Communications Security (COMSEC)

Communications Security (COMSEC)

COMSEC would include any electronic communications such as email, text messages, and postings on social media websites.

Who What When and Where

Who are you, someone may want to know, what are you doing, someone may want to know this as well, when is something going to happen, and where is it going to happen is relevant information that must be safeguarded when communicating electronically.

Radio Signals

Radio signals can be intercepted and with a directional antenna someone can determine your location by triangulation. All it requires is three bearings from three different locations. Where the bearings intersect is your location.

It is not quite as easy as described for those that have never triangulated a signal, but with a little practice and some knowledge of radio transmissions virtually anyone can do it.

Typically, someone would be monitoring radio traffic for information, and then decide based on that information they may decide they need/want your location.

Reduce Your Risk

To reduce the risk of giving away a location you can transmit from another location that is not relevant to you, or cannot be connected to you in any way. In other words, do not key the microphone while standing on your front porch if you do not want someone finding your front porch.

Keep your transmissions short and use just enough power to make contact with others on the net. The stronger the signal the easier it is to intercept and track.

Personal names should never be used so you should assign call signs to anyone on your communications net. If someone does not use the proper call sign and attempts to communicate with you then go dark, change to a backup frequency and attempt contact again, or wait to be contacted.

Remember, someone is always monitoring, and you would not know it. Unless you have sophisticated equipment your traffic would not be encrypted, and can be intercepted by anyone with a receiver.

The military and some law enforcement agencies use Communications-Electronics Operating Instructions (CEOI). The information is changed after a certain period typically every 24-hours. The guide would contain an authentication table, among other information, that all users would have to follow to communicate with anyone on the communications network. This is something that you could easily replicate for your communications net. A simple code that lets you know that the person you are talking to is a “friendly” and not someone searching for information.

Email

Once you hit the send button there is absolutely no way of knowing who at some point may have access to the contents. The person receiving it may distribute it to any number of people, the service provider may scan the email contents for keywords so advertisers can target you and hackers and others can intercept it as well.

Think before sending email, is there information in the correspondence that could compromise your personal, family or business’s security. If there is any doubt do not send.

Text Messages

Treat text messages, as you would email. Once sent any number of people could view the information and it is not unheard of to text to the wrong phone number. Once again think and double check before hitting send.

Social Media

It should be obvious to most people that posting personal information online can be dangerous. Even information that is supposedly only accessible by “friends” can in some cases be viewed by others, and just who are your friends by the way, do you know.

Certain social media sites update their privacy policies from time to time, and they do not make much of an effort to notify users, so this could change who has to access your information. Typically, the sites do this so advertisers have greater access to your browsing habits, but along with advertisers there are others out there looking.

You may not even be aware of your privacy settings, so take some time to review how your accounts are set up to determine who has access to what as far as your online accounts are concerned.

Know what your children are posting on social media. An innocent picture of mom and dad’s new firearm may bring unwanted attention to your family. Pictures of your home and vehicles with license plates showing is not a good idea either. Of course anyone driving by can see your plates, but if someone is looking for your home, because they liked what they saw online, and they have the plate numbers of your vehicles it only makes it that much easier to find the right home.

Taking pictures of your prepping supplies and posting them online is not a good idea even though you think there is no information in the pictures anyone can use there may be a clue that together with another clue can allow someone to figure out who you are and where you live.

If you have to stop and wonder if it is a good idea then it probably is not a good idea when it comes to posting information online.

No one has to break into your home to plant electronic intrusion devices anymore. Electronic surveillance can be conducted from down the street or hundreds if not thousands of miles away.

Cell Phones

Cell phones are by no means secure for the common user. You have to assume every call is being intercepted and the contents of the call possibly stored somewhere. For most this is not a concern, because all of the calls being swept up in a dragnet, as it were, cannot be listened too, there are simply too many and it is not the intention of the agencies doing it to listen to everyone. The information is stored, and if something happens later on then they may access some calls, because certain keywords not previously relevant have surfaced.

The agencies conducting surveillance and call collection dragnets are looking for specific keywords and they focus on the location and destination.

Calls of interest include those that connect with callers overseas. The call may originate from the United States or come into the United States from overseas. Law enforcement agencies will intercept cell phones during investigations as well, so all in all, you have to assume to be safe that all calls are being recorded, stored, and possibly analyzed. For the typical person this means nothing and nothing would ever come of all this surveillance as far as the average person is concerned.

