March 4, 2022•3,444 words
The following document relates primarily to conventionally waged wars. But it still assumes that these can escalate quickly in today's world if nuclear superpowers are involved. Therefore, it also asumes to how to get shelter against nuclear explisions within different regions of the world relatively quickly. But this is not the main intention.
Since it is a "Hacker's Handbook", it partially asumes that you have some specific knowledge in using IT, telephone and power systems if you have the required equipment available. However, also this is not an main intention of this document and by that the rest of the informations can hopefully be helpful for all other people, too.
This document is constantly being expanded. If you want to add important points, please write an email to
firstname.lastname@example.org with subject "Addition: Hacker's Handbook for Survival in War". This handbook tries to collect important informations to stay alive in a war situation.
It is always helpful to have some specific tools, items and clothes with you. The following is a (basic) list of items and tools you should have with you, if you need to survive in a combat area or if you need to stealthy bypass such areas.
A foldable knife
This knife shouldn't be to small and not to big. The length of your palm (without fingers) in folded state fits best. I recommend a Swiss Army Knife with at least tweezers on it as well and 2 different sized blades. Also, the small saws on some models are quite helpful for bigger twigs. Since you'll probably have to use this knife a lot, you shouldn't skimp on quality.
A knife with a fixed blade
Why you need another knife. There are some simple reason: Foldable knives are not good to use as levers. Robust knives with a fixed blade can also be used in an emergency to pry open a simple door, lift a manhole cover, etc. However, they are not so easy to hide as foldable knifes and for some finer tasks like removing the isolation from a small cable they are simply unhandy. Good quality is also very important for this knife. I personally recommend the AK47 / AKM59 bayonets.
A small axe
That axe should be as massive as possible. The lesser parts it consists of the better. But it shouldn't be too big! An axe that can hang at your belt fits best (look for an axe for camping, for example)
Yes, you may already have a Swiss Army Knife, and may be it also has some of the benefits of a multitool. However, things like the tongs, which are part of a good multitool, aren't good at foldable knifes. And the blades of multitools are mostly not as good as the blades of Swiss Army Knifes. And keep in mind, blades, screwdrivers, saws etc. are very hard to assemble with stuff you can find in nature. Therefore, it's better to have them in different desgins with you. ;)
A stable scissor
Some work cannot be done with knife. For that you should have a stable scissor with you. In best case you have 2, a small one (nail scissor) and a bigger one. Try to avoid plastic handles. They will break. It's better to have solid scissors completely made of steel.
Of course, one of the most important stuff is the clothes you take with you. You should be prepared for different weather conditions. Make sure most of the clothes you have with you is waterproof and wide enough to wear them in multiple layers. By that you can combine them easily when it becomes cold. Ensure you have waterproof clothes for all parts of your body!
If you are in an area where extreme cold can occur, use real fur whereever possible because it's long-living, it has relatively low weight and is very warm even in badest conditions.
When selecting the best pants, have especially a look at the bags. Your pants should have a lot of them to hold all the small stuff you'll need every day. In addition, you should use wide pants, because it's difficult to wear multiple layers of tight-fitting pants when it is cold. BTW, the air between multiple layers of loose clothing provides additional thermal protection, because air is a poor heat conductor.
Wear stable boots! You must be able to walk very long ways in them. There may be times when you'll not be able to exchange them for weeks of even months. However, if you aren't a bodybuilder don't take a spare pair with you. They're too heavy and will be stolen or lost very soon.
When people think of a tent, camping tents usually come to mind first. They are lightweight, can often be packed very small and seem optimal. But you don't want to sleep in a closed tent in a combat situation. Besides, the purpose for camping tents is very limited.
Therefore, it is better to use camouflage tarps. Combined with some ropes they can be used to protect against rain, wind and snow as a kind of "open tent", but more as a wind-breaker. This allows you to escape immediately if necessary, without having to open a tent first. These can sometimes be the crucial seconds that decide between life and death.
In addition, camouflage tarps can also be used like a cape to protect yourself and your backpack from rain. And on sunny days you can even make a hammock out of them. ;)
Odds and ends
There is a lot of small stuff that you should have with you. Let's see what you'll need...
First of all, you must be able to make a fire. For that you should have a lighter, small pieces of paper and a flintstone with you. Why a lighter and a flintstone? Because your lighter will be empty very soon. BTW, I recommend a petrol lighter and a small bottle of petrol. Zippo's lighters fit best. This will help at least for a while. Then you'll, in the end, have to use the flintstone. ;)
You can get small pieces of papers for a fire also from a notebook, that you should have with you, together with a pen that can write also under bad conditions (cold, wet etc.). Why? You may come into situation where people will not understand each other. Having the possibility to draw can help for communication. Sometimes it may be needed that you leave a message for someone who was with you. And there will be a lot of other situations where you'll be glad to have a piece of paper and a pen with you.
