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The Power Grid Is Far More Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks Than Most People Realize June 18, 2017

In December of 2015, 230,000 people in Western Ukraine lost power after 30 substations were mysteriously shut off. Contrary to what most people assumed at the time, this wasn’t an innocuous power outage. The authorities would later admit that the loss of power was caused by a cyber attack, which marked the first time that malware was successfully used to attack a power grid. A similar, albeit more sophisticated cyber attack, occurred one year later just outside of Kiev. Given the current tensions between Russia and Ukraine, it’s widely believed that the Russian government was responsible for these incidents.

However, there’s more to this story than meets the eye. A computer security company has been investigating these attacks, and has discovered the malware that was used to take down the grid. They’ve found that it’s far more dangerous and easier to use than anyone realized before.

The danger of the malware is that it can automatically trip the breakers within a power system that keep the electrical lines from being overloaded. If one breaker is tripped, the load is shipped to another portion of the power grid. If enough are tripped, in the right places, it’s possible to create a cascading effect that will eventually overload the entire system, said Weatherford, who was formerly the chief security officer at the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the regulatory authority for North American utilities.

“In some cases, it could then take days to restart all the plants,” he said.

Two things stand out about the malware, dubbed “Industroyer” by the researchers — it’s an order of magnitude easier to use than previous programs and it wasn’t actually deployed to do any real damage, meaning whoever’s behind the December attack might simply have been testing the waters. 

In other words, this malware can induce what’s often referred to as a cascading failure. This is what caused the massive blackout that occurred in the Northeastern US and Canada back in 2003. An overgrown tree branch in Ohio touched a power line, which caused that section of the grid to overload and shut down. The electricity had to be transferred to other power lines, which in turn also became overloaded. This chain reaction continued until 55 million people were without power.

Cascading failure is the perfect example of just how fragile our power grid can be. Because our grid is so interconnected, something really small can have a huge effect on the wider system. Though the power grid in the US isn’t as vulnerable to humble tree branches as it used to be, it’s still quite vulnerable to the type of malware that was used to shut down parts of the grid in Ukraine.

Industrial control networks of the type used in power systems use communications protocols that are much less secure than the kinds of computer networks used by banks, retailers and businesses.

“They were developed years ago, without security in mind. They weren’t designed for smart grids or interconnectedness,” said Robert Lipovsky, a senior malware researcher with ESET…

…Industroyer’s ease-of-use is so disturbing because industrial systems are still playing security catch-up, said Raheem Beyah at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

“I knew we were going in this direction but I didn’t think it would be this soon,” said Beyah, who teaches a course on infrastructure hacking and protection for graduate computer science students.

Bayah says the software needed to take down an electrical grid no longer requires the resources of a nation to create. Adding a module to the malware is now “something that a strong computer science graduate student could do,” he said.

This “Industroyer” malware represents a new threat that people need to accept and prepare for. The power grid, which is the linchpin of our standard of living, is now vulnerable to software that is relatively easy to use. Though it seems likely that the Russian government was responsible for developing it, it could have just as easily been made and deployed by non-state actors on a shoe string budget.

This is a dangerous new reality that we live in. Now, someone with a modest education and a small budget can inflict billions of dollars in damages, and leave us all in the dark. Obviously, that makes widespread blackouts far more likely in the future.

And that potential is probably just the tip of the iceberg. It’s very possible that multiple cyber-attacks could keep us in the dark for weeks rather than just days. That would be more than long enough to cause society to disintegrate.

Fortunately, you’re not helpless in the face of this threat. You can prepare yourself now before it’s too late.

Additional Resources:

Are You ready Series: Rolling Blackouts

Could the Latest Solar Storm Warnings Bring an End to Civilization as We Know It?

The Big Blackout: Why I’m Going Lot-Tech to Prep for an EMP

4 Critical Components to Getting Prepped for a Blackout

Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.

