Shhh! OPSEC and COMSEC are Vital to Survival - Survival Sullivan (2023)

OPSEC is critical to survival, and not just in a post-SHTF scenario, it's critical even now. Operational Security or OPSEC is a term that actually originated with the military and refers to procedures for safeguarding important information and activities necessary for the successful execution of military missions.

So if you're not involved with the military, you might be wondering why you should care about OPSEC at all. So what's the problem?

What is OPSEC?

If you're preparing, you've probably read or heard other preparers refer to operational security (OPSEC). The term OPSEC has been adopted in recent decades by the preparatory community and means something very similar to the military definition.

OPSEC in the prepper community refers to the things you do every day to protect important information from those who might use it to gain access to you, your personal information, your property, and yes, your reservations and prep plans.

This can be anything from:

(1) information that you communicate by email or cell phone or by simply telling your friends, neighbors, etc. in their preparations (COMSEC),

(2) data that can be intercepted during transmission (TRANSEC),

(3) stored data that can be accessed electronically through the devices you use (INFOSEC), and (4) most important information about you and your routines (PERSEC).

When it comes to preparation, you need to understand that there are many types of information and data that can be observed, tracked and found before and after SHTF.

What you do or how you operate (OPSEC) and what you say or communicate (COMSEC) can give someone the pieces to put together and figure out what you have, where you are, what kind of security you might have. and when you are away or busy so they can get it without interference.

A day in your life PRE-SHTF

Imagine for a moment that you are a thief and you are watching a specific neighborhood of very nice houses. You drive down the street trying to decide which house is worth risking. Right after Christmas, it's garbage day and there's a huge pile of empty boxes on the sidewalk in front of a house.

You stop and park so you can make a list of items you want to look for when making your move. It looks like a nice flat screen TV, one of those new flying drones, and someone has a new telescope.

Make a few more notes about new items to look for after entering. So you google the address of the house. By accessing public records, you can easily obtain the first and last name of the property owner.

So now you have the name and address of the person who lives in the house. You access Facebook, search for the name and city and that's it, Mrs. Tell All Smith appears.

From her Facebook status updates you find out that they are going to the beach for 10 days and she can't wait, in fact she is counting down the days.

And now you too. As he looks at the house, the FedEx truck stops, leaving several large boxes labeled Wise and Legacy. These are popular survival food companies, take another note, these things are selling like hot cakes at your local flea market!

As he checks out the yard, he sees a prominent security sign near the front yard. Make a note to save details on how to disable this system later.

There is no fence and you have a clear view of the doghouse near the back corner of the house. You make another note to bring a tranquilizer steak when you get home the night after the Smith family leaves for the beach. You grab a fake clipboard and carry it in your hand as you walk around the house, in case anyone asks what you're doing.

You see the garden, the solar panels and the rainwater harvesting system. He makes notes to bring a truck and some help because he's sure there will be gear, weapons, gear, and MREs in the house, all of which will sell very well at the next town's flea market.

So all of this information and more was obtained by simply accessing information about yourself online and looking around your home for a few hours.

And you can bet that when SHTF, that would-be thief will be one of the first to break into your house because he knows that even if he takes what you have this month, you're a prepper and will definitely restock!

Things that can be tracked or hijacked


As I'm sure you already know, when you send someone an email, you should expect that at some point in the future, anyone will be able to read that email, even if they weren't on the original email list.

Your emails can also be subject to seizure and reading by any government agency, as Hillary and many others have recently discovered.

Cell phones

The same goes for conversations and text messages onyour cell phone. You would expect someone with the right technology to be able to eavesdrop on your phone conversations or access your text messages pretty easily.

We've all heard the story about the baby monitor being hijacked by a pedophile who was watching and talking to the baby in the crib.

However, what you might not know is that nowadays, your cell phone can also be hijacked.even when you're not talking about itand used by someone to listen to your face-to-face conversations. Some of the apps available can even hijack your microphone when your phone is off!

How many times have you gone to your phone and downloaded an app for a game or for Facebook or another app and got that message saying you have to agree to give them access to your contact list, camera and microphone?

If you click ok, you have now given that app access to control your phone and you trust them to use that access ONLY to do things associated with the app, but the wrong people can easily abuse that access.

Have you heard of the gyrophone? It's an Android app that actually turns your entire phone into a microphone using the vibrations in the phone's gyroscope pressure plates.

