Internet

Ted Koppel Warns Of All-Out Cyberattack On U.S. Power Grid

“Yes, it’s frightening. It is frightening enough that my wife and I decided we were going to buy enough freeze-dried food for all of our kids and their kids…

Do I believe I got it wrong? No. I spent a year-and-a-half trying to get it right and unfortunately I think I did.”

-Veteran U.S. journalist Ted Koppel, referring to the possibility of a nation-wide power outage resulting from a massive cyberattack by America’s enemies against the electrical grid

“In the dark over power grid security”
CBS News Video

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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SP Intel Report- October 26, 2015

Welcome to the inaugural post of the “SP Intel Report.” On October 15 I blogged big changes were coming to Survival And Prosperity starting October 19. I wrote:

Each day will begin with an “SP Intel Report” (if it’s warranted), where I’ll be focusing on current events locally (Chicagoland area), nationwide, and overseas which I think readers should be aware of…

As luck would have it, my computer crashed October 19, delaying the implementation of these changes.

One week later, I’ve managed to repair my laptop, and I’m back in the saddle again.

So off we go then…

Chicago

“If City Hall ‘loses’ downtown to the bad guys… you lose the tourists, their money, revenue… you get the point.”

Survival And Prosperity, May 4, 2011

The Chicago news media is reporting that two tourists from Minneapolis were robbed at knifepoint by three men near Oak Street Beach late Saturday evening. The male victim was stabbed during the holdup while trying to protect his girlfriend. Two of Chicago’s more upstanding residents have been charged with the crime (police are still looking for a third individual).

The last time I blogged about a tourist getting knifed downtown was back during the 2012 holiday season. Even though it’s been a while, I fear we’ll be hearing of similar incidents with increased regularity as the city’s financial health deteriorates and the Chicago Police Department keeps receiving lip service but not bodies (meaning manpower).

There will probably be plenty of the other based on recent trends.

Note to self. Study up on defense against knives.

Illinois

Speaking of deteriorating financial health, the State of Illinois was hammered by two of the major credit rating agencies in the past week. On October 19, Fitch Ratings announced in a press release:

Fitch Ratings has downgraded the rating on $26.8 billion in outstanding Illinois general obligation (GO) bonds to ‘BBB+’ from ‘A-‘.

In addition, the ratings on bonds related to the state based on its appropriation have been downgraded to ‘BBB’ from ‘BBB+’…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Three days later, Moody’s Investors Service stated in a release:

Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the State of Illinois’ $26.8 billion of general obligation bonds to Baa1 from A3, while also lowering ratings on the state’s sales-tax (Build Illinois) bonds to Baa1 from A3, and on the state’s subject to appropriation bonds (issued by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority and for the state’s Civic Center program) to Baa2 from Baa1. The outlook for all of these obligations remains negative…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Keep in mind the following observations by Karen Pierog over on the Reuters website on October 22:

Both general obligation bond ratings are now just three steps above the “junk” level… The downgrade by Moody’s marked the 17th by major credit rating agencies for Illinois since 2003… Even before this week’s downgrades, Illinois had the lowest credit ratings among the 50 U.S. states. Ratings histories from the three major credit rating agencies indicate few states have ever had their GO ratings fall below the A level…

Faced with a $105 billion unfunded public pension liability and a bill backlog of around $7 billion, I suspect Illinoisans will be on the hook for some sort of tax hike(s) in the near future.

International

Any Survival And Prosperity readers skeptical about the future existence of the Internet? Personally, I won’t be surprised if it goes kaput one day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m somewhat of a techie (driven by needs, not wants) and love the Internet. But I’m not sold on its staying power due to frailties with its infrastructure. A couple of years ago I remember reading about an elderly Georgian woman accidently cutting off neighboring Armenia’s access to the World Wide Web for up to five hours- using only a spade. And now there’s this from The New York Times website this past Sunday. David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt reported:

Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of tension or conflict.

