If you’re anything like me, maintaining your privacy is a major concern. However, as our lives become more and more integrated with technology, it’s becoming harder and harder to stay off the grid.
This week’s mailbag kicks off with the No. 1 way to keep from being tracked using your cellphone. You’ll also discover which anti-virus software you should NOT use, two ways to strengthen your window security and still enjoy fresh air, three easy self-defense moves you can teach your kids and more.
Here we go…
If you turn off your GPS on your smartphone, law enforcement cannot trace your phone location using GPS, only cellphone towers you have used. Is this correct?
— Russell R.
Unfortunately, even if your smartphone’s GPS is turned off, your phone’s location can still be tracked…
The thing is most people typically have multiple applications downloaded to their smartphone. These applications can still give away your location even if you have denied the app access to your GPS.
Even the clock on your phone gives away your location. For instance, the time on your phone changes if you change time zones — even when the GPS is turned off. In other words, if you want to completely avoid being tracked, don’t use a smartphone.
I have used Kaspersky anti-virus software for years, but am now concerned about it being Russian. Do you have any insights?
— Pat P.
Kaspersky is a major player in the anti-virus software market. However, based on recent information from the U.S. government, I recommend using different anti-virus software.
The U.S. recently banned Kaspersky from government computers based on allegations that the company has ties to the Russian government. While the security risk is minimal for the average person, I still suggest choosing different anti-virus software. Better to be safe than sorry.
I’m disappointed to see there were not any Cold Steel knives on your list. I believe they are some of the best available. What is your opinion?
— Michael F.
Cold Steel knives aren’t terrible by any means. They are decent for everyday carry and they hold up pretty well overall. However, in my opinion, you can spend a little more money and get a better-quality knife — such as one made by Benchmade.
I’m the type of person who wants a knife I can depend on when I need it most. I want a knife that can withstand harsh treatment, so I think it’s worth paying a little more to get a better-quality knife.
I would love to learn more about making my home safer and less inviting to criminals. What about windows? I like to leave a couple open at night, but then there is only a screen for safety.
— Casey M.
First-floor windows are an easy way for a thief to enter your home. Window screens can be popped out in seconds, which gives a criminal instant access. I don’t recommend sleeping with a window open, because this is a simple way for someone to get inside.
That being said, I realize some people depend on leaving windows open for airflow during the warmer months. If you must sleep with your windows open, consider installing security grilles on them. These are similar to putting bars on your windows, but they look a little nicer.
Now, if you really want to secure your windows, you can install security screens, which are incredibly strong yet still allow airflow. Security screens are more expensive than security grilles, but they are the most secure option if you want to leave your windows open all night.
What are some good self-defense moves I can teach my 13-year-old?
— Dan S.
An effective technique for everyone tto remember is to strike people in sensitive areas. It doesn’t matter if your attacker is 6’ 5” and 300 pounds. You can fight back by hurting them in certain areas where all humans feel pain.
One “soft target” I recommend is striking your attacker in their eyes. Simply grab them by their head and press your thumbs into their eyes to disorient them. Another option is to punch your attacker in the throat as hard as you can. Again, this will cause pain no matter how big and strong the attacker is. Lastly, if the attacker is a male, hitting them in the groin will definitely make them think twice.
If you practice striking someone in these areas, you will hopefully be able to react quickly enough to fight off your assailant. Just remember: eyes, throat, groin.
Bruce here, former deputy director of readiness (disaster preparedness) at the USAF Academy. When you were addressing suggested contents of a bug-out bag, you recommended a small-caliber breakdown rifle for taking small game if hunting for food became necessary (good idea). However, I don’t recall you mentioning packing some light fishing gear in case a person is positioned near a creek, river or lake where fish are likely to be found. If I might make a suggestion, an ice fishing rig with a spin cast or open-faced reel and a Plano hand-held tackle box with a selection of hooks, small lures and sinkers would be a welcome addition.
— Bruce L.
If you live in an area where you’re likely to be bugging out near a creek, river or lake, I would definitely add some fishing gear to your bag. This is a great suggestion. Thank you, Bruce.