Sprout Distro

Security Zines

Note: Zine PDFs are hosted on Archive.org, a service that does not log IP addresses.

An Activist's Guide to Information Security

This guide presents a basic introduction to information security for activists. It covers security culture, physical security, traditional communication, digital security, and Internet security. It combines insights from activists, hackers, and even academic research on security and privacy. It is essential reading for the modern era.

An Activist's Guide to Information Security

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Anonymity/Security

An excellent introduction to computer security. Provides easy to follow step-by-step directions for people of all skill levels, looking specifically at how to be more anonymous and more secure. Crucial reading!

Anonymity/Security

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Bounty Hunters & Child Predators

Subtitled “Inside the FBI Entrapment Strategy,” this zine published by Crimethinc in 2012 looks at recent trends in FBI repression against social struggles. In particular, the zine argues that the FBI has shifted its focus away from targeting experienced anarchists and instead is focusing its efforts on entrapping newer and less experienced anarchists. The zine offers a good analysis of the history and development of this phenomenon, as well as some suggestions for how to stop it.

Bounty Hunters & Child Predators

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Confidence. Courage. Connection. Trust.

Sub-titled “A Proposal for Security Culture” this text is a long and insightful reframing of “security culture,” focusing on a shift from fear to confidence, from risk aversion to courage, from isolation to connection, and from suspicion to trust. It is written from the premise that being welcoming and opening to new people is important and that a way to accomplish that end is to implement a strong and shared security culture within anarchist circles. This text includes updated discussions focused on repression in recent years, shifts towards online and digital communication, and refinement of practices.

Confidence. Courage. Connection. Trust.

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Digital Security for Activists

This zine explores various issues related to computer security including basic principles for staying safe, a look at anonymity, picking passwords, the dangers of Google, etc. It’s a good mix of “how to” type information and narratives that tell important stories about why digital security is important. It is published by the Riseup.net collective who provides Internet services for various anarchist and anti-authoritarian projects.

Digital Security for Activists

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Profiles of Provocateurs

This zine by Kristian Williams, subtitled “Recent Case Studies; Warning Signs; Practical Advice,” presents profiles of recent provocateurs (Brandon Darby, “Anna,” “Bryan Owens”) used by the government to target anarchists. In all cases, there are patterns of behavior that are generally shared by most provocateurs that can be recognized. The key is not to jump to conclusions about a person’s intent, but to address problematic behavior immediately.

Profiles of Provocateurs

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Security & Counter-Surveillance

While a bit older (it’s from 2009), this is an excellent guide to surveillance and security in resistance movements. It includes a thorough overview of what surveillance is and why the government uses it against its political opponents. It covers in great detail how governments (and other forces) engage in surveillance in both physical and technical forms. There are also tips for evading and minimizing surveillance, tips on recognizing and dealing with surveillance via informants, and historical examples of surveillance against political movements.

Security & Counter-Surveillance

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Security Culture: A Handbook for Activists

This is an older zine (from 2001) on security culture that is still worth reading. It defines what security culture is, how it is useful in minimizing state repression, and the strategies the state uses to neutralize radical movements. It is particularly useful for its discussion of informers and infiltrators.

Security Culture: A Handbook for Activists

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Security Culture: An Interactive Sock Puppet Farce

This zine is a script for a puppet show used to explain the concept of “security culture” to new audiences. The zine includes the complete script of the puppet show followed by an outline for a post-puppet show discussion on the topic. Co-published by The Insurgent Theatre and the Columbus Anarchist Black Cross.

Security Culture: An Interactive Sock Puppet Farce

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Signal Fails

This isn’t a how-to guide on the best practices for using Signal in organizing, rather it’s a call to minimize the amount that electronic communication – whether Signal or some other app – is used. It highlights some of the limits of Signal and the potential risks overreliance may introduce. To be sure Signal should be prioritized over unencrypted text messages and platforms like Facebook, but this text is correct to call out the importance of face-to-face organizing and the limits of digital platforms.

