ePrepper is looking to roll all its content into a larger prepper website.  If interested, please leave a comment and I will contact you.  No comments will be approved, it will only server as a method to start communication.  ePrepper will likely close its blog and forward traffic to another site… a site that I can both endorse and continue writing articles for.  Please let me know if you are interested!

You Don’t NEED a Smart Phone – avoid the lies from Apple, Google, and Microsoft

photo-on-10-1-16-at-10-11-amOk, I’m at 30 days in with a little Nokia X3.  I sold my iPhone 5S and upgraded my life by simplifying my cellular use.  Is this really possible?  Can you go with a simple phone, be more free, pay less, and really be satisfied?  My answer is yes.

Before we really dig into this, I have to be clear.  I am not totally against smart phones.  There is a good chance that I will go back to one myself (but with some strict limitations I will talk about later).

In realization that I’m making a fairly bold claim by saying that Apple, Google, and Microsoft are lying to us, I’ll break down my understanding of the smart phone sales model before getting into my smart-phone-free experience.

Apple, Google, and Microsoft (combined) provide any of the following combinations:

  • sell hardware
  • sell or market software
  • make money from ads and/or ad networks
  • sell internet bandwidth to consumers
  • sell their consumers an ecosystem of devices
  • market security services to consumers
  • market their own video conferencing
  • own other smaller companies that produce any of the above services

(These are just the first things I thought of and the list could be much longer.)

So, you buy a smart phone.  Initially for me, I purchased a smart phone because I wanted communication security for an organization I was doing work with.  The phone I purchased was a Blackberry and, as we now know, the security model I bought into was a complete illusion (Blackberry is now known for using the same key on all consumer devices and holding a “master key” which would give them the ability to unlock any content they wanted).

Perhaps you justified the need when you originally purchased a smart phone, but then, you build a dependency.  This dependency is what every manufacturer strives for as it builds a reliance for the consumer to keep consuming goods and services from the vendor.  For me, I purchased a communications device, then I got sucked into the apps that were available, and over time (years for me) I became distracted more and more by the device.  The device became an animal that justified it’s own need.  It was an obsession.  For me, it became about having it, being distracted by it, looking at it when I was in a boring meeting, pulling it out of my pocket when I was in a line… but why?

It doesn’t make sense.  But does it?  I am addicted to information.  Interestingly enough, there’s already a couple terms dubbed for this:

  • infoholic: someone with an insatiable desire for information
  • dataholic: someone that uses the internet unnecessarily

There’s a great similarity between alcoholism and infoholism (I’m not sure if “infoholism” has been dubbed yet, so I may be the first).  The drink makes you desire more and the information makes you desire more.  The fact is, you can’t know everything.  I would argue that you weren’t designed by God to know everything and that information easily becomes a distraction to God’s will for us… but maybe that’s a future post.

So, we consume the information and really the information consumes us as well.  We Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo.  We Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  We game, we waste time, and consume, consume consume.  We are gorgers of the internet feast.  We live in a digital world, forgetting our physical links to physical people, text instead of talk and post instead of touch.  We look and read instead of tasting the life that God has right in front of us.

We have senses for a reason: taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing.  We can only use two of these effectively with a smart phone.  We can see and hear.  Yes, we can touch, but it is a faked-out version of touch and limits to a screen.  Real life experience is so much more than a screen.  Really, even sight is faked-out since it is a two dimensional screen.  I know 3D research is making huge improvements, but still it just mimics what God already created.

So, when I say Apple, Google, and Microsoft are lying to us.  It is that they are selling us a cheapened version of life.  They are moving more and more stuff into the digital realm and we are falling for it and paying for it hand over fist.

But, not only are these big three manipulating how we make decisions, almost every cellular dealer has bought into this as well.  At most cellular companies you might have the option for, at most, 2 or 3 simple phones.  They sell you a smart phone, then capitalize on the data usage.  Data usage grows year over year and you eventually feel it in your wallet.  At first, when you buy the phone, you are thinking, “gimme gimme gimme, I need, I need” (much like the character Bob in the movie “What About Bob?”).  Then, the device just seems to take over.  The business model for cellular companies is that you need a smart phone and you will receive cross looks if you go to get a simple feature phone.  Of course, Ting is the exception here due to their open model allowing a user to bring any compatible phone to their network.

