Archive | May, 2014

Protecting Your Computer, Blackshades commentary

22 May

Many people were arrested for “Blackshades” infiltration of computers.

http://krebsonsecurity.com/2014/05/blackshades-trojan-users-had-it-coming/

 

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Security-Watch/Cyber-Conflict-Monitor/2014/0519/International-bust-targets-BlackShades-malware.-Is-your-computer-safe-now-video

 

Be aware if you visit the wrong website your computer could be infected by malware. Everybody should have a firewall, antivirus, and anti-malware software. Keep you OS updated.

If you’re keeping an older computer like XP, look into running your browser in Sandboxie or a virtual system browser. Any changes made by a malicious site are only made to your “virtual” machine and can’t harm your system.

Another point: If you run windows and surf the net, make a second account without administrator privileges. If somebody hacks your system, they can only do what a limited user could do to your system.

An alternative is DropMyRights. It does the same thing.

Preppers must learn to protect themselves and their families from all threats. Online threats are a concern today.

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Bug Out Bag Checklist (Part 4)

20 May

There’s one item we haven’t covered: The bag itself. How are we going to carry all this crap?

When it comes to packing you’ll have two issues. Weight and bulk. Keep the weight as close to your back as possible and below shoulder height. Keep the load evenly balanced. Bulk can be carried anywhere. It looks oppressive, but a huge sleeping pad rolled up can sit at the top or strapped to the back of the pack. Heavier bulky items, tent, should be lower or closer to your body.

You’ll look like a beast of burden, but you can strap a duffel bag to the back of your pack as long as it contains relatively light weight clothing. You won’t be shimmying between rocks in a cave and you could get blown off a real mountain with such a contraption. On a typical road, you’ll be fine.

I recommend owning a good quality backpack. If you have cold weather survival clothing, I recommend you keep it in a large duffel bag. If forced to flee your home, you can grab your pack and your duffel and change into your best clothing at some point. Boots can be in your duffel, if you want.

As I recommend in the book, you can assemble another duffel bag with heavy-duty camping gear. You’d never carry this on your back, but if you bug out by vehicle and it is a the-world-is-totally-ending-and-I’m-out-of-here-and-never-coming-back scenario, you’d have a collection of some of the best equipment in the world to survive in the wild. Carry it as far as you can by vehicle, stash it, and hope you can recover it later. If you have a BOL with shelter, you’d keep this stuff there.

Some stuff to consider for this end-of-the-world duffel/BOL:

Heavy Cooking Grill
Dutch Oven
Heavy Duty Cook Set
Rope
Snare Wire
Fishing Gear
Ax
Loppers
Bow Saw & Blades
Rifle & Extra Ammo

In another duffel, you could keep a larger tent. Alaskatent.com. You could live in it until you were able to build a better home. Not carried on your back.

I violate a rule of BOBs that says everything must be packed at ready to go. I keep sleeping bags hanging in a closet. I think they keep loft better this way than being all munched up. I’d need to grab the right ones for the right season on my way out the door and pack them quickly. Yes, if my home burned down before I got to them I’d be SOL.

The best backpacks today are internal framed expedition packs. They have solid belts to secure the pack about the hip. An external framed pack can work too. Some preppers like to stick with surplus military gear. The only downside to expedition packs is the expense.

Three good places to search for packs & sleeping bags and other stuff:

TheNorthFace.com
EMS.com
REI.com

You can order packs over the Internet but it’s much better if you have a local store to try them on. You want one that fits and is comfortable for you.

The trend today is to carry water in hydration bladders. They provide the lightest weight container for the most water. I don’t like and trust bladders. A cheap and workable alternative is two 2 Liter bottles to supplement your regular water bottle. Used Pepsi bottles work fine. They seal tightly and won’t leak.

Most bug outs won’t last forever. The final class of items to add are your important records and papers. Information identifying who you are, your insurance information, checkbook, important records.

Learning More:

For learning more about outdoor survival, two books I like are How To Stay Alive In The Woods By Bradford Angier and Survival With Style by Angier. I’d guess there are better books today but I’m not familiar with them. I’d suggest you get some books about backpacking. They can provide you with a ton of information. Get out and go hiking!

Charlie Palmer -author The Prepper Next Door

***
What Are Your Top 3 Prepping Items?

My answer: 1) Water; 2) Food; 3) Gun & Ammo; 4) Good Warm Clothing
Outdoor answer: 1) Knife; 2) Cook kit; 3) Good Warm Clothing; 4) Fire starter

Can you live without a refrigerator?  (My answer: No! Little known fact: Even cavemen had fridges …without refrigeration we all die immediately!)

I like the point about looking to RVers and self-sufficient sailors. They have great information.

One tip: Cold air sinks. Most fridges open and the cold air pours out. Small boats have boxes which open at the top. The cold air stays in when it’s opened.

