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[liberationtech] Exactly how are satellite transmissions tapped/intercepted, in Syria and elsewhere?

Jacob Appelbaum jacob at
Mon Nov 28 23:47:11 PST 2011

On 11/28/2011 08:46 PM, Brian Conley wrote:
> For the most part I expect users will be relying on satphones and not
> modems, voice calling, SMS, and email are likely the only use cases
> they might consider.

That is extremely scary. There is off the shelf hardware/software for
voice print analysis, recording of data transmitted, SMS archival, etc.

Such users should consider this for that use case:

If someone elsewhere runs a cryptophone PBX, anyone could call in and
call insecure numbers from that PBX:

It's not free software but I've used it with some success. Bare satphone
usage is Syria is just scary. I'll just say it directly, it's dangerous.

> Any thought what the timeframe for radio direction finding might be?

The saying goes "Attacks only get better" and I'm certain that the old
adage applies here. There are real time systems for this exact task and
they are off the shelf surveillance solutions. When you see them in
action it will probably make you physically ill.

> I'm also trying to determine whether iridium phones may be any
> "better" than Inmarsat, and how much better, etc. it's clear thurayas
> are no longer an acceptable option by any regard.

Iridium phones and Inmarsat phones aren't so different in terms of
security, privacy, anonymity, etc.

For example:,GSM-Interception-System,Voice,Fax-Internet_Monitoring-Analysis_System,Interception,Logging-system,Aerial-Vehicle.pdf

With that said, I think the best device in the world for an impossible
job is an Iridium Satellite pager. These things are awesome. They are a
receive only satellite pager that uses the Iridium constellation. It
works for the entire planet and it's cheap cheap cheap.

You can transmit a message to the pager by visiting a web page that
works over Tor:

More info here:

This is the best device for the job:

This is probably also a reasonable device but I've never used it:

If two people have these pagers and both have access to the net via Tor,
it's possible for them to communicate in a way that doesn't leave a
trace beyond normal internet/Tor usage. Short of jamming, it's a pretty
reasonable way to ensure that messages reach a person but the person
isn't exposed beyond their general region. You can select multiple
regions too. The Motorola 9501 is a small device and it is easily hidden.

You could easily encrypt a Tor bridge IP address for your contacts in
Syria and send a new one every hour.

All the best,

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