The issue goes beyond old worries during the Cold War that the Russians would tap into the cables — a task American intelligence agencies also mastered decades ago. The alarm today is deeper: The ultimate Russian hack on the United States could involve severing the fiber-optic cables at some of their hardest-to-access locations to halt the instant communications on which the West’s governments, economies and citizens have grown dependent

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So the Russians could switch off the Internet. Or a rogue Uncle Sam could do it and blame the Russkies.

I told my girlfriend her brilliant nephew should get into the BBS game. Wave of the future?


“Apple II on a BBS in 2014!”
YouTube Video

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Sobol, Rosemary Regina. “$500K, $950K bails set for 2 accused of robbery, stabbing near Oak Street Beach.” Chicago Tribune. 26 Oct. 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-police-2-held-following-armed-robbery-stabbing-near-oak-street-beach-20151026-story.html). 26 Oct. 2015.

Pierog, Karen. “UPDATE 2-Illinois bond rating cut again over budget impasse.” Reuters. 22 Oct. 2015. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/22/illinois-downgrade-moodys-idUSL1N12M2L120151022). 26 Oct. 2015.

Sanger, David E. and Schmitt, Eric. “Russian Ships Near Data Cables Are Too Close for U.S. Comfort.” The New York Times. 25 Oct. 2015. (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/26/world/europe/russian-presence-near-undersea-cables-concerns-us.html?_r=1). 26 Oct. 2015.

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Chicago: 54 Shot, 8 Killed Over Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day Weekend is over. So is the summer slowdown on Survival And Prosperity. I guess it’s only appropriate the new “season” on the blog should kick-off with the following headline that’s making the rounds locally this morning. From the Chicago Tribune website:

“54 shot, 8 fatally, over Labor Day Weekend”

A year ago, those numbers were 40 shot, 3 killed.

It’s only a matter of time now before the gun “control” crowd is in the local media outlets calling for even more restrictions.

As they make their emotion-driven pleas, Chicagoans might want to keep the following in mind. Fran Main reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website on August 29:

Chicago criminals are finicky about how they get their guns, according to a new study by the University of Chicago Crime Lab.

In a survey of almost 100 detainees in the Cook County Jail, few said they get firearms at gun shows or through the Internet, said Harold Pollack, co-director of the crime lab. They also said they don’t normally steal guns or buy them at a licensed store

And most said they got the weapons through personal connections because they feared getting caught in a law-enforcement sting or being robbed by a stranger…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Kind of derails the gun “control” narrative about gun show/Internet “loopholes” these days, doesn’t it? And from the University of Chicago no less. Still, a larger survey pool would have been nice here.

There’s also this gem (which I had been trying to find for a while now) from Angela Caputo on the website of nonprofit investigative news organization The Chicago Reporter back on December 19, 2013:

From January 2006 through August 2013, thousands of cases involving a weapons violation were thrown out in Cook County’s criminal courts, The Chicago Reporter found. More than 13,000 cases that included a gun violation have been dismissed during that period, shows the Reporter’s analysis of records maintained by the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County. In fact, more felony cases involving a gun–from illegal possession to unlawful sale to a felon–have been thrown out than cases with any other type of charge…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

More gun “control” in the city after this Labor Day Weekend’s carnage? Please. That quote about insanity often attributed to Albert Einstein comes to mind here:

“Insanity- Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”

As those with brains figured out a long time ago, it’s not the legal gun owners who are behind this violence (although they make convenient scapegoats for the politicians and their ilk). It’s the criminals, who for the most part don’t obtain firearms legally (University of Chicago Crime Lab survey) and who roam the streets of Chicago with impunity because gun laws already on the books aren’t being enforced on a regular basis for one reason or another (Chicago Reporter).

What those reasons are requires scrutiny going forward. Then again, it would also mean some people with the power to make a real difference here would have to grow cajones too…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Main, Frank. “Survey: Crooks get guns from pals, don’t keep them long.” Chicago Sun-Times. 29 Aug. 2015. (http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/7/71/915770/university-chicago-survey-finds-crooks-get-guns-from-pals-dont-keep-them-long). 8 Sep. 2015.

