When the Lights Go Out

DNI Coats has a sense of humor.  Or, The Hudson Institute has a sense of irony.  Either way, Friday July 13th was the day Director Coats appeared at the Hudson Institute to discuss the current state of cyber threats to US critical national infrastructure (CNI). 

If you haven't seen it, or want to get the full message, go here: https://www.hudson.org/events/...er-russell-mead72018

Which leads to the question of how to prepare for a determined cyber attack being launched against US CNI.   

Thoughts?

 

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Men who carry rifles for a living do not seek reward outside the guild. The most cherished gift...is a nod from his peers.

Original Post

To be clear, I'm not looking for a discussion of cyber tools/strategies on an open forum.  Rather, how does the average dude(ette)/family reasonably and realistically prepare for such a scenario?  What are the key considerations and how do we deal with them? 

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Men who carry rifles for a living do not seek reward outside the guild. The most cherished gift...is a nod from his peers.

Wow,  this is a book worthy topic, not post worthy.   The answer varies based on the scope and duration of the incident and your current location and setup.   Also, our nation has never seen a national level power outage and recover could be years on the making.  

A decent book worth reading is “Emergency”  as it will get you on the right path in terms of how you look at the problem set.  The book is about an urban dude reporter who covers y2k and his following journey into trying to become prepared.   

Otherwise I’ll leave you with step 1. Are you and your family healthy and in great shape?   “First rule of zombie land is cardio”

 

The northeast black out of 14 August, 2003.  That would be a good place to start with as it was the most recent.

Additionally, there was the black out of 9 November, 1965.

I was working for Cleveland EMS when that happened. We heard nothing initially from anyone. We were hearing that it was just a local situation. Then it kept building until we heard how large it actually was.

The higher elevations around Cleveland lost water because the Cleveland Water Dept didn't have any back up pumps. The city had to call in tankers from the rural jurisdictions to fight fires because the hydrants want dry.

I remember getting home that night and taking basically a sponge bath in my tub so that I could get clean for work the next day.

I was also glad that I had a dedicated landline phone. I didn't need to worry about being out of contact with work if they needed to get in touch with me. The landline still worked when the cell phone batteries had died.

Honestly, because it was summer, it really didn't affect me that much because I had everything that I needed. Winter may have been a different story.e

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Doug

If I mention Corona, I ain't talking about beer.

 

"It's your turn to do until it's not."  TA

 

"Afterall.... if you get yourself into a fair fight.. you really haven't learned anything in all the time you have spent on Lightfighter, your tactics suck, and you don't deserve to breed."  David Reeves

 

JOINED:  9/20/09     LOCATION:  Outside of KSA Finally!

Talk to some LFers in hurricane country.  Depending on the scope of the disaster (and how rural you live), you can be out of power for days, or even weeks.   There's a reason why a generator is a common item to find in garages in Florida, Texas, the Carolinas, and along the Gulf Coast. 

Your food will start rotting in a day or two (a fridge/freezer might be OK for maybe a day, provided you don't open it... but after that, you're going to have problems).   Your heating/AC won't work... and sleeping in that humid Southern heat is tough.  You'll need to have potable water, and you won't be able to wash clothes with your washer/dryer.  Your toilets may be backed-up from the storm surge (or loss of pump power), and your home may be a wreck.

And while all of that sucks, it doesn't suck as badly as a Northern state in the winter... where a loss of power means loss of your furnace, and makes freezing to death a real possibility. 

Loss of power in a Southern summer is a pain-in-the-ass.  Loss of power in a Northern winter can be deadly.

“One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist in England,”  -George Orwell-

Prepare the same way you would prepare for a hurricane, earthquake, etc., that knocked out power and prevented access to cash via ATM, damaged communications infrastructure (no cellphone access), and cut off access to The Chive.

It is better that they do it imperfectly than that you do it perfectly. For it is their war and their country and your time here is limited.

 

                                                                                                                        —T. E. Lawrence

 

 

POSREP: UAE

One thing I remember from "Super Storm Sandy" living here in NYC was that, while a fairly localized event, if you were where it was bad, you were in a world of poop. Generators, fuel and especially fuel cans, were at a premium. I lent a couple of friends some NATO fuel cans to use that I didn't need since I had no storm issues and you would have thought that I gave them bars of gold. People were putting gasoline in all sorts of crazy containers.

The WTC Was My Battleship Row....

Joined: 16 Dec 2004 

SCO2177 posted:

One thing I remember from "Super Storm Sandy" living here in NYC was that, while a fairly localized event, if you were where it was bad, you were in a world of poop. Generators, fuel and especially fuel cans, were at a premium. I lent a couple of friends some NATO fuel cans to use that I didn't need since I had no storm issues and you would have thought that I gave them bars of gold. People were putting gasoline in all sorts of crazy containers.

