How can a Ukrainian partisan and every Ukrainian set up a phone?
Ukrainian partisans in the occupation are effectively helping the Ukrainian Defence Forces to destroy the Russian army. They transmit data to the Ukrainian Armed Forces about the location of the enemy’s troops or warehouses and headquarters, and they subsequently explode. Because of this, the occupiers panic and look for Ukrainian informants, and they start their checks from a smartphone. What information should be hidden because the Russians will definitely not like it? Why does a completely clean phone raise a lot of questions? The spokesperson for the National Resistance Centre spoke about this in an interview with Dovidka.info.
A phone is a tool that is most frequently searched by the occupiers, looking for people who pass information to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. How not to get caught if you are stopped by the occupiers?
If you have one phone and you use only one phone, then it is advisable to keep it as simple as possible, as ordinary as you are used to. Photos of visits to cafes, trips on holiday, correspondence with friends, screenshots, photos from the supermarket for your wife. To make it look real, the way it usually looks. Because a completely clean phone is the reason why you should be further checked. Because certain mobile groups of the occupiers who check the data have the necessary equipment to view the files deleted from the phone. If it is not reset to factory settings, then they will be able to get back the information that was on the phone. And if the phone doesn’t raise any questions, they may not do it. You need to consider each situation individually. But if you do have one phone, it should be absolutely “alive”, but there should be no correspondence, no information with photos of enemy equipment, no photographed objects that will raise too many questions for the enemy. If, for example, you put Ukrainian symbols somewhere and took a picture of it on your phone to send it to us or other structures with which you share, then such information should not be on your phone. There should not be any suspicious contacts (for the enemy), such as ” Serhiy Major”, or vice versa, too encrypted and strange, such as “Angelina Jolie” or “Ivan Montana”. This will immediately raise the question: what is such a contact doing in your phone at all? The contact should be encrypted in a primitive and simple way: “Ivan service station”, “Kolya neighbour”.
Ideally, you should have another phone that you use exclusively for work, to transmit information to the Ukrainian Defence Forces.
Where to store this work phone?
You need to identify a safe place in your home. Look around the building, if you haven’t done so already, and figure out which place doesn’t raise too many questions to hide your phone. You should not hide it in the garage or basement, because the enemy searches these places first. The place should be safe enough, and sometimes even obvious.
Which apps should you delete from your phone if you are passing any information to the Armed Forces of Ukraine?
There is no list of such applications, because today our phones are full of applications: games, calendars, and other convenient applications. But there is something you should always pay attention to when installing a new app. For example, a chess game. If the game of chess requires you to access, for example, a microphone or a contact database, you should immediately realise that this could be a potentially dangerous app because it can collect your information and transfer it somewhere.
If you have installed an app that is supposedly safe, but you have problems using your phone, it starts to overheat or have a life of its own, opens or closes things on its own, or starts to run out of power much faster, this indicates that you have installed a malicious app. And most likely, it causes some damage to your smartphone and can transmit information. In this case, you need to reset your phone to factory settings and continue using it. If you simply uninstall the app, it won’t help because it may have integrated certain malicious elements and information-transmitting programs into the phone’s operating system. Therefore, you need to be quite careful with these things.
There are also a number of apps that require you to create a virtual profile. For example, applications where you can specify not only your name and age, but also your hobbies, information about your job, what you do. This way, they also collect your information.
In addition, you need to be quite careful with all applications that ask for access to geolocation. You don’t need to provide it.
If the occupiers see the Signal app on your phone, will it raise questions for them?
Signal is indeed a trigger for the occupiers. But if you use it for everyday correspondence with friends, calls with relatives, spouses, neighbours, you can always argue that it works well and you like its user-friendly interface. That there is no unnecessary information and spam. This can be an explanation. You should always have a well-thought-out answer to any of the questions the enemy may ask.
How to properly delete data so that it is definitely gone forever? Is it possible to do this and how?
There are a number of apps that can be used for this purpose. However, these applications can also raise many questions for the enemy.
But there is, for example, such an application as Bitdefender. It includes a number of services – from antivirus to data cleaning. You can find out how to install it and how to configure it on the website of the National Resistance Centre or on the Dovidka.info website. In communication during interrogation, you can say that it is an antivirus and you are afraid of viruses on your phone. This app is freely available, and there are also paid versions.
Sometimes, when the situation is critical, it is better to just reset the phone to factory settings and get rid of it. If you reset the phone to factory settings, you will get rid of the sim card and the phone itself, nobody will know whose it is.
Why is it important to be careful when communicating in queues?
Because somebody in the queue may voice a thesis, for example, that Russians are bad. If someone actively supports this thesis, then FSB representatives may be waiting around the corner. They have provocateurs and agents in civilian clothes.
If a person under occupation wants to, but is still hesitant to, become an informant for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, what would you advise them?
Each message you send about the enemy’s movement or location brings your settlement closer to de-occupation. But it is important to add that you need to prepare for this and plan operations. For this purpose, we also developed separate instructions explaining that security comes first. Because when you are safe, when you know how to use certain means, you are most effective. Always take care of this.