Using your phone in times of crisis

Secure communications are especially important in times of crisis. Just your awareness of watching Chilling effects In the way we practice speech, which is often attacked by all kinds of actors from criminals to our own governments. With the war in Ukraine and political repression in Russia, it is crucial that Russians and Ukrainians tell their loved ones that they are okay, stay informed, and put things in order.

It is not surprising that in times of crisis, many people fall behind using the most widespread system for staying connected – the mobile network. But calling over mobile networks comes with risks that you should know about. Not only there are a lot of interception tools Communications are on these networks, but anyone with network access doesn’t even need to engage in interception. This leaves your communications vulnerable to malicious hackers, compstaff, law enforcement and foreign government agencies.

The mobile network does not end-to-end encrypt your calls or text messages, nor does it mask your location. Anyone with network access can see all this information.

Phone calls and text messages can be easily intercepted, especially when transmitted over the oldest cellular networks: 2G. This is why we asked Apple and Google to offer capabilities for users to turn off 2G. Google has been launched This option is for its newer devices, but it is generally not available in Russia or Ukraine. Apple, we’re still waiting.

While we’ve urged people to stay away from 2G when possible, 3G, 4G and 5G are not secure options for voice and text communications either, particularly in Russia and Ukraine. With these networks, your communications are not protected by end-to-end encryption, which means that anyone who intercepts them – including middlemen – can see and hear the contents of your connection.

If you shouldn’t use the traditional mobile network for calls and texts, what should you use?

There are many applications that provide End-to-end encryption For both voice and text conversations regardless of the network used to transmit communications. But there are limits to this protection, because it is not encrypted Metadata It offers a lot of ideas about you. Metadata is the information that is sent with your message. For example, this could include who sent a message, the recipient of the message, and the location of its sender.

Even when using end-to-end encrypted messaging apps, your location remains available over the mobile network while your device is connected to it. This is necessary for the system to function. When someone calls you, for example, the network must know where to send the call. While it’s obviously very useful, it also means that anyone with network access can get hold of your site. Cell Site Simulators (CSS) can also be used in Define people near CSS. Reports claim that the Russian military not only destroyed 3G and 4G towers in Ukraine, but also created CSS there – an act that appears to be Backfiring It also made Russian communications vulnerable.

No matter where you are – especially in Russia and Ukraine – you should not rely on phone calls or SMS to protect the privacy of your communications from government agencies. No matter your network is created, end-to-end encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp, FaceTime Audio, Theema, Wire, Signal or Viber will provide greater security for your calls and messages. For two-factor authentication or 2FA (the code you get to log into your account), you should try to use an app via SMS when possible.

Because everyone has a different threat model, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of different types of connectivity will help you make informed decisions about what you can do best, which apps are best suited to your risks, and when to turn your phone off, or just leave it at home if possible.