September 22, 2014

The Mother of All Cyber Attacks

From time to time, I write an article giving a possible scenario and ask you to consider what you would do in that situation. I then give my thoughts on what I would do in the comment section. I do this for a few reasons; first to help bring to light some of the “signs of the times”, and also to use this type of article to give you an idea of how I would respond. However, my favorite reason for this type of article is that some of you will share how you would respond!

Cyber-attack is a topic that has been on my mind for some time, and with the recent discovery of the Heartbleed vulnerability, I decided it would be a good time to cover it. While the types of attacks I’ll bring up are from my imagination, I do not think they are too far out of the realm of possibilities.

 
The Mother of All Cyber Attacks

While you are waking up, you turn the TV on to the local news, only to hear about a new cyber-attack that started taking place at roughly 2:00am. In that short amount of time, it is being reported that this attack coined “The Black Death” is reported to have affected 30% of all internet enabled computers and this number is rising quickly.

Once a computer becomes infected with the electronic plague, it installs backdoors into several well-known and trusted programs. Then the computer begins to replicate to any computer with a shared or network drive. The plague then sends infected messages to everyone in your email address book and all of your contacts in various social media on a continuous basis, re-infecting already infected computers, with a virus under a new name.

Interacting with infected programs will run executable programs that tax system resources so heavily that it will take up to ten seconds for any keyboard or mouse click to be recognized and responded to. Rebooting the computer flashes the system BIOS and the computer will only load the blue screen of death.

It is later discovered that this was just one prong of the Black Death, that the main focus of the attack was the internet itself. All infected computers join in a coordinated attack on various ISP’s and DNS servers in the largest denial of service attack in history.

The Black Death also takes advantage of a previously unknown vulnerability on switches, routers and other networking components of one of the world’s most popular brands. Routing tables that tell the router where to send information are deleted, causing the data to just drop.

As the days unfold, it is revealed that Russia and China have spent the last 10-15 years training computer programmers. Many of these well trained programmers have been hired in some of the leading IT companies. They used their position to hide malicious code in some very popular and widely used programs. Others created back doors enabling security breaches and vulnerabilities never thought possible.

Russia and China had a cyber-army waiting for these breaches to be exposed. Once they were, the very infrastructure of America was the target. The electric grid, water treatment facilities and various communications systems were all targeted with varying levels of success.

Between the denial of service attack, and corrupted routing tables, the internet is badly damaged in some places and completely broken in others. To stop the damage from spreading, the White House institutes the “Internet Kill Switch”.

 

Things to Keep in Mind

I’ll admit my scenario is a bit “out there”, but it doesn’t take something so dramatic to bring the Internet down. During the Arab spring there were countries that shut it down to stop the communication on social media sites. Many countries have very strict restrictions on it.

Aside from electricity, the internet is the single most used resource in business today. Many companies have their inventory tracking, databases, cloud storage, ordering systems and many more functions and features either hosted on the internet or communicated through it. There are some companies that would no longer exist if the internet was brought down.

How many things in your life rely on the internet? My job would be very difficult to do. This site and all others like it would not be reachable. Much of my entertainment is internet based; games, Netflix and so on. I honestly don’t know how much of our modern news is integrated with the internet. If the grid and water treatment centers were attacked, I’m not sure we would be able to tune in and watch the news.

The scenario described wouldn’t be a TEOTWAWKI event, but it would take some time and money to fix. The question becomes, how bad will things get in the interim?

See the comment section for my thoughts.

What would you do, North Korea Attacks

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a “What Would You Do?” post.  I thought today would be a good time to have another.  For those who haven’t seen these, the reason I write this type of post is because of the book The Survivors Club.   Author Ben Sherwood explores a theory developed by a man named John Leach called “The 10/80/10 rule”. In summary, the rule states that the top 10% of people in a crisis excel; they think clearly and take immediate action. The middle group comprises 80% of people; they are “quite simply stunned and bewildered”; “reasoning is significantly impaired and thinking is difficult”. The last 10% of people are the “ones you definitely want to avoid in an emergency”.

A few pages later he explains something called ‘behavioral inaction’; “The current theory of behavioral inaction goes like this: As your frontal lobes process the site of an airplane wing on fire, they seek to match the information with memories of similar situations in the past. If you have no stored experience of a plane crash, your brain can’t find a match and gets stuck in a loop trying and failing to come up with the right response. Hence: immobility.”

The scenario I describe today has a slim chance of happening just as I describe it but, as was discussed on Monday in “Current Threats to America with AlertsUSA”, North Korea has clearly put the Unites States in its crosshairs and made claims they would use a preemptive nuclear strike.  As AlertsUSA mentioned, what it might take for North Korea to attack, “…, we believe that move would not come out of aggression, but fear. Fear of attack and fear of the further choking of resources needed for the survival of the state.”

