Communications Security is, and must be, a primary concern to any warfighter. When I was still in uniform, a great deal of our target packages were generated or acted on due to some schmuck out there turning on his cell phone and making a quick call - falsely believing his brevity would spare him any unpleasantries. The content of that call was not necessarily of import to us, but rather the fact that we knew who owned that particular phone (via ESN and IMEI) and had the ability to geo-locate it right away. Now we knew that we had “High Value Target # whatever” at such & such grid and could hastily act on that fresh intel.
Much of warfare is based on first prepping the battlespace (civil affairs, psyops, humint, elint, etc), and then exploiting your enemy’s mistakes. In this case, we had a technological advantage over the enemy and would exploit it on a regular basis. Now, one has to imagine that after many years of conflict the insurgents would be very much aware of this electronic disparity and would avoid employing said items. From my perspective, some of the groups would in fact employ some self discipline and avoid the gadgets – effectively “low-teching” us, consequently robbing us of that targeting asset. Instead they would rely on old school techniques such as couriers, dead drops and encryption like “one time pads”.
One has to wonder why they did not use faux comsec violations as bait for an ambush more often. For example – activating a known high profile bad guy’s phone as a bit of poison fruit to draw a raiding party into a kill zone. Makes for a bad day…
The point of this article is to bring attention to the inherent dangers/privacy issues of our various communication media. Radio can be eavesdropped on and DF’d (direction finding). Same issue with cell phones, as pointed out above. Email is collected and stored by various state and non-state entities.
So, how can this threat to privacy be mitigated in a effective, real world way?
Step One: Go HERE and read. Understand. This is the foundation of what will follow.