Planet Of The Apes – Revisited

Many early Science Fiction stories have actually preceded the fact. Could it happen again?
A memorable Quote by “George Taylor” (Charlton Heston) from “Planet of the Apes”. Actually, while watching this, I found “Planet Of The Apes” to be a bit spooky. Interesting, entertaining, but spooky.
I’ll never forget Charlton’s rendition of the returning astronaut, George Taylor, realizing “man” had destroyed human civilization. I find it spooky that our pre-eminent defense adviser would make this particular connection with today’s out of control internet in-security.
George Taylor: “You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, DAMN you! G.. DAMN you all to HELL !”
So now, we fast-forward fifty years to March, 2017: If you don’t know the term: “The Internet Of Things”, you probably won’t appreciate the warning from (Real Person) Dr. Curtis Levinson.
(quote)..At the IWCE conference in Las Vegas, Curtis Levinson, United States cyber defense adviser to NATO, explained that the vast majority of Internet of Things devices sitting on the public internet are vulnerable to an array of cyber-exploits. And many of those “things” can be weaponized. Smartphones can transform into full-color, full-motion bugging devices. Self-driving cars could be programmed to crash. The electrical grid could be knocked offline. There’s seemingly no limit to the possibilities. “My general rule is: If I can think of it, somebody else is already doing it,” Levinson said. Unless we protect our ‘things,’ we are going to get to the Planet of the Apes.(/quote)
What was most eye-opening about Levinson’s talk, however, was his conclusion: “Unless we protect our ‘things,’ we are going to get to the Planet of the Apes,” he surmised. Technological vendors are deploying IoT technology exponentially faster than they are protecting it. Think; a “swarm” of weaponized quad-copters attacking an outdoor (or, an indoor; a swarm can navigate obstacles) ball game with 6,000 spectators…….
(For a partial list of “Things”, DuckDuckGo browse yourself over to iotlist-dot-co. There are “Things” that I never knew about. But they left off your TV, fridge, stove, cellphone, computer, webcam, city water-sewer-electrical utilities, National Defense, etc. Apparently they considered those way to common knowledge to list.)
For the IWCE conference report just DuckDuckGo yourself to the phrase: [What’s the worst thing that could happen with IoT security? The U.S. Cyber Defense Advisor to NATO fears an IoT-induced Armageddon]. Your destination will be the very top, obvious wording, choice.
“Skynet, anyone?”

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Methane killed the Martians

Emergency Warning to USA on Planet Earth For Carbon Footprint Violators: 30 Jan 17.
Today there was a news flash regarding the planet Venus, poor thing. You know; the planet of love, romance and harmony. But something, back in the day, went to shit over there: The Venus atmosphere, temperature, and physical environment is deadly for humans now.
Basically, NASA says the poisonous atmosphere on Venus is the result of “greenhouse” gases overwhelming the original atmosphere. At least, that’s as close as NASA can get to what caused Venus to become such a foreboding environment today. Nobody back in the day left any notes up there apparently. The only other possibilities, they say, would have been too many old gas-burning cars running around. Or possibly too many old Venusian guys eating beans. And the old Venusian EPA’s up there didn’t take care of business. But we do here on Earth, with our carbon-credit investments, hazmat cleanup, trash sorting and so forth.
Like the house across the street: It had a water leak the week before Christmas. Out goes the family, in comes the guys wearing white paper suits, out comes everything from the house. A couple of “cleanup” (says that on the truck) guys have been showing up irregularly for the past month. Sometimes one guy for a couple of hours, sometimes two guys. But if there is two, one always sits in the truck waiting for the other to do whatever it is he’s doing for a few minutes inside the house. Apparently the residence environment will only support one human being at a time, and then for only a short time. I have come to the conclusion that one water-leak equals one retirement-job for the gooders. Here it is eight weeks after Christmas and the family is still living in a motel.
But back to Venus, and their destructive history under their ancient, failed, political system.
The Russians even sent a surface-lander to Venus. It landed, then quickly sent back a bunch of images and information before all the electronics melted in the high Venus surface temperature. They said they were glad it was an un-manned flight. “But”, can you really trust the Russians to tell the truth? Obysmal claims Russians lie all the time. And The BoB wanted to start a war with them. But The Donald says they’re not bad at all if you don’t laugh when you step on their toes or spit in their face. And it really helps if you build a nice hotel in Moscow for their visitors.
So, bottom-line, the present deadly atmosphere of Venus is heavily saturated with methane.
Now, fortunately, the “gooder scientists” are developing for practical use a “real-time methane- detection system” to monitor our entire planet. Because of that “global warming” thingy, you know. That means that wherever there may be a methane leak on the surface of the planet, it will show up on the big-screen detection system (“BSDetSys”). Then the gooders can run right out and plug the hole. And people like our politicians can sell their excess “carbon credits” from their green-industry basket-weaving investments to U.S. Steel who produces the steel for the cars we buy. Oh, wait a minute; the steel industry all moved to China. Along with the production of incandescent lights the gooders put out of business in the U.S. of A.
The Chinese sell unlimited unused carbon credits to the rest of the world. They will never run out of carbon credits to sell to the rest of the world. Apparently since China doesn’t produce carbon emissions. All that shit in the air the poor Chinese citizens are choking on is nothing but a devious fraud perpetrated by the Americans. Read any one of the three thousand newspapers from China for the story. Selling unlimited carbon credits to the rest of the world is a profitable gig indeed if you can get it. Thanks in large measure to the BoB, the Houn’ Dog and the Obsymal.
Remember when our USA gooders scammed everyone into paying them to wear paper-suits, O2 masks, rubber gloves and booties? Whenever someone finds an orange in their cupboard with a spot of mold on it, here come the white-suited gooders wearing oxygen masks. Or when someone discovers a piece of asbestos inside someone’s two-hundred-year-old walls. Or a broken fluorescent lamp leaking a drop of mercury. You know; mercury is that shiny stuff we used to play with all the time. Even broke thermometers open to get some more. Rub it on pennies to look like dimes, rub on our hands to look like some alien with silver skin, and so forth. Amazing thing is; I know one old guy pushing eighty who did all that foolish stuff, all the time. He’s in better health than most guys thirty. But don’t tell the gooders; they’ll throw a fit and change the subject. You can’t win a pissing contest with skunks.
But back to poor Venus, the greenhouse gas victim of our solar system. And the methane snoop device soon to wind up in real time on Planet Earth.
Just imagine this picture; a big underground dot-gov room, with a hundred big video screens reading the signals sent from a hundred satellites. A hundred guys in blue suits watching quietly, intently, for any tell-tale leak of methane on the Earth’s surface where the USA lives. The alarm bells ring when a wisp of methane shows on one of the screens.
Emergency! Emergency! Ring the klaxon bells of hell! Activate the **SWAMP teams!
All I can say about that, is this;
We all might just as well get prepared for that knock on the door. Four guys in dark suits. They’ll be wearing sun glasses. Packing methane gas extinguishers. And laser-beam weapons. They’re not putting up with any of those unregulated methane-producing bean-eaters like polluted Venus back-in-the-day!
You’ll recognize who they are: The guys in dark suits all look exactly alike and have robot voices. But don’t underestimate them or their laser-beam weapons. You cannot make them bleed with your Colt .45, or your AR, or your machete. The only thing you can hope for is their solar-powered battery might run down.
They’ll introduce themselves as;
“Mr. Smith #1, Mr. Smith #2, Mr. Smith #3, and Mr. Smith #4.
That is all for now.
**Special Weapons Against Methane Producers

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PTL, PTL, TGA, PTL

On this ninth of November 2016, the sun is shining, the sky is clear, and our Nation has a new “President Elect”.  Onward and upward,  PTL.

The only complicated thing I have to deal with now is; what model of new Jeep will my wife settle for?  Whatever it may be, the sun still shines, the sky is still clear, and all is good on the Earth.

“Your opinion may vary”.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/elections/2016/presidential-election-headquarters

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Don’t Let The Talking Heads Lead You

About That National Confusion Regarding Cyber Security…

For my friends, fellow LEO’s, investigative reporters, corporate leaders, government agents, Joe and Jane Citizen, and such, but please don’t let the “Talking Heads” lead you astray.

This is my “hopefully helpful” look into secure communications, encryption choices and perhaps why you should care about the subject in the first place.

But, right up front, before you become bored and start speed-reading or go somewhere else: If you care about your ‘net security, read this twice: DO NOT allow your browser or other computer or smart-phone program to “remember” your passwords! That is all.

The “Background of today’s modern communications encryption”:

Phil Zimmerman’s “Pretty Good Privacy” became the modern basis for personal encryption capability available to the common citizen, dot-gov, and today’s business. Over time, it sprouted offshoots that provided other choices of communication security for the masses. Much to the chagrin of some governments around the world. Historically, governments don’t like people who can keep secrets from them. Goes clear back to when soldiers were wearing sandals and leaders wore their favorite headdress, or crown, to show everyone they were the boss. Or “god”, as the case may have been.

