How to Survive Black Friday

This post is more tongue-in-cheek than anything, but in seriousness, people can get real stupid real fast on Black Friday.  Black Friday, if you are not aware of it, is an American phenomenon where thousands of deal-seekers amass into stores trying to score insane bargains, popular toys, and cheap TV’s.  It looks like this at its worst:

or this…

Ya…it’s that  kind of special unrelenting purgatory.

I really don’t know why people put themselves into the middle of it.  No flatscreen is worth that to me. Thank you.

Anyway…

To survive this horrible excuse to spend money “just because,” I recommend the following:

Be alert at all times.

Again, be alert…be diligent.  You never know when a crazy person will decide that they have to have your stuff in your cart, basket, hand, etc.

If things start to get a little out of hand, just leave.  No…really…no deal is worth comprising your safety.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Some deals may be worth waiting in line for…for hours…in the cold…at 4 o’clock in the morning, (although I personally can’t think of any,) just use your most important asset:  your head.

Happy Black Friday Shopping!!!   …  (if you insist…)

How to Secure a USB Flash Drive

usb-drive-post-headerLast week, I had discussed how important it is to keep all of your important documents together.  They need to be stored safe, secure, and ready to grab and go on a moment’s notice.  In the event of an emergency, having your paperwork prepared in such a way could make the difference on how well you would be able to weather the disaster and how easily you would be able to recover.  Besides having paper copies of everything important, there are many scenarios when it would be very useful to have digital copies of everything stored as well.  This is where a secure USB flash drive comes in.

Why not just a regular USB drive?

True, a normal USB flash drive would do the job of storing your documents, but you run the risk of having your most vital and personal information fall into the wrong hands. Identification theft is rampant, and the last thing you would want to have happen is to have the security of any of your important documents compromised.  Dealing with any emergency would be bad enough, but I imagine you wouldn’t want it all compounded by facing the possibility of ID theft as well.  I wouldn’t risk it.  Go ahead and take the extra effort to secure your most sensitive information.

So how would one secure a USB flash drive?

Here are 4 ways:

#1           Use an Encrypted Drive

This is probably, by far, the easiest way to secure your information.  Why not start with a USB stick that has encryption to begin with, right?  Not only may that be the easiest method, but according to an article on PCWorld.com, it may also be the best.  The author states:

Though you can certainly secure your data with a normal USB flash drive and encryption software such as the free TrueCrypt or EncryptStick, a chip is harder to hack, and to reach it means actually tampering with the drive, which is easy to detect.1

Good point, but the downside?  Unfortunately, encrypted drives are more expensive, and in some cases, much more expensive. Thankfully, if your budget does not allow for it, there are other ways to secure a USB drive such as…

#2           A Password-protected Partition on a Normal USB Drive Using Rohos Mini Drive

Rohos Mini Drive is a freeware program that creates a hidden partition on your flash drive.  It also protects your data by using AES 256-bit key length encryption.  It then goes a step further by requiring a password to access the created partition.2  The free version will only protect up to 8 MB of data, (which is fine for most purposes,) but if you need more space, there are other versions of Rohos for sale to cover more if you have the need.  Unfortunately, Rohos Mini Drive is good only on Windows systems.  If you are a Mac or a Linux user, you will need to look for other options such as…

#3           Encryption Open Source Software

Certain versions of the Windows operating system come with the Microsoft encryption software BitLocker.3  Similarly, there is FileVault on the Mac OS.  If you do not have access to either of those options, or if you are looking to avoid using the encryption offered by these operating systems, there are also other open source encryption programs available that are not only for Windows users, but that are also compatible with Mac OS, Linux, and other platforms as well.  One of these is known as AES Crypt.  It is a free software that uses a 256-bit encryption algorithm to secure your data, and it can even be used for cloud-based storage.4  Another option that works across several platforms is known as VeraCrypt, (which is an offshoot of the now discontinued TrueCrypt.)5  VeraCrypt uses algorithms for system and partitions encryption which the creators claim protects your data from brute-force attacks. The makers also claim that they have addressed a number of vulnerabilities that were found in the once popular TrueCrypt encryption freeware, and they are continuing to support VeraCrypt with updates as of the date of this post.6  There are other encryption options out there as well, but perhaps this is all more than what you are willing to deal with.  If this is the case, you can just…

#4           Protect Your Whole USB Drive with a Password

Sometimes simpler is better.  Even though this option is definitely not as secure as using any form of encryption, perhaps using just a password to get into your drive is all that you would like to mess with.  There are many USB flash drives on the market that are capable of password protection.  As you shop for one, just look for this feature when choosing one to buy.

In all, it would be better to have your digital information protected in some form so that you hopefully will not have to deal with compromised security when it comes to your personal information and your important documents.  There are many circumstances when having your files stored digitally, as well as having paper copies, could help one get through and recover from some sort of disaster.  Having your documents stored on a USB flash drive is a good idea, that is, as long as the security of your documents does not add negatively to any emergencies you may face.

 

  1. http://www.pcworld.com/article/254816/the_best_encrypted_flash_drives.html
  2. http://www.rohos.com/
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BitLocker
  4. https://www.aescrypt.com/
  5. http://www.howtogeek.com/203708/3-alternatives-to-the-now-defunct-truecrypt-for-your-encryption-needs/
  6. https://veracrypt.codeplex.com/

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Preparedness with Important Documents

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According to a 2010 Consumer Reports National Research Center survey, only 40% of Americans could find their important documents at a moment’s notice if needed.   In addition, 25% of those surveyed had already lost some significant paperwork.1

What about you?  Where are your important documents?

This is one area of preparedness that should not be overlooked, and it is one of the most important types of preparations that you could make ahead of any disaster. Continue reading “Preparedness with Important Documents”

6 Reasons Why You Should Include Light Sticks In Your Preps

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Halloween is about upon us, and along with costumes and pumpkin-flavored everything, light-sticks are for sale just about everywhere.  This is a good time of year to stock up on these things, but why should one do so to begin with?

Here are 6 reasons why: Continue reading “6 Reasons Why You Should Include Light Sticks In Your Preps”

Bug-out Bag Fail…

Last weekend, I had an eye-opening experience.  Without any notice, I found myself overnight in a hospital with a family member.  The next morning, (knowing I had my bug-out bag in my car,) I went to grab a fresh change of clothes, a toothbrush, etc.  Going through my bag, I came to realize I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was.  I had a toothbrush…but no toothpaste.

Now, I don’t believe this to be a big fail.  Indeed, if the apocalypse would have hit, I wouldn’t have really cared about not having any toothpaste in this bag…but here’s the realization that I had: The purpose of this bag was to be prepared for many kinds of emergencies…not just the TEOTWAWKI kind. Continue reading “Bug-out Bag Fail…”