if they are hunting; you just need to keep your head down like anyone else who might be worrying about how they’re going to pay the mortgage next month. In crowds, do not move quicker than the crowds. I’ll say that again. Do not run, not even if you think you have been traced. Because innocent people do not run with backpacks (etc) banging around behind them. Fit in. Blend in. Be part of the wallpaper, do not be a discordant pattern. If you are hitch-hiking, do not get out of the car where CCTV is placed. That’s motorway services, filling stations, train stations, underground stations, metro stations.

Evading capture: The basics
Do not enter the game show Hunted with anyone else. This is simple logic. You either go solo or you get caught. The choice is yours. Do not have any contact with family or friends. The phones (home phones, work/desk phones, mobile phones) of all of your known associates will be tapped, and calls to them will be traced. This isn’t an ‘if’, a ‘but’, or a ‘maybe’, this is a certainty. That one phone call to a wife, boyfriend, partner, or offspring during their birthday, will cost you £100,000. If you can’t go completely silent and no-contact for a month, do not waste everybody’s time by entering the game show.

Hunted (and indeed the ‘hunters’) rely on 21st Century technology. In order to defeat them, you have to use mid 20th Century spook tradecraft. Take the technological advantage away from the hunters. There is no surveillance technology on the planet that can cope with dead-letter drops. And if you want to win at Hunted (and why else would you even consider signing up for the game show, if not to win it?), you will need the help and support of a network of blind cutouts in order to succeed. These two spook tools (dead-letter drops and a network of blind cutouts) are unbeatable. British Intelligence ran networks of undercover agents in the most heavily monitored States in Communist Eastern Europe, for decades.

And if you do decide to send in an entry, let me know how it goes for you.

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2 Responses to Hunted (and how to win it)

  1. Masher says:

    Not seen it, but it sounds a doddle.