Secure communication is valuable for folks dealing with investigations or sensitive information regarding people’s information or other sensitive communication.

If you are a LEO, whether city, state, or federal, don’t be the lightning-rod for an expensive lawsuit filed by someone whose investigation information became available to unauthorized third parties. Be professional, and always use best practice!

If you are an employee, don’t be the conduit for valuable corporate information to be stolen by competitors or foreign entities. Some nations make their living stealing other nation’s information. Much less expensive than affording their own R&D. When you open that laptop with connectivity to the corporate server, that “public access”, or other unsecured access point is your worst enemy. Read that twice also!

And for heaven’s sake, if you are a government employee or public official, use your officially-approved method of securely encrypted communications. Don’t be stupid or arrogant enough to think your communications are not highly desired by our National enemies. It does not matter one bit what the subject of your communication might be. Even if you want to tell your spouse some private family thing, it is a piece of the data our enemies are building about you and our Nation. Don’t be so arrogant as to think your private email or cellphone are secure against our adversaries. Their resources, designed to gain our National information, are way above your ability to even imagine. And even if you are among those rarefied air breathers who have an issued dot.gov secure smart phone similar to the SP4-H, don’t get arrogant or stupid; use only the procedures specified by your department policy.  And if your Department Policy “Sux”, simply “use best practice!”

So, hip-pocket training if over,; on with the discussion …

A Few Of The Choices Publicly Available For Communication Security:

(There are a lot more, but these are at the leading edge)

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First, IMHO, The “Gold Standard”: ProtonMail.com.

www.protonmail.com Email encryption, keyboard-to-keyboard, totally on Proton’s below-ground hardened Swiss servers. Or use your desk client if you absolutely insist. The Swiss Top Domain extension, “.CH”, is owned and controlled by Switzerland. A significant technical item for private encryption security, but not for this discussion.

ProtonMail also owns the “dot-com” domain for their “public face”, but on sign-up you choose whether you want to use their dot-.com or their dot-.ch server domain for your secured email account. The only problem I see with using the dot-ch Extension is that your friends or business contacts might be unaware that “.ch” is Switzerland; they might think it’s from China and delete it. Enlighten them beforehand, have them add you to their white list and explain the reason for you using the Swiss Domain Extension. You can enlignten your knowledge of the reasons for this difference by reading a short article at this report: http://www.wired.com/2012/03/feds-seize-foreign-sites/

To continue, ProtonMail, “IMHO”, is the “Gold Standard” of the easily usable Email encryption systems presently available to the public. Any administrator managing a valuable operation should require the staff to communicate anything that even remotely involves company business only with secure means. Period!

I understand that ProtonMail was started originally by the CERN Scientists to protect sensitive commo being exchanged between scientists. You know; regarding their daily discussions with the God of the Cosmos. Regarding His secrets they seek. No other existing security program on the planet was sufficient for the level of security these scientists required for their work. But eventually, having to listen to tear-stained, crying requests from friends and other people who found out about their system, the ProtonMail techies finally expanded their server and offered the use of their pride and joy to the public.

A small account is free, the paid account levels start about U.S. $45.00/yr., converted to USD$ from Euro €, and paid ahead by the year. Payable by credit card, PayPal or BitCoin. Don’t know about personal cheques, but doubt it. The paid accounts have several advantages including allowing you to operate encrypted communications right from your own domain. (If you control your own DNS Tables). Which would be, to Top Domain owners, the epitome of saying: “I’ve arrived”.  Or, with a company it would be totally invaluable for protecting intra-inter-corporate communications with proprietary secrets or sensitive contract negotiations, personnel lists, etc. at stake.

The “Proton” name is interesting, perhaps confusing to some, but totally logical since it was chosen by this particular group of CERN scientists. “What does “Proton” mean?” A “Proton” is one of those little sub-atomic particle objects the CERN Scientists work with. The Proton is the theoretical, unseen particle that everyone thinks exists, but cannot really prove it. Kind of like that “Dark Matter” thing. Even with the help of the very best electron microscopes the “Proton” cannot be seen. But for the rest of the atom to exist in it’s known format, there must be something else in there somewhere so the unseen mystery component was called a “Proton”. That is what they designed their encrypted communication system hardware and software to imitate; the invisible, can’t prove it’s there, but it must be there somewhere because this is an Email security service; the “Proton Email Message”.

The ProtonMail encrypted screen is very simple, intuitive and quick to use. Just share a password with the recipient so they can open the message. If the receiver wants to reply to your message and retain the encryption of the exchange they just click the button “Reply Encrypted”. The receiver does not have to have a ProtonMail account to reply to your message, even encrypted. The senders and receivers can both set a “self-destruct” time for the message. If it is not opened in a set amount of time it self-destructs.

You can also use the ProtonMail “app” on your smart-phone,. If someone steals your phone and tries to guess your passwords, (dual passwords for ProtonMail), and they fail (5 times?) you can have your phone App set to wipe the messages from your phone.

I use my Proton Mail entirely on the Proton Server for sensitive consultation messages. I don’t download messages to my own computer. Even though my home system is secured as well as any private system can be, the most secure practice is to maintain messages on the hardened Proton Server. The smart-phone app does maintain the PotonMail messages internally. Protected by the Proton “wipe” feature. Use your secure browser or your ProtonMail phone App with equal confidence.

I joined the full ProtonMail premium account because of doing consulting work for dot-gov folks that involved seriously personal information about other people. That was the only reason I began comparing today’s Email encryption offerings in the first place. Not because I needed the use of my own personal encrypted messages, nor that I needed to spend some more cash on something. I just did not want to be the lightning-rod for an expensive lawsuit when some citizen’s private information, or my report on the person, got cracked by some perp monitoring the folks I might be consulting for.

We have all been interested and amazed at the interesting work CERN does at their day-jobs in the below ground CERN Hadron Collider. That’s where they send speeding atoms crashing into each other in galactic-quality miniature explosions. Each time unraveling another small, or sometimes large, additional secret of the cosmos.

I appreciate being invited to join their Premium Galactic-class Email security circle. By joining the full program I returned the courtesy they extend to all of us. Each premium client helps to support the expensive requirements making their system what it is. And if you have your own TLD, you can use ProtonMail directly with your own mail server!

By the way”, if our quaking, shaking USA politicians back in the ‘nineties had not had a serious case of brain damage caused by flunking High School Science, the “LHC” would have been built in the USA. If the boy fox had not stopped to take a look at the girl fox, he might have caught the rabbit. If our politicians had not been intently studying the tight fit of the girls’ jeans during High School science class, we would have had the LRC. “But”, as it turned out, both the rabbit and the LHC both got away.

You can meet the very pleasant Proton staff at the www.protonmail.com/about link on their website.

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www.hushmail.com Excellent choice among commercial encryption programs. Small Hushmail version free, or full program for $35/yr., both are the same security but the paid version adds space and support. Sender and receiver share a key word to encrypt/decrypt. Key word is changeable w/each message, or whenever the sender decides, and tells (“hints”) the receiver. Operates on Hushmail servers (dot-com, based in Canada). Participants can either use browser therefore leaving messages safely on Hush Servers, or use their eMail desk clients and keep messages on their own computer. HushMail is an excellent service for a very decent price, and the Customer service is quick, pleasant, and informative. The honest person can’t go wrong with Hushmail. If you want more information than their public-face page provides, try this technical link: http://www.wired.com/2007/11/encrypted-e-mai/

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https://www.symantec.com/products/information-protection/encryption This is Phil’s original PGP, now owned by Symantec, obtained and updated after some disasters by prior owners after Phil sold it. One of the prior owners stopped publishing the source code and suddenly nobody wanted PGP. (Read that twice, you who want a back-door in USA encryption programs!). After Symantec obtained the code and opened it for peer review they had a valuable product. If Symantec has to provide a backdoor their PGP security will suddenly not be needed by knowledgeable customers either.

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www.code42.com Enterprise-level Client Security. (Business orientation).

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https://telegram.org/faq#secret-chats device-to-device, apps required, self-destruct messages, text, voice, photo-video. Both the sender and the receiver need the “App”.

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https://www.silentcircle.com/ Since Phil Zimmerman started this rat-race a long time ago with his PGP, and I was enthusiastic using that new toy, we’ll take a look at his present offering. And, as usual with Phil, he offers the “whole tamale”.

Silent Circle is Phil’s present main security endeavor. He has had it going for some time now and it is based and servered in Canada. (you will read about “why” later). His own encryption system is on the unlocked “Black Phone” he sells for eight hundred bucks. And before you gasp too badly, click the link above and read what Phil provides with the Blackphone-2. It’s a gorilla of a piece. The phone arrives “unlocked” and can be used with the carrier of your choice. Or, what the heck, ignore carriers; it can go strictly WiFi and save that hundred-fifty bucks a month! If you are conscious of protecting your sensitive communication this would be on your very-very short list before buying or distributing top-employee cell phones. (*And, “my two-cents”, take note you employers who don’t conduct thorough background checks of employees: How rediculous did the terrorist California murderers make San Bernadino look? Real nice of politicians to provide an expensive company iPhone for foreign terrorist murderers.)

