The Spy Secret to Being Invisible

Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,

It was nearly impossible to narrow down this week’s batch of must-read articles. In the end, I decided not to limit myself to five pieces. Instead, I elected to include a sixth bonus article for your reading pleasure.

Take a look and let me know what you think by sending an email to

1. These Verbal Weapons Can Keep You Safer Than Any Gun

Imagine being able to stop a mugger in their tracks with the mere power of your voice. Or fooling a thief into stealing junk and leaving you your valuables with a cleverly delivered joke. Or, better yet, thwarting a carjacking with seven simple words.

Not only is it possible, it’s easy. Click on the link above to find out how you can become a mighty wordsmith, capable of protecting yourself with a single phrase.

2. New Report Says Tech Companies Spy on Students in School

It’s an entirely different world out there than it was when I was a kid. There are many parenting challenges that simply didn’t exist 30, 20, even 10 years ago — especially when it comes to technology.

Technology is being integrated into classrooms more and more but without proper security protections — which is putting your children at risk. According to this article, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world, “investigated 152 tech services currently used in classrooms and found they ‘were lacking in encryption, data retention and data sharing policies.’”

This means that your child’s personal information — including their email address, photos, interests, even birth date — could easily be monitored, sold or hacked. So talk to your kids about what apps they’re downloading and what information they’re providing. Teach them to read and understand privacy policies. It’s never too early to start putting good cybersecurity habits into practice.

3. How to Be the Gray Man When SHTF

The concept of the “gray man” is a person (man or woman) who strives to blend into their surroundings so as to be completely forgettable — as if they were never even there. This tactic is particularly useful in emergency scenarios.

This piece from Graywolf Survival does a great job of breaking down the theory of the gray man and explaining how to become invisible yourself if the SHTF. Take a look and be sure to click on the link to the supplemental article “Five Gray Man Secrets I Learned as a Surveillance Operative” for more specific advice on how to disappear in a crowd.

4. FBI Documents Detail How the Russians Try to Recruit Spies

Remember Chi Mak? He’s the Power Paragon employee who was convicted of acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government and exporting U.S. military secrets to China. He was arrested in 2005, but he had been living and working in the United States since the late 1970s.

What about Donald Heathfield and Tracey Foley? This couple was arrested in 2010 on suspicion of being part of a Russian espionage ring tasked with gathering information on nuclear weapons, American policy toward Iran, CIA leadership and congressional politics, among other topics. They immigrated to the U.S. via Canada and spent over 20 years building up their cover stories.

The point here is that there is a distinct method by which foreign powers attempt to target, recruit and manipulate sources to steal state secrets. And it might seem like it’s straight out of a Hollywood thriller, but sometimes the most unbelievable stories are actually true.

5. How to Grow Vegetables in Containers — Growing Food in Small Spaces

This piece offers some more practical prepping advice for apartment dwellers. If you’ve got some extra space, a balcony or a fire escape, you should consider growing fresh vegetables and herbs in containers. It’s a good, inexpensive way to augment your food stores in case of an emergency.

It’s also a great way to encourage healthy eating. And the healthier you are, the better you’ll be able to weather an unexpected crisis. Not only that, but fresh food is just plain delicious!

6. Four Warning Signs of a Tornado and How to Prepare

We are approaching the middle of “tornado season,” and according to weather reports, this year it’s off to a very active start. Tornadoes are one of the more formidable natural disasters, because they seem to come out of nowhere without warning.

But if you know what to watch out for, you can buy yourself precious extra minutes to get to safety. This article gives you four signs of a potential touchdown as well as four other ways to stay informed ahead of the storm. Plus, it clarifies the important difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.

If you live in a tornado-prone area, please take a moment to read this and review your preparations. The last thing you want is to be scrambling for cover when the wind picks up.

Stay safe,

Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson

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