Ok, now to my own experience in the last 30 days.

  1. More productivity.  It wasn’t getting rid of the phone alone that removed distraction and helped me focus, I also changed to a standing desk in my office and that has also been a great improvement.
  2. Reclaimed spare time.  Yeah, I still get bored when in a line or in a boring meeting.  However, I have time to think.  If I get my computer out, it is specifically because I need to search something and not just because I have a device in my pocket.  So, I don’t mindlessly waste time.  I guess you might say that if I waste time now it is more intentional.
  3. More observant.  Because I have less distraction in my pocket, I tend to see more of what is going on around me.  I try to say “hello” to more people (even if their heads are buried in phones).  Overall, I find myself examining my surroundings more.
  4. Battery life.  I’ve gone from charging every night to charging every couple days (even though the battery is really only 50-75% depleted).  I could probably go for 4 days easy or three days if I’m using the audio player for a few hours.
  5. Higher Attention to People.  When people try to reach me, they know they’ve got me.  There isn’t the illusion of texting when a person may or may not be really paying attention to you.  When you reach me on the phone, you know that you are talking to me.  You know that I am engaging in conversation.  Vocal inflections are lost in text, but hard to fake when you are listening to somebody speak.

One of my biggest challenges was music and audiobooks.  I love both of these.  Music wasn’t too much of a challenge as I just picked up a 16GB card, put it in my phone and transferred my music library over to the card.  Audiobooks were a huge challenge.  However, I was finally able to get my audiobooks using a program called AAX-to-MP3.  Then, I had to get an app for the Symbian S40 from a guy online (the app bookmarks your last listening location and is designed specifically for the Symbian S40).  I had to compile a program on linux, download and convert my Audible AAX files, then get the app working on the phone, but after a few hours of mucking around, I finally got it all to work.  The Nokia X3-02 has phenomenal audio quality and I would HIGHLY recommend this phone over any phone I’ve ever heard (smart phones included).

What’s the downside?  Well, I still have lots of friends that use iMessage.  Really, any sort of texting on my little phone is annoying.  But, it does keep my texts shorter and reduce cost.  Also, there are times that looking something up on my phone or taking a quality picture would be nice, but I guess I’ve lived without these features for a month and it really isn’t a big deal.

Will I go back to a smart phone?  Maybe.  But, I know I really need to limit some things.  Now that I know I can make it on a small phone, I will likely get another GSM phone so I can just swap sims when I feel like I need to use a smart phone.  Also, I will likely limit all my messaging to “signal” messenger to maintain some security.  Now that all my friends think I’ve forgotten about them, making the switch to signal will be an improvement!  I would also likely choose Copperhead OS to make sure I am getting the latest patches.  But, really, I’m on the fence.  I don’t feel like I need a smart phone and maybe just having access to a tablet for occasional portable use would be plenty.  For that matter, where can I take a tablet that I can’t take a laptop?  Really, I am trying to keep myself in check.

What’s also interesting are the comments I’ve heard.  I’ve heard people say…

  • Wow, I really commend you.
  • That’s a brave move.
  • WHAT is that? (gives me a chance to explain what I’m doing and why)

As an IT Professional without a smart phone, you bet I get glances from my peers.  But, I don’t care.  I’m more care-free and it is great not being tethered to information or let other people keep their thumbs on you with unnecessary text messages and distractions.

Of course, I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention Ting.  Yeah, yeah, I know, you are saying, “What!?  Now you are going to hit your readers with a commercial?!”  The fact is, I could have made this switch happen without a company that gives me control over changing my devices, porting my number around, and has both CDMA and GSM access.  Thank you TING!  I love you guys and am proud to be a Ting Agent.  So, if you are looking to pick up a cheap GSM chip that you can throw into a device and try their care-free service, you can click the link below.  Maybe you are even in the market to change phones, they can help you there too.  Even if you are sticking with a smart phone, you can just purchase a SIM at $9, you get a $25 service credit (which on a little cheap phone like mine could get you through a couple months of service!).


