Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Encryption 101 - Part 2 (An Easy and Free Encryption Method)

By Tim Gamble
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Part 1 was posted yesterday, and is a general introduction to encryption for the non-techie.

--The following information is specifically for Windows systems--

Encryption Software

There is a lot of encryption software out there, much of it you have to buy. For years, I used Rohos software, which has both a paid and free version. The free version has less bells and whistles and you are limited, last time I checked, to two gigabytes of encryption (which actually should be plenty for most folks). Rohos worked very well for me, and it does let you create a hidden partition to hide your encrypted data (but that is not really necessary, in my opinion). I haven't used Rohos in years, so things may have changed. 

An Easy, Free Alternative 

I eventually discovered that 7-Zip archive software allows for password-protected full AES-256 encryption. That is one of the encryption standards that I mentioned in Part 1. All that you really need to know is that it is considered one of the absolute best. 

Archive software, such as 7-Zip, is used to compress, or zip-up, files (and extract them later) in order to save memory space. Using 7-Zip to create and password protect encrypted files is easy, even for non-techies. Simply follow these steps:

1- If you don't already have 7-Zip, you can download and install it on your computer. You can get it at Major Geeks (a software site that I have used for years and trust). Go to https://www.majorgeeks.com/files/details/7_zip.html to get it. Again, it is free.

2- Once it is installed, navigate to the folder containing the files and folders that you want to encrypt. Select the files and folders that you want to encrypt, perform a right-click on them, click 7-Zip from the menu, and then click the "Add to archive" option. This works on your Windows-based desktop, laptop, or any USB key (memory stick). 7-Zip compresses and encrypts all files within any folder you select. I simply keep most of my sensitive files in the same folder, using sub-folders to organize the files, and encrypt/decrypt that folder as needed. 

3- At the Add to Archive dialog box, you can either choose the default name in the top box, or type in a new name for the folder or file, and choose the destination for the encrypted file (the ... button to the right of the top line). Make sure the Archive format (next box down) is set to 7z or zip.

Note: Your "Add to Archive" box may look slightly different depending on your particular version.
4- In the same dialog box, you add a password in the Encryption dialog in the right-column about halfway down, where it says Password and Re-enter Password. You need to remember this password! Just below that, make sure the Encryption method is set to AES-256. Then click Okay. 7-Zip will then zip-up the encrypted file and place it wherever you choose in step 3. Depending on the size of the files and your computer's speed, this way take anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes.

5- You have now created an encrypted file. At this point, you may want to delete/shred the original folder and start using the encrypted folder exclusively (make sure the password for the encrypted folder works first, of course). You may move this encrypted file around, place it on a USB key, make back-up copies of it, or whatever you want to do.

6- To open and use the encrypted files, just right click the encrypted file, select 7-Zip, select Open archive, and the 7-Zip file manager will pop up, and use it to open the encrypted file with your password by choosing the file/folder you want, clicking on Extract (green dash), clicking Okay, then entering your password.

Note: Your box may look slightly different depending on your particular version
A final note: It is still possible to accidentally delete files encrypted by this method the same way you may accidentally delete your non-encrypted files, so pay attention to what you're doing! Remember, if you accidentally delete something from your computer, you can usually recover it from your recycle bin.

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AD: I use and highly recommend GorillaDrive USB Flash Drives. They are designed to be pressure / impact resistant (up to 250 psi), heat resistant (up to 225 degrees F), and water resistant (up to 65 feet). Although they list freeze resistance at 32 degrees F, one of mine did survive outside overnight in below freezing weather (mid 20s), when I accidentally left it on top of my vehicle. I've been using Gorilla Drives for 10 years and have never had one fail.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Encryption 101 - Part 1 (A Beginner's Guide)

By Tim Gamble
   
--The following information is specifically for Windows systems-- 

You know, or at least have heard, that you should protect your information. You may have even heard the word "encryption." But, what exactly is encryption? And how do you do it? Do you need awesome tech skills or expensive software? This article will quickly give you a basic understanding of encryption and what you may need to encrypt, as well as reveal (in part 2) an easy and free way even non-techies can use encryption. 

What is encryption? Very simply, encryption is a way to "scramble" information stored on your computer, laptop, USB key (memory stick), or other electronic device so that no one without the encryption password can read it.  So, if someone steals your laptop or you lose your USB key, no one can read the sensitive files that are encrypted on it, even if they otherwise can get into your device. There are several different methods and standards for encryption, but there is no need to understand the technical specifications in order to use encryption.

What needs to be encrypted?  How much of your information you decide to encrypt is up to you. I personally only encrypt personal information of a sensitive nature - tax and financial records, business records, insurance information, medical information, my master list of passwords and pin numbers, contact lists, back-up copies of important documents such as birth certificates, CC permits, deeds, titles, driver's licenses and passports. I also encrypt certain "prepper" information that might reveal aspects of my prepping that I don't want to be public knowledge, such as planned bug-out locations, or guns and ammo, food storage and medical supply lists, among others. 