I was on Long Island helping.  I remember going out to the Rockaways and seeing groups of people around the portable light stands waiting their turn to plug in their phone/tablet etc. to charge them. 

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What's the most dangerous thing said in the US Navy? -- A Chief Petty Officer saying "Watch this s$%^!!"

 

Joined: 1/15/13           Location:  PACNORWEST

punctum posted:

Which leads to the question of how to prepare for a determined cyber attack being launched against US CNI.   

Thoughts?

 

HAM radio

Cash on hand (small bills if at all possible)

Bicycle

Tradeables - this could be regional, what will people in your AO need and not have

Any consumable items that you go through in an average 30 day period. If it lasts beyond 30 days, a siege mentality

Guns and ammo, goes without saying here

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It's not that life is so short, it's that you're dead for so long.

The .45-70 is the only government I trust

"I was raised in a place called America...
It's gone now, I wish you could've seen it"
- a WWII vet

 

Joined: 1/30/06 3:34 PM - Location:MA

Lessons from hurricane induced power outages in a hot climate. In no particular order. Longest power outage experienced was three weeks.

This is not to survive the Apocalypse, just some things that will make live a little easier for those fist couple of weeks.

Simple kerosene storm-lanterns will have to be abused severely before they fail you. Having one storm lantern per person will be a good start. Buy a 5 gallon kerosene can from the home improvement store and get an extra roll of wick that fits your lanterns. Have a yard-party BBQ every year and light all your storm-lanterns. It is fun and gives people in your group the chance to operate, refill, enjoy et cetera. Also highlights potential issues (oops that funnel is too big) with your system before you need them in an emergency. Store these lanterns filled in a well-ventilated area.

Battery powered LED headlamp is worth gold. At least one headlamp per person. Get plenty of extra batteries. Do not store batteries inside you headlamp!

Store 1 tank capacity of your vehicle fuel in 5 gallon jerrycans (NON-CARB), add fuel-stabilizer if needed and rotate each year. Always fuel up your vehicle-tank when 1/2 full. That gives you 1.5 tank of reach with your vehicle, probably somewhere between 700-1000 miles.

Store 1 gallon of drinking-water per person per day (for at least two weeks) in quality 5 gallon containers. Rotate each year. Add 5ml (teaspoon) of regular household bleach (sodium hypochlorite), do not use scented, color safe, or bleaches with added cleaners.

Obviously if you need all that water it is probably a clear sign that the S has severely HTF. Now we're talking hard-core preparations and joining/forming a group of like minded folks that you would trust with your life. Not so easy to find, start, or maintain.

J: March 2004

L: Texas

HomoSepian posted:

Talk to some LFers in hurricane country.  Depending on the scope of the disaster (and how rural you live), you can be out of power for days, or even weeks.   There's a reason why a generator is a common item to find in garages in Florida, Texas, the Carolinas, and along the Gulf Coast. 

 

Count yourself lucky, if it is only days or weeks. In a localized event like thousands  of people are sent from all over the country to work the storm.   in a wide spread event, there will not be enough power line crews to go around.  they will all be working in there area. there is currently a serious shortage of lineworkers, and  pay reflects that. along with the overtime put in.

anyone who has children about to graduate, or who are young and motivated, I would recommend  looking into  the trade.  

 

Another thing to think about having enough of is medicine.   If everyone in your family is healthy and non prescription dependent than maybe just some basic antibiotics along with good blowout and first aid kits.

If you or your family is prescription dependent, then keeping a 90 day supply would be the absolute minimum I would consider.   If any of the prescriptions require refrigeration, you have a more complex problem requiring a generator and gas.    

Reading “one second after” (another great read with decent takeaways.  .gov dtra folks gave it about a 90% accuracy rating) really made me think on this issue.   Especially on the point of what happens to all the folks on mental health drugs when they run out.  

Overall, I would focus on the local and short term preps first.  Then work towards the longer term regional outage after you have a good base.   

Last point, FEMAs website has stated, since pre Katrina mind you, that you need to be prepared to survive  3 days to 2 weeks  after a large scale natural disaster.   

 

Two weeks will be good news.  Likely, if the grid goes down, it will be significantly longer. 

The kerosene storm lanterns look like money. 

Will the natural gas pipes continue to function, or will they be out, too? 

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Men who carry rifles for a living do not seek reward outside the guild. The most cherished gift...is a nod from his peers.

I don't know about the kerosene, but when I was a kid I found a couple old lanterns in the barn.  My dad had a 500 gal. diesel tank for tractors and whatnot, and they worked fine on the diesel....even then I knew not to use gasoline.  Thankfully.   I still keep a  hundred gallons of diesel on hand for the tractor and have a diesel truck.  I'm going to look into that, maybe lanterns actually designed to burn diesel.  Stands to reason it would work, maybe a little dirty.  