Take some ropes and snap hooks with you. You can use them not only to climb, but also to attach tarps to trees, to attach equipment, food etc. to your backpack and much more. Ropes are one of the most important tools you can have in the wild. It's very time consuming if you have to build some out of plants by yourself.
Take different types of metallic wires with you or collect them on your way. Even if your power supply doesn't fit into the power socket of a country you may cross, the voltage may be enough to power your device. With wires you can connect the pins directly to the power supply. As a general rule, never connect your equipment to higher voltages than it is built for!
You must also be able to always know what time it is. Therefore, you should have a very good, if possible ruggedized, watch with you. It should be water-resistant and should have an easy to set alarm timer. Ensure that you can always see the status of the alarm, if it's set to on or off, because an alarm at the wrong time can cost lifes. If you have the money, wear a watch that has a builtin compass and barometer. But at least ensure, it is a watch with hands. Because you can use it with the sun as a compass. At best, you'll have a digital (more accurate time) and a mechanical watch (for determining approximate time and cardinal directions) with you.
If your clock doesn't have a magnetic compass, take an additional one with you. You must be able to determine the cardinal points at any time.
Now, you're able to make fire and navigate. Next important point is water supply. Every human needs water every day. Unfortunately, most of the water out there isn't drinking water. But you can find chemical water cleaners in nearly all survival shops. Having some of them with you isn't the badest idea. ;) However, you can also build simple water filters from several layers of different soils and activated carbon. However, this takes time and you should have some knowledge of chemistry to know what you are doing.
Fishing line and fish hooks should also be part of your equipment. And I hope you know how to fish, because fishing is enormously helpful to feed you in the wild.
Having some iodine pills with you is also not a bad idea. Iodine binds radioactive particles and flushes them out of the body. This can help, especially with light radiation.
If you know how to use it (only if you really know it!), take a CB radio with you; even if the internet fails you may get in contact with people via CB radio.
Having a pack of needles will help you to repair clothes, tarps, backpacks etc.. You will always be able to find a yarn somewhere, but needles for repairing clothes as well as safety pins should be with you. Also some tape is sometimes useful for repair work, especially duct tape.
Also a world band receiver should be part of your inventory to get news about the current sitation around you.
Hacker's Tip: With a common mobile, not a smartphone, you can also get slow GSM connections if required and their batteries last much longer.
And of course, especially important for women, take the sanitary products you need with you. Same applies to meds.
We had big discussions about flashlights. Here is our outcome. Yes, they can be useful. But they must be used very carefully. Because a light at night is always a target in a war situation. Take a small and robust one with you + some rechargables for it. But don't use it. ;) No seriously, you should use a flashlight very cautious in combat situations. A flashlight in a combat situation is often a "Hey, fire to this point to hit me!" But of course a flashlight is helpful if you have to go somewhere through basements or the like.
Data and IT
Now some points especially for us hackers. As long as the internet is working somehow, we'll try to stay connected. For that we need the right equipment. Here is our recommendation:
Take an encrypted hard-drive with you. In best case, the hard-drive is using a hardware-encryption. Beside your private data, your source codes etc. it should contain a complete minimal Linux source code. This allows you to build a Linux OS on nearly every computer. You can get a bundle with a build manual at https://ff-sec.eu/media/lfs-03.22.tar.gz. Add a statically linked nmap and metasploit for the 3 major platforms (Linux, Windows, macOS) to your disk and also your primarily used programming language compiler/interpreter.
Also having a set of adapters with you and some live systems on USB sticks can be helpful to stay connected or to hack into systems you may face on your way. Having a statically linked Python binary and corresponding packages for your needs on your disk is always a good idea. ;)
Ensure you have also nasm and gcc for all major platforms with you. By that you can build all the software you need by your own.
Last but not least, also ensure you have some strong encryption libraries with you! (Hint: There are some in the Linux sources from above. ;) )
Food and Drink
Now we have a lot of stuff with us, but we have to add at least water and some food for 1-3 days. Attach 2 bottles of water with 1.5 litres each to your backpack.
Even though you can find food almost anywhere in the world at any time of the year, you should have some food with you. What you find in nature food, unfortunately, is not flavored. And often it does not last very long. So take salt with you. You should have at least 500g in your backpack to spice up your food or to preserve things like meat. Rice is a good source of energy that can be kept for a long time with little weight. A pack of rice should therefore always be part of your equipment.
Avoid / bypass combat situations
If you're in a non-nuclear conflict, it is helpful if you avoid places where most of the combatants will meet. Therefore, you should avoid big cities, train stations and other locations where there are a lot of people. If you don't plan to take a specific train, don't go to a train station. Same applies for planes and airports and so on. Also avoid tactical important points like hills. It's always better to stay as low as possible. The smaller your group is and the more outside you are from a combat the safer you are. Sounds easy, but unfortunately it isn't.
When you need to get out of a combat situation ensure you're always safe to move. Move in small groups of 2-3 people. Never move alone. If you have children with you, ensure that they also move in small groups. One adult should never take more than 2 children with him/her. Of course, this only applies if it is somehow possible. If it is not possible, action must be taken according to the situation.