I chose this scenario because, if I was Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, and was faced with extreme sanctions by the UN and threatened by joint American and South Korean military operation, this is how I would attack America; a sucker punch.  The event’s I’ll describe may seem far-fetched but I’m sure Japan attacking Pearle Harbor and destroying a large portion of the United States Pacific Naval fleet seemed far-fetched on December 6th, 1941 until it happened the next day.

 

What would you do, North Korea Attacks

Due to continued nuclear testing and repeated threats of preemptive strike to the United States, the United Nations has passed the heaviest handed sanctions given to any country in its history.  The Chinese, Russian and Iranian leaders condemned planned joint military operation with the South Korean Navy that are to take place in the near future.

At 12:00 PM PST North Korea launches a low yield nuclear bomb on Seoul South Korea and a barrage of conventional missiles at American and South Korean military bases inside of South Korea.

At 1:00 PM PST a modified cargo ship hailing from China but originally from North Korea, has taken a long trade route and is currently in the Atlantic, roughly 500 miles from the East Coast, when it launches two mid-range nuclear missiles.  Both are headed to Washington D.C.  One is destroyed a minute before detonation.  The second detonates.

At 2:00 PM PST a modified cargo ship originally from North Korea, last docking in Hong Kong and now located in the Pacific, 200 miles away from California, launches two long range nuclear missiles.  The first missile, targeting military bases, detonates in San Diego California.  The second detonates in the stratus-sphere over the western hemisphere of the United States, destroying the electric grid over much of the western half of the U.S. and causing scattered blackouts over the rest of the country.

So, what would you do?

(Check the comments section to see the answers from myself and everyone else as well as to add your own.)

 

Rising Crime and Limited Law Enforcement

A note before today’s article: Camping Survival has really stepped up to the plate and given me 3 1000’ spools of paracord to give away. I will be picking the second random winner this afternoon and the last none Monday October 29th. If you want to enter the drawing you have until then. If you have already entered that entry will just be carried over for the new giveaway’s so no need to reenter. If you didn’t enter then send one in for the new drawings.
My email is: chris (at) preparedchristian.net

Again, my many thanks to Camping Survival for supporting the Prepared Christian community!


 

 

Rising Crime and Limited Law Enforcement

 

Mike from Mass sent me an email with a very interesting article.  This is a subject I have touched on before but I want to take a deeper look at it with you today.  The article entitled Armed posse patrols timber land in sheriff’s place is about a rural county in Oregon that has had its Sheriff’s Department shrunken to 3 deputies who patrol for eight hours a day, five days a week due to budget cuts.  Because of this and rising crime, some residents have taken to different forms of assisting the Sheriff.  One of these forms, as the title explains, has been forming armed posse’s to patrol the county.

The reason I want to take a deeper look at this is because I think many of us can relate to a statement made by Sam Nichols in the article, which states:

“I believe in standing up for myself rather than waiting for the government to do something for me,”

I think this is something we will see more of for a variety of reasons.  For instance, in Oakland California, police will no longer respond to certain crimes, which is similar to the circumstances that are in the article; because of cuts, police and sheriff departments are limited in their patrols.  I also think that because of impending economic slowness we will see a rise in crime, as can be seen in this story from USA Today; Violent crime rises sharply, reversing trend.  I think we will see an uptick in crime from people who’re hungry and looking for ways to make ends meet.  I’m not justifying it, just explaining that we will see a different percentage of the population committing crime.

 

Formation of a Posse

A posse is essentially made up of unpaid civilians who assist local law enforcement.  I think there are two ways to go about forming one.  The first is what the Citizens Against Crime did in the story from Oregon that is mentioned above.  From the sounds of the story, they patrol armed with little or no formal training and report crimes to the Sheriff’s Department.

Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson is quoted saying:

“They need to really understand there are consequences that can be very costly, physically as well as legally,” he said, explaining that volunteers could get sued or shot if they pull a gun on someone or make a false arrest.

“Most of them haven’t had what I feel is an adequate level of training to do that they do,” he said. “But if they serve as eyes and ears and only report what they see to law enforcement, I think they can keep themselves at a safe level.”

The Sheriff brings up some excellent points, but we shouldn’t necessarily let that keep citizens from forming a posse in times when, for whatever reason, local law enforcement is unable to meet the needs of the community.

