Radio Communications Security during Martial law and SHTF.

Radio Communications Security during Martial law and SHTF is a must, and if you don’t know what to do you could lead the Government right to your door! This is the Sargent and in today’s post, we are going to look at Com-Sec and what you will need to know to protect your group when Martial law or SHTF hits.

First let’s look at hand-held radios and a few things you might not know. Some of the better hand-held radios come with what they call “Private Channels”. Let’s get one thing straight, when it comes to radios, there is no such thing as a “Private Channel”.  Radio signals on all public radios are not encrypted and as such can be heard by anyone of the channels of frequency.  What companies mean when they say that it is “private” means that you can keep from hearing anyone that is not in your group by using the “private” setting.  This does not however, mean that others cannot hear you!  If someone one else is on the channel and is not using the Privacy Setting, they can still hear you and anyone else on that frequency.  Don’t go thinking that no one will know what you are saying because you are using it, because they can.  Anytime you transmit on a radio that is bought at a public store, you are letting others know what you are saying and in some cases even where you are.

Many of the new digital hand-held radios also have built in GPS, whether you know it or not. This is supposed to make locating someone in an emergency easier but it could also be used to track you, if someone knew how, just like with your cellphone.  Another way they can track you, is using a process called “Triangulation”.  This is done with 3 or more antennas are used to calculate where you are at based on your signal strength and direction.  The Military also has a few new toys, they can be used to locate where you are that use satellite tracking.  This works similar to GPS as well, only they use your radio signal to track you and not any transmitted information.  The point here is that you should never assume that you are safe, when it comes to using a radio.  Sometimes however. you may really need to use them for security or just to coordinate with your other group members.  So what can you do?  Well here are a few tips for radio security:

For hand-held and bas stations:

  • Never say where you are at. I know that is a no brainer, but it is easy to slip up and say it anyway. Be careful.
  • Never use your name or call sign during Martial Law or SHTF situations. You want to be as clandestine as possible and try not to let them know who you are. Use made up names that cannot be tracked back to you. Things like “Hammer” or “post 1”. Try to change them up every so often to keep anyone that might be listening confused as to who you actually are.
  • If possible, try to move at least a couple of miles away from your base when transmitting so that you don’t give that position away. Move to a different spot each time. Never say things like “We are the third house on the left” even if you think no one is listening to you. Many people mistakenly think that if you don’t tell them what city or street they are on then they will not be able to figure it out. What you are effectively doing is giving them your home address. If they track you signal to your street then the game is over and you lose!
  • Try to transmit at different times of the day or night. Anyone that is listening will never know when to expect to hear you. Set it up with your group to check in at a rotating schedule and very often.
  • Use code words and phrases to communicate such as the famous “The chair is against the door!” line from the movie Red dawn. If you need to send a message for which there is no prearranged phrase for then try to us a book cypher, where you take the first words from the pages of a book that you have agreed on and all have a copy of. This is a very simple and very effective way of communication. Look up “Book Cypher” on Google for more information on it.
  • If there is a lot of traffic on a particular channel then try to use that channel when possible. I know that sounds counter intuitive, but the fact is that the more signals that are on the same frequency, the harder it is to track one particular signal. The idea is to get lost in the traffic, just like getting lost in a crowd, when walking through a town. You want to blend in and not stand out by being off to yourself.
  • Frequency hop! Change you channels to different busy channels, so it is harder for them to track you.

To do all of these things, you will need to set this up well in advance so every member of your group that is on the radio is well aware of the code words and phrases, as well as knowing how to decipher the messages sent by other members of your group. The golden rule of communicating during war-time (And make no mistake about it, it will be a war!) is to “always assume the enemy is listening to every thing you say and can probably find your location given enough time and desire to do so”. Always be aware of this and you will be well on your way to having as secure communications as possible. Well that is it for today and I hope you may have learned something useful for when it all falls apart.  Until next time, keep on prepping!

-The Sargent-

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