Refrigeration is a pain because of how much energy it takes.

**
Good article about what goes through your mind if your home is in the path of a raging fire.
“I arrived at our house, the evacuation order was already in place, and I had about an hour to pack up the essentials. ”

 

Dealing With BACNs (Bat A** Crazy Neighbors)

9 May

I’ll start this post with a disclaimer. I’ve always had great neighbors. Respectful of the rights of others. Good people in every regard. To the best of my knowledge all fully sane. Opening the newspaper I saw this shocking story.
http://www.twincities.com/crime/ci_25706820/new-brighton-shooting-death-neighbors-fought-about-feeding

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/charges-man-killed-neighbor-deer-dispute-23631448

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIVFZ-plOeU

My response to reading this was wtf? Can’t we all just get along? Two neighbors feuded over feeding deer. The anti-deer guy appears to have been a bully who wanted to control his neighbor’s behavior. The mother was outraged her son was arrested, even though he threatened to kill somebody and threatened to burn down their home.

One man is dead and the other will spend life in prison because these people couldn’t resolve their dispute peacefully.

My question: How would you deal with a BACN? The guy feeding the deer was on his property and feeding them was legal. Should he have given up his legitimate legal rights to appease the neighbor and ceased feeding them? Moved? Armed himself with a CCW? What course of action would you recommend?

Some other unique conflicts between neighbors that escalate into violence:


The good old rib bones tossed in the neighbor’s yard dispute.


Snow shoveling dispute.


Dispute over a banana tree.

Commentary on Byron Smith Conviction

7 May

Homeowner Byron Smith was convicted of murder for shooting two teens who broke into his house. Ambush and Execution of burglars isn’t self defense.

Preppers are mixed in their reaction to this.

Many agree with the verdict but have little sympathy for burglars. The jury looked at these factors:

1) Smith recorded the incident. He recorded a lengthy conversation with himself after the shooting. He talked freely with police after the incident. These conversations raised serious doubt that he used reasonable force.

2) He moved his vehicle so it would appear his home was unoccupied.

Smith said this:
“I refuse to live in fear. I am not a bleeding heart liberal. I have a civic duty. I have to do it. Burglars are not human, they are vermin. I try to be a good person, to do what I should, be a good citizen.”

I don’t like criminals but I’d stop short of calling a person vermin. I’m not sure how I’d decide if I were on the jury. I didn’t listen to the tape. He does have a point. Not for a burglar but what if a serial rapist breaks into your home? If you apprehend him and in three years he’s out and he attacks and murders somebody, do you have a degree of responsibility?

One of the most balanced, sane, and respectable experts in self defense, Massad Ayoob, in his book “The Truth About Self Defense,” talks about meeting a deranged killer in prison. If memory serves, Ayoob said if this fellow ever showed up in his home, he’d shoot him dead for sure. Knowing the guy’s behavior, he’d know this guy would harm innocent people as long as he could. Most “normal” people lack experience with this kind of psycho.

One person I know thinks Smith could have PTSD from Vietnam and his role as an embassy guard. It makes sense. If he worried 3 or 4 violent gang bangers would break into his home some night and he’d wake to a knife being plunged into him, a first response of somebody with that background could well be to set up the confrontation so he’d be prepared. He’d want to engage on his terms. It’s cliched, but the best defense is a good offense.

The lesson for preppers: Use all due restraint when defending yourself. If forced to use lethal force, get an attorney immediately before you say anything.  Call police immediately.

One anti-gun post attacking Smith said that any homeowner who owns a gun and doesn’t have good locks is guilty of this “ambush and execution.”  That’s crap. If you only have so much money, a gun is a great defense tool.

I do recommend having great locks. But even with them Smith lived alone and was elderly. Would he hear an intruder before it was too late?

Bug Out Bag Checklist (Part 3)

5 May

In the last part of this ongoing saga post about bug out bags, we added the ten backpacking essentials to our bug out bag. You’re now very well prepared to survive for three days. You have adequate clothing, shelter, food, water, and a few key supplies.

Every bug out bag has a small repair kit. Simple things like a couple of needles and thread for repairing clothing. A tiny bit of wire. Maybe some repair tape. These things are light and can fix faulty equipment.

Your equipment should be in top notch condition. If the shoestring on your boots is old and frayed, it’s more likely to break. A spare shoestring could repair it in the field, but why not take care of problems now? This applies to your bug out vehicle. The better maintained, the less likely it’ll give you trouble during a real bug out.

Anything that’s really light weight and absolutely essential should have a backup. Some preppers like the saying “one is zero, two is one.” The idea being that if you have one of something and it fails you don’t have it. You’re down to zero.

Many essentials can’t be carried in the twos. Heavy sleeping bag, tent, rifle. No way. Too heavy. If you wear glasses, have an extra pair. I always carry two compasses and a second small knife and two flashlights.