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www.dochalo.com Medical Community system, patient security, HIPPA compliant

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http://www.howtogeek.com/226535/how-and-why-to-encrypt-your-text-messages/ (just some interesting info in these two links).

http://www.gizmag.com/secure-text-messaging-phone-clients-comparison-ios-and-android/34000/

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https://wickr.com/ Free and enterprise level cellphone/computer encryption. I loaded this onto a laptop and the first thing it wanted to do was import all the addresses from my various email clients and accounts. I passed up that option, and later could find no way to manually enter an email address into a message. Is it basically just an address collector? Or did I miss something trying to make it work? Unknown. “Deleted”.

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http://smssecure.org/ Encrypted text, open source, joined at the hip with WhatsApp. WhatsApp and facebook are of course data collection schemas, spider-webbed with everything else they can catch. I didn’t load this program for evaluation.

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https://whispersystems.org/ Also Furnishes crypto code to other apps. Not marketing supported. Similar to PGP; you exchange a 72-digit numeric code with those you want to communicate securely with. Reputed to be secure and non-marketing, but their means of support is not readily obvious. Maybe I just didn’t look closely enough. I didn’t load this but it should work well. The only drag I see is having to scan the other person’s numeric code into your cell phone. Probably no worse than exchanging a key word though.

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https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.thoughtcrime.securesms&hl=en Open Whisper. Of course, Google is a data collector. Anything it can find out about you is fair game. Anything you transmit over an open medium such as WiFi etc. is fair game. Check out other similar information at locations such as https://p/rivacysos.org. Of course, Google is just one of the entities monitoring everything that flows around the planet. Hey, it’s just business and free enterprise, don’t get excited. “BTW”, in defense of Google’s Email security: Once I got a Gmail at my “other” email account, telling me that someone from Asia tried to check into my Gmail but Google blocked the attempt. “We know you are not in Asia, so we blocked them. It would be a good idea for you to change your password!” I was surprised (and quite pleased) at Gmail’s actions supporting Email security. And for letting me know what had happened.

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https://www.samsungknox.com/en Samsung KNOX (As in “Fort Knox”) device security, encryption, device-to-device, enabled by the device itself. Check their website for the Samsung cellphone models that have the security chip either already installed or installable after-market if you already have a Samsung. Also be sure to check out the user comments available in the various review forums. Use your “Google-esque” skills, Google will help you find out what you want to learn about this technology. 🙂

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https://gli.ph/ Based in the Philippines, commo security across platform, free and paid versions, accepts bit-coin. I did not look into them beyond their front page. But I’d want to know who they were if I was going to transmit any expensive info with them. Just the suspicious thing in my personality. You know “suspicious”; it’s a cop thing.

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http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/19/can-you-trust-secure-messaging-apps/?_r=0

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https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.thoughtcrime.securesms&hl=en

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http://www.wired.com/2015/03/iphone-app-encrypted-voice-texts/

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http://www.apple.com/ Encryption code and processing is proprietary, operates on Apple-owned U.S. Servers. Following the Apple-dot-gov flap, you can disregard everything they talked about. There is a next-gen version of the iPhone coming out that will invalidate most of the prior information as well as prior features of the iPhone. The dot-gov Bureau consultant broke their old system, so don’t count on the next one either.

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About PGP, “Pretty Good Privacy”, Phil’s invention:

https://www.gnupg.org/ Distributes today’s Open Source PGP, rescued from the commercial grab of Phil’s Code over the years. Original PGP was developed by Phil Zimmerman. This caused him extreme difficulty with the U.S. Government. (If you don’t already know this story, here is Phil today, very much worth the read: http://www.philzimmermann.com/EN/background/index.html).

You can install and use PGP on your devices, for yourself, by yourself. The functionality depends on the PGP code being on your device, then your PGP Program generating your “Key Set”. The “Private key” stays with you. Your “Public Key” is just that: Public. You use your Private Key to encrypt your messages. The recipient uses your “Public Key” to decrypt your message. You share your Public Key either personally with your contacts, or you share it publicly by posting it on a key repository. People find your Public Key by looking up your name or key in a key repository such as (http://pgp.mit.edu/). “By the way”, If you are a person of extreme financial, political or corporate importance, with communications that someone wants really bad, it is possible for someone with extreme resources to intercept your communications when using this particular system if your Public Key is available publicly. (By the way, it was a Russian Scientist who discovered how to do this and published it!) However, if you are not breathing that type of rarified political/financial air, this system is excellent. But then, it’s also difficult for your non-techie friends to participate in. Everyone has to have the other person’s public key. And if the recipient wants to respond securely, they have to have PGP installed on their devices and a key set of their own.

Want to try it? Start here https://emailselfdefense.fsf.org/en/ (And good luck; I used Phil’s original PGP successfully “back in the day”, and still have the last three versions he updated. I also have the first commercial version when he sold it, but that one won’t load on today’s OpSys’s beyond W-2000. (*Note: I do believe today’s flavors of *Nix come already loaded with some version of PGP, but not absolutely certain. I haven’t looked for any PGP feature on this box with Linux Mint-Cinnamon V-18). I can’t make the available new PGP versions work today on my work boxes. My laptop test box refuses to download the executable. Today most OpSys’s have decent encryption built-in for security of your files, folders, and hard drives. This is beyond the BIOS and OpSys passwords. 🙂

But”: If current political clamor for back-doors in commercial USA encryption programs succeed in requiring a “back door”, your own PGP executable on your own devices, communicating with only others with the same setup, (and your Public Keys being held as not in the public arena), will be the only truly secure communications encryption schema you could find offered by companies in the USA. And then only if you and your friends always scrub your devices of opened messages. And if you don’t “scrub” correctly, don’t even waste you time as they can all be recovered.

If I were a banking CEO, or a medical practitioner, or a corporation with a mega-buck R&D budget, or someone dealing with other people’s private information, or… (use your imagination), I would not take the chance of using a security program that was not secure. The way foreign governments have been stealing U.S. Technology for the past 20 years (besides the rocket satellite technology so kindly gifted to china by the U.S. president in the 1990’s!) is by exploiting security holes in the communications programs used by industry and government. If a foreign agent offered the “right” government quisling ten million dollars cash for the back door key used by some U.S. security company they wanted access to, take a guess as to whether it would be sold or not. The number of recent traitorous quislings on our public payrolls, city, state, federal, in the U.S. has been … irritating, and unimaginably damaging to our National interests.  Even more common is the innocent worker at home with his unsecured laptop and wireless connectivity hooking up with the corporate server that has connectivity not only with corporate secrets but also has connectivity straight to dot-gov servers.  Read that as any corporation with a dot-gov contract.

More information on today’s PGP-based offerings (besides Symantec) are in the next two links:

https://www.propublica.org/article/the-worlds-email-encryption-software-relies-on-one-guy-who-is-going-broke

https://www.propublica.org/article/privacy-tools-the-best-encrypted-messaging-programs

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https://www.anonymizer.com/ : This is a Virtual Private Network (“VPN”). VPN’s are reputed to be used to hide browser travels or transmissions. Some perps believe they can use a VPN to send untraceable threats, illegal offers etc. (Similar to the phony ” 911-swat” calls in Salt Lake County during 2016). Criminal activity via VPN’s can be traced by LEO’s with proper search warrant authority. So if you have a perp you find was using a VPN you do have ways to extract good information from the server for your case. “VPN” is simply that; “virtual”, “kind of like private”, but not really.

I cannot think of one good reason that I, or most people, would ever want to use a commercial VPN to try to hide Internet travels or transmissions. “However”, a business with sensitive contract contacts, or other expensive assets to protect might use a VPN as one layer of IT security to help defend their system from cracker access. So if your department is checking the computer of a suspect for criminal evidence check the hidden folders or encrypted files. Also check any difference between the stated capacity of a hard drive and the indicated capacity to indicate “invisible” encrypted sections. Taking into consideration of course, the normal hard drive operational space that is reserved on all modern hard drives.

There is a fee of some kind to utilize most commercial anonymous VPN’s, so financial records (credit card, paypal, electronic transfers, bitcoin transfers……) could also be used under warrant to at least start a trace, obtain evidence and get a search warrant for the VPN to continue the chase.

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(“JMHO”): The recent “Apple-FBI” flap was unfortunately totally counter-productive. All it did was raise additional intense public interest in communications security with not only the public but also academics and professionals across the globe. The friction between Europe and the US has been at a critical level anyway, recently (especially after the NSA records release) nearly collapsing billion$ in business between EU and US. The political push to further erode US communication security only raised the hackles of the EU members even more. Besides, the end result of the flap was zero anyway: There was no useable information on the County’s phone used by the terrorists.