I see no need to encrypt my music and video files, photos, or even most of the prepper-type videos, articles, and eBooks I've downloaded over the years. In fact, less than 15% of my computer files are encrypted. I only bother encrypting truly sensitive information. 

Why encrypt important information? Privacy is important. ID theft has become a $20 billion a year industry in the United States. Then there is the government, public schools, Big Tech, large corporations, political and social activists, snooping employers, and even nosy neighbors that want to know everything about you, even (especially) the stuff that is absolutely none of their business. Preppers and survivalists also should be concerned about operational security. There are lots of legitimate reason to protect your data. The idea that only "bad people" need to worry about privacy is a stunningly ignorant opinion. 

Are there drawbacks to encryption? There is one, and its potentially a huge drawback. If you forget or lose your password, there is no way to recover it. No one will be able to send you a link to change your password. Even the encryption software company or your favorite IT guy will not be able to recover or change it for you. If you cannot figure out your password, you will be locked out of your encrypted data forever.

Also, its worth noting that the encryption is only as strong as your password. Don't use an obvious or easy-to-guess password, such as your mother's or wife's maiden name, your dog's name, your social security number, or even "password." Many security experts now suggest using a random sentence as your password, such as "IhatepurpleeggssaidSam" (that one is "I hate purple eggs said Sam" without the spaces) - make it something that you'll remember but no one else is likely to ever guess.

Does the Government (FBI, NSA, etc) have the ability to break encryption? This is a controversial question, and opinions vary widely. At the very least, it is not quick or easy for the government to break into encrypted data. Even at the highest levels, it would take considerable time and resources, and even then it may not be possible. However, I personally assume that with their technical expertise, access to supercomputers, and other resources, the government would be able to eventually break any encryption if they were determined enough to do so. 

"Determined enough" means willing to devote a considerable amount of time, manpower, and other resources. They do not care enough about your list of prepper supplies or bug-out locations to devote such effort to your data. They would need a real reason to go after your data to such an extent.     

Does the Government (FBI, NSA, etc) the legal right break into my encrypted data? Can they force me to reveal my password? Constitutionally, no. In the USA, they would need a warrant, obtained only after showing just cause, to go after your data. And even then, they would not be able to force you to cooperate (5th amendment means they cannot force you to incriminate yourself). However, in recent years, we have seen the government and even the Court system itself ignore the Constitution when it is convenient for them to do so. Most other countries do not even have similar 5th amendment protections, and folks in those countries may be jailed for refusing to reveal a password. 
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Please subscribe to Dystopian Survival using the Follow By Email field at the bottom of the right hand column.
AD: I use and highly recommend GorillaDrive USB Flash Drives. They are designed to be pressure / impact resistant (up to 250 psi), heat resistant (up to 225 degrees F), and water resistant (up to 65 feet). Although they list freeze resistance at 32 degrees F, one of mine did survive outside overnight in below freezing weather (mid 20s), when I accidentally left it on top of my vehicle. I've been using Gorilla Drives for 10 years and have never had one fail.


Sunday, February 18, 2024

UK: Nearly a Quarter of 18 to 34 Year Olds Believe the Bible Should Be Banned

By Tim Gamble

02/18/2024 UK – Last week, International Christian Concern (ICC) reported on a study in the United Kingdom showing that nearly a quarter of young Brits are open to banning the Bible, because it contains perceived hate speech.

Whitestone Insights, a UK-based polling group, surveyed over 2,000 adults, asking if they agreed with the following statement: “Unless the offending parts can be edited out, books containing what some perceive as hate speech should be banned from general sale, including if necessary religious texts such as the Bible.

Whitestone found that young Brits, ages 18 to 34, were most likely to agree with this statement, amounting to 23% of participants. Middle-aged Brits, ages 35 to 54, were the second highest group at 17%, followed by Brits over age 55 at 13%.

The results tell of a deeper social belief in the UK that Christian views should be censored – and it is a belief that has plagued all of Europe.

Last year, an American street preacher was arrested in England for preaching the Bible. A woman was also arrested for silently praying outside of an abortion clinic – and in neighboring Finland, Paivi Räsänen, a member of the Finish parliament, faced charges of hate speech after sharing her religious beliefs on social media.

These cases, along with the recent poll, are a concerning reminder of the declining state of religious freedom occurring in Western democracies around the world.


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Kaito KA500 Emergency Radio. This one has is all: AM/FM/SW/NOAA (weather alert) bands; powered five ways (electrical cord, USB port, AA batteries, solar, and hand-crank); plus flashlight, reading lamp, and cellphone charger.