An approach that I think is better is one that the Pinal County Sheriff from Arizona did by forming armed anti-smuggling volunteer posse.  The county has a large problem with Mexican cartels trafficking in drugs and humans, so the Sheriff formed a posse to help “bring the heavy hand of enforcement to those who think they can smuggle drugs or humans”.

From the article:

“According to a news release from the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, the ASP will provide “surveillance and intelligence support to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office Regional SWAT during tactical operations they perform against the Mexican Drug Cartels in western Pinal County.”…

“ASP members are required to pass a full background investigation, and will be trained on Pinal Sheriff’s Office Policy and Procedures, the news release stated. The armed posse members will be required to take quarterly training and qualifications. The members will receive tactical training before any operations.”

This Sheriff saw a need and a potential resource and took the time to make sure he was using people without a criminal record (that is not to say that the men from Oregon might have a criminal background).  He trained them and they undergo quarterly training which is as much as some police departments require.

A posse is usually formed for a short time and with a specific task.  I think an ongoing force is more in line with what the original militia was created to do; to augment local law enforcement with armed, trained civilians who have their own rank and command structure.

 

While We Have the Rule of Law

In this time while we still have the rule of law, we are not the sole means of law enforcement.  You may decide to join a posse or militia to assist local law enforcement.  The following are some things to keep in mind.

 

Citizen’s Arrest

I’m sure everyone reading this has heard of making a citizen’s arrest, but do you know what making one entails?  I am not a lawyer or giving legal advice.  These comments should be viewed as information, not law.  Many states allow a citizen to make an arrest for felonies committed in their presence.  You are allowed the use of reasonable force to subdue the felon until the police arrive.  You do not need to read them their rights.  That’s the job of the police officers who will file the police report.  If you are mistaken and the suspected felon did not, in fact, commit a felon, or you used too much force, you may open yourself up to a lawsuit or to facing charges and jail time yourself.   Here is an article from the Art of Manliness called How to Make a Citizens Arrest that goes deeper into the subject.

 

Buddy System

The buddy system is something I learned of in the Navy.  It means that you never go anywhere alone; always go with at least one buddy.  I can tell you from personal experience that using the buddy system saved me a few times.  There really is safety in numbers.

 

Communication

Being able to provide accurate, minute by minute information with instant and reliable communication is vital.  If you’re a part of a Sheriff sponsored posse, you will most likely be given a radio and trained in how to use it.  If you form a posse or militia with some other concerned citizens, one of the first things you should look into is communication.

 

Know Your Role

I honestly don’t know if a posse formed by a sheriff would provide the same umbrella of protection to its members that the sheriff and deputies would have.  If you form a posse with other citizens you are just that, a citizen.  You might be well advised to take the advice of the sheriff from Oregon :

“If they serve as eyes and ears and only report what they see to law enforcement, I think they can keep themselves at a safe level.”

 

Being Armed

If you have been a reader of this site for a while, you know I am a strong supporter of the second amendment.  I believe it is the responsibility of each citizen to be able to protect themselves.  With that being said, you need to think long and hard and pray about taking a firearm with you if you are going to put yourself in a situation where you’re essentially looking for trouble for the purpose of reporting it.

If George Zimmerman from Florida wouldn’t have had his firearm with him when he saw Trayvon Martin, he may have been less likely to follow and confront him and may have just called police.  Now, I am not saying you shouldn’t.  I’m saying you need to understand the ramifications of your decision.  If you are looking for criminals for the purpose of reporting them to police and are armed, there is the potential for gunplay because you brought a firearm.

Carrying a gun may also give a little extra courage to some, but just because you put on a cape doesn’t mean you can fly.  If you are level headed, can legally own and carry a firearm and are trained in its use, then move forward with caution.

I also think that if you carry a firearm, whether it is just for conceal and carry, or as an armed member of a posse, you should have other means to defend yourself.  When I carry, I have pepper spray, a flashlight that can be used as a striking implement and am trained in an Israeli based form of Real World Self-Defense called Haganah.  If I was patrolling, I would also carry either a larger flashlight or an asp to use for striking.  If you only have a hammer in the tool box, you see every problem as a nail.  I like to have as many options as I can legally.

 

Without the Rule of Law

I really hope and pray we never see a time when we no longer have the rule of law.  I think it would take an unlikely event such as an EMP or other far-reaching event to remove the rule of law.  Even though I believe it is unlikely we will see a time when there is no law enforcement to enforce the rule of law, I still think we have to be aware of it.  How will it affect us in the area we live?  How will we respond?

All of the things listed in the section “While We Have the Rule of Law” will still apply, with the exception of maybe citizen’s arrest.  If there is no law enforcement to retrieve the felon from you, you must think now about what you might do if you witness a felony.