The Obama administration successfully pushed the CISA program quietly into law in the dark of night during the 2015 Christmas week. “Quiet” will not be the case with the present push to run all U.S. communications security companies out of business by requiring a back door to their encryption schemas. Either there is encryption security, or there is not encryption security. If only just one present honest dot-gov employee has custody of the back door key, he will not be there forever. The next keeper of the key might be another in a long line of public official quislings for sale to the highest bidder. And that’s “MHO” no matter what one of my most all-time most respected Federal Agent says about preconceived bias destroying the chance for productive dialog on the subject. He is the definition of the proper, lawful effective Police Administrator.  Absolutely honest and totally trustworthy. The problem is that his next replacement could easily be a throwback to the 1950’s. “Back-door” is not what the Nation’s security wants or needs.

CERN recently had an excellent speaker addressing the subject of human preconceived bias. My opinion on any back-doors in security programs being a killer for US-based encryption vendors is not preconceived bias; it’s based on observation, history and solid logic. Network Associates simply decided to not open PGP code to peer review when they bought it. Therefore it was proprietary. Therefore security could not be verified. Suddenly it was no longer purchased by the customers seeking encryption and NA’s level of perceived PGP trustworthiness became non-existent. NA’s PGP business collapsed and PGP was sold again to Symantec. Symantec opened the source code to peer review and built a thriving business still available today. If there becomes a back-door (or call it whatever you want, a duck is a duck) then Symantec can kiss their PGP business goodbye also. So apparently we will have to agree to disagree on this matter of “either-or” regarding pre-concieved opinions on the subject of encryption security.

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http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-34713435 England’s Investigatory Powers Bill: Encryption program back-doors required for use by government. The title of the Bill is couched as an update to modernize police practices of privacy acquisition. A whole bunch of acquisition, similar to CISA. UK companies are required to decrypt encrypted messages and keep customer personal historical records for the Royal MDP to get around to looking at sometime. I haven’t researched deeply how EU is watching this, but there is a grand canyon between the communications security laws between much of Europe, Britain, and the U.S. Tensions are high already between EU and UK. With the “Brexit” vote coming up in the UK, it may become another scratchy item. Or not.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/28/world/spy-agencies-scour-phone-apps-for-personal-data.html (warning about those “free apps” that people download to their phones and computers. Marketing snoops and malware accompany most anything that is totally free at all levels)

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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/18/us/politics/obama-nsa.html (Just more of the usual political hot air, nothing of real substance…)

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https://www.facebook.com/ Rule #1: If Facebook is involved, it is designed primarily for public information intelligence gathering and marketing. 🙂

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www.business.att.com (Not checked, don’t know what they offer but it’s for business.)

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www.WhatsApp.com Facebook-owned messaging platform. Reputed by dot.gov to be an “enemy of law enforcement”. (?Is that complaint simply dot-gov disinformation?) But WhatsApp can actually be a valuable tool, so don’t dismiss them too quickly. This App is either free or 99-cents depending on which Playstore screen you look at. I didn’t load it because in order to use it your contacts have to load it also. Which might be OK for your situation, but not mine.

This has been a casual discussion of several popular communications security options. By no means is it complete, nor was it evaluated by a security professional. If you have argument with any of the evaluations above, you are kindly invited to reply with your corrections. Backed up, of course, by valid references, not opinions.

Best Regards, Ken

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

About Your Email Security

For my friends, fellow LEO’s, investigative reporters, corporate leaders, government agents, Joe and Jane Citizen, and interested visitors.

This is my “hopefully helpful” look into secure communications, encryption choices and perhaps why you should care about the subject in the first place.

But, right up front, before you become bored and start speed-reading or go somewhere else: If you care about your ‘net security, read this twice: DO NOT allow your browser or other computer or smart-phone program to “remember” your passwords! That is all.

The “Background of today’s modern communications encryption”:

Phil Zimmerman’s “Pretty Good Privacy” became the modern basis for personal encryption capability available to the common citizen, dot-gov, and today’s business. Over time, it sprouted offshoots that provided other choices of communucation security for the masses. Much to the chagrin of some governments around the world. Historically, governments don’t like people who can keep secrets from them. Goes clear back to when soldiers were wearing sandals and leaders wore their favorite headdress, or crownk, to show everyone they were the boss. Or “god”, as the case may have been.

Secure communication is valuable for folks dealing with investigations or sensitive information regarding people’s information or other sensitive communication.

If you are a LEO, whether city, state, or federal, don’t be the lightning-rod for an expensive lawsuit filed by someone whose investigation information became available to unauthorized third parties. Be professional, and always use best practice!

If you are an employee, don’t be the conduit for valuable corporate information to be stolen by competitors or foreign entities. Some nations make their living stealing other nation’s information. Much less expensive than affording their own R&D. When you open that laptop with connectivity to the corporate server, that “public access”, or other unsecured access point is your worst enemy. Read that twice aslso!

And for heaven’s sake, if you are a government employee or public official, use your officially-approved method of securely encrypted communications. Don’t be stupid or arrogant enough to think your communications are not highly desired by our National enemies. It does not matter one bit what the subject of your communication might be. Even if you want to tell your spouse some private family thing, it is a piece of the data our enemies are building about you and our Nation. Don’t be so arrogant as to think your private email or cellphone are secure against our adversaries. Their resources, designed to gain our National information, are way above your ability to even imagine. And even if you are among those rarified air breathers who have an issued dot.gov secure smart phone similar to the SP4-H, don’t get arrogant or stupid; use only the procedures specified by your department policy. “Use best practice!” “OK; ‘nuf ‘sed!”

So, hip-pocket training if over,; on with the discussion …

A Few Of The Choices Publicly Available For Communication Security:

(There are a lot more, but these are at the leading edge)

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First, IMHO, The “Gold Standard”: ProtonMail.com.

www.protonmail.com Email encryption, keyboard-to-keyboard, totally on Proton’s below-ground hardened Swiss servers. Or use your desk client if you insist. The Swiss Top Domain extension, “.CH”, is owned and controlled by Switzerland. A significant technical item for private encryption security, but not for this discussion.

ProtonMail also owns the “dot-com” domain for their “public face”, but on sign-up you choose whether you want to use their dot-.com or their dot-.ch server domain for your secured email account. The only problem I see with using the dot-ch Extension is that your friends or business contacts might be unaware that “.ch” is Switzerland; they might think it’s from China and delete it. Enlighten them beforehand, have them add you to their white list and explain the reason for you using the Swiss Domain Extension. You can enlignten your knowledge of the reasons for this difference by reading a short article at this report: http://www.wired.com/2012/03/feds-seize-foreign-sites/

To continue, ProtonMail, “IMHO”, is the “Gold Standard” of the easily useable eMail encryption systems presently available to the public. Any administrator managing a valuable operation should require the staff to communicate anything that even remotely involves company business only with secure means. Period!

I understand that ProtonMail was started originally by the CERN Scientists to protect sensitive commo being exchanged between scientists. You know; regarding their daily discussions with the God of the Cosmos. Regarding His secrets they seek. No other existing security program on the planet was sufficient for the level of security these scientists required for their work. But eventually, having to listen to tear-stained, crying requests from friends and other people who found out about their system, the ProtonMail techies finally expanded their server and offered the use of their pride and joy to the public.

A small account is free, the paid account levels start about U.S. $45.00/yr., converted to USD$ from Euro €, and paid ahead by the year. Payable by credit card, PayPal or BitCoin. Don’t know about personal cheques, but doubt it. The paid accounts have several advantages including allowing you to operate encrypted communications right from your own domain. (If you control your own DNS Tables). Which would be, to Top Domain owners, the epitome of saying: “I’ve arrived”. Or, with a company it would be totally invaluable for protecting intra-inter-corporate communications with proprietary secrets or sensitive contract negotiations, personnel lists, etc. at stake.

The “Proton” name is interesting, perhaps confusing to some, but totally logical since it was chosen by this particular group of CERN scientists. “What does “Proton” mean?” A “Proton” is one of those little sub-atomic particle objects the CERN Scientists work with. The Proton is the theoretical, unseen particle that everyone thinks exists, but cannot really prove it. Kind of like that “Dark Matter” thing. Even with the help of the very best electron microscopes the “Proton” cannot be seen. But for the rest of the atom to exist in it’s known format, there must be something else in there somewhere so the unseen mystery component was called a “Proton”. That is what they designed their encrypted communication system hardware and software to imitate; the invisible, can’t prove it’s there, but it must be there somewhere because this is an Email security service; the “Proton Email Message”.

The ProtonMail encrypted screen is very simple, intuitive and quick to use. Just share a password with the recipient so they can open the message. If the receiver wants to reply to your message and retain the encryption of the exchange they just click the button “Reply Encrypted”. The receiver does not have to have a ProtonMail account to reply to your message, even encrypted. The senders and receivers can both set a “self-destruct” time for the message. If it is not opened in a set amount of time it self-destructs.