Following My Own Advice: Dropping my smart phone.

In a recent post, Digital Data Security… It Can’t Be Done, I struggle through my thoughts on why we can’t really be secure and why we should just expect security flaws to get worse over time.  I’ve struggled on and off with the idea of getting rid of my smart phone and have even gone as far to recommend that you make this change as well.  But, it’s tough.  We like convenience.  We like to have texting, email, and web browsing at our fingertips (say nothing for social media, twitter, instagram, and all that other garbage).

However, even though I liked the convenience of a smart phone, I would constantly find myself pulling it out with no real reason other than to check messages and waste precious time.  Also, I find that I can text somebody with a question rather than grappling with finding answers for myself.  This causes interruptions, in fact, I would find myself getting interrupted by text messages all throughout the day.  It can be a huge time waster.

When work got really busy a couple weeks ago, I decided to take matters into my own hands and do some simplifying.  After all, I would simply be making the change that I have been recommending to my readers for a couple years.

So, I did it.

After much research, my phone of choice would end up being a Nokia X3-02 (due to its superior music quality and compact size).  The phone is from the dark ages, going all the way back to 2011, but it is a nice and well-built phone with the simple qualities that I needed.

As this was a GSM phone and Ting, my provider, being capable of both CDMA and GSM networks, I wanted to make sure that GSM would work ok in my area.  So, I purchased a $9 sim for testing purposes and kept my smart phone in standby in case I had issues.  After successful testing (I should say exceptional testing since the signal and service seems very good in my area), I purchased an additional sim to get my CDMA number ported over to the GSM network.  I kept the other sim as well so I could stick it in a simple GSM phone for my oldest son, and my wife is still on CDMA.  I only mention things like this to give readers an understanding of how porting numbers work with GSM sims… you can’t change your number once one is established for that sim, you have to replace sims.  But, you can port your number back to a CDMA phone without any additional work (using Ting anyways).

As always, Ting makes transitions like these seamless.  I simply logged into my Ting dashboard, ported the number to my sim, which already showed in my dashboard.  I did this overnight and my number was ready to go on the sim in the Nokia by morning.  Another advantage to GSM sims is that one can just take the sim out and stick it in another GSM phone and turn it on, so should I decide to go back to another phone, I can do that quickly and easily… though I hope to be on a dumb phone for a while.

And guess what?  My life is much less interrupt driven.  When people get a hold of me, they know they are getting me, not some text message.  People can’t pull me away with a text.  I’m not looking at my phone all the time.  I’m not getting interrupted by texts that don’t matter.  I’m not feeling like I need to continually check my email.  It really is much easier than I thought to make the change.

One disadvantage is that I am an avid audiobook listener.  I need to find the tools to make this work on the phone or use a supplemental player for audiobooks, but that isn’t a big deal to me.

Another thing that made my switch easier was motivation.  I had just finished the book “@War” and this just encouraged me more to go ahead and take the feature phone leap.  So… it may not be nearly as hard as you think it is to switch to a feature phone.  If you aren’t convinced, go read @War, then you will likely be motivated to make the move.

Of course, most of you know that I am a Ting agent and you can get your Ting discounts right here.

Four Technology-releated Books, and why you should read them

Though I have been fairly quiet in my writings over the past couple months (or longer, actually), I have been doing some significant reading and studying.  Here are four books that I have devoured in recent months as well as some quick thoughts on why I think you need to read them.  If you want to skip to the best book, then just skip down to number 1, but I think all of these are worth your time.

4th… Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, Author: Eric Schlosser.  I was drawn to this book by it’s long and sexy title, then was blown away by the content.  Schlosser pulls together a timeline of incredible events, most of which you probably haven’t even heard about.  In the book, he weaves in the story of the “Damascus Accident.”  The book is huge, I think the audio version is something like 20 hours, but don’t let that scare you off.  If you are anything like me, you will find yourself riveted to the accounts of various accidents involving nuclear weapons.  Though there are sections that tie in long laborious details of various technical data, these details are tied in very well by the author.  If you like military history, this book is for you.

