TOTW: Opsec!

  • Posted on: 3 November 2019
  • By: notnull

Are anarchists any good at opsec? Is there something particularly anarchist about opsec, or something particularly important about opsec for anarchists?

On the one hand, I've seen anarchists exercise paranoia about communicating with each other, even when discussing things that are entirely legal. On the other hand, the state asymmetrically monitors and pursues anarchist activity as criminal, even when it's not, and so any efforts at practicing good opsec seems better than being careless about it.

What are the most important guidelines, practices, pitfalls to avoid that you can offer about how to have good opsec? What are some ways that you see anarchists being overly paranoid about opsec? How do you think opsec practices differ regarding in-person activity and online activity? Is practicing good opsec online impossible, or is it more difficult than practicing good opsec in person?




If someone's being overly paranoid about security culture I kinda just accept it. Maybe I don't know their reasons and theres something super legit about it. Even if the only benefit is for their personal comfort or to make them less stressed, that seems good enough for me.

But what really bothers me are the kids who have the projects where everyone knows they do it and they pretend its like some secret underground shit. Its especially common in the antifa crowd. That always feels like an ego trip. Like no bro, you got a twitter account.

It depends on what you're trying to not get caught at.
It can be as simple of not wanting to publicly broadcast and link your affinities to your name and location, or as complex as running what would be the contemporary equivalent of the Underground Railroad, if you can imagine that.

The problem I see is not one of disproportionate paranoia, but of dedicating too much time discussing the "sec" part and no time in discussing, much less doing, the "op" parts (not just technical aspects, but the rationale of what those proximate objectives are supposed to get you and what they actually achieve without rhetoric and aggrandizing). The sec parts are usually infosec and focused on online communications, other aspects are neglected. Wishful thinking is not helpful in either of those components. It's easier to configure encryption that to come up and follow through with the execution of a plot. So much so that many already do the first without knowing it, while discarding the second as impossible and pipe dreams.

While it's possible to stay offline, it's not possible to physically vanish without a trace in person.
But "good opsec" does not require such a feat of magic, only what's necessary to get the job done and not get caught.

Such a level of tension and consistent carefulness is impossible to keep indefinitely, so ideally the most secure thing is to limit the exposure to risk or vulnerability to the shortest time possible.
It's easier and safer to do a one time thing and shut up about it forever, than to live an entire life in clandestinity.
Some people don't have that choice, others do, most just chat about it to kill time as with any topic.
The thing is, as is usually reminded in this topic, you can't retroactively do good opsec.
So you either not do anything "interesting" your whole life, or if you do, leave it up to luck, or take the necessary precautions you're willing to take either daily or during the relevant period.
Everyone is a nobody until they're a somebody. It's easy to discount someone because of their past behaviors, habits, and trends in their life trajectory. This can work in your favor as an element of surprise, but it can also prove everyone right that you were never going to do anything and that you were taking needless precautions.

I have been confused about what to be afraid of much of my life, here's what I've learned.

-The internet isn't just an Orwellian police state apparatus. It is used to control and prosecute people, but the state always has too much data to deal with, and doesn't understand how to use it correctly. 2019 is a police state with or without the internet.

-Dont trust anyone. Even your loved ones. Think about trust as a learning experience, I can expect person x to do y but I cant trust x to do y because of a past experience or a feeling. People who trust always get scammed.

-dont do anything politically motivated. Use your political knowledge to help with people but dont try to manipulate their positions for some semi-egoistic end, nature will always disappoint you and laugh.

article after article after article etc or podcast after podcast after podcast etc or both! Lat's face, supposedly to be post-left, one has to shun work.... ha ha ha...really? Yet, I hear so many (post-leftists) whining on about their shitty jobs. I agree with Aragorn! (which is ironic) that mind-set of anarchy is in bad shape. How bad does shitty have to get before the light bulb goes on? And why doesn't anarchism go beyond age 20-30 for most and why does it attract a disproportionately amount of White males? Opsec is all part of the mystification process that one is truly a rebel of importance and not of insignificance.

Yes, anarchism was once a definitely powerful 'tool in the toolbox' now it is brief passage of time spent by young White males before they go to shitty jobs, professional careers or dropouts. Oh, and it's a space for the academy and for wanna be writers. What anarchism has morphed into is a 'rebel' a young White rebel akin to the young lad who was shot a couple of weeks ago. I would be interested in how Wolfi, for example, as an older 'anarchist' actually realises anarchy on a daily basis; may be more accurate to define it as his anarchy as he may concur that he doesn't live anarchy but more what he would define as a couple of an anarchistic behaviours, but then, most live that way too without any need for this (hush-hush) opsec!

i’m sure that corresponds with your experience, and could not substantially be disproven except with a comprehensive statistically representative survey of anarchists.

yet i think you’re projecting your disdain for that sociodemographic segment (self-loathing?).
the description you make is broad enough to include everyone.

who doesn’t navigate through schooling/academia, shitty jobs, and dropping out? increasingly people of all kinds transit through these intermittently.

do you expect anarchists to be idyllic people that differ vastly from the norm in all traits and categories?
aren’t anarchists simply people that share some ideas, topics/activities of interests/passions? and even then, much room to disagree and differ.

your comments are besides the topic.
there’s a gradient going those who really need it, and those who opt for nudism and exhibitionism, full transparency and exposure.

some cloak and dagger (hush-hush) thang. Aragorn! wonders why anarchism doesn't attract more people; just look at the style of writing of so much anarchist material: it's so abstract and angst-ridden, full of rage and confrontation. Anarchists are, by and large, their own worst enemy. Indeed, if anarchism became popular, then they would have to find something else to rebel against. Anarchists are very poor at revealing just how extreme mainstream life actually is without going down the raging rants of destroy, destroy destroy. Jason McQuinn hits on this point too, to the point, he prefers to speak with so-called 'normies.' Opsec is for the kids to feel special, important.

is that it basically means someone who is in perpetual rebellion against everything. Ideally an anarchist would pop up briefly when one person is gaining too much control or authority within a group, but if it has gotten that far then that already means you've lost because people tend to give either those who are more popular or those who are more threatening the benefit of the doubt.