You can also use the ProtonMail “app” on your smartphone,. If someone steals your phone and tries to guess your passwords, (dual passwords for ProtonMail), and they fail (5 times?) you can have your phone App set to wipe the messages from your phone.

I use my Proton Mail entirely on the Proton Server for sensitive consultation messages. I don’t download messages to my own computer. Even though my home system is secured as well as any private system can be, the most secure practice is to maintain messages on the hardened Proton Server. The smartphone app does maintain the PotonMail messages internally. Protected by the Proton “wipe” feature. Use your secure browser or your ProtonMail phone App with equal confidence.

I joined the full ProtonMail account because of doing consulting work for dot-gov folks that involved seriously personal information about other people. That was the only reason I began comparing today’s Email encryption offerings in the first place. Not because I needed the use of my own personal encrypted messages, nor that I needed to spend some more cash on something. I just did not want to be the lightning-rod for an expensive lawsuit when some citizen’s private information, or my report on the person, got cracked by some perp monitoring anyone I might be consulting for.

We have all been interested and amazed at the interesting work CERN does at their day-jobs in the below ground CERN Hadron Collider. That’s where they send speeding atoms crashing into each other in galactic-quality miniature explosions. Each time unravelling another small, or sometimes large, additional secret of the cosmos.

I appreciate being invited to join their Premium Glactic-class Email security circle. By joining the full program I returned the courtesy they extend to all of us. Each premium client helps to support the expensive requirements making their system what it is. And if you have your own TLD, you can use ProtonMail directly with your own mail server!

By the way”, if our quaking, shaking USA politicians back in the ‘nineties had not had a serious case of brain damage caused by flunking High School Science, the “LHC” would have been built in the USA. If the boy fox had not stopped to take a look at the girl fox, he might have caught the rabbit. If our politicians had not been intently studying the tight fit of the girls’ jeans during High School science class, we would have had the LRC. “But”, as it turned out, both the rabbit and the LHC got away.

You can meet the very pleasant Proton staff at the www.protonmail.com/about link on their website.

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www.hushmail.com Excellent choice among commercial encryption programs. Small Hushmail version free, or full program for $35/yr., both are the same security but the paid version adds space and support. Sender and receiver share a key word to encrypt/decrypt. Key word is changeable w/each message, or whenever the sender decides, and tells (“hints”) the receiver. Operates on Hushmail servers (dot-com, based in Canada). Participants can either use browser therefore leaving messages safely on Hush Servers, or use their eMail desk clients and keep messages on their own computer. HushMail is an excellent service for a very decent price, and the Customer service is quick, pleasant, and informative. The honest person can’t go wrong with Hushmail. If you want more information than their public-face page provides, try this technical link: http://www.wired.com/2007/11/encrypted-e-mai/

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https://www.symantec.com/products/information-protection/encryption This is Phil’s original PGP, now owned by Symantec, obtained and updated after some disasters by prior owners after Phil sold it. One of the prior owners stopped publishing the source code and suddenly nobody wanted PGP. (Read that twice, you who want a back-door in USA encryption programs!). After Symantec obtained the code and opened it for peer review they had a valuable product. If Symantec has to provide a backdoor their PGP security will suddenly not be needed by knowledgeable customers either.

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www.code42.com Enterprise-level Client Security. (Business orientation).

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https://telegram.org/faq#secret-chats device-to-device, apps required, self-destruct messages, text, voice, photo-video. Both the sender and the receiver need the “App”.

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https://www.silentcircle.com/ Since Phil Zimmerman started this rat-race a long time ago with his PGP, and I was enthusiastic using that new toy, we’ll take a look at his present offering. And, as usual with Phil, he offers the “whole tamale”.

Silent Circle is Phil’s present main security endeavor. He has had it going for some time now and it is based and servered in Canada. (you will read about “why” later). His own encryption system is on the unlocked “Black Phone” he sells for eight hundred bucks. And before you gasp too badly, click the link above and read what Phil provides with the Blackphone-2. It’s a gorilla of a piece. The phone arrives “unlocked” and can be used with the carrier of your choice. Or, what the heck, ignore carriers; it can go strictly WiFi and save that hundred-fifty bucks a month! If you are conscious of protecting your sensitive communication this would be on your very-very short list before buying or distributing top-employee cell phones. (*And, “my two-cents”, take note you employers who don’t conduct thorough background checks of employees: How rediculous did the terrorist California murderers make San Bernadino look? Real nice of politicians to provide an expensive company iPhone for foreign terrorist murderers.)

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www.dochalo.com Medical Community system, patient security, HIPPA compliant

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http://www.howtogeek.com/226535/how-and-why-to-encrypt-your-text-messages/ (just some interesting info in these two links).

http://www.gizmag.com/secure-text-messaging-phone-clients-comparison-ios-and-android/34000/

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https://wickr.com/ Free and enterprise level cellphone/computer encryption. I loaded this onto a laptop and the first thing it wanted to do was import all the addresses from my various email clients and accounts. I passed up that option, and later could find no way to manually enter an email address into a message. Is it basically just an address collector? Or did I miss something trying to make it work? Unknown. “Deleted”.

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http://smssecure.org/ Encrypted text, open source, joined at the hip with WhatsApp. WhatsApp and facebook are of course data collection schemas, spiderwebbed with everything else they can catch. I didn’t load this program for evaluation.

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https://whispersystems.org/ Also Furnishes crypto code to other apps. Not marketing supported. Similar to PGP, you exchange a 72-digit numeric code with those you want to communicate securely with. Reputed to be secure and non-marketing, but their means of support is not readily obvious. Maybe I just didn’t look closely enough. I didn’t load this but it should work well. The only drag I see is having to scan the other person’s numeric code into your cell phone. Probably no worse than exchanging a key word though.

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https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.thoughtcrime.securesms&hl=en Open Whisper. Of course, Google is a data collector. Anything it can find out about you is fair game. Anything you transmit over an open medium such as WiFi etc. is fair game. Check out other similar information at locations such as https://p/rivacysos.org. Of course, Google is just one of the entities monitoring everything that flows around the planet. Hey, it’s just business and free enterprise, don’t get excited. “BTW”, in defense of Google’s Email security: Once I got a Gmail at my “other” email account, telling me that someone from Asia tried to check into my Gmail but Google blocked the attempt. “We know you are not in Asia, so we blocked them. It would be a good idea for you to change your password!” I was surprised (and quite pleased) at Gmail’s actions supporting Email security. And for letting me know what had happened.

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https://www.samsungknox.com/en Samsung KNOX (As in “Fort Knox”) device security, encryption, device-to-device, enabled by the device itself. Check their website for the Samsung cellphone models that have the security chip either already installed or installable after-market if you already have a Samsung. Also be sure to check out the user comments available in the various review forums. Use your “Google-esque” skills, Google will help you find out what you want to learn about this technology. 🙂

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https://gli.ph/ Based in the Phillipines, commo security across platform, free and paid versions, accepts bitcoin. I did not look into them beyond their front page. But I’d want to know who they were if I was going to transmit any expensive info with them. Just the suspicious thing in my personality. You know “suspicious”; it’s a cop thing.

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http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/19/can-you-trust-secure-messaging-apps/?_r=0

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https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.thoughtcrime.securesms&hl=en

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http://www.wired.com/2015/03/iphone-app-encrypted-voice-texts/

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http://www.apple.com/ Encryption code and processing is proprietary, operates on Apple-owned U.S. Servers. Following the Apple-dot-gov flap, you can disregard everything they talked about. There is a next-gen version of the iPhone coming out that will invalidate most of the prior information as well as prior features of the iPhone. The dot-gov Bureau consultant broke their old system, so don’t count on the next one either.

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About PGP, “Pretty Good Privacy”, Phil’s invention:

https://www.gnupg.org/ Distributes today’s Open Source PGP, rescued from the commercial grab of Phil’s Code over the years. Original PGP was developed by Phil Zimmerman. This caused him extreme difficulty with the U.S. Government. (If you don’t already know this story, here is Phil today, very much worth the read: http://www.philzimmermann.com/EN/background/index.html).

You can install and use PGP on your devices, for yourself, by yourself. The functionality depends on the PGP code being on your device, then your PGP Program generating your “Key Set”. The “Private key” stays with you. Your “Public Key” is just that: Public. You use your Private Key to encrypt your messages. The recipient uses your “Public Key” to decrypt your message. You share your Public Key either personally with your contacts, or you share it publicly by posting it on a key repository. People find your Public Key by looking up your name or key in a key repository such as (http://pgp.mit.edu/). “By the way”, If you are a person of extreme financial, political or corporate importance, with communications that someone wants really bad, it is possible for someone with extreme resources to intercept your communications when using this particular system if your Public Key is available publicly. (By the way, it was a Russian Scientist who discovered how to do this and published it!) However, if you are not breathing that type of rarified political/financial air, this system is excellent. But then, it’s also difficult for your non-techie friends to participate in. Everyone has to have the other person’s public key. And if the recipient wants to respond securely, they have to have PGP installed on their devices and a key set of their own.