Friday, February 16, 2024

A brief essay on the proper relationship between the Citizen and Politics

I originally published the following essay in 2014. In light of our current circumstances, I feel the need to republish it. I believe the concepts within the essay are worth revisiting, because so many of our fellow Americans have forgotten them. Please read this essay thoughtfully, paying special attention to those ideas in bold. 


A brief essay on the proper relationship between the Citizen and Politics.

By Tim Gamble

This essay isn't about which candidate or party to support with your vote, money, or time. In that sense, this is a non-partisan essay. Rather, this essay concerns itself with how a prepper, survivalist, Christian, or any other American for that matter, should approach politics.

First, let's get one thing straight: politics affects everyone. You can ignore it, but you can't hide from it. Politics affects everything from the health of the economy, to whether or not government respects your rights (government doesn't give you rights - those come from God - but government often tries to deny you those rights). From zoning laws to EPA regulations, sales taxes to the education system, directly or indirectly we all are affected by politics. For better or for worse, and it seems too often to be for worse, politics affects your life everyday, and in many ways.

Therefore, you must deal with politics. But how? There are many ways: One response is to simply try to ignore politics as best you can. But you will still have to deal with consequences of politics, whether you want to or not.

Another response is to try to manipulate politics to your advantage (the elites in big business and the political class are masters of this manipulation). Most people today choose one of those responses, at least to some degree. I suggest a third - respond as a true Citizen of the Republic.

Before I define how a Citizen  of the Republic responds, let me say this: Politics will not save us. What is wrong with America goes well beyond politics and economics. It is a spiritual sickness which infects the USA. No politician, no election, no piece of legislation, will cure spiritual sickness. We must appeal to a Higher Authority for that kind of healing. 

The United States of America is a Republic, NOT a Democracy

The first thing a Citizen of the Republic should realize is that the United States is NOT a democracy. It is a Republic, and that is a very good thing. Democracy is Evil. It is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for dinner. In a democracy, rights come from government, and therefore are subject to change with the passing whims of the times. The rights of individuals, even basic rights such as the rights to life, free speech, free exercise of religion, and even self-defense, can be ignored or even taken away by the government or a simple majority vote of the people.

In a Republic, Rights are external from government. Rights come from a Higher Authority (God, the Creator, Natural Law, Nature and Nature's God, or whatever one wishes to call that Higher Authority). Since Rights don't come from the government, government cannot take away or change those Rights. Not even by majority vote. 

Those Rights from God (or whatever you wish to call the Higher Authority) are therefore "unalienable," literally un-a-lien-able. A "lien" being a legal claim on something belonging to another (a lien on a house, for example, where someone other than the owner, typically the government or a bank, claims an interest over the house, typically over money owed). Something being unalienable means that no one can claim an interest over it other than the owner. In the case of unalienable Rights, no one - not even government, not even a majority of voters - can make any claim against those Rights. Well, they can and do try, but those efforts are immoral, unjust, and not valid under a Republic.

The United States was intentionally created by our Founders as a Republic, not a democracy. They knew and feared the dangers of democracy, and wanted to protect themselves and their fellow Citizens from it. Sadly, since the early days of our founding, the United States has slowly been slipping away from a Republic, and into a democracy. In recent decades, and even more so in recent years, this process has been greatly accelerated. Today, we stand on the brink of becoming a full-fledged democracy, with the last remnants of the old Republic slipping away. This is the source of most of our nation's political problems, and has made the people little more than slaves of a government which demands ever-increasing control over our lives, rights, money, and property.

Note: The word "democracy" does not appear anywhere in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights. Nor does it appear in any of the fifty state constitutions. We were never intended to be a democracy. 

Limited Government

The way our Founding Fathers protected the Citizens of the Republic from democracy was through the concept of Limited Government. They created a government limited in both size and power by the Constitution, with our unalienable Rights guaranteed (not granted)  in the Bill of Rights. 

The Constitution establishes and limits the scope of the federal government. It sets up a system of checks-and-balances intended to keep government and politicians from exceeding their limits of power as set forth in the Constitution. The Bill of Rights specifically guarantees that government will respect the unalienable Rights of the people. In other words, the Constitution and Bill of Rights intend that the Citizens of the Republic be more powerful than the government that represents them.

It has taken more than 100 years for the elites in the political class to successfully re-interpret our Founding documents to subvert the Republic into a democracy, and to successfully dumb-down the American people to accept, and even applaud, the evils of democracy. 

Amendment X of the Constitution: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Respond as a Citizen of the Republic

Democracy is mob-rule. It is divisive, and based in emotion, selfishness, and greed. It is easy to manipulate. Reason and logic, and an unwavering belief in the Higher Authority, are the cure to democracy. Think; don't react emotionally. Consider the consequences, both intentional and unintentional, of your words, actions, and votes. 

To enable you to think with reason, not emotion, you need to learn real history, real economics, and real civics, rather than the pro-democracy and pro-collectivist propaganda taught in public schools over the last several generations.

