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How to send secret transmissions

****CodeThere are many instances where you need to communicate with your allies and minions without your intentions being known to the rabble: while planning new capers, in the midst of busting up the Earth, while running away, whatever. There are many stratagems you can employ to make your words effectively unintelligible to the masses while still conveying your every nuance of your evil plots. Some of them require some work beforehand, others involve a certain amount of expense, while still others require just a certain amount of intelligence and cunning.

Also, do remember that if those guys manage to catch you, we never had this conversation.

! Strokes of genius

  1. Unbreakable codes. Cryptologists know that there is a way to ensure the secrecy of your code by using a one-time pad that maps every word to a different random sequence, known only to the person you are writing to. The trick here is to make sure that neither copy of the pad ever falls into your adversary's hands, which can itself expose you and your assets to some risk. One way to do this is to make the one-time pad part of the bodily structure of your confederate implanting it into his chest, for instance, in such a way that any attempt to dislodge it would cause its erasure. Another is to use a hypnotic suggestion to plant the pad into your confederate's mind deep below the conscious range, guarding it with strong safeguards should that person be subjected to mind probes or torture. Needless to say, these measures require a certain amount of planning, which you may not be in a position to undertake.
  2. Transdimensional media. If you have an apparatus which uses extradimensional means to transmit information, you will find that in 99.9% of all cases this will serve well as a basis for secure conversation. Only if the forces of good have access to that other dimension can they easily snoop on what is being sent. Be aware, however, of the simple bypasses which have been found useful in the past when encountering this kind of tech: for instance, an attacker can set up a hidden camera or some kind of radiofrequency sniffer directed at the screen of the device, recording what it displays after the message has already popped out of the ether. Sometimes it will pay to combine this secure means of transmission with additional encryption techniques which will hamper the adversary further.
  3. Codetalkers. If you have minions who employ an arcane enough means of communicating among themselves you can use this to translate your orders into the other language, transmit it in the clear, and have it translated back for your lieutenants' benefit at the other end. All fine and good until the enemy figures out how to get their hands on just one member of that select group who can be persuaded or forced into their service, then everything becomes crystal clear to your foes. So you need to pay extra attention at the beginning to whether you have cornered the market on your codetalkers' services completely, emphasizing to them the adverse consequences that may occur if one of them decides to play for the other team secretly.

*Evil plotpoints

  • Keyring management. Nearly as perilous as having the code to unlock your secret transmissions divulged is to mislay it somewhere. Evil villains live busy lives, to be sure, and sometimes it is just a matter of not having the copy of the one-time pad at your number three hideaway or not quite being able to call to mind the passphrase that unlocks the decryption algorithm when it's late at night and there are mean dogs baying outside. Simple, easy to remember keys are of course not the solution, at least not if it concerns anything really worth safeguarding. So what can you do? Some deal with this conundrum by having a copy of the keys readily available at all times, say having them implanted in themselves, tattooed on their person, or woven into a special hairpiece.
  • Sernxva areq. If you are not in the habit of sending secret transmissions on a regular day-to-day basis, you are going to set off all sorts of alarms when you do send your one vital missive at a point of crisis. To avoid drawing so much attention to your subversive enterprise, make sure to sendchaff (external link) out on your communication channels when you don't have much of anything to say. Make them good and juicy, with paramilitary-grade encryption, and of an appropriate size so that the real signals can make it past the snoopers among the junk.

!! Traps for mere fools

  • Spy talk. It may work in the movies, but the overuse of dramatic Cold War spy clichés can lead to some severe problems if your enemy watches the same fare as you. Save some of the atmospheric stuff for the feature film and instead try always to stick to the Keep It Simple, Stupid principle whenever you have any say in the matter.
  • Insufficient deviousness. Pick a really random password for your stuff, not the junk that most people use (external link). Pick up a book and find two unrelated words on the first page you look at. Don't have a book? Turn on the radio and turn the first thing you hear into a password. Don't have a radio? Take the most vivid image from your latest dream and use that. You don't dream? If you don't dream, you have no future as a supervillain anyway.

+ Precious and needful

Cold War Keys
  • Radio transmitters and receivers. Preferably with glowing dials and massive metal casings in a dusty wartime bunker.
  • Invisible pencil. Ink is passé.
  • Trenchcoat. For that authentic look, choose one in natural fibers.

Further plotting

Created by: GrinningSkull. Last Modification: Sunday 08 of August, 2010 21:27:47 EDT by GrinningSkull.

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