Want to try it? Start here https://emailselfdefense.fsf.org/en/ (And good luck; I used Phil’s original PGP successfully “back in the day”, and still have the last three versions he updated. I also have the first commercial version when he sold it, but that one won’t load on today’s OpSys’s beyond W-2000. (*Note: I do believe today’s flavors of *Nix come already loaded with some version of PGP, but not absolutely certain. I haven’t looked for any PGP feature on this box with Linux Mint-Cinnamon V-18). I can’t make the available new PGP versions work today on my work boxes. My laptop test box refuses to download the executable. Today most OpSys’s have decent encryption built-in for security of your files, folders, and hard drives. This is beyond the BIOS and OpSys passwords. 🙂

But”: If current political clamor for backdoors in commercial USA encryption programs succeed in requiring a “back door”, your own PGP executable on your own devices, communicating with only others with the same setup, (and your Public Keys being held as not in the public arena), will be the only truly secure communications encryption schema you could find offered by companies in the USA. And then only if you and your friends always scrub your devices of opened messages. And if you don’t “scrub” correctly, don’t even waste you time as they can all be recovered.

If I were a banking CEO, or a medical practitioner, or a corporation with a mega-buck R&D budget, or someone dealing with other people’s private information, or… (use your imagination), I would not take the chance of using a security program that was not secure. The way foreign governments have been stealing U.S. Technology for the past 20 years (besides the rocket satellite technology so kindly gifted to china by the U.S. president in the 1990’s!) is by exploiting security holes in the communications programs used by industry and government. If a foreign agent offered the “right” government quisling ten million dollars cash for the back door key used by some U.S. security company they wanted access to, take a guess as to whether it would be sold or not. The number of recent traitorous quislings on our public payrolls, city, state, federal, in the U.S. has been … irritating, and unimaginably damaging to our National interests.

More information on today’s PGP-based offerings (besides Symantec) are in the next two links:

https://www.propublica.org/article/the-worlds-email-encryption-software-relies-on-one-guy-who-is-going-broke

https://www.propublica.org/article/privacy-tools-the-best-encrypted-messaging-programs

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https://www.anonymizer.com/ : This is a Virtual Private Network (“VPN”). VPN’s are reputed to be used to hide browser travels or transmissions. Some perps believe they can use a VPN to send untraceable threats, illegal offers etc. (Similar to the phony ” 911-swat” calls in Salt Lake County during 2016). Criminal activity via VPN’s can be traced by LEO’s with proper search warrant authority. So if you have a perp you find was using a VPN you do have ways to extract good information from the server for your case. “VPN” is simply that; “virtual”, “kind of like private”, but not really.

I cannot think of one good reason that I, or most people, would ever want to use a commercial VPN to try to hide internet travels or transmissions. “However”, a business with sensitive contract contacts, or other expensive assets to protect might use a VPN as one layer of IT security to help defend their system from cracker access. So if your department is checking the computer of a suspect for criminal evidence check the hidden folders or encrypted files. Also check any difference between the stated capacity of a hard drive and the indicated capacity to indicate “invisible” encrypted sections. Taking into consideration of course, the normal hard drive operational space that is reserved on all modern hard drives.

There is a fee of some kind to utilize most commercial anonymous VPN’s, so financial records (credit card, paypal, electronic transfers, bitcoin transfers……) could also be used under warrant to at least start a trace, obtain evidence and get a search warrant for the VPN to continue the chase.

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(“JMHO”): The recent “Apple-FBI” flap was unfortunately totally counter-productive. All it did was raise additional intense public interest in communications security with not only the public but also academics and professionals across the globe. The friction between Europe and the US has been at a critical level anyway, recently (especially after the NSA records release) nearly collapsing billion$ in business between EU and US. The political push to further erode US communication security only raised the hackles of the EU members even more. Besides, the end result of the flap was zero anyway: There was no useable information on the County’s phone used by the terrorists.

The obama administration successfully pushed the CISA program quietly into law in the dark of night during the 2015 Christmas week. “Quiet” will not be the case with the present push to run all U.S. communications security companies out of business by requiring a back door to their encryption schemas. Either there is encryption security, or there is not encryption security. If only just one present honest dot-gov employee has custody of the back door key, he will not be there forever. The next keeper of the key might be another in a long line of public official quislings for sale to the highest bidder. And that’s “MHO” no matter what one of my most alltime favorite Federal Agents says about preconceived bias destroying the chance for productive dialog on the subject. He is the definition of the proper, lawful effective Police Administrtor. Absolutely honest and totally trustworthy. The problem is that his next replacement could easily be a throwback to the 1950’s. “Backdoor” is not what the Nation’s security wants or needs.

CERN recently had an excellent speaker addressing the subject of human preconceived bias. My opinion on any backdoors in security programs being a killer for US-based encryption vendors is not preconceived bias; it’s based on observation, history and solid logic. Network Associates simply decided to not open PGP code to peer review when they bought it. Therefore it was proprietary. Therefore security could not be verified. Suddenly it was no longer purchased by the customers seeking encryption and NA’s level of percieved PGP trustworthiness became non-existent. NA’s PGP business collapsed and PGP was sold again to Symantec. Symantec opened the source code to peer review and built a thriving business still available today. If there becomes a back-door (or call it whatever you want, a duck is a duck) then Symantec can kiss their PGP business goodbye also. So apparently we will have to agree to disagree on this matter of “either-or” regarding pre-concieved opinions on the subject of encryption security.

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http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-34713435 England’s Investigatory Powers Bill: Encryption program backdoors required for use by government. The title of the Bill is couched as an update to modernize police practices of privacy acquisition. A whole bunch of acquisition, similar to CISA. UK companies are required to decrypt encrypted messages and keep customer personal historical records for the Royal MDP to get around to looking at sometime. I haven’t researched deeply how EU is watching this, but there is a grand canyon between the communications security laws between much of Europe, Britain, and the U.S. Tensions are high already between EU and UK. With the “Brexit” vote coming up in the UK, it may become another scratchy item. Or not.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/28/world/spy-agencies-scour-phone-apps-for-personal-data.html (warning about those “free apps” that people download to their phones and computers. Marketing snoops and malware accompany most anything that is totally free at all levels)

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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/18/us/politics/obama-nsa.html (Just more of the usual political hot air, nothing of real substance…)

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https://www.facebook.com/ Rule #1: If Facebook is involved, it is designed primarily for public information intelligence gathering and marketing. 🙂

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www.business.att.com (Not checked, don’t know what they offer but it’s for business.)

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www.WhatsApp.com Facebook-owned messaging platform. Reputed by dot.gov to be an “enemy of law enforcement”. (?Is that complaint simply dot-gov disinformation?) But WhatsApp can actually be a valuable tool, so don’t dismiss them too quickly. This App is either free or 99-cents depending on which Playstore screen you look at. I didn’t load it because in order to use it your contacts have to load it also. Which might be OK for your situation, but not mine.

This has been a casual discussion of several popular communications security options. By no means is it complete, nor was it evaluated by a security professional. If you have argument with any of the evaluations above, you are kindly invited to reply with your corrections. Backed up, of course, by valid references, not opinions.

Best Regards, Ken

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

About the Clinton Email Furor…

I hate to take the time for this, but I just have to comment on a whole bushel full of public complaints regarding the 2016 FBI review of Clinton and her email fiasco.

Public and politician’s complaints against Director Comey have become prolific.

 Director Comey was assigned the task of using his resources to investigate the use, by Ex-Secretary Of State Clinton, of her private, unsecured, email server for State Department business. And to find if he could detect any intent to commit a crime, and, most specifically, if any damage was done to our Nation by her reckless use of unsecured, unauthorized, Email communications.  Besides stupidity, which unfortunately is not a crime.

 Director Comey already answered the question of whether she lied to the FBI during the investigation regarding the Email debacle: “No, she did not lie to the FBI.” Do we know what all the questions were that she was asked? Probably not.  Do we know the parameters and limitations the Agents were required to abide by?  Probably not.  Do we know if the circle of support around Ms. Clinton was given excessive considerations for their cooperation? Probably not.  Do we know the actual depth of the investigation regarding access to all correspondence and digital records within the circle of support for Ms. Clinton?  Probably not.  Do we know whether or not the occupant of The People’s House, or one of his cronies, pressured the FBI regarding their investigation of their only shining hope for the future, Ms. Clinton?  Probably only two people in the world know the answer to that question.

