Archive for the ‘Safety Tips’ Category
Mr. Guise Saleazy kissed his wife goodnight and turned off the bedside lamp. He knew that within minutes she’d be snoring like a lumberjack overdosing on Valium. “Runs in the family,” she’d once told him, which was the reason his overbearing and grotesquely overweight in-laws slept in separate rooms on opposite ends of a long upstairs hallway.
It was just past midnight and the house was quiet, with the exception of the refrigerator hum that caused something in the pots and pans drawer to quiver and vibrate. Sounded like a handful of bees buzzing around among the Paula Deen cookware the little woman ordered through her banking rewards program. She’d had just enough points for the ten-piece stainless steel set with glass tops, and a pair of blush-pink slippers that she pops into the microwave to heat up on cold nights. Nothing like the odor of her hot and stinky porcine feet to ruin perfectly good episodes of “Honey Boo-Boo” and “Gator Boys.” Not to mention what the funky smell does to his appetite. Why, the stench practically destroys his taste for a nightly bowl of Orville’s best caramel corn.
He let her snores reach a level equal to that of a finely-tuned leaf blower, and then switched on his laptop. While waiting for the machine to boot up, he grabbed a bottle of ice cold root beer from the fridge and stripped down to his John Deere boxers and favorite pair of black Gold Toe socks. He was once again ready to take a romp through Pornland.
His fingers flew over the keys, typing in the address to his favorite site (he never bookmarked his secret places). He used the mouse to scroll through the pages, and…wait, what was that image? That wasn’t his favorite brunette. Instead, it was a picture of the Grim Reaper. And that message. Were they serious? They said they’d taken the computer hostage and they (hackers, he surmised) want $5,000 within 72 hours to release the data files or they’d wipe them clean. But all the business records are on that laptop. And the novel he’d been writing. It must be true because the computer was locked. Nothing worked.
Could this really be happening? Was it possible to virtually kidnap a computer and then demand a ransom for its safe return?
Well, the answer is, unfortunately, yes. Cyber criminals have developed viruses that lock a computer’s desktop while simultaneously using the device’s built-in camera to capture an image of the user. In Mr. Saleazy’s case, the incriminating image was of him just after he’d slipped off the boxers (he never removed his socks), and that was the photo displayed in all its glory on the frustratingly-locked desktop. They said if he doesn’t pay the ransom, in addition to holding the files, they’d send his “socks” photo to everyone in his contacts list.
What would his wife say if she saw the picture? Suppose his boss received a copy? Or his mother-in-law? A sheen of perspiration wet his forehead. His licked at his suddenly-dry lips. He tried to shut down the computer. Nothing. Clicking, poking, and stabbing at various keys and buttons. He couldn’t power it down no matter what he tried.
He was ruined. His darling little cupcake would want a divorce, and he’d most certainly lose his job as director of the youth choir at the Church of All That’s Holy.
Maybe the police could help. Sure, that’s what he’d do…call the police. Before dialing he peeked in to check on his princess. Good, she was still asleep. He thought she looked sweet, all curled up like a chubby little pig in a blanket—huffing, snorting, and wheezing like a freight train heading upward toward the peaks of the high Sierras.
He swallowed hard and punched 911 on his cell.
Australian Federal Police report a rise in “ransomware” attacks in the past couple of years. Not only are the cyber-crooks targeting porn lovers such as Mr. Saleazy, they’ve also hit several businesses, including a medical facility (hackers demanded $4,000 to have their files returned in operating order), a transportation company, personal computer owners for up to a couple hundred dollars each, and even a school ($5,000 ransom).
A report released by Symantec states that ransomware cyber gangs are extorting well over $5 million a year.
The best means to protect you and your computer from ransomware is to:
- purchase and utilize a reputable anti-virus program
- use good, strong passwords and change them often
- don’t advertise your personal information on the internet, especially on websites and social networks
- don’t share financial data with anyone over the internet unless it’s to a site you know well and trust
- avoid clicking on links in emails, especially when you don’t recognize the sender
- don’t open email attachments unless you know and trust the sender
- update your virus software regularly
And for goodness sake, wear more than just a pair of socks when reading this blog!