Joshua’s website is Strange Danger

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published June 18th, 2017
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Prepping This Item Before Winter Comes Could Save Your Life April 10, 2017

ReadyNutrition Readers, one of the things that always amazes me is the way people always wait until autumn sets in to begin cutting and storing up a supply of firewood.  I wanted to tell you guys and gals the way I do things here, and perhaps (quantity and geographic variances aside) you can see my overall intent.  As you well know, I live in Montana where it is usually bitterly cold with snow on the ground for anywhere from 7 to 9 months of the year.  I’m aware this is not the case in most of the U.S., however, there are some good reasons for laying in a firewood supply right now.

A year supply of wood for $20

Firstly, one of the really good things we have here in Montana is that the U.S. Forestry Service allows residents to pick up a permit (every April) to cut fallen dead and standing dead timber.  The permit runs $20 for four cords, and you can pay $60 and take up to twelve cords.  That’s a heck of a lot of wood, and dirt-cheap!  I’m not sure what it is in other states, however, I am certain that many of them have the same policy.

On this note, I’d love to hear from you and find out what the policy is in your home state: prices and amounts, and such.

The only regulations governing it are you must have a serviceable and up-to-date/inspected fire extinguisher with you if you use a chain saw.  In addition, there are certain times (and the USFS posts it) when the fire danger is high or greater.  In these periods, it is not permitted to run a chainsaw and harvest that dead timber.

But now is a great time for it!  All of the undergrowth has not yet emerged from its winter hibernation, so it is relatively clear to work.  I have much of it that I take where it is not permissible to take a vehicle and load up in the forest itself.  My way around that is to cut my wood, stack it up, and haul it out with a garden cart.  Sears make a pretty sturdy one that holds about 600 lbs, and it’ll run you just under $100 dollars.  It has some thick, tough-treaded wheels that can easily run the trails, and not have too much of a problem going over even fields.

The reason for the wood gathering is twofold.  Firstly (from a “normal” thought perspective) you’re laying in your supply for next winter.  The early bird gets the worm.  You’ll be able to pick up the best wood for yourself when most others are not even thinking about anything except their weekend trip to the beach.  Secondly (and also very important) from a prepper’s perspective, is the “What If?” reason.

What if that EMP attack comes from North Korea or China?  What if the economy collapses?  What should happen if there is civil war, or a war/invasion here in the U.S.?  Yes, your home will be warm already, but what about cooking?  What about hot water for laundry or personal hygiene.  How about some light when there’s no electricity?  And what about sterilizing instruments, boiling bandages, and running a home/field dispensary?

All of these, I hope you realize are good reasons to prepare and plan now, so that when the tough times arrive, it is not so great a hurt to deal with.  You have seen the news reports, and we’re just a step away from either a war or an EMP attack.  As with Aesop’s fable “The Grasshopper and the Ant,” although we in the survival community are hardly grasshoppers, if we’re ants it is best to be wise ants…covering all of the bases before the ball is hit to center field.

Now is the time to set up your wood-fueled “kitchen,” by investing in a good wood stove for heat and for cooking.  The wood stove also cuts down on the light signature at night…much better than a fireplace.  Along with the stove, start investing in cast iron cookware and utensils for cooking that can withstand rougher treatment than your standard dinner fare.

How much wood do you need?

If you have not done so already, now is a good time to estimate how much wood you will go through in the wintertime, and then estimate how much you would need to have a fire/woodstove burning 24 hours a day.  Typically, a cord of wood is 4 feet wide x 4 feet high x 8 feet long stacked and adds up to 128 cubic feet. As well, the cords may consist of whole logs or split logs. Here is some great information on how to estimate cords of wood from a standing tree. In the summertime it is significantly less, but take your winter consumption and double it, just to be on the safe side.

Invest in a good chain saw, with at least 5 extra chains, and plenty of rattail files to sharpen them when you need to.  Also in that equation, you’ll need a good bench vise to help you to sharpen them.  Stock up on oil and fuel for the saws.  Back all of it up with several good axes, and as many bow saws as you can find.  Remember: if you run out of fuel, you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way.

