It’s likely that you have also heard this saying in whispers, or sometimes in cries or paintings on the walls of your city, and maybe in posts on social media: “The situation in Iran is so grave. The anger ‘powder keg’ may explode any moment now.”
Mass demonstrations and protests are forecasted in Iran’s not so distant future. As a famous Persian saying goes: “Our friends and enemies both confirm these facts.”
Sometimes protests and demonstrations can end in the identification and arrests of protesters. Back in the old days law enforcement forces had to put a lot of effort in wiretapping and photo shooting protesters. Nowadays you already carry smart spyware on you all the time that can change your life forever. Your mobile smartphone that you carry even in demonstrations and mass protests with you does the job perfectly and can even hand over your exact location to the authorities.
Of course, we all want to have our smartphones in historic events like demonstrations to take selfies, stay connected to fellow protesters and post videos online. But at what price?
By default a cellular phone is designed to send radio signals (cellular, WiFi, Bluetooth) to nearby receivers. These radio signals prove the existence of a device in a known location in an exact time frame, and to an extent, the owner of the device.
Fortunately protesters and participants of mass demonstrations can turn off those signals.
Turn cellular connection off
Turning off the cellular connection of your phone is a must prior to going out to mass demonstrations. Phone communication providers log any activities with their cellular towers.
In Iran, the regime’s security forces have direct access to this logged data and with some time and effort, just because you left your cellular connection on, they can pin point you at anti-government activities and demonstrations. Although in western countries there can be some arrests after protests, in Iran things are far different. A simple mistake can forever change your life and cost you your life and the lives of your loved ones.
Some security forces may act more aggressively by implementing international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) catchers that mimic the behaviour of a cellular tower and can trick your phone into handing over its own IMSI. With your device’s IMSI, security forces can easily find out your real identity.
Make sure your phone’s WiFi is off
Mobile phone WiFi systems are constantly searching for local WiFi networks. During protests, security forces launch a WiFi network with a deceptive name in order to register and store the names of people taking part in the protest rallies. With such tools at their disposal security forces are able to obtain more information from your device through WiFi connections.
Despite the fact that in Android and iOS mobile phones the network address of your phone is constantly changing, researchers have proven that it is possible to obtain the identity of your device.
Make sure your phone’s Bluetooth is off
Turning off your phone’s WiFi connections is not enough. You need to also turn off your Bluetooth connections, too. You may have applications in your phone that are constantly calling out and searching for other mobile Bluetooth devices. As a result, security forces have installed Bluetooth eavesdropping devices that can discover the basic information of your device.
Similar to WiFi connections, one can obtain important information about your device even despite the fact that your mobile’s Bluetooth network MAC Address is constantly changing.
Another threat is the possibility of infiltrating into your phone through a Bluetooth network without the device owner ever realizing of this penetration.
Turn off your phone’s GPS
Many applications installed in your phone that seem unharmful are constantly registering your precise GPS data and periodically sending them to databases. The designers and companies of these applications sell this information to their clients and pocketing massive revenues as a result.
If such information is shared with the security forces of a country such as Iran, it can lead to arrests and heavy sentences. Therefore, turn off your phone’s GPS before entering anti-government protest rallies.
Having your phone in rallies at what price?
Having a mobile phone at demonstrations and protests can dangerously increase the possibility of demonstrators being identified by authorities. Therefore, for each and everyone of us that takes part in anti-government rallies should take this into serious consideration.
Taking footage of important events and remaining in contact with other demonstrators at what price? With just a bit of diligence and awareness we can take part in demonstrations and significantly decrease the likelihood of digital identification and arrest.