Using hairspray as a chemical deterrent to ward off attackers has been a hot topic lately. The general idea is to keep a can handy on the nightstand beside the bed, or a smaller can inside a handbag. Then, as an unsuspecting attacker approaches, the would-be victim sprays the hair-stiffener into the thug’s eyes, who is then supposed to immediately run away.
Personally, I do not recommend the use of hairspray as a means of defense against attackers. It’s not totally effective—you must hit the eyes (peppersprays can be effective without direct contact to the eyes), and carrying the stuff gives a person a false sense of security. Unless you practice/train with it, chances are that using it in real-life would be totally ineffective.
The other premise is for the victim to use a cigarette lighter to ignite the spray as it leaves the nozzle, turning the misty chemical into a homemade flamethrower. Now, what halfway intelligent crook would dare continue his advances when faced with a fire-spurting homeowner?
Well, the ideas are good…spray the attacker’s eyes which could render him incapable of continuing the assault, or, set his hair on fire causing him to run outside looking like a human 4th of July fireworks display. But, there are a few things to keep in mind.
1. For obvious reasons, remember to use the aerosol hairspray, not the pump type.
2. The actuators (push buttons) on aerosol cans are normally made of plastic and could melt when exposed to prolonged extreme heat/fire.
3. The flame generated using a hairspray can extends only as far as the distance reached by the spray, which is basically a couple of feet. Therefore, an attacker could simply wait at a safe distance—four feet, or so—while your weapon slowly burns up/extinguishes. Or, he could stand at a safe distance and roast a marshmallow or two while waiting for the flame to subside. Also, if the attacker is only two feet away when the victim begins the process of match-striking and spray-squirting, he could easily disarm the victim.
4. While standing in your bedroom, striking matches and flicking Bic’s, an attacker could easily grab the blanket from your bed, toss it over you and your flamethrower, and then beat you senseless.
Of course, you could always switch to deodorant as a source of power for your flamethrower/chemical deterrent. At least then the attacker would smell nice while he pounded out a rhythmic Latin beat on your head.
Oh, and there was the fight between two Michigan women where one grabbed a can of hairspray, aimed it at her opponent, and set the stream on fire. Well, the flame never reached the other woman, who grabbed a lamp and hit the fire-sprayer with it. When police arrived they found scratches on the faces of both women…and a broken lamp.
Of course, there’s a more deadly use for hairspray…
Way back when (sometime during the late 1980′s), Virginia coalminers decided to strike, becoming rowdy in the process, and when the state police moved in to restore order they were met by jack rocks in the roadways (jack rocks are large, sharpened metal objects shaped like jacks—kid toys—designed to flatten car tires), gunfire, and incoming spuds fired from potato cannons.
The VSP spent nearly $200,000 to replace flattened car tires during the period when over 400 troopers were assigned to the area on a rotating basis. The state police spent nearly $8 million keeping the peace during the nine month strike.
Anyway, back to Potato cannons. They’re simple devices, generally made from PVC pipe, a source of ignition, such as a barbecue grill spark-lighter, and an accelerate, such as hairspray. Users wedge a potato into the open end of the cannon, squirt hairspray into the area where the igniter is installed, close the cap, and then flick the igniter. The spark ignites the hairspray which then propels the potato. A simple, yet effective process.
During the time of the troubles with the miners, I just happened to be at the State Police Academy for in-service training and was lucky enough to be one of the cops chosen to test fire potato cannons. The idea was to see how much damage they could do and then relay our findings to the troopers assigned to the mountain areas where the strike was taking place. So, after firing a couple hundred pounds of spuds at various targets, we learned that the force generated is often great enough to send a spud through plywood, cinder blocks, and even the door of a passing trooper’s car. The cannons were surprisingly powerful.
Below is a video recorded by author and Florida law enforcement officer James O. Born. In the brief film, Jim demonstrates how to fire a potato cannon. His target is a bit…well, unconventional, but the action is real. You’ll notice a large cap on the rear end of the cannon. That’s where hairspray is applied. And, you’ll see Jim holding the ignition switch in his right hand.
Take it way, Jim…