Great Moments in Popular InfoSec, Installment #1

Information security is everywhere. It’s in the music we listen to on the radio, on and offline. In the water we drink when we’re not swigging mate soda like the hacktivist hipsters we are. And all over the Interwebs. I think the cats brought it in. This ongoing bloggular series examines its pawprints on the good carpet. 


“No one on the corner has swagger like us/ Hit me on my burner prepaid wireless.”—MIA, “Paper Planes

Q: How, oh how shall I communicate over phone lines that are relatively secure when the NSA is grabbing everyone’s metadata and perhaps even tapping my phone in particular since I went off on a surveillance state blogging binge last winter and the universe lost its shit?

A: With a burner prepaid wireless. “Little poison for the system.” 

How this works:

Step 1. Buy ten cheap used phones from a Pakistani vendor in East London. Share dates with him before Ramadan. Wonder aloud why he doesn’t do what he wants with his life if he doesn’t like running this shop—it’s really hard physical work, really long hours, and he had dreams—and he could have another job in four minutes with his language skills. Be reminded by his fearful response—“Oh, um, no, I was wrong, this is exactly what I want to be doing with my life forever never mind oops I misspoke kthankbai”—that you are a white chick with an American accent. Enjoy irony of fact that, while destitute, unemployed, and probably on some lists for criticizing the guvment, you, too, can still be mistaken for a possible spy while trying to have a human conversation!

Think of what you should’ve said to easily explain the burner prepaid wireless phones—a month too late: “I’m just a humble drug dealer!”

Sounds better than the truth, which is closer to: “I’m an itinerant poet-philosopher bouncing around foreign countries finding new friends on five-figure credit card debt and faith, scheming about how to make world peace through art! JOIN US!!!”

Step 2. Buy ten cheap used SIM cards on the Continent.  Place one used SIM card in one used phone. Give one person the number. Use phone a maximum of four times, indoors only. Throw phone away. Go outside.

Step 3. Sing MIA to yourself while walking around a gorgeous lake trying to figure out what your #1 goal is for the next month, after hopefully finishing the first-net goals of rewriting and submitting two dissertation chunks as peer-reviewed articles and self-publishing a poetry book by the end of your first artist residency next week.

Realize the permissibility of the singing of the refrain “All I wanna do is—bangbangbangbangbangbang, caCHING!—take your money” is also reflective of your position of privilege as a petite white woman from a wealthy Western nation. In your mouth, the words even become a joke. “That’s so cute! Snow White is gonna take my money! Tehehe!! Honey, bring me a cup of coffee.” Fantasize briefly about at least momentarily appearing threatening. Laugh and smile involuntarily with a passing bicyclist.

Step 4. ????

Step 5. PROFIT!!!!