Were the emails “hacked”by adversaries to our Nation? If so the investigation could find no server tracks to prove so. “On the other hand”, while OCONUS Clinton probably used local connectivity from hotels etc. Those IP tracks on the server would have been duplicates of what any and all foreign hackers would have been using.  “OTOH” again, the person snooping the Clinton home server could have been living right next door, using a combination of browsers and VPN’s that would appear to be originating somewhere else on the planet.

At any rate, you can bet that any foreign government would never admit tapping into her transmissions at their originating connectivity IP; it would destroy the value of any information they obtained from her emails.  And if they did say they cracked the Clinton system, they are either lying or are unbelievably stupid, or hoping to sew a bit of misinformation.

In the meanwhile, the limited resources of the FBI are being assigned to a whole list of other current matters that presently threaten the physical security of our Republic.

And if someone like Director Comey had been tapped for the 2016 CinC Race, we would not be having the raging political problems we do have.

So please, quit complaining about the quality of his Agent’s work when you and I obviously know nothing about whether they were under undue restrictions of where they could go, or not.

Thank You. :-}

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About that Windows-10 Nag screen…

About That Windows-10 Nag Nag Nag Pop-up…..”

Warning: If you are easily bored regarding computer security, you’ll be asleep shortly.

Both Wife and Daughter had become irritated beyond normal sanity by the incessant nagging pop-up from Microsoft wanting to dump Windows-10 onto their computers, “for free” of course.

Daughters’ computer actually had started installing Windows-10 as part of an “automatic update”. It got stuck so I was able to divert the process, then revert the OS to her preferred Windows-7-Pro without having to reformat and reload from original disks. I then deleted the “ important update” that nagged her computer screen. Then changed her “update preferences” to “manual” so she could avoid the offending windows-10 “update” from automatically loading. (The nag is number “KB3035583”).

Wife also was irritated with the constant Windows-10 nagging pop-up, so I reset her update preferences to not automatically download and install, but just let her check for any updates, choose the ones she wanted, and avoid installing the offending KB3035583 “important update”.

Using your “Google-esque” skills, search terms like; “Windows 10 wiped out all my files”, or “problems with windows 10”, or “Windows-10 key-logger”. Maybe you, like I, are suspicious of anyone wanting to load a key-logger onto your computer. It collects your typing, speech, writing and contacts, and sends them back home for marketing. And if someone wants to load a key-logger onto your computer, why not a “Remote Administration Tool”? If someone is already intent on spying on you, how about the web-cam? Why would they place a limit on how much they want to spy on you?

I have never been a Microsoft hater. I have every version of Windows starting with DOS-2. Including the NT versions, Home Server, Visual Studio 2012, and all the Office Suites up to Version 2010. I also attended regional MSDN courses offered for the past many years.

I’m a MS dinosaur, not an MS hater.

“But”, dinosaurs really hate to be gouged in the ribs every time their computer loads. They just want to go to work. They also hate people, or products, that incessantly badger them when they have work to do. And, like most of you out there, dinosaurs absolutely detest spammers, sneaks and thieves.

This dinosaur had already taken a radically different path to avoid the Microsoft Windows-10 nagging frenzy than most other folks did: I switched this box to Linux.

This box has modest resources since it has been around for quite awhile. 64-bit, Gigabyte X79-UP4 with dual-BIOS, dual video boards, three duplicate hard drives for a total of one TB, (minus the reserved space of course). Only 4-GB RAM, but it runs Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon with all the office and Internet programs on Wi-Fi connectivity very nicely. It is also running one commercial finance program designed for Windows.

After a reasonable learning curve, and a fine users’ manual in .pdf format, Mint works as well as any Windows OS ever did. This box also has a full AV Suite and live Malwarebytes, although most ‘nix folks say those are not necessary. But dinosaurs are careful most of the time so the AV and Malwarebytes stays on board.

If you want to stop Windows-10 nag-pop-up, just reverse update number “KB3035583”.

Or, what the heck; just relax, take the blue pill, go with the flow, and be happy.

Thanks for visiting, now, back to work!

* * * * * * * * * *

Update, 7-29-2016

What were the most memorable, valuable, lessons you learned in grade school?

Kindergarten:  Take a nap, read a book, listen to the teacher, be nice to the other kids.

4th Grade:  “Girls Rule, Boys Drool”.  If you want to get along with the girls, they said their big sisters told them that was rule number one.  So don’t forget it.  There will be tests on that subject later on.   About 12th Grade. Or, what the devil; take the blue pill and forget it.  You’ll be real sorry later on.

Yesterday, at the gentle urging of my number one girl, (wife of course), (“They’re not going to keep supporting Windows-7 Pro, and I just am NOT going to learn Linux, so update my desktop!!!!).  Her desktop was updated to Windows-10.  By me.  No more discussion.   “Girls rule, boys drool”, I’m happy.    Also, yesterday, another of my number one girls updated her desktop, and her husband updated his laptop.  Daughter said she didn’t need to repeat the same thing her Mom said, so like it or lump it.  “Girls Rule, Boys Drool”.

So today I’m also updating Wife’s laptop (which I had borrowed, appropriated, pirated, stolen, long ago, to use while watching TV) to W-10 in case I crater some day then she won’t have to flip back and forth between her desktop W-10 and the laptop W-7-Pro.  In case she needs to use it.

“BTW”, all those features spoken of as invasive, nosey, personal tracking, key-logging, spam-magnets, etc… You can disable them all from the first setup screen when you are upgrading to Windows-10.

When Windows-10 loads itself, it puts the prior version of Windows into a root folder named “Windows.Old” (maybe not with the period, can’t remember).  On the laptop that folder took up about 34-GiB of hard drive.  There is plenty of space on the laptop so I’m not going to delete it soon.  It can be used to revert to the prior OpSys.  If you need to delete it to save space, or figure you don’t want to revert to “old”, just ask Microsoft.com how to delete Windows.Old in W-10.  It’s pretty straight forward but you might have to do it with a clean boot depending on what other stray stuff you had on the computer.

Did I change my desktop?  Nope.  The girls didn’t ever tell me they have any rules for boy stuff.  So, this fun and shopping box is Linux Mint V-18 Cinnamon.   My work box is still W-7 Pro, and will remain so until W-7 Pro breaks and then it will graduate to Linux also.

Anyway, I think so.

You gotta remember the rules.

That is all.  🙂

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The Reluctant Were-Wolf

Sir Anthony Hopkins has been one of my favorite actors.  This week he played the lead role as the ancient wolf in the production “The Wolfman”.

Benicio DelToro supported Sir Anthony as the reluctant Werewolf, and all the characters were played by excellent actors.

This story was well-written, staged in 17th Century Europe, and had a fine twist in the final scenes.  It was a very decent rendition of the Were-legend, with the Were-Wolf being Sir Anthony’s curse.
During the movie I jotted down thoughts from the point of view of the tortured “Reluctant Wolfman”. 
Not a standard version of a quatrain, so don’t look for it to follow an accepted pattern.

*****************
    The Wolf-Man’s curse:
The autumn moon, the cool of night, the prayers said, to ward off fright.

The wolfs-bane shine, iridescent blue, gives pause to fear, from me, and you.

But the one who cries for relief so dear knows retreating day brings his curse so near.

The autumn moon, the night so cool, the change begins, the pain so cruel.

His painful cry, Screams stifled for fear, that others nearby might possibly hear.

The change complete, now eyes so bright, and ears so keen, in full moon light.

Light gone, now dark, now others fear, the ancient beast, watching so near.

No wolfs’ bane feared, no silver gives pause, no bane-soaked spears, can match my claws.

This night, my friend, your life will end, with screams you shout: The Beast is out!

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Police Recruitment Difficult

…Anyway, that’s been the news from Police Administrators all over the Nation for the past couple of years.

Some of the very highest administrators in our Country have been publicly wondering, and generally offering unlikely reasons for the recent difficulty of recruiting police in various departments.  Others are commiserating because there has been a raise in crime in their cities or in neighborhoods, and they just cannot figure it out.

I’m not offering any personal opinions here, just offering a letter written by an officer on the East Coast.  If his “reasons” sound “reasonable”, or if his “reasons” are “unlikely”, the opinion is all up to you, the reader.  I’m not interested either way because as one of my old worker buds used to say with his south-pacific accent; “Eet’s no my pro-blem, mon”.

The writer misses a couple of very significant events that working police have been handed recently, but he hits about 80% of the problems with recruitment, retention, and criminal proactive enforcement.

I don’t know how the “San Francisco Vigilante” association works on this subject but it was part of the letter.  “Vigilante” actions don’t work today.