Caputo, Angela. “Thousands of felony gun cases are being dismissed in Cook County criminal courts.” The Chicago Reporter. 29 Dec. 2013. (http://chicagoreporter.com/thousands-felony-gun-cases-are-being-dismissed-cook-county-criminal-courts/). 8 Sep. 2015.

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Tuesday, September 8th, 2015 Crime, Firearms, Government, Legal, Self-Defense No Comments

Resource Of The Week: StartPage Private Search Engine

I don’t know about you, but I’m incredibly concerned about privacy going extinct in America.

Not that I engage in any criminal activity. I just tend to be a private person by nature.

And I think anything that can be done to reinforce and strengthen whatever privacy citizens still have left in the United States is a terrific thing.

Now let me take a selflie.

Enter StartPage, billed as “the world’s most private search engine.”

From their “About” page:

StartPage protects your privacy!

StartPage does not collect or share any personal information!

StartPage offers you Web results from Google- the world’s most popular search engine.

When you search with StartPage the Web results are generated by Google. This offers you the search results and search features you may have grown accustomed to.

A Unique Combination

On StartPage the privacy of Ixquick is combined with the Web search results from Google. The combination of these two features is what makes StartPage so special.

You can continue using the Web results from the world’s most popular search engine but now under the privacy protection of Ixquick, the world’s most private search engine…

At the bottom of the search engine’s home page there’s a box proclaiming:

Take a deep breath. You’re safe here.

Click here to learn the top 10 ways StartPage protects your privacy.

The “top 10 ways” include:

1. StartPage doesn’t store your IP address, use tracking cookies, or make a record of your searches…

2. StartPage protects you from NSA surveillance and spying…

3. StartPage gives you 100% real Google results in complete privacy…

4. StartPage is a Dutch company, so it is not under US jurisdiction…

5. StartPage offers a free proxy with every search…

6. StartPage is third-party certified for privacy…

7. StartPage has been doing privacy longer than anyone else – since way before privacy was “cool”…

8. When it comes to security, StartPage runs the tightest ship on the Internet…

9. StartPage breaks you free of the search engine “Filter Bubble”…

10. By using StartPage, you send a powerful pro-privacy message in the marketplace…

I’ve been using StartPage for a while now ever since my girlfriend introduced it to me some time back. It’s very good.

The only issue I have with the search engine is that it doesn’t seem to bring up as many results as Google does.

Still, it’s a lot more private.

Give StartPage a try here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: Link added to “Resources” page)

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel And Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy Call For More Gun ‘Control’

The first anniversary of the Newtown, Connecticut, shootings is right around the corner, and supporters of gun “control” are becoming increasingly vocal about their desire for more restrictions. Not surprisingly, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy chimed in yesterday with their calls for more gun “control” while celebrating the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, or “Brady Bill,” which was signed into law on November 30, 1993, and required background checks be conducted on individuals before a firearm can be purchased from a federally-licensed dealer. C. Hayes wrote on Chicago’s WGN TV website Thursday:

Mayor Emanuel, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, and the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence mark the upcoming, 20th anniversary of an historic gun law while also pushing for even tougher gun rules in Chicago

At Thursday’s gathering, the leaders said the explosion of the internet has undermined the law. They point out up to 40 percent of firearms sales are through the internet between private parties

“While gun shows were around, they weren’t really conceived of in the way that they are today for purchases and moving of guns,” said Emanuel.

(Editor’s noted: Italics added for emphasis)

CPD Superintendent McCarthy had this to say about the group’s desire for universal background checks:

I think some people wrongly believe that requiring background checks will have no impact on criminals and will only create a system that impacts the good citizens who comply with the law. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Speaking of “the truth,” back on March 21, 2013, FactCheck.org looked into the line that “40 percent of guns are purchased without a background check.” Here’s what they found:

That figure is based on an analysis of a nearly two-decade-old survey of less than 300 people that essentially asked participants whether they thought the guns they had acquired- and not necessarily purchased- came from a federally licensed dealer. And one of the authors of the report often cited as a source for the claim — Philip Cook of Duke University — told our friends at Politifact.com that he has “no idea” whether the “very old number” applies today or not.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Ironically, a number of FactCheck.org’s critics claim the fact-checking project is actually liberal-leaning, not unbiased as many might think.