3rd… Dark Territory, Author: Fred Kaplan.  I really think this is a great book.  Kaplan takes you down the path of where we are headed as a nation with regard to technology.  It’s all pretty scary stuff.  The author does a great job laying foundation as well as weaving in various stories, exploits, and bits about various hackers.  But, Kaplan seems to suffer from some information blindness in a few areas.  For one, he has a liberal slant in his writing, blaming the lack of certain federal program success on republicans and favoring Obama and liberals.  His timeline for the Stuxnet virus (the virus that spun the centrifuges in Iran out of control) is a little disjointed from other authors on this topic.  Additionally, he downplays Israel’s role in Stuxnet (but other authors downplay this as well).  Regardless of his writing slant, this is a fantastic read, yet it is rivaled by the number one spot at the bottom of this post.

2nd… The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program, Authored by the following team: Jeremy Scahill, The Staff of The Intercept, Edward Snowden – foreword, Glenn Greenwald – afterword.  If you want to know about America’s use of drones, this is your book.  There is a wide scope of content, which includes details about secret programs, leaks by Snowden, and jaw-dropping information about how the program successes are evaluated.  The authors also delve into the topic of no-fly lists, how easy it is to get on one, and how hard it is to get off one.  The read is a little dry in places, but has such great information that you will easily overcome any dry spells.

1st… @War, Author: Shane Harris.  If you are chomping at the bit to find a good technology-related book, this could be it.  I’ve poured over book after book, some are disappointing, some are just ok, then every once in a while you will find a real gem.  This book is that gem.  Harris’ content seems to be at least a couple steps above Kaplan’s book (number 3 above).  Even though Kaplan’s book is good, this book is exceptional.  Harris spells out not only where we’ve been with technology, but demonstrates the direction we are now taking.  You may think that you know where we are heading… as I did.  I was wrong in some aspects of digital security and Harris makes things crystal clear.  Harris gives great examples of how we are under attack and hackers, primarily China and Russia, are trying to take down and/or infiltrate every aspect of our infrastructure.  But, what blew my mind was when Harris brought in details of a 600 million dollar program by the CIA for Amazon to create a secure cloud for the military.  Further, Harris demonstrates how Amazon is positioned to take over secure commerce, browsing, and communications for even the public sector in a system where users lose anonymity in an effort to gain security.  So basically, Harris predicts that privacy will be gone.  When reading this book, I felt like Harris had handed me a pair of binoculars to look into the future as he painted the details before my eyes.  @War is my number one recommended read.

Digital Data Security… It Can’t Be Done.

My writing has been sparse over the past few months.  For those that enjoy reading my ramblings, I apologize for not rambling more often.  I’ve been mentally occupied over recent weeks and months.

As far as data security goes, I know I fall short of Krebs, Schneier, and so many others.  However, I believe I have an inside track on them as my perspective on data and security is born from a biblical worldview.  Solid believers forging new ground seems to be a rare thing.

I’m going to take a short, but necessary, rabbit trail, then get to the point of this post.  My worldview begins with a loving God that built mankind for the purpose of worship and relationship.  Since God has an attribute of love, there must must be the ability for God to extend His love, even through eternity’s past.  Unlike Islam, the God of the Bible was and is able to love something… God the Son. Allah didn’t have a Son to bless with love, so apparently, he just loves himself (selfishness, and this attribute can be seen all throughout the Koran).  I’m just making distinctions here, the distinction of love is critical, and I’ll get back to it later.

Relationship is the centerpiece of this worldview.  A relationship with mankind is broken by sin.  God gives the ability to renew that relationship through the blood of His Son.  Then He even gives us the Holy Spirit so that Christ never leaves us.

What makes up a relationship?  Interaction, right?  Communication.  Trust.  Love.  Commitment.  Obedience.  Etc, etc.  God invented relationship.  Relationship is such a cool invention, that man tried to recreate it.