If you travel with a group, you can mooch your backup off your buddy. If you drop your knife in a gully, he still has his. Your group isn’t totally knifeless.

Having a second applies to vehicles in extremely harsh environments. If you drive across the Sahara Desert, don’t take one truck. Take two. No matter how great a mechanic you are and how well stocked your repair items, something unfixable on the road can fail. In a lawless world, expect an immobilized and abandoned vehicle will be stripped of anything of value.

The same applies to snowmobiles driven far from others. Two people can ride on one, but two is better and safer. Some outdoorsman say you should never travel in the far north or other wilderness alone for the same reason. If something happens to one person, there’s another person who can help. I won’t go this far because too many guys like hiking, hunting, or fishing alone. A second person adds safety, but that’s a personal call.

Here are some items to consider:

a) A small radio. This is for getting local news. If an disaster is widespread there should be some news coverage. My current radio is a small Eton Mini 300PE. It’s not particularly rugged or good, but it gives you a chance to receive news. It has AM/FM/Some Shortwave.

In the book in the BOV chapter, one item I recommend for those traveling in remote areas is a PLB or a personal locator beacon. In a bug out, I’m assuming you’re fleeing the situation and aren’t expecting to be rescued. The assumption: You’re on your own. The radio above is for reception only.

b) A water purification device. I’m a big fan of Katadyn water filters. They’re expensive, but pretty much the standard used by relief organizations worldwide. If you can stomach it, resublimated iodine crystals work.

There are other options:

-Katadyn Micropur tablets.

-Chlor Floc. We can’t really use my favorite PUR product because it’s designed for use with larger containers, but as any prepper who’s read my book or past blog posts knows, I’m a huge, huge fan of the particle binder purification devices. If you have crap like DDT, heavy metals, etc, in your water this is the way to go.

– I don’t fully trust UV treatment of water, but some hikers swear by their Steripen UV lights. I don’t like relying on a battery operated device for water purification either.

-Survival filter straws. Some preppers like them.

– You have a metal cup so you can always boil water to kill bacteria.

– Coffee filters to prefilter your water. Kept in a ziplock bag.

I want to re-emphasize something from the first post. Water is absolutely essential to life and by five days without it, only the most advanced medical treatment in the world can save you. Three days without it is considered critical. Carrying two liters a day x 3 days is very heavy and bulky. But in a disaster you might not want to restrict your route to where water can be procured. You can’t sit around waiting for rain. Good news: With each passing day of hiking, you’ll have less water to carry. Bad news: Without a source of resupply, you’re getting closer to death.

Weight

Bug Out Bag weight is something that should be addressed. I watched a video where a guy said the weight of a bug out bag doesn’t matter. Toss in what you need. That’s OK if you’re super fit or if your bag sits in a vehicle. Most of us will need to balance what we carry with our ability to carry it.

If you’ve ever fallen down a hill with a heavy backpack, you’ll know the weight of the pack is directly related to your likely injuries. It’s bad enough to sprain an ankle when carrying no weight. But if you have a 60 pound pack, the injury will likely be greater. Carrying too much weight isn’t only exhausting and slowing. It puts you at more risk in rugged terrain.

The most serious backpackers today are going “ultralight” and will brag for hours how they reduced the weight of their cook kit by 2 oz. Ultralight equipment isn’t as durable as heavier stuff. Put a GI military surplus rain poncho next to a commercial “survival” poncho and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Some preppers accept light duty equipment for a three-day survival kit. I like robust gear.

Each prepper needs to decide how much weight is acceptable in his own pack. My advice: Go hiking with your BOB. Can you comfortably trek 10 miles? Can you climb a hill? How far do you plan to travel?

Another tip: After your outdoor adventures do you have stuff in your pack you never needed? I’m not talking about a first aid kit, but about tools and equipment that you previously thought were essential.

Little Light Weight Stuff That’s Difficult To Fabricate

Years ago I was big into fishing. Not only go fishing, but I’d read books on fishing. Through The Fish’s Eye, Fishing Top To Bottom, Secrets of A Muskie Guide. That sort of book. I haven’t fished in years and gave away most of my tackle. That was dumb.

In the wild, fishing can provide protein. There are many ways to catch fish but most common is the good old hook and line. Modern fishing line and metal hooks are light weight and far better than anything you’ll fabricate in the wild. You can keep a few hooks, sinkers, bobbers and line in your pack and not notice the weight.

A fishing kit isn’t absolutely essential for a three day bag. It’s more of an outdoor survival item. You can carry the same concept to other items. If you want to fabricate a bow in the wild, carry a bow string and some arrowheads. The plastic nocks are handy. Add a little fletching and epoxy. By no means do you have a bow ready, but if you needed to make one you’d have some of the most valuable parts which are really difficult to make.

To be continued…

Charlie Palmer -author The Prepper Next Door