Underground Physical Network

by MasterChen (infoinject@gmail.com)

So, you find yourself on the other side of town from your home base and you just wish you had a safe house where you can freshen up before heading to your next big event.  Or, what if a psycho ex-girlfriend or stalker knows every place you frequent?  Wouldn't a few hiding places work to your advantage?

This is exactly what we will be discussing today!  Whether escaping from real life for a few seconds, hours, or days at a time, I'm going to illustrate how you can build a relatively underground network of safe houses, physical caches, hideouts, or just secret meeting areas.  Now, of course, before we continue, I am not telling anyone to use these techniques to run from the authorities.  That's your own mess and business.

Satellite Setup

Imagine your home or place of residence as a command center or home base.  All other locations are going to be referred to as satellites.  The first thing to be done is to find several locations with the following criteria:

  1. Trustworthy:  You know the host very well and they would cover for you if needed.  Hosts being the owner or manager of each particular location, i.e. friend's house, office, etc.
  2. Accessible:  Availability of your satellites needs to be no less than 95%.  You never know when you are going to need such a facility, especially since most of the time it would be used for emergency or unplanned circumstances.
  3. Proximity:  Near and far from your normal routine.  As an example, I have spots all over the city; a few of which are on The Strip.
  4. Quick or Camp?:  Can the place just be used to drop off excess baggage, or can it be used to camp at for a few days?

Keep these guidelines in mind and you will be well on your way to establishing your underground network.

At the Satellite

Now that we have locations set up and available to us, it's time to make these areas into fully functional facilities.

With proper resources, you can stay off the grid for a while and remain comfortable.  First, we need to establish the necessities, such as food and restrooms.  If your location does not have food in it, make sure it's relatively close to a place with some sort of food supply.  Restrooms are a must, unless you have an iron bladder.  Next, a change of clothes would be ideal for comfort, or for a new look when leaving the facility.  You can come as a business person and leave as a casual civilian or vice versa.

Please refer to the Autumn 2008 edition of The Quarterly for my article "Six Quick Points of Disguise," if you need ideas on wardrobe.  Your material can be as simple as a backpack of clothes stashed nicely in the facility somewhere to a full blown walk-in closet.  After the bare necessities are are covered, we can add other features for additional functionality.  If it is possible and realistic, Internet access would be great to have at your sites for several reasons that we are all aware of.  Make sure your connection is proxied.  :-)

A few books or a small entertainment system may be in order if you are planning on staying a while.  Just keep in mind that portability should be a priority when staying out of sight.

What if the Satellites are Compromised?

There may come a time when someone discovers your clandestine station.

What should you do?  Is there anything you can do?  How exactly do you recover?  It is inadvisable to revisit a compromised satellite.  Someone crazy could be waiting there for you.  This is why all resources, at any location, should be easy to replace and inexpensive.  If you must visit a site after someone dangerous knows about it, get there quickly.  Take what you need.  Destroy what you don't.  You won't be able to visit that particular facility for quite some time, if ever again.

Preventing Satellite Compromise

Of course, there are measures you can take to minimize the probability of your underground network being discovered and these steps are very simple.

Make sure no one important is watching you as you access these sites.  This destroys the entire purpose of being covert.  Follow the "need to know basis" policy.  No one really needs to know where you are to contact you.  Cellphones are a wonderful thing.  The hosts of your locations only need to know their specific role in your network.  Only your closest loved ones should know exactly where you are.  I'm referring to those who would report you missing and put your picture on the 6 o'clock news if you went off the grid without them knowing.  Only use your satellites when you need to.  Frequent visits can develop a pattern that others can use later for surveillance.  Physical caches may be used instead of satellites for quick drop off and pick up of sensitive material.

While Off the Grid

Invisibility is important in times like these, so here are a few things to help you.  While out and about, invest in a prepaid cellphone that doesn't require your actual information for service.  Always pay in cash, because it does not leave a paper trail.  If you have a GPS enabled phone, disable GPS.  P.O. boxes are something you might want to utilize so that no one can pinpoint any place of residence on you.


Remember that in today's age, you are responsible for your own privacy and security.  This ideology transcends technology and should really be viewed as a lifestyle.  Too much paranoia can make you crazy, but no paranoia can leave you completely exposed to anyone.  What's wrong with having a place to escape the real world?


bgm: Your ability to learn how to break new systems relatively quickly astounds me.

sneaksy: You're the best game hacker I know, hands down.

heck48: It takes a hacker to understand one sometimes.  Thanks for not restricting my exploration when I was younger.

JC: What can I say that I haven't already?  You inspire me.

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