 

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Joined 08/26/03   Location:  Southern Oklahoma

Brock01 posted:

I suppose 20lb bags of white rice and a fire stove would be a place to start..

Add some beans and multivitamins and you can survive for quite some time. Have water, lots of it. Generators, propane is the way to go. Heat is nice. But, even in the most northern states, if you are indoors with cold weather gear and MSS ,probably OK. Trade goods. A couple cases of whisky. Any meds you may need. This is LF, a good stock of firearms and ammo is a given. Have a commo plan.

Garg 'nuair dhùisgear

Kerosene for lighting lanterns should last pretty much forever. I have not tried it but diesel should work, I think it will burn dirtier.

 

On another "optimistic" note......

 

I have been thinking about these widespread events and I think that if there is going to be a continental outage we're pretty much fucked. Pretty sure all utilities will cease to work. No more food transport, no natural gas, no running water, no more vehicle fuel supply.

Our culture depends heavily on a very intricate and complicated supply system for water and food. Break that system and a most grim picture will appear.

Imagine a country where the public water supply and food system has broken down.

Within three days all cities will loose ~75% of their population in search of water and food. Most of these people will die within those three days from dehydration. All these bodies will be decomposing and rotting leaking fluids all over the land. Overland sheet flow during rain events will make sure all those juices end up in the surrounding water bodies. Do not drink ANY surface water without boiling it, not even a small sip. There will be thousands and thousands of bodies around these cities contaminating most of the surface waters available.

People that somehow managed to survive will get sick from contaminated water. People not directly impacted by contaminated water supplies will face many contagious diseases that used to be suppressed with medical technology that no longer exists.

Survivors will face the fact that the normal food supply system no longer exists. They will go in search for food. Many will die of starvation as not many people can survive off the land. Those lucky enough to find food in whatever form it is available will still face contaminated water supplies and numerous contagious diseases.

Many people that are well prepared will be facing a horrible situation. It is going to be the luck of the draw for the next six months. After that people will regroup and organize to survive whatever is thrown at them in whatever way they can. It will be a terrible future (by current standards) for whoever survives the initial purge. Kids will grow up not knowing better and will adapt and accept much faster and better than us old farts.

Within one generation (~15 years because life expectancy has dropped back to ~30yrs old) there will be a new equilibrium, whatever that turns out to be.

Hopefully -if you can say such a thing- the rest of the world is similarly impacted or the continent will more than likely face an invasion from a foreign power. This continent is just too valuable to leave alone.

I personally don't think that it will happen, but it is not impossible.

So in the interim, we can and should prepare for less catastrophic events. Because the 'big one' is such a shit show that I'm not sure how to prepare for it, maybe I don't even want to. But I will try to make sure that my kids' kids have what I think it might take to survive in that world.

J: March 2004

L: Texas

Well, on a personal level, it's no different from your std preps for any contingency; why it happens can be largely irrelevant; it's the fact that something is very wrong, regardless of the source, and you need to react to that.  As to this particular topic, I find it interesting that many have keyed in on power/water/gas shortages or shut downs, instead of info being stolen or manipulated.  Granted, at our level, that could be a direct result from cyber warfare, but I would assume it would only be a "flash-bang", to add to the confusion while they accomplish their main goals, namely to gain access to, or manipulate info from, government and business.  I mean why just turn out the lights, when you could access billions of dollars in wealth, or help to elect socialist candidates and bring down a whole country using it's own systems.  No need to burn it down if you can steal it.  

The point is to strive and be as self-sufficient as possible.  Then regardless of what happens, it will be mitigated in direct proportion to how little you depend on the outside world.  And before someone goes there, let me state that I believe in a small tight-knit community , or tribe if you will, to be successful at this.  Not a hermit in a cabin.  

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine where a person claims all the benefits of the body politic, without any of the responsibilities, and then claims a halo for their dishonesty." Heinlein

In a lights out situation, those with lights and power are far more capable then those without. I have (2) mil-spec PowerFilm 5w panels that I use for portable power to either run my GPS or charge batteries. Having all your equipment on common batteries helps reduce the need to carry multiple chargers. I use mostly AAA, Tenergy Cr123's, and AA eneloop rechargeable batteries. So I can run all my NVG's, flashlights, and radios as long as the sun shines. My home alarm is ran off of AAA batteries so even if the power is out I'll still have perimeter security of the home. 

I've always said that in a long-term SHTF scenario, most people will be dead within 2 months. I might be a little generous with that time frame but if you have a plan to hermit for the first few weeks then you'll avoid 90% of the idiots killing each other off for the last bag of potato chips. 

PS Learn the edible plants in your area now! While you won't live like a king it may be enough to save your life. 

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