Man created digital data.  Man wanted a recording medium and started with stone tablets.  That medium started in analog, like a vinyl record.  But due to spacial limitations, man was driven to record more and more on less and less.  The first recording device could just hold a few seconds.  Then vinyl albums could hold a few songs, then 10 songs, and now iPods, phones, and computers, can hold thousands of songs.  Though we could hold so much, it wasn’t enough, so man invented music streaming where one could select from millions on songs.

Music is such a cool thing and a positive example of how man overcame a challenge, let’s now look at phones.  The early phones called into a switchboard.  The switchboard operator would connect a call.  This process was cumbersome, so eventually man created automatic switching when dialing a number.  This was awesome, but you still had to have a physical line.  Radio communications eventually made it possible so that almost everyone has a phone in their pocket.

And mail?  It used to be carried by horses, then by cars.  You had to wait for a letter.  So, man made it more efficient by using electrical impulses representing ones and zeros to take a letter from point A to point B at near the speed of light.  Man also augmented that ability by putting it in a smartphone in your pocket.

Ok, let’s get to the point.  The point is that man’s inventions have moved into a pivotal part of the relationship stream.  There are two problems now.  One has to do with security.  The other has to do with relationship.

1 – Security:  How can broken man create security?  He can’t.  He can theorize how it should be done, but corrupt man is incapable of pulling it off.  Time + Secure System = Broken System.  You can apply this to the systems you trust on a daily basis.  Man continually filters his vision with a lens of deceit, thinking that he can fix the problem when he can’t.

2 – Relationship:  The purpose of these inventions is to augment relationship.  The augmentation of relationship using a digital medium only cheapens the relationship over time.  Conversations become shallower.  Selfishness abounds (just look at the selfie phenomena).  Worse than just the relationship breakdown is the perceived dependence on the device (whether phone, computer, or whatever).

This doesn’t mean I can’t use technology.  It does mean that I cannot trust it.  It also means that I must keep the device in perspective with God design man for interaction.  Digital interaction can only take a relationship so far.  Seeing a smile from my wife in a facetime chat does not equal seeing it in person.  Digital data falls short of providing any meaningful relationship.  Data is only a cheap interface.  When I use a phone, I need to remain focused on who I am connected with on the other end, the device is just a gateway for communications.

One might argue that the Bible must also be a cheap interface from God to man.  This is simply not true.  First, the Bible is Divinely inspired, making it a collection of books that spans time.  Second, the Bible is one piece of God’s relationship.  We also have the Holy Spirit to guide and direct.  There is a relationship that is within instead of just reading a book.  There is conviction when we read the errors of our ways.  There is encouragement when we discover God’s promises.  All these things point us back to God.

Back to the issue at hand.  Seeing the nature of man and his desire to become dependent on his own invention is very discouraging.  Sinful man sits at the center.  Sinful man acts like the switchboard operator.  Even in automatic switching, someone can still look at the logs.  Man cannot be trusted.

We all know there are bleak times coming.  Christians will continually be on the radar.  Data is making it easier and easier to compromise people.  So, my question is this.  Will you be able to let go of the data?  Could you let go of your cell phone?  How about email?  Could you rely on the relationships you have with those that you can see face to face?

I have a love-hate relationship with my phone… and technology in general I guess.  I think the first step for me is to again step away from using a smartphone (or leave it at work) and go back to dumb phone and practice leaving it behind.  There are many that have prepared all sorts of things, like preparing and storing food, working on defense skills, and practicing a bug-out drill.  But, who of us has really practiced walking away from data?

9 Tips for Dead Dropping Off the Grid

After stumbling across the dead drop video I posted the other day, I got thinking more about dead drops.  It seems like they drops would be a great way to communicate discretely and off the grid.  Geocaching is form of dead drop.  But, like the USB dead drops I mentioned previously, geocaching also uses online databases to inform data-seekers exactly where to look and this is neither discrete or off the grid.

Here are some tips for creating an effective dead drop that can truly be secret.  You can do this for free and with items you already have available.