So take some time to figure out your fuel needs to heat your home with wood and to fulfill the other functions I have just mentioned.  Now is the time to do it, and it can be a good team experience for the whole family.  Make sure you always pack a first aid kit in your excursions and thoroughly familiarize yourself with the operation of all your cutting and safety equipment.  Happy woodcutting!  We encourage your input and thoughts in these matters and hope to hear from you soon!  JJ out!

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published April 10th, 2017
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10 Awesome Tips You Never Knew About Using Wood Stoves That May Change Your Life March 8, 2017

 ReadyNutrition Readers, we’re having a heatwave out here in Montana…it’s 9 degrees Fahrenheit while I’m writing this.  I hope you guys and gals are nice and warm and you have a good wood stove in front of you keeping it so.  You recall I wrote one on wood stoves not too long ago, and I wanted to supplement this for a few more things you can do with yours.  Aside from using wood stoves to stay warm and cook food on, here are a few tips you never knew on how to get the most out of your wood stove.

10 Ways to Make the Most of a Wood Stove

Ashes

One of the things you should consider is the potash that comes from your stove.  Yes, all that wood turns into ashes that can be recycled and used.  One of the things that you can do is to store them in a container (preferably a metal one that has a tightly-fitting lid) and use them later for producing your own soap.  The ashes are boiled down in water (yes, this too can be done on your wood stove!), and combined with lye and other ingredients.

Your ashes can also be used for metal polishing, for the likes of metals such as brass and silver.  It works really well straight up, or mixed with just a few drops of water.  The ashes can also be combined with your compost piles and used as a form of fertilizer to replace many valuable minerals and nutrients that comes from carboniferous materials being burned.  Why do you suppose a new forest sprouts up in a few years after a forest fire?   All of that burned wood goes into the soil and enriches it.  You can turn it into your gardens when you’re planting in the springtime for the same effect.

Charcoal

Charcoal is another product that you can take from your wood stove.  Used for a variety of things besides just cooking, charcoal can also be finely-crushed and added to your ash supply to make soap.  It can be set aside for use as cooking material or a fire-starting ingredient and even used to clean teeth.  Charcoal can also be used to filter water (see previous articles on water purification).

Soot

There’s also soot from the chimney (although you’ll probably have to wait until springtime to obtain it when you brush your chimney pipe).  Soot is the black substance formed by the combustion of your wood in the stove.  This is fine particulate matter that adheres to your pipe walls, and is blackened, consisting mainly of carbon that has not been completely burned. Soot is responsible for many chimney fires.  Soot can be mixed (in small quantities as needed) with a little bit of vegetable oil and some water to make your own ink.  A type of soot is called lampblack, and is used in enamels, paints, and inks from a commercial perspective.

That soot also has a great deal of unburned oils and resins in it (especially if you burn a lot of pine…don’t scoff…if you live in the Rockies, you will burn pine unless your last name is Rockefeller, believe me).  The oils, resins, and unburned carbon are excellent to mix with things such as sawdust and lint, with some wax for fire starters for the wood stove or camping and backpacking.

Dehydrate Food

The top of the stove is great for dehydrating food as well.  You have recipes from ReadyNutrition for pemmican and jerky.  You can make your own on top of the stove with small-aperture wire racks…of the type to cool off hot sandwiches and the like.  Lay your meat on top of the wood stove top on the racks and allow that heat to dry them right out.

We’d love to hear any suggestions of things that you have found to do with your wood stoves (along with heating your home and cooking, of course).  It is all part of your preps and homesteading and learning to economize and obtain the maximum use for all of the materials you have at your disposal.  Explore some of these and let us know what you think, as well as things you have discovered on your own.  Keep up that good fight, drink a good cup of coffee, and stay warm!

 

JJ

 

Don’t forget to join us March 9th 7 p.m. (CST) for a FREE interactive webinar about solar cooking. Click here for more details!

MARCH9G

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published March 8th, 2017
Comments Off on 10 Awesome Tips You Never Knew About Using Wood Stoves That May Change Your Life