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OSINT Analysis of Militia Communications, Equipment and Frequencies ( 336

An anonymous reader writes: On January 2, 2016, the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, United States, were occupied by armed members of rump militias in one of the longest-running law enforcement standoff in American history. The Radiomasterreport blog, using publicly available information, wrote an OSINT Analysis of Militia Communications, Radio Equipment and Frequencies. The research results has astonishing conclusions: far-right patriot militas openly carrying +3000$ AR15 rifles and US military body armour also use cheap 30$ unsecure chinese Baofeng walkie talkie radios with no encryption whatsoever. Any simple ham radio operator , police scanner owner, or even some folks with a Software Defined Radio can receive those militia communications.
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OSINT Analysis of Militia Communications, Equipment and Frequencies

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  • Wannabe soldiers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spiritplumber ( 1944222 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @12:09PM (#51388569) Homepage
    have no concept of operational security. And now to Ric Romero with the news!
    • by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @12:11PM (#51388589) Journal

      Well a non-trivial number of these guys are former military and so during that time, they just had some poor asshole who carried the radio and even if they used it, they never had to worry about encryption, it was somebody elses job.

      • Re:Wannabe soldiers (Score:4, Interesting)

        by TsuruchiBrian ( 2731979 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @01:30PM (#51389337)
        It seems as though a few in the latest standoff have been lying about their military careers.
      • Re:Wannabe soldiers (Score:4, Informative)

        by Cramer ( 69040 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @05:18PM (#51391607) Homepage

        True. But the radios the US military uses don't have to obey any rules of any nation. They sure as shit don't listen to the FCC. Look up the specs on those fancy Harris encrypting radios they have everywhere. (I could go to jail for just holding one of those things. :-))

        First, those chinese radios are, to the letter of the law, illegal in the US -- they violate MANY rules for GMRS and FRS radios; plus, if they're like the ones I have, they arrive with FM transmit enabled. Encryption is absolutely illegal; and the cost and complexity keeps it out of the market.

        (as with all things, the loophole is encrypting things before it gets to the radio. i.e. WEP/WPA/SSL over WiFi, VOIP + TLS, etc. In short, the radio didn't encrypt it.)

    • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @12:49PM (#51388903)

      Look, to be fair, off the shelf radios with encryption are not easy to afford and are difficult to manage.

      But that doesn't mean they don't have OPSEC here, it just means they don't encrypt the audio. There are other ways to obscure what you are saying enough that the listener may not be able to easily figure out what you are communicating. Using code names for things, altering numeric data in reversible ways all are easy to implement, don't require encrypted radios and provide a measure of OPSEC without the expense or logistical key distribution problems.

      Besides, all the tactical information the government really needs would be observable even if they had encrypted radios. The problem is that once you hit that transmit key, it's like you are striking a match in a dark room and revealing your position no matter what you say. Tactically, knowing where things are is the most important, followed by knowing when they are communicating. Anything more is nice, but unnecessary if you are interested in making an armed assault.

  • Prohibited (Score:5, Informative)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @12:23PM (#51388671)

    Encryption is prohibited for amateur radio communications.

    • If you are already breaking the law, why let FCC regulations stop you?

      If you are using frequency-hopping + encryption + proper radio protocols (short, bursty conversations), Big Brother will have a Hell of a time triangulating your position and decrypting your comms traffic.
      • They knew the position of the center that they were holding up in.

        Now it is patrols that the postin and timing reports that is the big secret. As that is how you figure out how to sneak in.

      • LOL, you don't think the military has figured out this frequency hopping problem yet and Homeland Security/FBI hasn't purchased the necessary hardware?

        Me thinks you are bit naïve...

        However, you ARE correct that you can effectively obscure the meaning of your communications w/o having to resort to encrypted transmissions. They may not be cool, but techniques used in WW1 and 2 that used unencrypted channels are still tactically viable and not hard to implement.

    • by bigmo ( 181402 )

      While encryption is prohibited in amateur radio, I believe that some radios do have encryption available on them (mostly the chinese radios). Generally they can't get FCC approval for the radios that allow illegal behaviour, but they may be using a loophole because some of the radios are also used on the commercial bands which may (???) allow encryption.

    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      And so is pointing guns at law enforcement. But hey, they're white!
    • WiFi can be encrypted, and just an AP and a free app on a few smart phones would give you encrypted radio comms, if you so desired.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Encryption is prohibited for amateur radio communications.

      Unlicensed use of licensed frequencies is also prohibited.

      Those Baofeng radios are basically ham 2m/440cm radios, and most people just pick them up at the store without realizing that they require a license to operate. Because of their low cost, they're really available at any store, especially outdoor outfitters.

      So, provided they were already breaking the law anyways, well...

      Then again, because they were designed for amateur radio, they wouldn't hav

  • "Standoff" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @12:25PM (#51388697)
    Not really much of a standoff when you have local residents bringing you food and those inside the facility are able to come and go as they pleased. Hell, the leader of the group even left to go visit family in Boise at one point. That being said, as a 2nd Amendment supporter myself, these guys committed treason and openly engaged in an act of war against the US government by occupying federal property by force of arms. I believe that this action was no different than Jon Brown's Raid [] and the perpetrators should be punished accordingly.
  • I guess it is the difference between being open and honest and being being on the corrupt murderous side with lots to hide.
  • They got off easy (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sir_Eptishous ( 873977 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @12:58PM (#51388991) Homepage
    If you look at what the Hammonds have done over the last twenty years or so, what the "militia" up there has done, etc; These clowns got off easy.

    Because they quote "scripture" and wear cowboy boots, they have gotten the soft approach from law enforcement, and everyone knows it.
    Just imagine if something similar had taken place, except the "militia" was composed of African Americans, say, in Oakland or Memphis? It would have been a blood bath from the get go.

    Also, why do these militia/patriot types think its their prerogative to use lethal force or violence to get what they want? WTF?!? That is what criminals do. Isn't this obvious enough?
    • They got off easy because the last time these types of groups emerged, the Federal government went in with guns blazing and ended up with a bunch of dead women and children on CNN, leading to a continued escalation until one guy decided to truck bomb a Federal building. That's why they've tried a different approach, because they don't want a repeat of the 1990s. However, given the events of the last couple of days, I think we're going to end up with another Ruby Ridge.
    • Also, why do these militia/patriot types think its their prerogative to use lethal force or violence to get what they want?

      I am curious about which specific acts of lethal force these guys were using when they sat down in that wildlife refuge. Please be specific. Is it similar to the lethal force that the Occupy people used when, say, blocking first responders from getting to some old lady having a heart attack?

    • "Also, why do these militia/patriot types think its their prerogative to use lethal force or violence to get what they want?"

      First, they didn't use lethal force or violence. Second because militias are a Constitutionally protected military force of the people are supposed to be the only domestic ground forces that are allowed. The people reserved that flavor of military force because the government has the capability to break the law and the people have the right to put a stop to it, with force if necessary
  • by pesho ( 843750 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @01:13PM (#51389159)
    The second amendment says nothing about the right to encrypt communications, so why do it?
  • I am *sick* and tired of these self-proclaimed patriots... who want to take down the federal government, In the real world, as opposed to the la-la land they live in, that's called ->TREASON-.

    Or, for a funny commentary, the last few days of the comic strip Non Sequitur.


    PS: the gov't can't own land? So, we don't own the Louisiana Purchase, or Seward's Folly (aka Alaska) (I doubt Putin would take back Palin's home porch....)?

    • I like when people fuck with the government. It keeps the feds on their toes and reminds them that they are public servants.

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