1 – Choose drop locations that are somewhat public.  Such places would be similar to those chosen by geocahers.  Public trails, parks, and locations near public travel ways can serve well.  Multiple locations may be used along the same route in order to provide options and create a randomness.

2 – Data containers should be chosen wisely.  A container could be something as small as an old 35mm film container, or maybe as large as a nalgene bottle, an ammo box, or anything else that is fitting for the expected quantity of objects the drop may need to hold.  Containers should be waterproof.

3 – Multiple containers could be used to make retrieving the drop speedy.  One may want to quickly swap an object with a similar (or exact) object.  For example, one might travel to a drop and swap an empty or pre-loaded ‘altoids’ tin with another one, thereby both receiving the drop and leaving a drop at the same time.

4 – Those using the drop site shouldn’t loiter around the site.  Do your work quickly, discretely, and keep on moving.  It should go without saying, but one shouldn’t attempt to work a drop site while others are watching the action, else one should be efficient in swapping the data unnoticed (which may sound much easier than it is).  Never choose a drop that is near any surveillance or traffic cameras.

5 – Careful consideration of the kind of information placed in a drop will help prevent a drop’s compromise of the identity of those that may use the site.  Don’t use a real name, but maybe use a drop handle.  Don’t communicate real locations.  Instead, use alias names for locations.

6 – Signals can be used to indicate whether a drop is loaded or not.  Carrying something as simple as a piece of chalk and marking a particular object at a particular location can remove undesired exposure around a drop site.  Such markable objects could simply be trees, a telephone pole, a mailbox, or anything else that someone could walk by and mark without being noticed.  A signal could also be a spoken word or phrase.  Careful selection of words may make it possible to signal someone in normal everyday conversation.

7 – Contents of the drop could be a data storage device (like a USB drive), simple notes, messages, or even larger communications could be concealed in a larger drop (like a book, stack of newsletters, etc).

8 – The time of drop access should be a concern as well.  The early light and late light of the day can be a great choice as one could go running, walking, or biking with nobody noticing.

9 – ONLY USE A DROP WITH SOMEONE YOU TRUST!  It would be easy for someone to be ‘set up’ if trying to maintain communication with the wrong people.  The group that uses a drop should be a small group.  The more people that access the drop, the higher the likelihood of being compromised.  Some drops could be used with questionable people, but that same drop shouldn’t be used those you trust.

My intentions are not to provide people with information for the purpose of illegal activity.  However, when persecution rises, I intend to be faithful to the Lord God Almighty above any of man’s laws.

7 Ways That YOU Are Providing Data to a SURVEILLANCE STATE

Have you ever thought that you yourself maybe you are supplying data for a surveillance state? I bet in some ways you have considered this, but I also bet that you have overlooked the massive scale that this is happening.

1 – Twitter: Every “tweet” is cataloged by the Library of Congress. That’s right, every mention of every person, dessert you ate, picture you shared, and all your useless trivia ends up at the mercy of the government.

2 – Facebook: This is probably the single widest sweep of information available. Though it isn’t necessary cataloged by the Library of Congress, like Twitter, all the information is provided by the user base. Think about photos alone. Photos are tagged by locations, people are included in the background of pictures. Associations with people and activities are easily deduced. The comment trail and likes connect groups of people together. Now shift to just pictures of food, exposing a person’s diet. Then add specific activities at specific locations. Facebook is a treasure trove of information to pedophiles, snoopers, and the government.

3 – Linked In: This is exactly the same as Facebook with a business twist. Now, all your business connections can be exposed along with every skillset you possess. In fact, it behooves you to make more connections based on skillsets, so you desire to keep it all up to date and at the fingertips of anyone that wants to search.

4 – PayPal and online banking: When you sell goods and services, your trends end up being noticed by bank security, and you end up creating a profile of how you spend money and make money.

5 – eBay & Craigslist: Similar to banking, you create profiles for selling goods and services. Though Craigslist may be a little harder to track, eBay reveals your username and you can easily see the types of items that a person is tied to. Does this matter? It could. Especially if in a persecution age one gets tied to the God and guns. Or if suspicions rise about what goods a person has, prepper materials or other items like these could raise a red flag when times are tough.

