Welcome to this week’s newsletter, brought to you by the SURVIVE IN PLACE Urban Survival Course. The first, and still best, guide to get you prepared to survive short and medium term disasters in your current home, whether it’s because of a terrorist attack, natural disaster, or pandemic. To learn more, go >HERE< now.
I have to admit that until David included the FYI in last week’s post that Russia has held an “off switch” to America’s power transmission grids, water distribution and filtration systems, oil and gas pipelines, wind turbines and some nuclear plants, I was clueless. And most American’s will never know because the media appears to have developed sudden-onset amnesia on the matter.
(David’s note: This is exactly the kind of behavior that is highlighted throughout the book “Election” by Former Force Recon Marine, Chris Graham. In short, the grid and the economic warfare discussed are just the tip of the iceberg that Graham dives into in the book. To learn more now, get it on Amazon by going >HERE<
On November 6, 2014 ABC News Radio blew the whistle with the article, ‘Trojan Horse’ Bug Lurking In Vital US Computers Since 2011. Here is the article in its entirety:
(WASHINGTON) — A destructive “Trojan Horse” malware program has penetrated the software that runs much of the nation’s critical infrastructure and is poised to cause an economic catastrophe, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
National Security sources told ABC News there is evidence that the malware was inserted by hackers believed to be sponsored by the Russian government, and is a very serious threat.
The hacked software is used to control complex industrial operations like oil and gas pipelines, power transmission grids, water distribution and filtration systems, wind turbines and even some nuclear plants. Shutting down or damaging any of these vital public utilities could severely impact hundreds of thousands of Americans.
DHS said in a bulletin that the hacking campaign has been ongoing since 2011, but no attempt has been made to activate the malware to “damage, modify, or otherwise disrupt” the industrial control process. So while U.S. officials recently became aware the penetration, they don’t know where or when it may be unleashed.
DHS sources told ABC News they think this is no random attack and they fear that the Russians have torn a page from the old, Cold War playbook, and have placed the malware in key U.S. systems as a threat, and/or as a deterrent to a U.S. cyber-attack on Russian systems — mutually assured destruction.
The hack became known to insiders last week when a DHS alert bulletin was issued by the agency’s Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team to its industry members. The bulletin said the “BlackEnergy” penetration recently had been detected by several companies.
DHS said “BlackEnergy” is the same malware that was used by a Russian cyber-espionage group dubbed “Sandworm” to target NATO and some energy and telecommunications companies in Europe earlier this year.
“Analysis of the technical findings in the two reports shows linkages in the shared command and control infrastructure between the campaigns, suggesting both are part of a broader campaign by the same threat actor,” the DHS bulletin said.
The hacked software is very advanced. It allows designated workers to control various industrial processes through the computer, an iPad or a smart phone, sources said. The software allows information sharing and collaborative control.
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We May Not Be Able To Avert A Cyber Attack, But We Can Prepare For It!
It’s possible that we won’t be confronted with a meltdown of the nation’s infrastructure in the foreseeable future. The U.S. has substantial resources and it doesn’t seem like a stretch to believe we’d be ready, willing and able to return the favor of a cyber attack, maybe volleying back with a few twists and jabs just to turn the screw a little tighter. It’s possible that’s why life as we know it has continued for the past three years.
However, we Preppers aren’t known for waiting until after a problem pops up before we prepare for it, and the potential for life as we know it to disappear without a “Dear John” letter fits the realm of possibility and certainly qualifies as a reason to prepare.
Where To Start
To get a grasp of what it would mean if the nation was rudely unplugged from the grid is best done by living it, to take it for a test run so to speak. No cheating. No turning on a faucet or using the toilet or surfing the web or sneaking a peek at texts. . . just bare bones, grid down survival for a week or a weekend. Maybe some of you have already pulled the plug on electricity, running water, electronics, natural gas and communications. There is an increasing number of folks who have gone off grid. If that’s you, I hope you’ll share your experiences, so the rest of us currently addicted to modern conveniences can learn.
(David’s note: I’d easily estimate that 100,000+ families have gone through this exercise since I first started encouraging people to do so in the SurviveInPlace Urban Survival Course. If you have done it, please share your experiences below. If you haven’t done it, please go >HERE< to get the course and go through the exercise ASAP.
Living grid-down, if only for a short while, will accomplish two things; it will prepare you for the real deal, where there is no going back, and it will unearth any holes in your preparedness plan while there is still time to come up for air and make the necessary improvements.
So, What Could Go Wrong During A Grid-Down Test Run?
You may discover that your water storage won’t get you by. If you have the problem of limited storage space, it is especially important to have already located a water source and have the means to transport it (water containers and a hand cart if you must transport water for a long distance–it’s heavy!), and to have the ability to purify water through a quality water purifier, or by boiling, or purification tablets, or iodine, or sunlight. However you choose to purify water, it should always be assumed that open water sources during grid-down is tainted and must be purified. Not everyone will practice common sense. Some idiots may even decide to use waterways as a refuse dump.
Have you stored a sufficient amount of emergency candles, oil for oil lamps, propane or kerosene for lanterns, and do you have solar lighting in place for long term grid-down that exhausts your fuel supply? Even a short weekend spent pulled from the plug will reveal just how important it is to have redundant backups for critical goods!
And don’t forget to take an inventory of what flashlights and rechargeable batteries you have on hand, and if you have a solar battery charger, it’s a good time to take it for a test run to verify it still works. Don’t have any of these? It may be time to add them to your prep list.
Even when you have lighting needs covered, there remains the issue of making sure that you don’t advertise your preparedness unless you want to host a block party with all your neighbors who may or may not want to leave. Do you have blackout fabric or dark lawn and leaf trash bags to cover the windows of living spaces? What about duct tape to secure it? You’ll need plenty, and when you feel you have enough. . . buy more!
