Tag Archives: cyberattack

American Blackout (Review)

12 Nov

Just watched National Geographic’s American Blackout. You can view it on Youtube. It’s kind of a one and a half hour promo for their Doomsday Preppers series. They kept advertising that show during the film. I hate when they do that! Don’t put a bunch of promotional crap on the bottom of the screen when we’re trying to get into the film, OK? That just spoils it! American Blackout is the story of a ten-day terrorist created blackout.

To give it a “realistic” feel, they filmed it as if the characters had their cell phone cameras recording the event. A GoPro narration of SHTF. If you like “prepper” fiction and “prepper” movies, you might like it.

A few observations:

Water. It’s really important. Ten days without water is a real crisis. If the government or other emergency workers can’t get water to citizens, because they lack power, transportation, or other resources, people would die. Water is the number one priority. American Blackout got that correct.

Another thing I liked is it portrayed people as they would act if a slowly-unfolding crisis hit. They wouldn’t take it seriously at first. Kids would be kids. “Awh… do we have to bug out today?”

The part about college students successfully getting themselves out of a stranded elevator? Didn’t seem likely. But it was exciting. My favorite part of the story.

At the end, they show the prepper as basically helpless against a larger gang of looters. He’s saved by the power coming back on at the last moment. I’m not so sure. In reality, the situation would have unfolded very differently.

If intruders had breached his home and taken supplies, it’s unlikely they’d let the kid go running back to his parents. What if the parents had a gun? More than likely, the whole family would have been held captive or worse until the intruders left.

Note to self: Watch out for slightly overweight scruffy-looking fellows sneaking right up behind you. They did it to the kid and to the father! They did it in what appeared to be thick brush and in the open. Freaking better stealth skills than Chuck Norris. These are the guys you want on your paintball team.

As long as the family had food and water, there was no real need to confront the looters above. Staying below when things are bad is kinda the whole idea of having a bunker.

If he’s going to go up and confront them… these people have already taken ALL the food they thought the family had… to heck with them… take a position and pop pop pop…If you have cameras from below, why not have a radio and have somebody tell you where everybody is?

My point: A prepper so well prepared he has an underground bunker isn’t going to be taken by surprise by a few scruffy-looking unprepared neighbors. Even more important: This crisis lasted only ten days and the prepper was apparently in a remote part of Colorado. People in those areas are prepared for blizzards. Ten days is nothing to people in remote areas. They aren’t going to come over begging for food after only a few days.


Here’s a better and more complete analysis of what we can learn from American Blackout.

What if you’re in a city and don’t have food and water? What’s the difference between scavenging and looting?

Here’s a good essay about resiliency. Prepper or not, resiliency is the number one trait for a survivor to have.

Here’s a good essay about the NSA’s quest to know everything about us:

“Why does the government, which has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution, find ways to short-circuit it? The answer goes to the nature of government. Even in a free society, government always grows, always expands and always wants to control more human behavior.”

FAA plans for drones to be delayed due to safety and privacy concerns. How cool would it be to build your own nation roving drone?

Does anybody remember the TV Series Salvage 1? A junk man with a dream…

It won’t stop the NSA, but if you’re looking for a brain exercise, try your hand at solving cryptograms. Click on the “play” button at the top. I totally sucked.

Consider This: About 5% of the working age American population collects Social Security Disability. 4% of the American population is on welfare. 7% of the American population is unemployed, with many collecting unemployment insurance. About 8% of the population is employed by the Federal government. About 10% of the population collects Social Security, with maybe half dependent on it for living income. Adding these totals up, over 1/3 of Americans depend upon checks from the Federal government to survive. What would happen to the economy if the Federal government ran out of borrowing ability and couldn’t send out these checks?

Prepping The PC

16 Jun

One topic I omitted from The Prepper Next Door was the topic of PC security. The subject was just too far away from what readers might expect in a book about prepping. In the modern world, being prepared means you’re alert to the risk your PC faces and you have at least some idea of how to handle these risks.

It’s been estimated that Iran’s nuclear program has been set back by 6 months to 1 year because of the Stuxnet worm and the Flame virus. We know Stuxnet was created by the U.S. government. The cyber-weapon interfered with the operation of 1,000 nuclear centrifuges. Because Stuxnet ran a bit out-of-control, it was discovered by computer security experts, who reverse engineered the worm. Flame, also courtesy of the US government, was a virus masquerading as a windows update.

If the NSA wants to infiltrate your computer and snoop on you, they’ll probably do so. There isn’t much we can do if hundreds of top programmers attack one of our computers. We can defend our PCs from lesser threats though. Hackers now have much of the code for Stuxnet and Flame and could re-purpose it to attack industrial targets. Windows has patched some of the vulnerabilities. Here’s what we should do to protect our PCs from hackers:

► Regularly update our operating system.
► Run antivirus software on our PC
► Run firewall software on our PC
► Run anti-spyware software regularly
(One popular free anti-spyware programs are MalwareBytes, http://www.malwarebytes.org)
► Regularly backup important files so if our system were damaged, we could restore them. Norton Ghost is one popular program for copying a hard drive or backing up a PC.

All PC users should devote a little time to learning more about basic computer security. While this cyber-weapon did more or less what was intended, using such weapons sets a dangerous precedence. What happens if one of these cyber-weapons runs amuck and attacks a non-targeted country? How would Russia or China respond if the US inadvertently damaged a billion dollars worth of their infrastructure? You can be sure we’d need to pay the bill or face retaliation. The careless use of cyber-weapons attacking industrial targets could inadvertently lead to a shooting war.