6 – Email Systems: Yahoo and Hotmail are among the absolute worst offenders when it comes to email security. Being free doesn’t equal being secure (in fact, far from it). I can’t remember how many times I’ve helped people with their Yahoo and Hotmail accounts when their accounts were compromised. Most likely these perpetrators were not interested in the emails themselves, but the fact that these accounts are so easily compromised makes them a huge target and the potential of a huge data breach.

7 – YouTube: There are two types of visitors at YouTube, either you are a creator of content or a consumer. You may subscribe to various videos or you may be the one putting them there. Either way, you are exposing yourself and what you like.

This is only a scratch of the surface. Add to this list Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, Reddit, Flickr, Vine, and more.

What’s worse than just being tied to these services is that everyone else seems to be tied to them as well. People have their faces buried in their phones. Augmenting the social disconnect is the fact that social media and reliance on data is layered throughout our lives. It not only layers into work and home, the substrata ties the disconnect even into the church. I’ve been to some churches that use social media to connect the body of believers through announcements, social activities, volunteer coordination, and small group studies. Though technology can be such a powerful tool, it can also be extremely dangerous.

Persecution isn’t coming. Persecution is here. It is here in many forms and it is going to get worse. Though some persecution can be seen as superficial, some are truly being sued and silenced.

So, let me ask you. Will you be ready to let all the data go and communicate with people face to face? What if things get uncomfortable in the church pews, will you find ways to communicate with your brothers and sisters in Christ? How? Using your cell phone? Using Facebook?

I’ve got the feeling that when times get tough most ‘believers’ won’t have a clue how to communicate. Only those that are solid in their faith with surpass this superficial stage. Then as those believers experience Christ on a new level and with a renewed faith, perhaps the true body of the Living Christ will really be realized and faith will be a profession of more than just lips. It could be profession that is shed by the blood of those unwilling to depart from the love of Almighty God.

Tor Users Days May Be Numbered

I draw my blinds at night because I don’t want people snooping on me or my family.  Some people might draw their blinds at night because they are involved in suspicious or illegal activity.  One would be crazy to theorize that all people with their blinds drawn are involved in illegal activity.

The government seems to have latched on to the idea that if someone is taking precautions to protect their identity by using Tor, then that someone should be under suspicion.  This is such a crazy and outlandish notion.  Certainly there are crooks out there that are involved in illegal activity using Tor, just like there are crooks out there with cell phones and just like there are crooks that drive cars.

Internet security is a huge issue for many of us.  Just because you have a particular tool installed on your computer should not give any government the authority to snoop.  Tor is just the beginning.  The FBI won’t stop at Tor.  They will keep pushing until they have full access to every system and every network until everyone’s privacy is breached for the sake of “national security.”

Here are some of my thoughts should Tor installations give way for the FBI to snoop on your computer:

  1. Uninstall any of the Tor bundles from your cell phones or computer.  You never want to use Tor on a cellphone where various methods (cellular IP, triangulation, GPS positioning) may be used to identify the user (not that you are doing anything illegal anyways, but that you want privacy).
  2. Only use Tails OS for private communications and never use it from your home internet connection.  Only boot Tails OS from your laptop while you have access to a publicly available wifi connection, the shut it down and reboot to you normal operating system.  Tails OS wipes even the RAM before shutting down to make sure there is no trace on passwords, or other sensitive information, left on your computer.
  3. You have to keep in mind that the US government probably already has a multitude of network Tor nodes available at their disposal and the use of Tor in any fashion could compromise your privacy.
  4. Those concerned with digital privacy may want to consider simplifying their digital footprint.  I’m on the fence with this.  I have personally started closing accounts that I think increase my exposure for identity theft and/or phishing, etc.  I’m starting to feel more strongly that I may even need to ditch my smartphone in order to reduce exposure.  This is a hard challenge, especially for someone with IT as his bread and butter.