Too funny.

Sources:

Hayes, C. “City officials mark 20th anniversary of ‘Brady Bill’” WGN TV. 21 Nov. 2013. (http://wgntv.com/2013/11/21/brady-bill-anniversary-marked/). 22 Nov. 2013.

“Guns Acquired Without Background Checks.” FactCheck.org. 21 Mar. 2013. (http://www.factcheck.org/2013/03/guns-acquired-without-background-checks/). 22 Nov. 2013.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Signs Of The Time, Part 51

Don’t get me wrong- severe weather events are no laughing matter.

But if the excrement really hits the fan, a number of Americans will be in serious trouble.

Especially the following individual, more than likely.

Last weekend on MSNBC.com, Bob Sullivan talked about the quick-moving thunderstorms that hit several states Friday night. The storms managed to take down Netflix, a popular provider of on-demand Internet streaming media. Sullivan blogged on the Red Tape Chronicles:

Netflix users took to Twitter to air their disbelief at the service outage.

“Netflix isn’t working on possibly the most emotional night of my life. It’s official … this is NOT real life,” wrote one Twitter user.

“It’s official … this is NOT real life.”

It’s official- this person might want to start shopping for a headstone before our financial reckoning day arrives.

They’d better “recognize,” before it’s too late…

I don’t think
I’ll find the love I want
The love I’m searching for
In this machine, no…


The Rentals, “The Love I’m Searching For” (1995)
YouTube Video

Source:

Sullivan, Bob. “ ‘Everything good is down’ — storm knocks Netflix, Instagram offline.” Red Tape Chronicles. 30 June 2012. (http://redtape.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/06/30/12491298-everything-good-is-down-storm-knocks-netflix-instagram-offline?lite). 5 July 2012.

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‘Internet Doomsday’ Less Than A Week Away

July 9, 2012. “Internet Doomsday.”

Back on February 16 I wrote:

The last couple of days, I’ve heard chatter about possibly not being able to access the Internet in early March. This afternoon I came across a piece that’s being featured on Yahoo! which explains what this is all about. From Steve Huff on the Betabeat website today:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation may yank several crucial domain name servers (DNS) offline on March 8, blocking millions from using the Internet. The servers in the FBI’s crosshairs were installed in 2011 to deal with a nasty worm dubbed DNSChanger Trojan. DNSChanger can get an innocent end-user in trouble; it changes an infected system’s DNS settings to shunt Web traffic to unwanted and possibly even illegal sites.

DNSChanger oozed out of Estonia and may have fouled up as many as a half-million computers in the United States. The feds’ temporary fix to keep the worm from propagating was to replace infected servers with clean surrogates.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

The March 8 deadline was eventually pushed back. I added on March 7:

Well, it looks like a potential “Internet Doomsday” has been avoided- for now. Fahmida Rashid wrote this morning on the PC Magazine website:

A federal judge has given users infected with DNSChanger a four-month extension to get clean.

The FBI-controlled DNS servers that replaced the malicious servers will not shut down on March 8 as previously announced. But nearly half a million computers are still at risk for losing Internet connectivity when the new deadline rolls around in July…

The new deadline for getting cleaned up and averting the Internet blackout is now July 9. Users should immediately check their computers if they haven’t already done so.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

July 9- less than a week away. And potentially hundreds of thousands of computers (maybe even more) are still at risk of not being able to connect to the Internet. Matt Liebowitz wrote in MSNBC.com’s Technolog this weekend:

In 10 days, there’s a chance you will not be able to access the Internet on your personal computer. No email, no Facebook, no Google, no Twitter — nothing.

This potentially dire situation is due to the nasty DNSChanger Trojan, and the fateful date of July 9, on which the FBI is set to take all computers still infected with the malware offline for good. The date is being dubbed “Internet doomsday” for those who don’t take action.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

According to Liebowitz, 12 percent of Fortune 500 companies possess these at-risk computers. He added:

In his Krebs on Security blog, researcher Brian Krebs cites a statistic from the DNSChanger Working Group, which estimates that more than 300,000 computers are still infected with the malware.

