A few weeks ago, I posted an author interview with my my friend George Ure. I the article Book Festival and Giveaway: An Interview with George Ure, I asked readers to leave a comment with a question for George or myself. So what happened? I received one question and the rest were for George.
As a result of that interview – and since we’ve been friends for more than 35-years - I leaned on George to dig deeper and come up with more answers for Backdoor Survival readers. Here are the answers he served up about the internet, internet security and of course his book “Broken Web The Coming Collapse of the Internet”.
George Ure Answers Reader Questions for George Ure About His Book Broken Web
If you could only do one thing for safer internet use (while we still have it) what would it be?
Immediately go through every secured account and make the passwords complex and un-guessable (if that’s a word). Most people use simple passwords that are very easy to crack. If you have a 6-letter password, those are relatively easy.
The US Department of Defense uses much stricter password controls than does the general public. Their passwords are at least 12 characters in length, they must have TWO or more characters that are upper case, they must have at least TWO numbers and they must include at least TWO special characters like !@#$%^&*() – the upper case of numbers.
I’ll skip the lesson in factorial math, but since most people are too lazy to use the shift key, their password information is basically 26 characters worth. Anyone with a complex password is at much reduced risk.
But! That’s provided you have turned off third-party programs, remove cookies religiously, and do a daily virus definition update.
The question brings into focus one of the most important parts of American consumer psychology. I call it Silver Bullet Syndrome. It figures prominently in the next book I’m working on titled “Cradle to Grave: Everything is a Business Model.” The point is that a lot of businesses (like the people that own them) simply “give up” if they can’t nail down the one magic bullet that solves all their business problems.
Well, people are like that with computers, too: Since they can’t seem to keep a list of passwords secure, they dumb-down their passwords to a length which is easily hacked. And since they try shortcuts (like not updating antivirus files daily) they have the audacity to then ask “What ONE thing didn’t I do?”
The one answer is: Pay attention to the evolution of complexity. The age of silver bullets ended when the 8088 microprocessor was invented.
We have seen internet outages before but are you speaking of a “forever” outage or will there be a comeback sometime in the future and will it even look like our present internet?
Frankly, we don’t know. You’ve followed enough of Clif High’s work over at www.halfpasthuman.com to know that there is a statistical chance that we could have a special period of history before summers is out this year in which it may seem like EVERYTHING is happening at once.
In other words, we could have a major war going on, EMP attack on America, extreme weather, plus a deadlocked congress on financial reforms, and people in the poorhouse ready to ‘take it to the street’ over the high tax burdens and lack of job opportunities for Americans.
So in the context of massive social change of a truly revolutionary scale, it’s hard to predict with any precision which of the outcomes will occur. If we were to escalate to a shooting war with anyone over the Middle East, or here lately, looks like the resources of Africa are in play next, it could easily go the EMP route.
On the other hand, if the US were to devalue its currency by 30 to 50%, effectively renouncing a third to half of all government obligations to lenders, then the resulting economic displacements might look like something else. Perhaps it would be government licensure of the internet or other Draconian regulations.
The key thing is that if you read “Broken Web” you’ll at least have asked the tough questions like “How do I get my money out of a bank if there is not a working ATM? Or, if there is a bank holiday, do I have money for food and medicine for three to six months?
Could a foreign power knock out just the American net without bringing down the “world” part of the www?
Oh, sure. That’s the problem. Although it would be easy (today) to spot something as obvious as a North Korean missile launch followed 6-hours later by half the US going dark, ifs there’s not a close-in launch to tie things to, then matters become complicated from a response basis.
For example, either Russia or China could have satellites in space which could move into new orbits or fire EMP devices from orbiting platforms and we would be none the wiser as to who was at fault.
And to some extent, at that point it wouldn’t matter who the enemy was, since we would instantly have lost “command and control” functions in most of the country and wide areas of the grid about be down.
In such a scenario, it’s argued that military bases in every state would keep working, but if you start pushing the pencil out two months and longer, the breakdown of the grid leaves inexorably to the collapse of society as we knew it, strong military presence, or not.
Armies move on their diesel and their food, not to mention water and sanitation. Once those have been burned-through, then domestically, we’d be in dire straits.
I often wonder, by the way, whether this might not be part of the gun-control rhetoric – as an American population that is heavily armed would not be worth “winning” for at least three or four years, and by then payback would have been long ago delivered.
Assuming total internet collapse, what is your time frame vis a vis global recession, depression, collapse?
We’re in something now I call the Manufacturer’s Resource Wars because when you really think about it, that’s what most of the warring in the world is about: Africa for oil and minerals, the Middle East for Oil, and the high seas for whaling and long-liners which have just about stripped the oceans bare.