Be independent of government. Do not look to government for hand-outs, freebies, or special favors. Be self-reliant. The less dependent on government you are, the less power government will be able to exert over you.

Don't look to government to "make life fair" or to "get even" with people who may be richer or more successful than you. One of the most successful tactics of the collectivists is to convince people that they are "victims" and need government to protect them and make things right. Don't ever think of yourself as a victim.

Don't look to government to redistribute the wealth of others. Holding a gun to someones head and demanding they give you money is theft. Having the government hold a gun to someones head, demanding their money, and then giving their money to you, is also theft. Don't ever think you are entitled to anything without having to earn it first, other than your God-given Rights.

Realize the sole legitimate purpose to government is to protect the unalienable Rights of its Citizens; to protect Life, Liberty, and Property. The role of government is not to protect individuals from their own mistakes and bad choices. 

But what about helping the poor, widows, orphans, and others who cannot help themselves? Shouldn't we help them? Isn't that what Jesus' taught? Yes, He did. The role of government is to protect the Life, Liberty, and Property of all, especially those who cannot help themselves. But, help beyond that is the proper role of the Church, charities, and individuals. When Jesus, and later the Apostles, taught us to help others, it was always a command to us as individuals and as His followers (the Church). Never did Jesus or the Apostles teach that such help was the role of the government. On the contrary, we are expected to help each other. 

Work hard to elect candidates to public office who realize that we are a Republic, not a democracy, and who understand the difference. Look for candidates who are pro-Constitution, pro-Bill of Rights (all of them), pro-Free Market Capitalism, and pro-Liberty. This is important on the federal level, but also and especially on the state and local levels.

In considering politicians, character matters, especially integrity. If a politician or candidate is dishonest, you cannot trust them to keep their word to respect the Constitution and our unalienable Rights. Liars rarely keep their word.

Pay attention to what your elected officials actually do, and hold them accountable. Not just in DC, but in your state and hometown, too.

Beware of politicians using a crisis to enact laws taking away our liberty, even "temporarily." Realize that temporary laws, such as the income tax was supposed to be, are never temporary. Once government successful takes on an expanded power, it never willing lets it go. Government doesn't care about you as an individual, or about your rights. Government only cares about expanding and protecting its power.

Politicians and government officials often use crises, real or imagined, as the excuse to expand government power. By definition, government power can only be expanded at the loss of individual liberty.

"We must pass this law (or this tax) in order to stop terrorism, stop crime, stop climate change, win the war on drugs, and protect the children. If you are against this law or this tax, then you must be a potential terrorist, or a criminal, or hate children." -- any politician, anytime, wanting to pass a new law or tax
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AD:  Total Resistance - The classic study on resistance & underground operations, by Swiss Major H. von Dach. Recommended by Pastor Joe Fox (aka Viking Preparedness). 

AD:  Resistance Operating Concept (ROC) - Another great resource for resistance & underground operations. Recommended by both Pastor Joe Fox (aka Viking Preparedness) and Bear of Bear Independent. 

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Four Things Patriots Should NEVER Do

By Tim Gamble
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I've written past articles about these four things that patriots should NEVER do, not in good times nor in bad times, but it bears repeating. 

1) NEVER give up your personal sovereignty. You are responsible for yourself and your family. Never look to the government to protect you or save you, even in a major crisis. Especially in a major crisis. Remember the political saying "Never let a good crisis go to waste." Don't be naive about politicians and bureaucrats. Don't trade your freedoms for the promise of security.  Figure out now how to survive future chaos without going to the FEMA camp or blindly following the instructions of "authorities."

2) NEVER give up your ability to defend yourself.  Self-defense is a God-given right that neither government nor society has the right to take away from you. This includes the right to the tools of self-defense, such as guns and knives.  Strongly support the Second Amendment now, and resist all attempts to curtail it.  Avoid situations in which you are required to disarm (such as flying or entering a government building). Learn to defend yourself with your hands and improvised weapons in case you are ever forced to disarm.

3) NEVER stop improving yourself and your situation.  Never stop learning new skills. Never stop practicing old skills. Never stop adjusting your plans. Never stop developing your homestead or bug-out retreat. Never stop building your supplies. Even highly-experienced experts need to keep learning, keep practicing, keep planning. and keep preparing.

4) NEVER make a threat you are not ready, willing, and able to back up. No matter how prepared and skilled you are, the safest confrontation is the one you avoid. Never let your ego or overconfidence cause you bite off more than you can chew. 

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http://amzn.to/2h6IWci
Kaito KA500 Emergency Radio. This one has is all: AM/FM/SW/NOAA (weather alert) bands; powered five ways (electrical cord, USB port, AA batteries, solar, and hand-crank); plus flashlight, reading lamp, and cellphone charger.