If you do not want anyone to know you are a Prepper then do not tell anyone you are a Prepper. However, your actions and purchases can indicate you are a Prepper. If you buy a lot of supplies on Amazon for example, it is a safe bet someone at Amazon knows or suspects you are a Prepper. They don’t care, but that is not the point, if someone gets a look at your browsing history or credit card purchases, for example they too will know.

Your browsing history will tell someone a lot about you and knowing what sites you visit may make you an easier target for hackers or others that may be gathering information about you.

Keep your phone locked/password protected so no one can access it to see what you have been up too. The same applies to your computer at home, use password protection so no one has access to your laptop, for example, to see what you have been up too.

Use common sense, security lapses often times occur because people did not stop and think. Something as simple as opening up an email attachment can override thousands of dollars of sophisticated security hardware.

Stop and think about who, what, when and where, when communicating with anyone.

Thanks to

Communications Security (COMSEC) – Preparing for shtf.

Avoid these common Prepper mistakes

1. Not keeping track of what you have.

     If your anything like me your space is limited to where you can store items and food you have bought. So you may have several locations within your home, or apartment you store your preps. If you don’t  keep track of what you have a couple of things can happen. a) You may not be able to find items you need during an emergency. b) You buy unneeded items because you already have 10 of them and have forgotten about them. So it’s a good idea to keep an inventory list of all the items you have and where they are located. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy just something you can reference when you need it.  Say when your shopping for preps or looking for your candles during a power outage.

 

2. Don’t keep your preps in plain view.

     Keeping your preps out of site outside your home is just common sense, people are no where near as honest as they used to be, some will steal your last bite of food if given the chance, even if they didn’t need it. But inside your home or apartment , you might not think about keeping your stuff out of site. You should! Because anyone that sees inside can potentially break in and take it if they know it’s there, especially if they need it for themselves during a disaster or such. They could just kill you and your family and take what they want. Here are a few tips to help.  Be selective about who you let in your home or apartment, Keep the blinds or curtains closed to avoid prying eyes, Try to hide as much as possible inside because some situations are unavoidable, such as maintenance coming over to fix something or pest control. Now your maintenance person, pest control technician, or best friend most likely wont steal from you but, They may inadvertently bring up your preps in conversations with others that may, so be careful. Trust me people will show up at your door during a disaster or SHTF situation if they know your prepared for it and have supplies.

 

3. Not having a plan.

     All the preps or survival gear are of no use if you don’t have a plan to use them. Because you don’t want to be decked all out in camo talking secret code on your 2 way radio, wielding a tomahawk just because the power is out for 20 mins. Ok I know most won’t do this but hey it could happen. In reality there are several things and types of emergencies you should plan for. Everything from a short term power outage, to teotwawki, and mass rioting. Know what you have and when to use it. A couple of plans I would suggest to start with are a home evacuation plan in case of fire, a get home plan for emergencies while your away from home such as at work, and a communications plan to communicate with your family and close friends during an emergency. There a lot more plans to create but this is a start. When you create your plans especially your communications plan be sure to involve who your trying to contact, you can’t contact your family if they are not aware how your planning on contacting them. Don’t share your plans with everyone but at least everyone involved in those plans.

 

4. Not buying ahead of time.

     During the April 27, 2011 tornado that struck my county here in Alabama, people could not get simple things like water. I wanted to help by donating water to the town of Hackleburg, AL I had to drive 110 miles round trip to get a pickup truck load of water to donate. Everyone lost power a lot lost their homes, and family members. In the days following everyone flocked to the local stores to buy up what they needed to survive, but the stores didn’t have any, other  people had bought it all already. You could not just go to Wal-Mart and get a case of water or loaf of bread, it was not that simple. So it is always a good idea to buy the stuff you need before you need it.

 

5. Not Keeping track of Expiration Dates.

     I know that dates on food items are not exact expiration dates, because many items will keep past their posted expiration date. However, some foods really do not taste so good even when slightly past the date. The item may just not taste good, you could get sick or even worse, so be mindful of what you eat close to or past the expiration date. Take a marker and rewrite the date where it is visible and keep rotating your stock.

 

6. Storing water in weak containers.

     Storing water in flimsy containers is asking for trouble. The container can break and flood the location you have it stored, Although flood is kind of a strong word for this situation unless you have water stored in a 100 gallon generic space bag. At the very lease you will have a mess to clean up but it could get much worse if your supplies are ruined because of a cracked container. I recommend storing your water in disinfected soda bottles or BPA free plastic containers.

