Keeping Communication Safe During Wartime
On October 7, Hamas launched an unprecedented full-frontal assault on Israel that resulted in the latter declaring war on Hamas. Operation Swords of Iron will strike suspected Jihadist targets in Gaza, with a complete siege being declared on the contested territory.
Sadly, it appears that Hamas are not above striking civilian targets in their fight against Israel, meaning you need to be prepared for anything that may come. Keeping your lines of communication open and safe is a priority – proper communication ensures an appropriate response to any dire situation. With that in mind, follow this advice to properly prepare for what war may bring in the coming months.
Be Prepared for a Lack of Electricity
Though expanding renewable energy sources is a priority for the Israeli government, it’s still a fact that about 90% of the country’s electricity comes from fossil fuels. Power stations are dotted all over the landscape – each being a prime target for Hamas. As such, there’s a very real risk that you’ll be left without electricity, limiting your access to the internet and making it harder for you to communicate.
You can prepare for this possibility in several ways.
Purchasing a portable generator is one of those ways. Typically capable of generating between 6,000 and 9,000 watts, these generators offer enough electricity to power entire homes, though it’s best to conserve and only use them in emergencies during wartime situations.
Other, less costly, solutions include purchasing two-way radios you can use to communicate with family nearby. The best of these radios offers a radius of up to 35 miles. You may also consider purchasing CB radios – battery-powered radios that connect to specific frequencies – though these are typically more useful for catching emergency broadcasts.
Maintain Your Mobile Phone
Closely linked to the possibility of losing access to electricity is maintaining your mobile phone. After all, loss of power means an inability to charge your phone, with a full battery typically lasting less than a day.
Take precautions to preserve that battery.
Avoid needless browsing of the web and don’t use your phone to play games. Instead, reserve its usage solely for sending text messages and making calls in emergencies. You may also consider purchasing a set of power banks – portable charging devices that store power ready for when you need it – and ensuring those banks are fully charged should you lose access to electricity.
The key here is not to become complacent with your phone. Keep it above 50% charged at all times, even if you’re confident you won’t lose access to electricity, and only use it in appropriate situations. Remember that every minute you spend on the web or playing games is a minute less that you can use to contact your loved ones in an emergency.
Finally, it helps to take steps to conserve your phone’s battery beyond simply not using it when it’s not needed:
- Turn the screen brightness down
- Switch your phone to its power-saving mode
- Ensure you turn the screen off when the phone isn’t in use
- Delete any apps that run in the background because they constantly drain the battery
- Turn off sounds if you’re confident you’ll feel vibrations
Be Wary of the Information You Share
Hamas has already demonstrated that it’s tech-savvy enough to take advantage of people’s social media and WhatsApp accounts. For instance, the New York Times reports there were at least four cases of the terrorists logging into their hostages’ social media accounts to livestream their attacks on October 7. We have also seen instances of Hamas infiltrating Facebook groups and WhatsApp chats to make death threats and terrorize unsuspecting users.
While it’s unrealistic to simply stop using these platforms – both are useful communications channels – it’s important that you limit the information you share via them. For instance, labeling your parents as “mom” and “dad” on your phone could give a terrorist all of the information they need to threaten the people who matter most to you. Similarly, sharing information about yourself on social media groups could lead to terrorists not only knowing who you are but researching where you live.
So, be wary when using these types of communication platforms. Consider deleting call logs from your phone, making it harder for terrorists to identify your close family, and restricting your social media accounts so that only existing friends and family can see them.
Properly Protect Computer Hardware and Online Accounts
Beyond its use of the social media and WhatsApp accounts owned by their hostages, Hamas has also proven itself adept at hacking large networks. This was evident just a few days after the conflict escalated, as Hamas managed to hijack of pair of Israeli “smart” billboards, using them to display pro-Hamas propaganda before the hack was eventually stopped. The group has also launched a confirmed cyberattack on Ono Academic College – located in Tel Aviv – that resulted in a data breach through which the terrorists could publish over 250,000 employee, student, and school records.
While it’s unlikely – though still possible – that your personal computer will be a victim of these hacking attacks, the same can’t be said of businesses. If such a hack is successful, Hamas could shut down one of the lines of communication currently open to you.
Thus, you need to guard against cyber threats. Beyond obvious tips, such as not sharing your passwords and not creating passwords that contain personal information others might find on the web, it’s worthwhile to set up a firewall to protect your network. This firewall is essentially a filter, preventing anything unexpected from penetrating. Other measures include ensuring all software on your computers is updated and using anti-virus software to catch the malware terrorist hackers might use to take control of your hardware.
Consider Installing a Landline
Landlines provide phone communication that doesn’t rely on cellphone towers and similar technology. As such, it’s useful to have access to a landline phone if Hamas cuts digitally-based modes of communication. Despite this fact, landlines aren’t prevalent in Israel, with only 37.4% of the country’s population having access to them in 2021.
It’s possible to change that.
Several providers offer landline installation services, including TCS Telecom, Cellcom, Smile, Orange, Hot, and Bezeq. The latter two are also capable of fitting landline infrastructure should your home not have easy access to infrastructure that’s already in place. As for why you might want a landline phone, the devices don’t rely on digital technology to work, can still be used during a power cut, and they’re far simpler than mobile phones. For instance, a mobile phone could fall prey to a virus, even if you’ve taken steps to prevent such an issue, which can’t happen with landlines.
Prepare for the Worst So Conflict Doesn’t Cut Communication
A combination of proactive and preventative strategies helps you maintain open lines of communication with your loved ones during times of war. On the proactive side, installing a landline, purchasing power banks and electricity generators, and taking active steps to guard your computer networks all ensure you’re still able to communicate if you lose power.
As for preventative measures, many of these relate to your mobile phone and social media accounts. Limit the information you share – thus limiting potential terrorist access to your personal details – and be aware of, and avoid, activities that sap your mobile phone’s battery.
Perhaps most importantly – be vigilant. Though Israel has a stronger military force than Hamas, the latter’s attacks demonstrate that terrorists are capable of causing damage to Israel’s people and its infrastructure. Don’t assume the methods of communication you use now will always be available. Prepare for the worst and hope you never need these suggestions rather than assuming the best and being stuck should the worst happen.