So if your phone is lyingon your bedside tableWhile you're talking to your spouse, someone might be listening to your pillow talk! Your phone has a gyroscope if the screen rotates when you rotate your phone horizontally. Watch this video to learn more:

Gyrophone: spying using a gyroscope

Credit cards

If you've ever made any kind of purchase online or using credit cards, you already know that information can be stolen in many ways, often without the thief even having to physically obtain your credit card.

A day in your life after SHTF

Now imagine a scenario similar to the one described above, only now SHTF, and our thief is someone desperate and hungry. They are walking down the street trying to determine which house is worth risking and which house might be in desperate need of food and supplies.

What will they see in your house? If your house is the only house with lights on, they'll instantly know it's solar powered or even a generator. You are immediately a target above other houses on the street that are dark. In a post-SHTF scenario, think about what a potential threat would see, hear, smell, etc. about you or your home.

Does your house look abandoned like the rest of the houses on the street or does it show that they are taking care of it and does someone still live there? Pay attention when cooking food, as the smell of smoke, as well as the smell of meat or other cooked food, will attract desperate people from some distance to your home.

The same applies if you have to go out into a public area. Just because you have water, soap, and other supplies at home doesn't mean you have to go out on the town clean-shaven and dressed up.

It's going to be very important that you blend in with everyone else who is starving and looking for food and supplies.

Otherwise, you become a target and any nasty people who pay attention will follow you back to your supply-filled house.

Who would like to know my information?

In fact, the answer to this question is pretty daunting because there are a myriad of people who want your information if it means something they can use against you personally or to benefit themselves in some way.

nosy neighbors-In most cases, your neighbors want information about you simply to satisfy their own curiosity and need for drama. They want to know what you're up to so they can be the center of attention at the next PTA meeting or your morning coffee chat.

In many cases, your own neighbors may be relatively harmless on a normal day, but you have no way of knowing what information they share and with whom they share it.

You also don't know what these neighbors will do when SHTF and they are desperate. Nosy neighbors and those you share your information with can be one of the most dangerous threats when it comes to your preparations and survival planning!

identity thieves-No doubt you've heard of identity theft, it's a very real threat to all people who don't take precautions to protect themselves against it.

Identity theft has long been an issue when it comes to financial security, and if an identity thief gets hold of your information, you're in for a long battle.

Thieves / Bandits-There are also other criminals, such as thieves, who will use the information they collect about you, your family or your home to profit, as we described above, stealing your stuff or worse, kidnapping or attacking your child. physically or sexually.

These people are definitely a threat to your survival during a post-SHTF scenario, as they will be the first to visit your home if they have any idea what might be inside.

authorities–Depending on your past behaviors and other factors, including who you are talking to or emailing and who they may be talking to or involved with, there are authorities who may be watching.

This could be anyone from zoning managers to local law enforcement, the FBI/CIA or even homeland security. They may not even be watching you specifically, but they're just watching everyone for possible red flag information or watching someone you're subconsciously associated with.

Political or religious madmen“These are those passionate (and maybe a little mentally unhinged) people who might lash out at you if they know you're a threat to their cause.

They may be looking at your OB/GYN because she performs abortions in the same place where you get your exams. It could be that they are watching you because of the political sign you allowed to be placed in your garden or the rainbow sticker on your car.

terrorists“If you've been paying attention to what's been going on in the world lately, you know that terrorists are probably the hardest to protect.

They've already shown that they'll target people in general based on their race, country of origin, or even randomly based on attending a specific event or location at a specific time. Their attacks are generally unpredictable, random, and violent.

What data do I need to protect?

There are four basic segments in the general category of OPSEC:


You are probably already familiar with INFOSEC or "information security" procedures. This involves procedures to protect financial information stored on your computer's hard drive, personal electronic devices, laptops, etc., such as:

  • bank account numbers
  • passwords
  • tax information
  • social security numbers
  • credit card account numbers


Personal Security (PERSEC) is much of what we talked about in the previous scenario. The would-be burglar above was able to gather a lot of information about his family, his home, and its contents just by watching for a few hours.

The boxes in plain sight on the sidewalk, the doghouse, the lack of a fence, the security sign, the FedEx shipment all reveal information about you and your routines to the bad guy.

If you had watched for several days, you would have known the car or cars you own, the ages of your kids, probably your dog's name (you or the kids call him by name to come outside, right?).

It's information about your lifestyle, your habits, your possessions and your routines. For those of us who prep, and those of us looking to steal those preps, it's the information about what you're storing, how much you're storing, and where it might be located.

It's whether or not he has guns or other weapons at home and how many children he has. Please get rid of those Stickperson family window props, they're cute and all, but they could make you a target for pedophiles.