At the same time, I argue that we have never been in this kind of a Bond Bubble ever before in our history. As I tell Peoplenomics subscribers, if this were the Great Depression of the 1930’s, we would already be working our way out of it. That’s because when various resources dried up back then, the impact was immediate.
Since we are a learning species, we figured out that things like Social Security and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation would help. And, coupled with that most outlandish of economic coincidences, 9/11 which created an overnight employment boom in the Security Industry which now employs hundreds of thousands of people, we should have already had a bond collapse.
The thing is, we had a market collapse in progress when 9/11 hit. The economic stimulus from that kicked off a couple of wars which are still going on. And then, when the housing bubble collapsed in 2008, we should have had massive cleaning out of economic mal-investment through bankruptcies. But that didn’t happen, either.
Instead, what we got then – and against overwhelming public objection – was a massive bailout of the bankers because they were threatening to “Crash the World” if they didn’t get their pieces of gold in the deal. Effectively, the bankers are still holding the world hostage and they have no interest in cleaning up the sins of interest past. They are only interested in preserving the game – crooked though it may be – going forward in order to personally benefit.
There’s a reason I refer to banksters. What conventional economics misses is that living on other people’s interest payments – adding no actual value to the financial system – really is a class of leaches.
When does the consciousness really hit a tipping point where the powers that rule by proxy begin to turn more in the people at large’s favor?
That doesn’t happen until the people at the top become fearful. With higher taxes, massive ammo purchases and being backed up by major corporations who will limit consumers in ways government never could, what’s to worry about?
When the internet does fail, what do you see as the primary cause of the failure? And will it just be the internet that’s affected or will it also involve things like landline and/or cell telephones, bank machines, TV, etc.?
At the highest level, we didn’t build enough redundancy. Oh, sure, servers and routers have fallbacks, but what about the power grid? What about a spare Mississippi River to keep food moving? A spare CDC to recover from a bio-attack? While the specifics of the web mean it is fairly robust, in and of itself, there’s the matter of the required support systems.
The internet is a lot like a human being. In its natural state, it is biased toward good health and 90-years of operation. But take away oxygen, which might be like the power grid under attack, for example, and what have you got?
In a complex world, everything is inter-related. Things like the landlines and cell phones are all gone in about two weeks into a grid failure to be more precise.
How does a 50 something start over, keeping in mind that I’m a tech professional? I was recently let go from my job and they are contesting my UEIC. We have about another month of resources left and, due to my wife’s health condition, require about 50k. We want to be “prepped and ready” and “locked and loaded” but we also like to eat. Any thoughts? (OK, that was two questions.)
First, sign up immediately for every government program you can think of while you can. There should be time for that because I have no idea any specific day when the internet might fail. The only thing we can say with any precision is that there is no long-term backup for primary assumptions like the availability of power.
On the second point, I would sure be putting money into looking at alternative medicine for the wife’s ailments because there’s so much of modern medicine that is biased against non-patented solutions to basic health issues. Personally, I’m a huge fan of vitamin C in large doses, but to each their own.
Lastly, I would do only simple prepping and not worry about ammo and guns…the main thing to do is to be healthy, be able to raise some of your own food, and then you have some bargaining power. Guns are not a long-term solution. But a cooperative group of people and good health really is a workable outcome to aim for.
Do you (George) believe that any form of the internet or something similar will survive accessible via HAM radio?
Absolutely! I maintain 25-30 word per minute Morse proficiency, although if I have to write it down, I top out about 22-25 words per minute due to my writing speed (and it looks like it).
I’m sure Gaye has mentioned this before: Learning Morse is a way anyone who is aging can almost guarantee they will have a way to get messages out of their body and into their doctor in event of partial paralysis from stroke. Five words a minute with your big toe may not seem particularly appealing, but it’s an output port for your body in a pinch.
Most folks never think in those terms, however. And if PC’s and power are down?
My son and I can text back and forth over 1,800 miles pretty dependably an hour or two per day, year in and year out using an over-the-air, no internet needed protocol called PSK_31. We can even send pictures using slow-scan TV (which is the funny warbling noises on 14.230 MHz if you ever listen around there).
George, what do you think the next iteration of today’s internet would be, after a crash for however long?
Massive development of solar and wind energy in cooperative but independent units. Huge back-up power systems (solar in our part of the country) and a huge investment in insulation of all kinds of homes and ultra-efficient LEDs everywhere.
In terms of housing, I think R-50 in the roof and R30 sidewalls and R-50 floors are about right plus some solar control and more thought into heat absorbing colors. I assume you know a light colored roof can save a bundle on cooling bills?
In that world – after the crash if it comes – there will be much more fiber, much greater resilience and government will evolve policies that support and reward well-dispersed human activity. Although that may not have very many takers left by the time we get there…
We’re on a long and bumpy road and the biggest bumps are, I think, still ahead.