Here you go:

From a police officer in Maryland:
CDS enforcement (*Note: CDS means Controlled Drugs & Substances) by patrol is on life support as it is and total arrests have dropped by about 90% where I work. There were guys on my shift who used to go out and get 17 legitimate lock ups per shift, the majority of them felonies.  (*Note; “per team”, “per shift”) Now, the department is lucky if the whole shift gets 17 lock ups for the month. The hand writing is on the wall: do nothing and save your job. Folks on the street are acting accordingly.
I asked one guy I work with why he stopped making arrests. His answer “I can’t risk getting fired.” This is by no means a brutal or corrupt Officer. Very polite, very professional and at one time a very hard worker.
Not anymore. The same goes for everyone to his left and right. They’ve all shut down. Police work is effectively over for them and that means that police services are effectively non-existent for the thousands of people who live and work where they patrol. Occasionally someone will ask me why we don’t Police the way we used to. I tell them why in explicit detail and suggest that they write their elected representatives.
A lot of guys refuse to run code anymore. They won’t activate their lights or siren for anything other than a call to assist another Officer.
Assault in progress? Drive the speed limit. A shooting or a cutting? Drive the speed limit and make sure to stop for at least three seconds at every traffic control device. Why? Because every accident where the Officer runs code is now the Officer’s fault regardless of the transportation articles. So be it. Patrol will adjust accordingly.
EMS will not enter the scene where someone is injured as a result of armed criminal action if we are not present. The longer it takes for the Police to arrive the longer that victim bleeds. The problem is that you can’t be fired for getting there a minute late even if the victim dies but you can and will be fired if you crash trying to get there in time, even if you didn’t violate the law or department policy.
Cameras will only make the situation worse. We have already been told that if we get cameras they will have to be turned off when we enter private property to avoid running afoul of the current wiretapping statute.
That right there knocks their effectiveness down by about fifty percent. Domestics, EPs/mental cases (*Note: EP is Psychological) and investigate the trouble calls account for a good many uses of force. You can ignore a drug dealer on the sidewalk. You can’t ignore a knife wielding schizophrenic who refuses to take his medication. If the Officer thinks that entering that house or apartment to deal with said EP will result in the loss of his job he’s going to pull back and wait for SWAT. Why? Because if he forms a perimeter and everyone in the house is murdered he cannot be disciplined. If he enters the house and kills said EP when attacked with said knife and the family claims racism/brutality/murder he’s looking at termination.
When the cameras come, arrests for loitering, disorderly, CDS possession and distribution as a well as a host of other offenses will all but cease.
A use of force can be justified but looks ugly at the same time. High ranking Police Executives and Mayors don’t like ugly – even if ugly is both lawful and necessary. The result is that Officers will be fired or suspended until the message is received that ugly will not be tolerated.
At that point active police work will cease – the process has already started.
A lot of folks want body cameras. They’re not going to like what they get…namely Police who will arrive slowly and will simply go through the motions when they arrive – if they come at all. The only thing that Officer is required to do is show up for work on time and get to his call for service eventually (which could be hours). If the Police go into hibernation they are untouchable. No one can be fired or prosecuted for doing the bare minimum. Sadly, that’s the future. It’s unfolding right now.
I completely understand the frustration that all police officers are feeling about the recent events. In many instances the problem can be traced to the fact that their superiors (i.e. chiefs, mayors, councils, etc) are more interested in protecting their political positions than in defending the officers when the actions are defensible. What may result, if the scenario that the Maryland officer outlines becomes wide spread, is anarchy where all law breaks down. In that case the citizens who are able will begin to react with predictably uncertain results. It is the same set of conditions that existed in the west in the middle of the 19th century.
Are we headed in the same direction as the Vigilantes?
* * * * *

(*Note: He mentions the “Vigilantes”, but does not explain them nor place them in historical perspective:
The “Vigilantes” were formed during the 1850’s Gold Rush Days. Here is a reasonably accurate explanation:)
http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/second-vigilante-committee-organizes-in-san-francisco

WHEREAS it has become apparent to the citizens of San Francisco, that there is no security for life and property, either under the regulations of society as it at present exists, or under the law as now administered; Therefore the citizens, whose names are hereunto attached, do unite themselves into an association for the maintenance of the peace and good order of society, and the preservation of the lives and property of the citizens of San Francisco, and do bind ourselves, each unto the other, to do and perform every lawful act for the maintenance of law and order, and to sustain the laws when faithfully and properly administered; but we are determined that no thief, burglar, incendiary or assassin, shall escape punishment, either by the quibbles of the law, the insecurity of prisons. the carelessness or corruption of the police, or a laxity of those who pretend to administer justice.

 

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Beating The Devaluation of the Dollar

My Neighbor’s Plan To Beat The Rising Prices of Big-Ticket Items went like this:

Neighbor said that he believed inflation was going to increase substantially in the near future.  This, he thought, was because of the ongoing political banter between Beijing and Washington D.C., and that the Chinese negotiators are clearly smarter than the American politicians.  He said the Yuan is taking over the advantageous place in international trade that the dollar has enjoyed until now.  Serious devaluation of the Dollar is inevitable, according to his calculations. 
Be that as it may, whatever it is; “it is what it is”, as the saying goes.
His master plan, at any rate, was to beat the imminent devaluation of the dollar by stabilizing his major expenses.  He was going to buy his dream car with today’s dollars, thereby having a specific payment of specific dollars, then repay that specific amount with tomorrow’s dollars which would be worth much less.  Therefore, his “dream car” tomorrow would cost perhaps  25%   more than today, but his purchase price and contract would be at today’s prices.  Same with a summer cabin he could buy today, saving the increase that would be added tomorrow with the devalued Dollar, according to the realtor giving him all this good advice.  He had a few other clever ideas, but these two were the major part of his grand plan.
Sounded like he had it all figured out.  Except for a couple of problems he may have overlooked while developing his grand plan to beat the future.
I asked him what the payments would be on the car, and what the principal owed would be.  The purchase price (“principal”) was just over $50,000.00 and monthly payments would depend on the length of contract.
I asked what the cost of the vacation cabin would be.  He had been looking at both property and cabins.  Property was about $150,000.00 and property with a nice cabin might be $350,000.00.
A total obligation, and payments with interest, of a half-million dollars.  Give or take.
I just looked at him without comment.
He eventually asked:  “Whaaat?”
“Do you really need a new dream car?”
“Uhhh, not really, but I’d be beating the coming dollar devaluation.”
“Does your family want to spend vacation the same place every year?
“Uhhh, well, maybe it would get old, but it would be an investment…”
“So you plan on spending fifty thousand for a car that will be worth ten grand less, as soon as you drive it off the dealer’s lot?  That’s a twenty-percent loss in ten minutes, so where are you beating the dollar devaluation?”
“Well, the payments would be stabilized at today’s rate, not tomorrows higher rate, and I’d be paying with tomorrow’s less valuable Dollars.”
“Stabilized on a car you don’t need, which is loosing value every mile, right?
“……. Well, Riiiiiiight…”
“Stabilized on a vacation cabin that will become monotonous to stay at?”
“……. Uhhh, maybe, but it’s an investment to beat the dollar devaluation.”
“OK, so you’re obligated for a half-million dollars, plus interest.  The car has lost ten thousand the first mile, which is 20% of your car investment.  The coming dollar devaluation you expect will tighten up the vacation property market.  Because, simply, the other side of currency devaluation is inflation.  Living expenses increase; disposable income decreases.  That means everything your family needs today will cost 25%  more tomorrow.  If the increases in your income do not keep pace with inflation you’re going to have a net decrease in your purchasing ability.  In other words, your income has to increase 25% just to maintain today’s comfort level.”
“OK, well, maybe that idea was a little optimistic.  So what would you do?”
  “Follow the advice of the wise man.  That way no matter what happens you’ll be in the best possible position you can achieve to provide for your family during good as well as bad times.”
He thought about that for a minute.
“So, what does the wise man say?”
“First the wise man says to avoid debt like the plague.  That means you buy what you need, not what trips your ego trigger.  Second he says to gradually build up the resources your family uses to sustain themselves.  Food, water, clothing, non-food items essential to running your house and property, transportation.  Idealy, try to save sufficient funds to see your family through a period of difficulty.  Difficulty may be caused by serious inflation, disruption of the supply system, or a loss of  employment income.  If you want an investment pick something that will be in demand and in a market niche that can afford it.”
“I don’t know; that sounds like an expensive project…”
“OK, but what was the down-payment, out-of-pocket cash, you were going to invest with that uber-super car and the vacation resort?”
“Well, maybe twenty-five thousand or so.  The car was no down except my trade-in, the cabin was ten percent…”
“So, why not put twentytwo thousand into insured savings at the bank or credit union, and three thousand into all the other supplies, and you’d be right up there with what the wise man recommended?”
“Yeah.  May be the way to go.  And my wife would be a lot happier too.  She wasn’t too supportive about the car and cabin.”
“So, there you go; one fell swoop and you make your wife happy, do everything the wise man suggests, and sleep better because you don’t have a fifty-grand investment that is loosing money every day.  Plus, you don’t have a white-elephant over-priced property that you’re trying to sell in a depressed market so you can buy food for your family.”
“Good plan, I should have thought of that a long time ago.”
“Good decision!”

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