 

7. Buying big ticket items you don’t have room for or not allowed to have.

     If your planning on purchasing a large item such as a generator make sure you have a place to store it, you would not want to just leave it on the porch. If you live in an apartment or rental house make sure your lease does not forbid the item for some reason.

 

8. Only Preparing for Big Events

     One mistake I have seen is people preparing for the large scale events that have a small chance of happening, while ignoring the smaller scale things that actually happen in their area. While I think a general approach to preparedness is best, I think it also makes sense to make sure we’re prepared to face the events that are most likely to happen in our area. For my area, that includes Tornados and Severe Storms

 

9. Having an Obsession With Prepping

     A healthy, happy family is more important than extending your food stock another month. Everything in the family begins with the husband-wife relationship. Make sure that’s solid above all else, and everything else will fall into place.

Emergency Planning: Focusing on Preparation

Have you been asked by these questions before? What’s inside your fridge right now? Is your dog food or cat food edible by humans? Do you have an emergency meeting place for your family? Who’s going to get your kids in school, in case, you did not make it? Do you even have dogs at home? Well, these questions could be some what intimidating, privacy intruding, and all the more, unusual for you to answer. But, if you are familiar with emergency planning, you will instantly know that the inquirer may be talking your family’s preparation for emergency situations.

Emergency planning unfortunately is one of the least focused aspects of family safety planning. Your family may have been through all sorts of safety activities such as engaging in seminars about family emergence response, you may have all the books of safety and emergency for homes, you could be installing the most high tech security and alarm system in your house, but if you don’t have an emergency plan when that dreaded day comes, it would all be of no use.

Fortunately, you never have to add worry lines on your face. You can actually do something to prepare your folks of worst case scenarios. Remember, that when you do emergency planning, you consider all the possible threats, calamities and disasters that may come. Home related emergencies may include the most common, electrical or fire accidents, physical accidents such as falling from the stairs, to gas leak explosion, earthquake, typhoons and even burglar.

Your first step in emergency planning is to make a list of contacts to emergency units like the police, 911, fire department, hospital, clinic and technicians, in case of electrical appliance accidents. Make sure that you provide speed dial numbers like 911. It is also best to put this list beside the telephone table or in a place where telephone conversion is commonly held. The purpose of this is for every member of the family to familiarize the numbers every time they pick up the phone.

Emergency exits must also be clearly laid out in case of home invasion. And don’t forget to orient every member of the family of a designed place where you will be meeting in case all members are not present during an emergency. It is also good to recognize a relative leaving nearby as destination of refuge.

Finally, always keep and bring with you a family photo or individual photos of your family members. This is helpful in times when a member is missing. Remember, that emergency planning is not just plain planning; it’s a preparation for emergency situations.

What to Keep In Short Term Disaster Bag

Like I said in a previous post, There is no one size fits all bag, neither are the contents. The building of your bag is a personal project and should reflect your personal needs. I personally don’t think it is a good idea to go buy a cute little pre-configured “Survival Bag”. Here is a list of items to consider, you don’t have to pack everything, Choose what’s right for you. Click next to each for an example

  1. Small AM / FM Radio Preferably Solar Powered Like This One
  2. Batteries Large to Small (don’t pack ones you don’t need)
  3. Bar of Soap (unscented) eg Ivory
  4. Toothbrush Like This One
  5. 2 pairs of clothes
  6. Pair of Work gloves. Like These
  7. Cold Weather Gloves Like These
  8. Canteens, covers and cups Like This One
  9. Pocket Knife. Like This One
  10. Tactical or Boot knife. Like This One
  11. Sleeping Bag. Like This One
  12. Emergency Blankets Like These
  13. Waterproof Matches. Like These
  14. Spoon and Fork Like This One
  15. Small Stove. Like This One
  16. Military Cook Set Like This One
  17. Water Purifying Tablets. Like These
  18. Toilet Paper.
  19. First Aid Kit Like This One
  20. Over The Counter Medications Like Tylenol, Advil, Benadryl, etc.
  21. MRE’s Like This One
  22. Whistle Like This One
  23. Cell Phone
  24. Solar Cell Phone Charger Like This One
  25. Portable Weather Radio Like This One
  26. Water
  27. Your Prescription Medications

This list is only the beginning, it could go on and on. You could include things like an mp3 player or bible. Just depends on your preferences and needs. These bags are really only meant to be temporary for short term disasters that require you to leave your home. You will never be able to live out of your bag forever. So additional preparations for long term may be needed.

Some of the links above are affiliate links and I do get a small percentage of the sale if you purchase threw those links. I appreciate your support