Try and figure out how to solve that security problem! Imagine fearing or hating hitler in germany when your friends were at his rallies cheering!

dear [term of abuse omitted for lack of creativity or fear of censorship]:

i really detest the tone of your expressions and the direction in which you're taking this conversation.
only someone with a vested interest in ignorance or in getting people in jail would disparage the good sense of healthy precautions that fall under the appropriation of the term "opsec".

if basic "opsec" wasn't so important and such a given, why are you not posting under you're real name? you malicious vile troll of valuable opinions for open discussion.

sure, most people are not spies, nor soldiers, nor militants, nor in whatever areas of operations you want to pigeonhole this topic to. regardless, it's indisputable how many people currently face or have faced persecution do to association to ideas, or to people who are associated to ideas, via books in libraries or stores, or metadata.

about the popularity of anarchism or your discontent with the term, or the people that claim it, due the misery of the particularities of your personality, anarchism wouldn't become more popular if we all behaved or conformed to your idiosyncratic norms.

"about the popularity of anarchism or your discontent with the term, or the people that claim it, due the misery of the particularities of your personality, anarchism wouldn't become more popular if we all behaved or conformed to your idiosyncratic norms."

There is no such thing as a normie. If you try to be one you are going to fail miserably. If you try to classify people you know as normies you will also fail because you will realize that they are all different in the ways in which they behave.

However, it's also true that anarchism basically doesn't exist, that anarchists spend a lot of their time at each other's throats because they are supposedly the enemy, and that they spend a lot of time trying to battle concepts and eliminate them from discourse (of course completely unsuccessfully).

I would like to suggest that maybe a shortened version of "operations security" is not a term that really applies to us? Maybe trust is a better term? Maybe a discussion of people's perspectives whom are not in the room to fight you over your judgements? Maybe strategy?

what’s your strategy?

Dear subculture dweebs: what's "Opsec"? It must be nifty to have no awareness of the world outside of your hermiticaly sealed feedback loop, even down to the level of simple language. It must make you feel like a real threat to the system!

Also, can I have my Harry Potter fan decoder ring back?

Please stop inundating this thread and all of the comments with your incessant whining and badgering.

blame you on here because you don't have any anarchist friends. "The scene" can have a lot of words attached to it, somewhat true and somewhat false, but alienating is certainly an accurate one!

funny how you mention Harry Potter fan decoder ring...
phone phreaking began with a guy using a whistle from a Captain Crunch cereal box.

that's a much more effective tactic for getting people to conform to your warped version of reality than someone else saying "i would rather talk to normies", because all the anons above were saying is they don't want to talk to up-against-the-wall assholes like you.

I mean, clearly trolling but thats pretty funny to think anarchists have any exclusive claim to the term opsec. Quite backwards in fact, trying to write about a complex topic on the surface of a rushing river with a stick.

That's anarchist opsec. The bar is set so low, you have to dig it up. I say this, not just to be snarky but because it's a military term where the standards are quite a bit higher.

i’d love for the conversation be of such “height”.
it’s so low, we started in sewage and soon we’ll burning in magma.

hey, but don’t leave it there.
what are your thoughts?
what should the discussion look like ideally?

Once more with feeling: calling all subculture numbnuts -- and, not to tax your adolescent narcissist lack of social skills or anything -- but, what's "opsec" mean?


heheh thinks it's clever. cute!

don't carry a phone around on you. those things constantly ping towers regardless if you think you think you disabled it from doing that. soooo kids, when you're out LARP'in as insurrectionist revolutionaries and you wanna take pictures of how cool you think you are and how you're sticking it to the man to show to your friends, use a polaroid. it's just one of the many things one can do and it's hard for some people that get their dopamine fix by announcing to the internet where they are and what they're doing.

fox example, when I participate in spanish civil war reenactment, i always leave my electronics at home. some of the younger people don't and feel this need to constantly update the internet on what they're doing to get their dopamine fix and do it like every hour and they get really upset if they cant use it.

Thanks Gigaturd! You accidentally bring up an important point with your hostile ranting.

The LARP is the bane of security culture. I'm just old enough to remember when people seemed like they were still masking up for reasons besides trying to look badass! Nowadays, the performative radical posturing for the selfie is maybe the biggest goldmine of easy-access data, whether it's the state or the far right trying to figure out who everyone is. Be warned.

Every time you do something for the spectacle instead of a REAL REASON, that's broken opsec.
Every time you're just trying to look cool and fishing for validation from the other "woke kids" or whatever, you're going to wake up one morning, realize you made some enemies and drown in your own shame from how stupid this shit is.

This text is actually so good, just read the first half of it, before it gets into specific practices.

No Humour Allowed by the ANews Police..."anarchy" gets even sadder! Can't stand the critiques of your sad milieu eh? Nevermind, the collapse is a coming and you can....write about it, podcast about it, bicker about it

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