“That number is likely conservative,” Krebs said. “The DCWG measures infections by Internet protocol (IP) addresses, not unique systems. Because many systems that are on the same local network often share the same IP address, the actual number of DNSChanger-infected machines is probably quite a bit higher than 300,000.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, computer owners can “test to see if you are affected by visiting the following DNSChanger Check-Up sites below.” These can be accessed on the FBI website here. Otherwise, one can go directly to the English language DNSChanger diagnostic site- maintained by the DNSChanger Working Group (DCWG)- here.

(Editor’s note: The author disclaims any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

Source:

Liebowitz, Matt. “Last call to wipe DNSChanger before ‘Internet doomsday.’” Technolog. 30 June 2012. (http://www.technolog.msnbc.msn.com/technology/technolog/last-call-wipe-dnschanger-internet-doomsday-854340). 3 July 2012.

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Potential March 8 ‘Internet Doomsday’ Avoided For Now

(Editor’s note: Update to post published here)

Time for some follow-up posts this morning. Who remembers when I blogged about a number of Americans possibly not being able to access the Internet tomorrow, March 8? I wrote on February 16:

This afternoon I came across a piece that’s being featured on Yahoo! which explains what this is all about. From Steve Huff on the Betabeat website today:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation may yank several crucial domain name servers (DNS) offline on March 8, blocking millions from using the Internet. The servers in the FBI’s crosshairs were installed in 2011 to deal with a nasty worm dubbed DNSChanger Trojan. DNSChanger can get an innocent end-user in trouble; it changes an infected system’s DNS settings to shunt Web traffic to unwanted and possibly even illegal sites.

DNSChanger oozed out of Estonia and may have fouled up as many as a half-million computers in the United States. The feds’ temporary fix to keep the worm from propagating was to replace infected servers with clean surrogates.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Well, it looks like a potential “Internet Doomsday” has been avoided- for now. Fahmida Rashid wrote this morning on the PC Magazine website:

A federal judge has given users infected with DNSChanger a four-month extension to get clean.

The FBI-controlled DNS servers that replaced the malicious servers will not shut down on March 8 as previously announced. But nearly half a million computers are still at risk for losing Internet connectivity when the new deadline rolls around in July…

The new deadline for getting cleaned up and averting the Internet blackout is now July 9. Users should immediately check their computers if they haven’t already done so.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

The article (located on PCMag.com here) contains the latest information on detecting and removing this Trojan.

I’ll make a note on my calendar in early July to see what sort of progress has been made in averting this potential Internet blackout.

(Editor’s note: The author disclaims any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

Source:

Rashid, Fahmida Y. “Avoid Internet Doomsday: Check for DNSChanger Malware Now.” PC Magazine. 7 Mar. 2012. (http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2401227,00.asp). 7 Mar. 2012.

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Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 Crime, Technology 1 Comment

Millions Could Lose Internet Access Starting March 8

(Editor’s note: Update to post published here)

The last couple of days, I’ve heard chatter about possibly not being able to access the Internet in early March. This afternoon I came across a piece that’s being featured on Yahoo! which explains what this is all about. From Steve Huff on the Betabeat website today:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation may yank several crucial domain name servers (DNS) offline on March 8, blocking millions from using the Internet. The servers in the FBI’s crosshairs were installed in 2011 to deal with a nasty worm dubbed DNSChanger Trojan. DNSChanger can get an innocent end-user in trouble; it changes an infected system’s DNS settings to shunt Web traffic to unwanted and possibly even illegal sites.

DNSChanger oozed out of Estonia and may have fouled up as many as a half-million computers in the United States. The feds’ temporary fix to keep the worm from propagating was to replace infected servers with clean surrogates.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

You can read the rest of what Huff has to say on the BetaBeat website here. He includes information for large network operators and individual users about finding out if they’ve been infected.

(Editor’s note: The author disclaims any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Thursday, February 16th, 2012 Europe, Government, Technology No Comments
Survival And Prosperity
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Christopher E. Hill, Editor

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