Signal Fails

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Stay Calm

Stay Calm: Some Tips for Keeping Safe in Times of State Repression is a zine out of the Bay area that offers up a number of useful tips for staying safe during periods of repression. It includes suggestions for using technology safely, de-escalating conflicts within the anarchist milieu, and responding to grand juries and house raids.

Stay Calm

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Stop Hunting Sheep

This zine offers a wealth of important ideas for countering state-led intelligence gathering efforts and makings safer and less penetrable networks. The zine attempts to move beyond simple snitch-jacketing and speculating by advocating for specific, reality-based approaches to gathering intelligence about potential informants within networks and developing concrete ways of verifying information. It also encourages addressing problematic behavior and individuals from the start and rejects the idea that individuals should just distance themselves from problematic individuals as it still leaves the network vulnerable.

Stop Hunting Sheep

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Tech Tools for Activism

Tech Tools for Activism is another great zine that provides an introduction to computer security for activists. Undertaken as a collaboration between radical technology groups and collectives, this zine offers concrete alternatives for corporate and “unsecure” computer technologies including options for email, hosting websites, browsing the Internet, using mobile phones, and free software. This is a good introduction with practical examples on how and what to do to be more safer and more secure in your use of computers. This is “version 2.0” of the guide.

Tech Tools for Activism

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The Invisible Ground

Sub-titled “honoring each others security needs as an act of solidarity and liberation”, this short zine is a discussion of security culture that argues that respect for the security needs of our comrades is an essential aspect of any movement for liberation. It identifies a concept that the authors call “the invisible ground.” They use this concept to describe an imagined distinction between “under-” and “above-” ground activities. Instead the authors argue that there is a constantly shifting terrain in which the state is redefining the boundaries of “acceptable” and “unacceptable” protest. Rather than having a static conception of legality, the state always act to protect its interests and will shift the legality of various actions in an effort to repress movements. Consequently, the zine argues that it is always important to organize with good security culture to protect everyone involved regardless of the particulars of the action or organizing being considered.

The Invisible Ground

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Toronto G20 Main Conspiracy Group

This zine—sub-titled “The Charges and How They Came to Be”—explores the conspiracy case that came out of the G20 summit in Toronto, Canada in 2010. The zine examines the role anarchists played in organizing resistance to the G20 and the ways in which the state responded to this activity. While focusing on a specific case in Canada, it does present a clear picture in the ways states may respond in the future to those who organize resistance to political summits. The zine can help sharpen our understanding of how states use surveillance, infiltration, and the legal system itself to prevent people from acting.

Beyond telling this specific story of repression, it offers some helpful observations about how anarchists can step up their security practices in light of these events. It’s an important expansion on the topics raised in other more basic security culture zines.

Toronto G20 Main Conspiracy Group

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We Are Being Doxxed

This short zine that provides a collection of helpful tips on how to avoid doxxing by alt-right and other adversaries. It encourages readers to take a minute to review their practices and to seriously consider their data security. There are tips on passwords, social media, email, and more. It is essential reading for anyone doing anarchist things in the contemporary period. The folks who made the zine have also produced a website – digitaldefense.noblogs.org – that contains additional information on the topics discussed in the zine.

We Are Being Doxxed

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Who Needs The NSA When We Have Facebook?

This zine provides an excellent critique of Facebook and social networking websites more generally, arguing that they have no place within resistance movements. The argument isn’t just philosophical, but looks at some of the ways in which Facebook has been used against radicals. It specifically talks about the ways social networking websites are used by both government and private intelligence companies as a way to undermine social struggles. Ultimately, the zine argues against using social networking websites for political organizing. This is an important zine and one that should be widely read and discussed.

Who Needs The NSA When We Have Facebook?

Why Misogynists Make Great Informants

Subtitled “How Gender Violence on the Left Enables State Violence in Radical Movements,” this zine looks at how unchecked misogyny in political movements/groups/whatever you want to call it creates an environment that is ripe for the recruitment and deployment of informants. Misogynist behavior is disruptive and pushes women and queer folks out of spaces, while constantly dominating the agenda.

Why Misogynists Make Great Informants

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