Being a nice guy (although he likes to come across as curmudgeon), George is always around when I have a question about out-there technologies. Of course, I like to tell people he invented wireless data communication back in the 70s by relating the story of how he would send me software downloads over the radio airwaves.
Alas, that is a story for another time and one that he should really tell. It is a fascinating story (and true), and gives me a sense of “pinch me – I was there”. Couple that with the fact that learned computer programming on an Altair computer and you might say that I am older than dirt.
Anyway, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of George’s book. You will never think of the internet in the same way again.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Bargain Bin: Preparing for hard times requires so much stuff. Just where do you start? How do you know whether what you have will do the job? I always like to recommend that you start by taking inventory of what you already have on hand.
And then? How about these ten items that were the most popular purchases by Backdoor Survival readers in 2012.
1. Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets (Pack of 10): This was the #1 item. For less than $10, these thermal blankets provide compact emergency protection in all weather conditions.
2. Streamlight Nano Light Miniature Keychain LED Flashlight: You know how I love my little flashlight. I have ad mine for over a year and it is still going strong. About $7.
3. Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets: Another inexpensive basic for your bug out bag and your home. Water treatment tabs won’t improve the taste but they will make your water safe to drink.
4. Kershaw OSO Sweet Knife: You can’t beat a Kershaw knife for quality at a reasonable price point. Typically under $23, this knife will become your favorite for every day carry. And that includes the ladies, too.
5. Smith’s PP1 Pocket Pal Multifunction Sharpener: I wrote about this is in the article The Easy Way to Sharpen a Knife Without Spending a Lot of Money. It sharpens everything from pocket knives to kitchen blades. Portable and easy to use and for about $8.
6. The Doom and Bloom Survival Medicine Handbook: This book will teach you how to deal with all the likely medical issues you will face in a disaster situation, and shows you strategies to keep your family healthy even in the worse scenarios. You’ll learn skills like performing a physical exam, transporting the injured patient, and even how to suture a wound. This medical reference belongs in every survival library!
7. Emergency Fire Starter: Hugely popular with my readers, this inexpensive magnesium emergency fire starter will do the job for less than $5.
8. Dorcy 41-1071 LED Wireless Motion Sensor Flood Lite: This light is awesome. I use mine downstairs as well as on my stairway and when I get up in the middle of the night, they come on automatically. They are quite unobtrusive (I have the black one) and give off a ton of light. Runs for a year on 3 D size batteries. About $20.
9. Clara’s Kitchen: Wisdom, Memories, and Recipes from the Great Depression: If you don’t know about Clara, be sure to read Depression Cooking: A Visit to Clara’s Kitchen.
10. SE 5 in 1 Survival Whistle: Just a tad over two buck – and the #1 seller in camping signal whistles at Amazon.
Shop the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials: The monthly specials at Emergency Essentials feature discounts of up to 35% off sometimes a bit more. Even if you are not ready to buy, take a look at their robust list of Food Storage Recipes – yours for the taking.
The goal with these recipes is to help you rotate and take advantage of your food storage on a daily basis – not a bad idea if I do say so myself. One other thing. The recipes can be printed or saved in a PDF so they can be saved on your hard drive.
Specials this month includes Freeze Dried Ground Beef, Mountain House Cinnamon Apple Dices, Neapolitan Ice Cream Slices and a six piece Entree Variety Combo. This combo pack includes MH Lasagna with Meat Sauce, MH Beef Stew, MH Chicken A La King, MH Turkey Tetrazzini, Sweet and Sour Noodles with Beef and Spiral Pasta Primavera. The price for all six is $144.99 about a 30% discount.
Now I know there are a lot of diehard Emergency Essentials fans out there but I also want to ask you to consider Legacy food products from Preparewise. Not only are they 100% GMO free, but they are lower in sodium, have fewer artificial ingredients and just taste good. More on that later – just wanted to give you a heads up and a link if you want to give them a try.
Oh, and by the way, shipping is always 100% free. One of my favorites is the Legacy Foods “Beans & Rice Enchilada” meal.
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11 Steps to Living a Strategic Life: What? You haven’t picked up a copy of 11 steps yet? This little book will provide you with the motivation to get started or stay on track with a self-reliant life. 11 Steps to Living a Strategic Life, co-authored with my long time pal, George Ure, and can be on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.
Shelf Reliance Virtual Party: Are you a fan of Shelf Reliance and Thrive products? Backdoor Survival is hosting a virtual, online Shelf Reliance party with discounted party prices and some special packages not normally found at the Shelf Reliance site.
As a matter of fact, all of the packages you see available at Costco.com are available at my party and at better prices too!