But even more dangerous is the information you can reveal during a post-SHTF scenario if you're not careful about what you're doing.


Communication security or COMSEC involves what you say or communicate to others outside your immediate group. This includes information you share over the Internet, cell phone or landline.

It also includes those casual comments to the cashier at the surplus store, bragging to your co-worker about how many guns you have, or telling your neighbor how full your pantry is getting.

It might not be that neighbor or that cashier or coworker who comes to steal your supplies when SHTF, it might be YOUR neighbor or YOUR coworker who remembers them telling the story about the guy at the end of Route 66 getting ready for the End of Days .

Many preps may not be aware that the prep community is on DHS's radar and that intent to defend your family by force, if necessary, could be perceived by DHS as a threat to national security.

Internet sites like Facebook, Twitter and survival forums are a huge threat to COMSEC when it comes to survival preparations.

If you brag about your preparations and plans during a SHTF event and use an email associated with your real name and location, your COMSEC has been violated.

There are people who can find out where you are by gathering information from different places and putting it together to complete the puzzle of who you are and where you are.

For example, if you use a username and email address to enter a contest, someone might search for that username on popular websites. They can connect the username to your real name and start collecting information about you from what you post online elsewhere.

If you use the same password to register for contest sites or grooming forums that you use for your online credit card or bank accounts, your financial information is also at risk.


Transmission security or TRANSEC is more complex. Refers to proceduresthe actual transmission of communication. For military operations, TRANSEC is particularly important during field operations.

There are specific procedures that must be followed when soldiers in the field radio their base to avoid eavesdropping and protect detection by the enemy.

TRANSEC procedures involve:

  • Authenticate communications (make sure the person you think you are communicating with is the person you think they are)
  • Application of Radio Silence
  • authorization codes
  • Change radio frequencies and call signs frequently
  • Cancellation or modification of broadcast standards

For post-SHTF preparers, protecting this information could involve a plan to switch the radio frequencies you use to prevent others from hearing your messages, the use of encrypted messages and call signs to prevent anyone from identifying who you are, the use of Morse code, hand signals, etc.

Action plan

vary your routines

Most people who are watching or monitoring you are trying to get information about you, your family and your ROUTINES. They want to know your behavior patterns so they can determine the best way to disrupt and make your move.

Since spotters get their information by watching your routines, one way to discourage them is to make sure your routine is as varied as possible at all times. So when it comes to preventing anyone from knowing your routines, unpredictability and chaos is a great weapon.

  • Leaving the house in a hurry from time to time even if it is not necessary
  • Come back later or earlier than usual when possible
  • Stay away for several days at a time.
  • Instead of driving, take the bus, bike or walk with a friend.
  • Fold these empty boxes and place them inside the trash can or inside another box.
  • Request that deliveries be made to the back of your home or another location out of sight.

Don't make it easy for someone who's been watching you for several days or weeks to determine when you'll be home, when you'll be alone, or whether you'll go out alone on Wednesday nights to take out the trash to the curb.

Take precautions with electronic information

  • If you need to post photos online, of your preparations or anything else, first disable location information on your smartphone or transfer the photos to your computer's storage device, then open them in an app like MSPaint and save them again. Following this procedure for photos removes all EXIF ​​data, including any information about your location.
  • To enter contests online, create an alternate email with a web provider like google or yahoo. Next, be sure to modify not only the password, but also the username for any contests or websites you sign up for. Think of an easy way to modify it, like adding a different combination of numbers to the username each time.
  • Resist the urge to "check in" to the salon or work each morning.
  • Don't post details about your vacation plans on your Facebook status and wait to post vacation photos until you're back home.
  • Make sure all your privacy settings are set to limit access as much as possible.
  • Consider purchasing and regularly using an RFID case and RFID blocking wallets to protect against accessing your devices or cards without your knowledge.
  • Avoid downloading applications that require general access to your phone's resources, and read the download instructions carefully so you know what you are downloading to your phone or computer.
  • Use incognito browsing whenever possible, clear cache and internet history regularly.
  • Be sure to use generic email addresses to register for forums and contests. Where possible, do not associate your real name or real location with these email addresses.
  • Change your passwords frequently and never use the same passwords for online activities that you use for your online bank or credit card accounts.

There really is no way to completely protect all your information, but there are certainly many things you can do to protect your information and details about your personal information, your financial details and preparations to avoid being targeted for as long as possible. possible.

I think you get the point. Do not speak or behave in a way that indicates to others what you have in terms of supplies and resources. And that applies now, today and after SHTF.

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