“A mobile phone, souped-up with such an antenna, can talk to a network tower that is dozens of kilometres beyond its normal range (about 5km, or 3 miles)”, says The Economist, quoting Gregory Rehm, “the author of an online assembly guide for such things”.
“According to Jeff Moss, a communications adviser to America’s Department of Homeland Security, their existence has recently been valuable to the operation of several groups of revolutionaries in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere”, it says, going on >>>
To get round government shutdowns of internet and mobile-phone networks, resourceful dissidents have used such makeshift antennae to link their computers and handsets to more orthodox transmission equipment in neighbouring countries.
Technologies that transmit data under the noses of repressive authorities in this way are spreading like wildfire among pro-democracy groups, says Mr Moss. For example, after Egypt switched off its internet in January some activists brought laptops to places like Tahrir Square in Cairo to collect, via short-range wireless links, demonstrators’ video recordings and other electronic messages. These activists then broadcast the material to the outside world using range-extending antennae.
According to Bobby Soriano, an instructor at the Philippine branch of Tactical Tech, a British organisation that teaches communication techniques to dissidents in five countries, such antennae can even foil government eavesdropping and jamming efforts. Directional antennae, unlike the omnidirectional sort, transmit on a narrow beam. This makes it hard for eavesdroppers to notice a signal is there.
But DYI antennas aren’t the only games in town.
“Another way of confounding the authorities is to build portable FM radio stations”, says The Economist. A broadcasting expert based in in Europe, is helping to develop a dozen such short-range ‘backpack’ radio stations for anti-government protesters in his native land in the Arabian peninsula.
Then there’s Access, based in New York, it states, continuing, “To help democracy movements in the Middle East and North Africa get online, it is equipping a network of ham-radio operators with special modems that convert digital computer data into analogue radio signals that their equipment can cope with. These signals are then broadcast from operator to operator until they reach a network member in an area where the internet functions. This operator reconverts the signal into computer-readable data and then e-mails or posts the information online.”
“Creative ideas for circumventing cyber-attacks even extend to the redesign of apparently innocent domestic equipment”, says story, adding:
“Kenneth Geers, an American naval-intelligence analyst at a NATO cyberwar unit in Tallinn, Estonia, describes a curious microwave oven. Though still able to cook food, its microwaves (essentially, short radiowaves) are modulated to encode information as though it were a normal radio transmitter.”
The Economist – March 17, 2011
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win ~ Mahatma Gandhi
World War III will be a global information war with no division between civilian & military participation ~ Marshall McLuhan
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