Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,
I hope you are enjoying your holiday leftovers along with some peace and quiet this Saturday.
Without further ado, let’s dive into this week’s mailbag.
I am a security consultant and Army combat vet, for starters. I read most of your Alone and Unafraid. I wanted to mention another VPN worth considering called Cryptohippie. It’s a little expensive, but it is far more secure than anything I’ve ever used and reportedly has never been hacked. I just wanted to let you know of something useful. I think what you are doing is very beneficial to veterans and veterans of the Intelligence Community.
— John M.
Thank you for passing along this suggestion, John. I’ve never used this VPN (virtual private network) myself, but I’ll have to check it out.
First of all, it uses military-grade encryption, which is a good sign. Cryptohippie also boasts jurisdiction-aware routing and dynamic IP assignment — two features that make it harder for your internet activity to be tracked or profiled.
If this service is beyond your budget, you could always go with my personal favorite VPN, TunnelBear. TunnelBear uses the industry-standard AES-256-bit encryption and allows you to browse securely on public Wi-Fi and bypass network restrictions and censorship without enduring tedious buffering times.
A while ago I noted a reference in a guest writer’s article to what Jason recommends for long-term storage of water. Could Jason write a short blurb sometime soon about what he recommends and where the containers can be obtained?
— Morgan D.
I recommend using WaterBricks, which are durable, high-density polyethylene containers that can hold up to 3.5 gallons.
WaterBricks are stackable for convenient storage and each container has a handle for easy transport — so if you have to evacuate in an emergency, simply grab a few of these WaterBricks, throw them in the car and take them with you.
Not only can you take these containers practically anywhere, but you can use them to store other items that you want to preserve like food or ammunition.
To get your own WaterBricks water storage system, click here.
How long does water stay fresh and a drinkable in a WaterBrick? When does it become stagnant?
— Arlene S.
The amount of time water will stay fresh completely depends on how the WaterBricks are stored. If you store your WaterBricks in a cool, dry place, the water will stay fresh much longer than if you store them in an attic, shed, garage or anywhere that’s not temperature controlled.
I recommend storing WaterBricks in your basement if you can — in fact, I have several in mine right now — and the water should last for years.
But if you store them in a place that gets very hot and humid, I suggest checking the water every 30 days to make sure it still looks and tastes fresh.
I have just received two SurvFilters from you. Could you give me a reference for certification of this filter? It states that it is independently certified on the attached flap.
— Nicholas M.
The lab that certified the SurvFilter is BSC Laboratories in Gainesville, Florida, FL DOH Laboratory #E82924, EPA# FL01147. The results of the lab tests showed that the filter removes 99.9% of contaminants, including bacteria, viruses, Giardia and Cryptosporidium.
For more information on the components of the SurvFilter and how it works, click here.
I will be getting a new cellphone in the next month or so. I’m wondering if you can share ideas on how to keep it and my information/searches secure. I currently use Disconnect search engine, but it takes me to a site that already knows who I am! Any suggestions would be appreciated.
— Patti L.
Just like you should install a VPN on your computer to protect your privacy on the internet, I recommend doing the same thing with your cellphone.
I wouldn’t browse the internet on your smartphone without using a VPN like the one I mentioned, TunnelBear, or you can try out the suggestion given by John M. above, Cryptohippie. The bottom line is there are many different options when it comes to VPNs for smartphones — but you better be using one of them.
In addition, I recommend turning off the GPS tracking on your phone, making sure none of your apps has access to your camera or microphone, and setting your new phone up so that a passcode is required to access it.
I have a question that has to do with your comments about putting signs up at your home regarding having a security system on the premises. I have read other articles stating that just attracts would-be burglars because it makes them think you must have something to protect. Do you have any thoughts about that? Thanks so much for the information I have gotten from you so far. Great material.
— Kenneth R.
The number of homes that have security systems is increasing thanks to more home security options — including DIY systems like SimpliSafe. The reality is more and more people are getting these systems for personal safety (especially at night) and not just because they may own valuables.
Most burglars are looking for homes that are easy to access without the danger of setting off an alarm. Typically, burglars aren’t masterminds and won’t plan an elaborate entry planned to bypass your security system. They just want to get in and get out.
Personally, I think having an alarm sign will be a deterrent to the average burglar. It’s a simple, inexpensive step every homeowner should take even if they don’t actually have a security system.
The fact is if I am a burglar, I’ll look for the home that presents the softest target — not the home where I might potentially set off a loud alarm that notifies the police.
Thank you for your incredibly informative emails. You recommend always carrying a quality pocketknife. My question is…which brand/model/manufacturer do you recommend?
— Gary M.