Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,
I cast a wide net to collect this week’s batch of must-read articles. Below you’ll find a couple of really interesting stories that highlight a few important lessons — along with some great advice you can put into practice today.
So let’s get started, shall we?
1. Hackers Use FAFSA Application to Steal Tax Info
I shouldn’t have to say this, but no corner of the internet is safe.
In September, the IRS identified a breach that allowed hackers to access tax information through a tool used by millions to apply for financial aid. Over 100,000 accounts were flagged, and users were notified that their information may have been compromised.
This article rightly points out that “tax season is a boon for hackers who want to take advantage of taxpayers’ data,” so it’s important to be extra vigilant. But really, the same advice applies all year round.
Have a different password for every online account, and be sure to create strong passwords — passwords that contains random numbers, upper- and lowercase letters and special characters.
And be sure to give different answers to the security questions on various accounts. When hackers steal information from a website, that information usually includes these answers — so by changing up your responses, a hacker can’t easily go to another website and use them to get into a different account.
2. How to Flip on Your Ultimate Sleep “Switch”
No doubt about it, sleep is important no matter what’s going on. But these days, more and more people are having difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Maybe that’s because our culture moves so fast, with a seemingly endless barrage of images, information and advertisements — it’s hard to quiet your mind when it’s time for some shut-eye.
If you’re one of those people who find it tough to turn down, click on the link above for a solution to your bedtime anguish. Because the better rested you are, the more alert you’ll be — so you can respond to potential threats in the blink of an eye.
3. Time to Stock up on Mosquito Repellent!
Experts are projecting a very buggy spring and summer across the board here in the U.S. Check it out:
Courtesy of the National Pest Management Association
Of course, you have to watch out for the mosquito-borne diseases — malaria, West Nile virus, Zika virus and yellow fever, among others — but you should also be on the lookout for tick-borne diseases. And I don’t just mean Lyme disease.
In March, NPR ran a story on its program All Things Considered examining a marked increase in new tick-borne diseases — like Heartland virus, Bourbon virus and ehrlichiosis.
In light of this, I definitely recommend adding some insect repellent to your bug-out bag if you haven’t already. Be sure to pack some pants and long-sleeved shirts too, because the less skin that’s exposed, the less likely you are to get bitten. And after enjoying the great outdoors, always do a thorough check of your kids and pets.
4. One Family’s Life in the Wilderness
Imagine living 100 miles from civilization. What would it be like to go grocery shopping only once a year? To keep your own time, live off the land and raise a family in the wilderness?
Meet the Atchleys. According to this profile, they “are the only people who live anywhere along the 250-mile (400-km) length of the Nowitna River,” in Alaska.
Now, this lifestyle may not be to your liking, but there are certainly things we can all learn from David, Romey and Sky about living independently and sustainably off the grid. Because when the SHTF, I’m sure the Atchleys will be just fine.
5. Here’s the Key to Urban Prepping That Most People Don’t Consider
Frequently, I get questions from readers about prepping in an urban environment. I understand the limitations: Most people living in America’s cities heavily rely on infrastructure (water, power, sanitation)… space is at a premium, which makes it difficult to stock ample supplies… and keeping your emergency plans to yourself can be challenging with so many people living on top of one another.
So here’s some great advice if you’re an urban dweller looking to prep. This article offers five things you can do to make yourself an asset to your neighbors in the event of an emergency.
As this piece mentions, in more densely populated areas, cooperation is an essential virtue when it comes to surviving a crisis. So be a good neighbor and click on the link above.