Old Tricks To Communicate Secretly

Old Tricks To Communicate Secretly

(SurvivalDaily.com) – We didn’t always have cell phones, computers, tablets, or the internet to communicate with each other. Hard to believe considering how much technology has taken over our lives. However, it’s the truth; another truth is that the technology we have today likely will be obsolete one day.

Not to mention the amount of surveillance there is being run on all of our electronics, usually by the G-men, but criminals exploit our technology as well. Thankfully there are a few old tricks in the book that allow us to communicate secretly and without technology.

Dead Drops

The origins of dead drops date back to “The Great Game” played by the US and the Soviet Union in the midst of the Cold War. Despite Hollywood’s exploding pens, seductive double agents, and exotic locations, the reality of espionage during the Cold War was rather boring. Dead drops were certainly no exception; placing intel at a location to be picked up by another agent doesn’t exactly scream “Box Office!”

How To Plan

For those involved, typically two parties, there are two things that need to be set up and understood by both sides, the signpost and drop point. The drop point is obviously where the intel is being placed, the signpost is to let the other party know that the item is at the drop point and ready to pick up.

Simply setting any old spot as a drop point is risky, people are nosy, so you’ll need a good reason as to why you are there at that specific point in time. A signpost would be in a different spot than the drop point. Say you have a drop point and the intel is ready to be picked up, how would the other party know it’s ready?

This is where the signpost comes into play, a good example is Aldrich Ames, a CIA agent who offered himself to the KGB as a double agent. Ames would mark a certain mailbox in DC with chalk, when the Russians saw that chalk on the mailbox, they would send someone to the drop point to retrieve whatever had been left.

Of course, the signpost can be whatever you and your partner agree on, or it can be skipped altogether. To do this you just need to set a schedule for when things are to be dropped off and picked up from the drop point. If you can, try to plan these around your everyday routines, such as taking a run through the park every morning and resting on the same exact bench. You could either drop off what needed to be dropped, or pick it up. No one would suspect a thing because it’s something you normally do.

Executing the Plan

There are two types of dead drops you can execute: overt drops and covert drops. Covert drops are hidden from view and need to be found in order to be retrieved. Overt drops on the other hand are usually hidden in plain sight using contextual camouflage.

The most famous item used in covert drops is a dead drop spike; literally a hollowed-out spike with a removable top, sometimes sealed for moisture protection, that gets stuck in the ground and waits for the other party to retrieve it. Unscrew the top, place whatever intel in the spike, screw the top back on, and stick it in the ground.

Overt drops are a little different, easy to execute but also easy to combat. The options are only limited by your imagination with overt drops. Trash is often used, such as placing a USB drive in a soda can or cup and placing it in a certain spot waiting to be picked up. A problem here, however, is that it may get picked up by someone other than the intended person, making it susceptible to being ruined quickly and quite easily.

Consider These Things

There are size limits to when using dead drops, the idea is to be inconspicuous, so large items are a no go. Dead drops are also not meant to be used in emergency situations such as needing immediate medical attention. Most dead drops are not received for hours, sometimes even days, so urgent information needs to be passed a different way. You need to make sure that both your drop point and how you hide the intel are not going to be discovered by someone other than the person intended.

Security is a concern as well, if your drop is discovered or you are discovered dropping or picking up intel you need to be able to justify what you’re doing and why. Another security concern is someone tampering with your drop, if your drop is discovered someone could easily manipulate your message, which could lead to problems.


Given no electricity or internet is needed to execute dead drops, they’re an effective way to communicate if SHTF or in a grid-down situation. Untraceable, unhackable, and untappable, dead drops are immune to EMPs and government tracking, easily allowing you to relay information no matter how bad the cell reception is.

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