The Surveillance State: Cell phone Surveillance, Can They Hear You Now?


It’s safe to assume our readers fall into one of two groups: you know your cell phone tracks you constantly without your permission, or you’re unaware of the potentially serious privacy risks from the neat little device in your pocket. Being in the latter category doesn’t make you wrong — most people tend not to think about things that haven’t affected their lives yet, or dwell on dangers they believe are outside their control. However, when you’re in a particular line of work, the thoughts and ideas mentioned above constantly run through your mind. As writers in this industry, we often joke about being on government watch lists, but those jokes lose their humor when Big Brother may actually be watching.




Non-Kinetic Warfare Skills for the Civilian


The Kinetic Threats faced by the 21st Century Civilian Operator are getting more and more violent and random. Every day it seems we hear on the news about another  Active Shooter, Carjacking, Kidnapping or Home Invasion.  For most CO’s, this ignites a burning desire to train harder, more realistic and more enthusiastic than ever before. Our lives and the lives of our loved ones could very well depend on the quality of our training.  But what about the Non-Kinetic threats that we hear about? The varied Computer “hacking” jobs where sensitive networks and data is exploited and stolen from agencies like the OPM, the Pentagon and now, most recently, the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And what about the ones we DON’T hear about regularly on the lame-stream news? The type of Electronic Warfare that can harass, jam and even intercept our cell phones, radio’s and GPS devices? Have we even considered preparing for these types of threats? If so, How do we prepare practically and realistically?

These are very important questions to consider, since in all likelihood, Communications (in varied forms) are going to be the first thing that are attacked by our enemies, whether they be foreign or domestic.To stay combat effective, the CO will need to know how to Deploy effective EW Counter-Measures to Prevent Jamming, Deploy Effective EW Attack measures to Harass, Jam and/or intercept enemy comms and most of all, Learn to Operate in an Environment where Comms may be “degraded” or even non-existent.

To make this short study of EW as practical as possible for the civilian, I thought I might focus on three basic skills that will most likely come into play:

  • Radio RF Jamming and Counter-Measures

  • Cell Phone Jamming and Counter-Measures

  • GPS and Drone Jamming

To understand RF Radio Jamming, here is a short slide show:

To be realistic, the CO should also learn how to build a basic RF jammer  in the field from materials that should not be that hard to find. This particular model works up to 128 Mhz.

RF Jamming Countermeasures

Although there is no easy single answer on the best way to Counter radio jamming, the best defense is usually a combination of the following:

  • Power: speak louder! Increase the power of your radio-emitting apparatus, so that it will take more noise to drown it. Of course, this increases energy consumption and heat dissipation, and it is not necessarily workable with your devices at hand.

  • Tightening: Try to use directional radio beams. The sender will send a non-isotropic signal, much stronger in one direction than in any other; the receiver will also concentrate its reception ability on this specific direction. This has been used in aircraft navigation systems. This kind of solution requires directional antennas, and, more importantly, proper orientation: the sending device must know the approximate direction of the receiving station, and vice versa.

  • Frequency hopping: Switch frequencies over a large range of possible frequencies. Sender and receiver agree upon the sequence of frequencies that they will use. This relies on the idea that it is much harder to jam a large spectrum than a single well-defined frequency. GSM/3G signals already includes frequency hopping, and the sequence is nominally unpredictable by outsiders because it is agreed upon under the cover of the cryptographic layer (subject to possible weaknesses of the cryptography as used in GSM, of course). Note, though, that in normal marketable equipment, frequency ranges are legally constrained, and it is still relatively easy to jam all frequencies which have been allocated to GSM and 3G.

  • Retaliation: a jammer is an active attacker; it emits a strong signal. This allows for tracking the jammer, with a jammer detector and send armed goons to shut it down and appropriately reward the jammer operators, e.g. with some free dentistry.

Before we get into Cell Phone Jamming and Countermeasures, I want to talk briefly about the danger of being OVER-DEPENDENT on your cell phone for communication during an emergency, and some practical contingency technology that you may have not heard about.

Having been through several major disasters, including Hurricane Katrina and Ike, I know first hand the short comings of cellular comms. Heavy winds, flooding and downed trees can disrupt the cables between cell phone towers. Most all cell towers require AC Power to operate, so if they don’t have a back-up power supply, they go down when the power does. In the event the tower does have a back-up system in the form of a gas generator, it has been my experience, depending on the location of the tower and the quality and number of personnel in charge of it, you cannot depend on people keeping the generator running 24/7; after all, those folks have families too and keeping gas in a generator is most likely low on their list of priorities during this time.

OK, so what is a viable and practical contingency plan for comm’s in an emergency situation when the cell phones go down? Well, besides looking into HAM Radio’s which I highly suggest, there is the GoTenna. The only drawback to these is the recipient has to have a GoTenna also to receive, but for a community cell that wants to stay in touch during Emergencies, this is an extremely practical and SECURE way to communicate.

Cell Phone Jamming

The Jamming of cell phone frequencies is a common tactic by police and military forces in areas of insurgent or criminal activity. In Iraq and Afghanistan, jamming served both to sever the insurgencies ability to communicate and also the ability to detonate IED’s remotely. The technology behind it is fairly simple. Most cell phones operate on a specific frequency range; in CONUS that is 1.9 Ghz, while in Europe and Asia it is 900 Mhz and 1.8 Ghz bands. By simply transmitting radio waves on the same frequency as your digital cell phone, the signal becomes jammed.

Be duly warned, that due to the Communications Act of 1934, cell phone jamming is considered a serious crime by the FCC and according to some people I know that dealt with them, they don’t play around with this, so approach with caution. I should add however that it is not illegal to own a cell phone jammer, only to use one. So, for “educational purposes”, the civilian prepper should look into making one of these devices themselves purely for the experience. Schematics for a small unit can be found HERE. Be advised however that these small units only have a range of around 20 feet, so if you want a wider jamming range, you will have to think bigger!

As far as Counter-Measures with cell-phone jamming, the only reliable one is Detection of the jamming device and subsequent destruction of the equipment.

GPS and Drone Jamming

There are a few civilian uses for jamming GPS signals, the majority of them privacy related, including the ability to conceal oneself or one’s vehicle in case it is being tracked by a GPS receiver.  A practical application would be a salesperson or delivery driver, that may wish to lunch outside their territory, or return home for a forgotten item, without having to do a lot of explaining due to GPS tracking on their vehicle. The range of most civilian GPS jammers is sufficient to cover even the largest of vehicles, giving the user a cloak of privacy. Another practical concern for civilians would be the placement of unknown GPS tracking devices on your person or vehicle. This GPS Tracking Detector solves that problem.

As far as Drones go with civilians, Privacy is again the initial concern. Anti-Drone tech, including jamming software, is expected to be an extremely lucrative market in the next few years. Domestic Drone Counter-Measures, an Oregon based company will offer Commercial UAV Detection Systems, which will consist of three control module boxes which will create a “mesh” network that can triangulate moving transmitters. The Command and Control module will offer simplified user interface via WiFi, such as through a tablet, smartphone or PC.

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!