Category: opsec

We’re shutting down.

The time has come.

We’re going to be shutting down this thing soon. Why?

* Our evolving threat model
* It’s a chance to rethink how we do the work
* We need time for projects that are related to but not exactly the same as OFA
* Sometimes you need a new coat of paint, sometimes you need a new car. We think we can best help the global activist community by rebuilding from scratch.

We don’t know what form this thing that comes after OFA will take. Maybe it will be a website. Maybe a network (online or …). Maybe we’ll just pass info to people who need it.

All around the world, fascists are trying to gain control. From the Phillippines to Philly, from Moscow to rural Michigan, its vital that we stop them. We owe it to every trans kid, Jew, and Muslim. We owe it to any minority who’s been harassed, beaten, or killed for their identity. We owe it to every democracy activist who was electrocuted and tortured because they wouldn’t smile and go along with the State. Security and opsec matter in this fight. We hope we’ve given you a starting point; some things to think about.

Thank you to everyone who asked for help, offered advice, or sent us a tip.

If you need to save any of our posts, make sure you do it soon. Remember you can search for tagged subjects of interest like this:[yourtaggedsubject].

We’ll leave this up for a few days so you have a chance to get what you need.

If we have been helpful to your or your organization, or if you want to offer comments / feedback, message us! We won’t be able to respond, but we read everything.


Why the Las Vegas Shooting Was a Security Agency’s Nightmare

Why the Las Vegas Shooting Was a Security Agency’s Nightmare:

“The first reports about the horrific attack
in Las Vegas on Sunday night will surely evolve into more detailed
knowledge. But there are three lessons we might draw from the
information already available. First, automatic rifles like the one the
shooter apparently used have the potential to kill large numbers of
people, particularly when aimed at a crowd in a confined space. Second, a
shooter positioned in a high-rise building hundreds of meters away can
render moot many of the security measures now used to protect crowds.
And third, despite what gun advocates tend to say in response to
shootings, it’s incredibly unlikely that any armed bystander could have
made a difference, given the distance, elevation, and darkness that
separated this shooter from his victims. These three facts made the Las
Vegas shooting a nightmare scenario for police agencies, and for the rest of us too.“

Personally, we can only think of a few things that would help:

1. Metal detectors / baggage screening in major metropolitan hotels

2. Gun control legislation banning devices that modify semi-automatic weapons to full auto, closing the automatic weapons loopholes that still exist, instituting limits on magazine capacity, and cracking down on sellers that violate the law.

Las Vegas shooting illustrates difficulty protecting large gatherings from terrorism

Las Vegas shooting illustrates difficulty protecting large gatherings from terrorism:

Sometimes it’s hard to find solutions.

Our hearts are broken for the people of Las Vegas.

We’ll update as the facts come out.

Security Tips Every Signal User Should Know

Security Tips Every Signal User Should Know:

OK, one more post about Signal.

Dox the Sh*t Out of Yourself with These Nifty Tools.

Dox the Sh*t Out of Yourself with These Nifty Tools.:

We’ve talked about doxing before, and how you can defend yourself from trolls, creeps, and worse.

Here’s another arrow in your quiver: the fantastic OSINT Search Tool by Michael Bazzell. Just click the headline, and you’ll see a number of options in a toolbar on the left hand side. Go crazy and see what you can find about yourself online. You might be surprised.

We like this tool because it automates a bunch of different search options to give you a fuller picture of what a determined non-state opponent could turn up about you.

Give it a try.

How to Use Signal Without Giving Out Your Phone Number

How to Use Signal Without Giving Out Your Phone Number:

by Micah Lee.

Using AI to identify protestors hiding behind hats or scarves is entirely possible

Using AI to identify protestors hiding behind hats or scarves is entirely possible:

It’s not very effective yet, but it’s getting there.

“Too many worry about what AI—as if some independent entity—will do to us. Too few people worry what *power* will do *with* AI.” – Zeynep Tufekci

How White Supremacists Prepared for Charlottesville

How White Supremacists Prepared for Charlottesville:

Here’s ProPublica with a short analysis of recently leaked white supremacist Discord chats. These originally came from Unicorn Riot in a serious reporting scoop.

Taken collectively these provide insight on the mindset and tactics of major white supremacist groups in the months before Charlottesville. So what can we learn? (Points below are paraphrased from article:)

1. They were prepared to do violence, no surprise there

2. The rally involved an intense amount of planning. At least some participants were very tech-savvy. This fits with the levels of coordination, communication and logistics on display in Charlottesville.

3. Not only have they been closely tracking opponents using open-source intelligence and in-person surveillance, they even sent much of their compiled information to police.

( At minimum this raises serious questions about the relationship between police and white supremacist groups in Virginia and helps explain why they stood back and allowed attacks and gunshots to go unanswered. Recent reporting also shows that they ignored requests from the UVA student body for safety information, rebuffed offers for additional police from other universities, and focused on antifa as a threat to the exclusion of alt-right and white supremacist groups. No doubt all this suited “Unite the Right” perfectly.

Given that information on activists gathered by police departments also makes its way into federal intelligence databases like DHS, it further raises the question: could leftists who haven’t committed a crime be surveilled by federal intelligence agencies due to information obtained indirectly from Nazis?” It doesn’t seem out of the range of possibility at this point. – eds.)