Always remember: in an urban environment, attacks, especially air attacks, occur more frequently at night. Therefore, you should rather move there during the day and try to leave the city as soon as possible. So move towards the outskirts of the city during the day. In the wilderness, you move better at night because it's harder to see you then. And it is unlikely that someone will fire rockets somewhere in the wilderness, while in a city you never know which building will be the target of a missile attack. In urban environments you should move one person after the other. Try to make small moves from on cover to another. But also try to move from one corner of a building to another corner. Avoid the wide walls. When a missile hits a building you are using for cover, the stones of the walls can become projectiles. Therefore, you should try to take cover at the corners of buildings.
As soon as you could leave the city avoid bigger roads. They will be used by militaries. Use small paths in forests or go directly through the wilderness. From that point on you should use the daylight to collect food in your nearby environment and get some sleep while you move further at night. Your goal should be to reach a peaceful country (unlikely in a global conflict) or a mountain range.
Why a mountain range? In the mountains, survival probabilities increase a lot by the natural circumstances there. For one thing, nuclear bombs are pretty sure not fired somewhere into the mountains if there is no military target. In addition, in deep caves and canyons you can even survive nuclear explosions. In addition, the biodiversity in the mountains is ideally suited for our human nutrition. You'll be able to hunt there and you'll find a lot of plants serving for food.
Some points on weapons
Don't take any weapon with you that you aren't skilled in! Even if having a gun, a sword etc. with you may give you a feeling of safety, it will not help you in any situation if you're not trained in using the weapon. Keep in mind: in worst case, you'll always have your knife to fight. You'll for sure never have a chance against a soldier with guns, grenades and rockets. AVOID COMBATS as good as you can! But....
If you're skilled in a specific weapon take a good one with you. Martial artists may be skilled in swords... ensure not to use a sword made of carbon steel. Yes, it's more flexible and doesn't break that easy but on the other hand it needs a lot of maintenance to avoid rust. Better take one made from stainless steel.
Be aware that any weapon is an additional risks when you get into captivity or in combat situations. A soldier will more likely shoot a man with a sword or a gun than a man without weapons.
Because it is often made wrong, here some points you need to know about making a fire. First of all, use dry material. The wetter something is, the more it smokes when it burns.
Don't make a "classical" campfire. Instead, dig a hole. Dig a second hole right next to it. Now dig a tunnel between the two holes. In the hole facing away from the wind you can now make your fire. If you use dry fuel, which hardly causes smoke, you can make an "invisible fire" in this way, on which you can do cooking, disinfecting and more. A classical campfire will reveal your position to everybody around you, especially at night.
Hole1 Hole 2 ---+ +---+ ´ +--- | | | ´ | | | | ´ | | +---+ ´ | | Fire <- Air ´ | +-----------------+
Of course, biohacking is much more than using drugs. However, in a combat situation you must be able to keep calm and fully controlled. This is much easier if you use the correct drugs. Of course, they should always be a last resort.
Amphetamine: Steady low doses of amphetamine can keep you awake for several days if required. But you must ensure, that you have a longer phase for regeneration after using it, to avoid health problems. Amphetamine should only be used if you really cannot sleep because of the circumstances.
Caffeine: Caffeine pills kick you awake after 15-30 minutes; this helps especially in times where you have very short sleep hours to become fit for the next move. If you have a choice between amphetamines and caffeine, you should always take the caffeine first and only switch to amphetamine as a last resort when it no longer helps.
Ketamine: At a low dose Ketamin can supress muscle pain. But at the same side it limits your hearing to the lower frequencies and visuals like colors can become more intense. In addition you'll see the world more from a geometric perspective. However, you can use all of these effect to your advantage. For example, with Ketamine you can hear much better from which direction shots are coming. You're ability to see at night will also increase. However, seeing in sunshine will become much harder because all colors will be very bright.
Hallucinogens: Avoid the use of hallucinogens. There are a lot of them in nature, but they always make you unable to objectively assess your surroundings. Still, they can help when it comes to calm down traumatized people. But you should know what you're doing.
To protect your health you should never combine uppers and downers. This can lead to circulatory problems, nausea and worse. As a general rule: Use downers to calm down and decrease pain. Use uppers to become fit and awake.
Always take a good look around your surroundings. There is hardly a country in the world where psychoactive plants do not grow. But always remember that they are, in principle, poisonous plants. So you need to know how to prepare them properly or use low doses accordingly.
Stay connected and informed
... as long as the internet is still working somehow
As long as TV stations and internet are still workin go to https://bwd.ff-sec.eu/ to find a list of important news channels. In critical situations we'll also enable a livestream from Deutsche Welle at this page.
Use Twitter to communicate with the world. Have a look at trending hash tags if you need to spread important informations.
Take a look at USNI News and other news sources about navy movements; as soon as there is more aircraft carrier movement than usual a nuclear war can become more likely.