There have been many of these types of situations discussed in several survival fiction books such as Lights Out or One Second After.  These and others have helped me think through some of the possible situations we may face without the rule of law.

 

What Will You Do?

Have you thought about whether or not you would ever join a posse to help enforce the law?  Would it matter if it was created and trained by the sheriff?  Have you thought about how life may be different without the rule of law and what you might do?

 

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Drawing a Line in the Sand

Job 38:11 “…This far you may come and no farther…”

While that verse is God telling the sea how far it may go, I believe we all must have lines drawn in the sand.  I won’t presume to tell you where it should be or what you should do if it is crossed, that is between you, your family and God.

Instead, I will explain why it is a good idea to draw the line and decide now what your action will be once it is crossed.  The things I have chosen to draw a proverbial line in the sand on are important to me and crossing the line will evoke unpleasant emotions.  Maybe it’s just me, but I have a hard time thinking clearly when I am angry, scared or feeling any other unpleasant emotion.   If I know how far I will let someone go and what action will be taken if they go further, there is no thinking needed, just action.

Here are just a few of the things I think having a line drawn for is a good idea.  If you want to share your thoughts, feel free.  Let me caution you on some of these.  It might not be best for the answer to be available to the entire Internet.

Bugging out; this might actually need several lines, as having the same threshold for certain events doesn’t work.  For instance; there are events that require an immediate decision, such as a chemical explosion nearby or the neighbor’s house catching fire and a very real possibility that mine will catch as well.  But there might be things that you need to watch to see what happens, such as a hurricane or wildfire, that are some distance away yet.

 

Going to a FEMA shelter; if your entire neighborhood or city is evacuated, will you go to one?  If not, what will you do?

Surrendering your firearms; will you give them up under any circumstance?  If so under which scenarios?  If not, what will you do to keep them?

How much are you willing to pay for gas?  At what point is it so expensive that you will only drive to and from work, or look for a car pool for that too?

Pandemic; if you discover a pandemic in your area, at what point will you either bug out or self-quarantine?

Civil Unrest; if rioting breaks out, how close will you let it get and what action will you take if it gets too close?

Confiscation of funds; whether it’s a tax implemented on 401k or other retirement funds, or as was done in 1933; the government demanding all gold be returned.  What will you do?

Food; what will you do if food prices demand that you spend 30-50% of your income?

Mugging or carjacking; what will you do if someone threatens violence if you don’t give them what they want?

Code enforcement; what if an overreaching local government decides you may not have a garden, chickens or other items in your yard?  This has happened and people have been threatened with fines and jail time.  What would you do?

I’m coming to your house; I asked this as a “what would you do” post and it got a lot of responses.  If you didn’t see it, it’s worth reading through.  What would you do if someone saw your preps and said, I’m coming to your house?

 

I’m sure I’ve missed some big ones, so if you can think of any others please add them to the comments or email them to me and I’ll post them for others to learn from.

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What Would You Do: Plane Crash

It’s been a while since I have posted a “What would you do?”, so I thought today is about time.

You and your husband/wife/best friend are on a late fall vacation and are given a discounted rate to a local tourist attraction.  It’s a two hour flight leaving at 4:00 PM that explores some of the most popular landmarks and scenery in the area, showing off the fall colors. The flight offers a small snack and drink at the half way point.  Shortly after the one hour mark the plane flies into a flock of large birds, possibly geese.  One of the birds breaks through the windshield and has either killed or knocked the pilot out.  The plane was at an altitude of maybe 1000 feet and you’re quickly crash landing into a wooded area.  From the crash the fuselage is nearly ripped in half, the radio is destroyed and fuel is leaking from the only remaining wing.

There were a total of twelve people on board, not including the pilot.  Only four others including your husband/wife/best friend are responding.  Your husband/wife/best friend has a broken leg, one of the others who is responding is bleeding heavily from the head, but seems alert.  You and one other flier are relatively unhurt.  You cannot tell immediately if the others who have not responded are simply unconscious or dead.

It’s an hour before you’re expected back, but it might be longer before any worry is aroused.  It could be a couple hours before anyone even knows something has happened.

What would you do?

(Check the comments section to see the answers from everyone as well as to add your own.)

 

Is it Ever Okay to Loot or Salvage?

I think we have all seen pictures of both natural disasters and riots where there are people looting. This begs the question, is it ever okay to loot or salvage?
Maybe it’s just me, but when someone says the word “looting”, I think of someone taking advantage of a situation, taking items they wouldn’t normally be able to purchase. The term “salvage”, in my opinion, means taking things that are not in another person’s possession that are needed to survive.