4. Some members displayed a sophisticated knowledge of security culture and leftist tactics. So you should too. They went to some lengths to keep their plans from being uncovered, and did what they could to conduct surveillance on potential counter-protestors. High standards for digital and personal security are going to be important.

The full article is required reading for anyone who opposes fascism and white supremacy in the US. Now that Discord has shut down alt-right accounts, this is the closest we’re going to get to a definitive peek into the current tactics of white supremacists for a while.

The Top 9 Ways I Found Your ‘Secret’ Dating Profile

The Top 9 Ways I Found Your ‘Secret’ Dating Profile:

Sometimes (often) activists need to organize and communicate using pseudonyms. We often make ‘secret’ alternate accounts for better anonymity and privacy. But these are often not as secret as they seem, like the ‘secret’ dating profiles mentioned above.

Read on for the common mistakes.

The key takeaway here is: do not allow any communication or repeated info between your regular accounts and alternates – do not contaminate your aliases.

Don’t reuse user names, don’t reuse photos, don’t give the same demographic information, don’t reveal info about yourself that could be used to compile a profile and identify you. Don’t link it to your regular email or phone. Don’t register new accounts to your regular email address. Don’t use the same security questions. You get the idea.

Note that while this will keep trolls from tracking your activity, anonymous accounts aren’t enough to evade state surveillance – for that you’ll need to take more extensive measures. Start by familiarizing yourself with Tor, and reading about how to surf anonymously. There’s a lot to learn, but you can do it.

Active Shooter Situations: Run, Hide, Fight

There are a bevy of alt-right demonstrations coming up this weekend. In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, it seems like a good time to share tactics we hope you will never need: what to do in an active shooter situation.

Share with your friends and stay safe out there.

The text below
comes from “How to Counter Armed Assaults”, by Scott Stewart. This
article originally appeared at  

“[…] It is not just the authorities that need to respond to armed assaults. Ordinary citizens also need to learn to quickly respond to danger. Properly responding to danger actually begins well before the first shot is fired when people adopt a mindset
that recognizes the world can be a dangerous place and that they are
ultimately responsible for their own safety. Once a person understands
the possibility of being targeted and decides to adopt an appropriate level of situational awareness,
he or she will be mentally prepared to quickly realize that an attack
is happening, something security professionals refer to as attack
.The earlier a person recognizes that an attack is developing, the
better chance he has to avoid it. But even once the attack has begun, a
person can still keep it from being a successful one by quickly
recognizing what is happening and getting away from the attack site by running or hiding — or fighting back if they cannot run or hide.

However, once a person has recognized that an attack is taking place,
a critical step must be taken before he can decide to run, hide or
fight: He must determine where the gunfire or threat is coming from.
Without doing so, the victim could run blindly from a position of
relative safety into danger. I certainly encourage anyone under attack
to leave the attack site and run away from the danger, but one must
first ascertain if he is in the attack site before taking action. Many
times, the source of the threat will be evident and will not take much
time to locate. But sometimes, depending on the location — whether in a
building or on the street — the sounds of gunfire can echo, and it may
take a few seconds to determine the direction it is coming from. In such
a scenario, it is prudent to quickly take cover until the direction of
the threat can be located. In some instances, there may even be more
than one gunman, which can complicate escape plans.

Fortunately, most active shooters are not well trained. They tend to
be poor marksmen who lack experience with their weapons. During the July
2012 shooting in Aurora, Colorado, James Holmes managed to kill only 12
people — despite achieving almost total tactical surprise in a fully
packed movie theater — because of a combination of poor marksmanship and
his inability to clear a jam in his rifle.

This typical lack of marksmanship implies that most people killed in
active shooter situations are shot at close range. Thus, it behooves
potential victims to move quickly to put as much distance between
themselves and the threat. Even the act of moving, especially if moving
away at an angle, makes one a much harder target for a poorly trained
marksman to hit.

(Note: you may not be able to depend on poor marksmanship at right-wing protests. Many members of groups like the Oath Keepers are immersed in gun culture and practice regularly. White supremacists carried rifles with laser sights in Charlottesville, which makes aiming much easier. Some members of the alt-right are ex-military. In any case, putting distance between you and a shooter is always good practice. – eds)

It is also important to think about and distinguish between
concealment and cover. Items that conceal, such as a bush, can hide you
from the shooter’s line of vision but will not protect you from bullets
the way a substantial tree trunk will. Likewise, in an office setting, a
typical drywall construction interior wall can provide concealment but
not cover, meaning a shooter will still be able to fire through the
walls and door. Still, if the shooter cannot see his or her target, they
will be firing blindly rather than aiming their weapon, reducing the
probability of hitting a target.

In any case, those hiding inside a room should attempt to find some
sort of additional cover, such as a filing cabinet or heavy desk. It is
always better to find cover than concealment, but even partial cover —
something that will only deflect or fragment the projectiles — is
preferable to no cover at all.

There are many examples from the recent Paris and Bamako armed
assaults of people who ran away from the scene of the attacks and
survived. In the Bamako attack there were also many people who
barricaded themselves inside their hotel rooms and hid until the
authorities could rescue them. The August 2015 incident aboard a Paris-bound train provided a good example of potential victims who were trapped aboard a train car and fought back to end an armed assault.

Some people have mocked the simplicity of run, hide, fight. But as
these cases demonstrate, all three elements of this mantra can and do
save lives.”