And , there is always a need for matches and lighters to get those lanterns and candles lit. Do you have a good supply?
If you live in a cold climate zone and don’t have a wood-burning stove and a storage of seasoned firewood, practicing a grid-down drill won’t be possible now that most northern zones have seen the mercury drop like a led balloon. Here in North Idaho, we’re seeing overnight temperatures in the teens and Wednesday night, a bone-chilling, take-no-prisoners 8 degrees. If you haven’t gotten around to installing a wood stove, you really should. Craigslist is a good place to start if you are on a budget. Just remember to figure in the cost of installation, stovepipe and a roof kit. If you plan on installing a wood-burning device yourself, make sure to follow code, which includes the type of wood-burning stove that is allowed in your state.
(David’s note: It’s harder, but you CAN do a modified grid-down drill, no matter what the temperature is. I’d suggest it, in fact. Last year, we lost power several times, but they all happened when the temperature was well below freezing. You can either drain your pipes for a realistic experience or set your furnace to the lowest possible setting to keep the house above freezing, but no more. The second method will be more comfortable, but the first method will expose problems now…when you can actually do something about them…rather than later when you can’t. The Survive In Place course also goes into detail on how to create warm micro-climates in your house, regardless of how big and cold it might be.)
Food & Alternative Cooking
A grid-down practice run is an excellent time to make sure that you have at least a two to three week food supply easily available. It’s true that for just a weekend or even a week-long practice run, organizing a two to three weeks food supply is overkill, but this exercise is meant to add a measure of safety for later, that should a nuclear event or heavy looting occur, you can remain in your home for an extended period of time. (If you’ve got questions on this, the FastestWayToPrepare.com course walks people through the process of getting 6 weeks of survival food that you’ll actually want to eat for less than $2 per person per day…and a 6 week supply for 2 people will fit in 3 small stackable plastic bins. To learn more, go >HERE<)
Practice cooking on the alternative cooking device you’ve chosen and keep track of the amount of fuel that is uses. You may discover that you consume more fuel than you anticipated, and that’s okay. It’s a heads-up that is much better to discover during a practice run than later when fuel may be difficult or impossible to find.
When you fire up your alternative cooking device to cook indoors, you may discover that the ventilation situation leaves a lot to be desired. If so, skip cooking and go directly to MRE’s and canned food, which can be eaten directly from the can if need be. Just remember to check seals and look for bulging tops and bottoms on the cans, and when in doubt, toss it!
If you haven’t put aside battery-run carbon monoxide detectors and fire alarms, why not get a few before a grid-down practice run? You now you need them. . .
Do you have an emergency radio? If not, spending a few days without contact with the outside world will make it abundantly clear why having the means to know what’s going on locally and across the nation during a crisis is critical information.
And when nature calls, and thoughts of societal breakdown makes venturing outdoors a whole lot more interesting, the need for two-way radios and the batteries they require may suddenly become a top priority.
Speaking of making a nature call, the need for a simple $20.00 camp toilet will suddenly become clear if you stick to a grid down scenario! They are a necessity for those middle-of-the-night nature calls, especially when children are involved. While you make this grid-down practice run, another item that may need to be added to your prep list is a shovel, either a folding shovel, or regular shovel will do, but the folding style is user-friendly if your plans involve bugging out should your vicinity experience out of control looting and violence.
Laundry will need to be hand washed and hung dry. Do you have a laundry tub, a hand agitator, clothesline and clothespins? If not, the need for them will soon become clear as dirty laundry piles up and the washing machine and dryer is temporarily out of commission.
Depending upon your capacity for water storage and procurement, it may become clear that sponge baths may need to replace bathing for the most part, but even then, body soap, toothpaste, a toothbrush, dental floss, shampoo, razors, shave cream and feminine products will be needed. Do you have enough put aside for protracted grid-down?
Check Life Blessons for a simple, inexpensive recipe to make your own shampoo from baking soda, water, and if you like, rosemary. It will save on storage space, and with a sufficient supply of baking soda, you’re good to go!
Body soap doesn’t require a lot of space to store and it’s cheap, but if you’re interested in making your own with pure Castile bar soap, water and glycerin, go to Tried & True for instructions to make a natural Homemade Body Wash.
Toothpaste can be replaced with baking soda, and there are some interesting alternatives to the high cost and storage demands of feminine products. Read about one solution at The JB Bardot Archives.
Hopefully, you will not have to dig into medical supplies during a grid-down practice drill, but you might as well take an inventory to be sure you have the basics covered, which should include a thorough emergency medical reference book. Down time may be a reminder about CPR and medical training courses that have been put off that need to be kicked into gear!
A grid down practice run will definitely be a reminder of the need for self-defense. There will be no avoiding the need to patrol property during a societal meltdown. Now is a good time to have a conversation amongst adult family members or members of a group on how intruders will be treated provided you haven’t already. It must be a plan that everyone agrees with. . . debating the issue while a looter is approaching your door can cost lives! Take inventory of the weapons you have and make a list of what can be improved upon.
We don’t live life in a bubble, and although a real-life crisis will require a heavier workload than most of us are used to, there will be occasional down time. When you unplug from the grid, even for a short time, it will become crystal clear that when the TV, Internet, play stations, texting and phone conversations aren’t available to fill down time, we’ll need something to replace these popular American pastimes. In fact, you’re likely to find yourself spending family time together! A practice grid-down drill will offer time to discuss what entertainment alternatives might be on peoples wish list, and I’ll bet that books, board games, crafting, and outdoor activities will be a few of the favorites.
Have you done a grid-down practice run yet? If so, did it reveal any necessary improvements that needed to be made? Please sound off by commenting below!
God bless and stay safe,
David Morris and Survival Diva