Now that I have defined what the terms mean to me, let me paint a picture for you.
We all prepare for inevitable events like bad weather or power outages and other type of events. We also prepare for the larger events that, while less likely, could still happen. What if there is an event that is truly so large that it effects your entire region or country? I’m thinking something worse than Katrina. In this event there is a high death toll, public services are barely functioning and aid is very slowly trickling in.

In this scenario, you and a couple neighbors have survived. No matter how well you’re prepared, your supplies are limited and will only last so long. Would it be okay to loot/salvage?

 

Law of Necessity

I did a bit of research for this article and found reference to something called the Law of Necessity. (-The Legal Dictionary, The Free Dictionary.com states that “The necessity defense has long been recognized as Common Law and has also been made part of most states’ statutory law.”

It goes on to explain:

“Almost all common-law and statutory definitions of the necessity defense include the following elements: (1) the defendant acted to avoid a significant risk of harm; (2) no adequate lawful means could have been used to escape the harm; and (3) the harm avoided was greater than that caused by breaking the law. Some jurisdictions require in addition that the harm must have been imminent and that the action taken must have been reasonably expected to avoid the imminent danger. All these elements mirror the principles on which the defense of necessity was founded: first, that the highest social value is not always achieved by blind adherence to the law; second, that it is unjust to punish those who technically violate the letter of the law when they are acting to promote or achieve a higher social value than would be served by strict adherence to the law; and third, that it is in society’s best interest to promote the greatest good and to encourage people to seek to achieve the greatest good, even if doing so necessitates a technical breach of the law.”

 

My Take:

It appears that as long as you’re breaking the law for the greater good, you might have a legal leg to stand on. You could, however, still face civil charges. What about the morality of it? The eighth commandment says “Thou shalt not steal”. If my neighbors’ entire family was killed in this event, is taking their canned goods to feed my family or another family stealing? These are questions you should be considering now, and pray we never have to actually put to use.

Would I salvage? Yes. In an event the size that I mentioned I would salvage goods to help my family and community.

What Would You Do: Feral Dogs

In this “what would you do” I want you to think about a possible future situation where many people are not able to feed their pets. They have begun to take them to distant areas and release them, letting them run wild.  Many dogs have gone feral and some have formed packs. 

 

There are two things to consider:

  1. What will you do to keep from being in this situation with your pets?
  2. What will you do if you live near an area with feral dogs?

 

What Would You Do: Lost In The Woods

Its late spring and you’ve decided to try your hand at foraging.  You have a couple of trusted reference manuals and have found a place off the beaten path, so things shouldn’t be too terribly picked over.  You’ve seen a few different plants that you’ve been able to identify and pick. 

Then it dawns on you that you have been walking for a while and you decide to take a break and have some water.  While you are looking at everything you’ve found, it occurs to you that you’ve been out for well over an hour.  You realize that you’ve been looking so hard for plants to identify and going back and forth to your reference book, that you’re not sure where exactly you are. 

You’re sure you can find your way but after fifteen minutes, nothing looks familiar…  You’re lost and there is no cell service.

So, what would you do?

(Check the comments section to see the answers from everyone as well as to add your own.)

Oh and the “I never get lost in the woods” doesn’t count, there is always the possibility of something happening to disorient you long enough to lose track of where you are.  Have a plan just in case.

 

What Would You Do if There Was a Small House Fire?

Dinner is cooking and you leave the kitchen briefly. A minute later the fire alarm starts screeching.

So, what would you do?

(Check the comments section to see the answers from everyone as well as to add your own.)

A quick note

I wrote an article last year about fire safety called Fire Safety, Before and After the Fan. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it, especially if you have small children. If your family doesn’t have an evacuation plan, this article can give you some pointers.

 

What would you do: Stock Market Crash and Bank Holiday

Disclaimer: I pay attention to the overall economy but I don’t invest in the stock market and don’t follow it closely. I may use the wrong terms here but you should get the over all idea.

On Monday morning the stock market drops 500 points and another 200 hundred Monday afternoon. Tuesday sees a bloodbath of losses, over 1000 points, and markets around the world are all losing ground. On Wednesday things look like they may be turning around with a gain of 200 points. That is, until early afternoon when one of the largest stocks ever plunges 1200 points prompting authorities to announce that the market will be closing early and will be closed until next week to give them time to correct the situation.

This causes a panic and many people storm their local banks, taking out as much cash as they can. Several fights have broken out at ATM’s as they are quickly bled dry. A bank holiday has been called until early next week; the FDIC has assured people that they will have their money available at that time.

So, what would you do?

(Check the comments section to see the answers from everyone as well as to add your own.)