This article provides a timely warning of the security dangers involved in the use of personal computers and cell phones. The question of security is frequently ignored or downplayed by revolutionaries, especially in the "democratic" countries. This is a serious danger, especially as all the bourgeois countries are stepping up their surveillance.
On the other hand, the author does not distinguish in the article between open and clandestine work, or between legal and illegal work. There is a danger of people becoming so "security conscious" that they lose connections with mass work. We feel both aspects of the situation must be kept in mind.
We have not included any author information since we received the article together with a newspaper from an organization in Germany, but with only an individual's name (not included here), and it was not clear whether or not the article represents the official position of the organization.
Questions and ideas about surveillance in our time
I. The Cellular Phones and Computers
When 5 years ago someone went to a demonstration with his/her address book, it was clear that the person was a "beginner." Warnings were distributed: Don't take address books to demonstrations – the police are just waiting for them.
Today there are the cell phones, on whose chips are clearly written all names and telephone numbers! The last 10 calls are stored! At an anti-Nazi demonstration, at which many young people took part and were arrested, it even appeared in the press, that the police collected all the cell phones in order to read the chips, so that the contacts and names could be stored for the police state investigation.
That is just one part of the cell-phone problem! The cell phone nowadays constantly sends out information about the location of the user, accurate to within a few meters, as long as it is kept on. This so-called "movement profile" regularly provides information of who, where and for how long. Particularly, political meetings provide information to the police as to who is taking part in these meetings.
It should be clear that "technical progress" here directly provides information to the police!
The rule "NO CELL PHONES," except for very specific people, seems hardly enforceable given the fact that cell phones are so very practical, given the awful power, the "power of use" and the notorious political underestimation of the state apparatus!
It is unclear whether switching off the cell phone really prevents the sending out of ones location through the mobile radio, since a residual current for storing the time, etc. is still available.
It is better overall to switch off the cell phone by removing the battery pack or still better, not to bring it at all to meetings, discussions, etc.
Telephones, as everyone knows, can also be activated as a tap when one is not calling anyone! What concerns fixed telephones, it should be clear, is also technically possible for cell phones.
This is one more reason only to use cell phones in very specific situations with a very clear need!
Cell phones as an address book, location and movement report, as a listening device – and everyone buys them and uses them every day – the surveillance state could not wish for something better.
II. The Case of the PC
The old typewriter provided information to the police through the typeface.
They would be seized when it was worthwhile to find out the author of an article or leaflet! Therefore, political groups took care to protect and secure the "central leaflet typewriter."
The PC today, like the cell phone, has come into the reach of every active person. The PC as a security risk is not only a political problem – also in the office and even more so there – but it is also less recognized how the PC user becomes a "spied on person."
Some 5 to 6,000 programs created hidden appendices in files, security codes, etc. under the pretext and in reality to prevent making bootlegged copies, etc.
The hard drive (even after being reformatted or having been "cleaned" or "overwritten") holds a lot of different kinds of information for the police specialists:
- the programs used
- the name of the authors of externally stored files
- if files are copied to diskettes or Rewriteable CDs, one can find out the original computer used, the programs used, and probably also the author of the texts!
The INTERNET also provides access from outside to the hard drive and other connected disk drives – unfortunately this is not a fairy tale. When you connect to the internet, the police know what you are doing with your computer! And it is more and more accurate than what you yourself know about the hard drive – at least at first sight! One example: the file "systeminfo" contains specific information about when (date and time) you connected your computer to a printer or scanner, what type of external devices you have, etc.
The fact that all e-mails and web pages also provide information about the user's profile is clearly often not well enough known.
If one ever uses ones name in the installation of a program, this is also stored on the hard drive and attached sometimes visibly and sometimes invisibly in files. CDs and diskettes also contain specific information about the time of the creation of a file, as well as stored information about the user/owner of the PC as well as all changes!
When such files are sent by e-mail, this information is also available for the police department's computer without the PC having to be seized!
Another not fully understood problem is to what extent the storage capacity of the BIOS still contains information about the old hard drive if the drive is swapped for another drive! It is similarly unclear whether printers and scanners that are installed save information on the hard drive such as serial numbers, etc.
Even the complete destruction of a hard drive is not so simple! Normal destruction is not sufficient; special procedures help, but the remains should be distributed in different locations.
The Result and Possibilities of Work
1. Possibly the greatest danger are the so-called "left computer specialists" with their unbearable partial knowledge, who have an allegedly "secure" method of encoding, who claim that re-formatted disks are clean, etc. Don't believe a word of it… the other side has better specialists!!
2. To be completely secure one must have complete physical separation in a double sense:
a) complete physical separation of ones private computer connected to the internet, and
b) ones political computer, which is used completely for political work.
Between these two computers there must be a complete separation. Also the same data carriers [diskettes, etc.] should not be used on one and the other. Further all programs should have different key numbers. (This is painful but unavoidable! Using general legal software, which for others is a minor offense, for us can lead to drastic punishment.)
In any attempt to exchange data between one political computer and another political computer, there should be no exchange of files, only paper printouts, which can be re-scanned into the other computer! This is the only way to prevent any unclean data transfers!
The problem of exception
The concept of viruses has not been chosen accidentally! To open a virus file once as exception is absurd… infection is unavoidable!
Thus it is a 100% rule to separate ones private computer from any political computer, as well as to handle one political computer separately from another!
Concluding suggestions for a political computer!
It makes sense to use for this a portable computer (laptop or notebook) and to buy it with cash, without leaving any name, so that if it is necessary to give it over to someone else, one will not leave a reference to any person (this also holds for buying programs).
Final suggestion regarding the popular "lending someone programs:"
One of the most dangerous epidemics is transferring programs, which are clear evidence of collaboration. As much as a problem it is for everyone, each person should purchase his own program himself using cash, in order to prevent documentation of connections…!
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