Be a Sheepdog

When you walk into CIA Headquarters, there is the CIA Memorial Wall on your right.

At the top of the wall it says… “In honor of those members of the Central Intelligence Agency who gave their lives in service of their country.”

Below that are stars. One star for every life given. There are over 125 stars on the wall. One of these stars is for Darren L. Darren was an Army Ranger who later joined the CIA’s paramilitary division.

Darren was helping to recruit a Jordanian doctor who had ties to terrorists in Afghanistan. This doctor was hopefully going to provide a great deal of intelligence to the US government. There was a meeting set up along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border where several CIA officers, including Darren, would meet with this doctor.

As everyone prepared for the meeting, they had no idea that the Jordanian doctor was really a double-agent working for al Qaeda. When the doctor arrived at the meeting, he detonated the explosive vest he was wearing, killing 7 people. It was a huge tragedy to the CIA and our country losing great men and women.

It was also an unfortunate reminder of who we are dealing with… People who are so screwed up in the head that when someone comes to them and says, “hey, I want you to wear a vest that will blow up and kill you, what size are you?” These terrorists say, “sure thing, I’m a medium.”

This is why for as long as you and I are alive, our government will be fighting terrorism and brave men and women will be out there trying to stop it.

Something that Darren’s widow said that I really liked, was along the lines of…

People need to know there are American’s out there in the shadows doing behind the scenes work. They are the sheepdogs to the sheep.

You might not be an Army Ranger or CIA Operative or Delta Force… But, all of us can be sheepdogs. It takes a mindset that you will stand up to evil and protect others. It takes gear such as carrying concealed or carrying a knife. And, it takes training.

Luckily, all over our great nation, there are private training schools you can attend, ranging from firearms to self-defense. So, if you don’t feel like you’re a sheepdog yet, I hope you’ll change that and head in that direction soon.


Simple Security Measure

Here’s a simple way you can tell if someone’s entered your hotel room, your office or any other place you want to keep people out of.

(Intelligence operatives use this on hotel room doors.)

First, you will need a small piece of paper.

Something like a 1-inch by 1-inch square will do.

Next, fold the paper in half or even into thirds.

Then you exit your room, so you’re now on the outside.

As you’re closing the door, you stick the piece of paper in the crack of the door. (The side with the hinges.)

Then close the door and the small piece of paper will be slightly sticking out.

It’s important to pay attention to the location where you place the piece of paper.

For instance, make a mental note that you placed the piece of paper four finger lengths above the bottom hinge.

Also, make a note about how you put the paper in the door. Did you place it vertical or horizontal?

The reason you pay attention to this stuff is in case you’re dealing with a pro.

If someone breaks into your hotel room, the paper will fall out of the door when they open it.

You don’t want them to be able to put the paper back without you knowing… which is why you want to know the way you folded it and the exact location you placed it in the door.

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Photo by Tim Savage on

If you come back to your room and the paper is on the ground, it’s gone, or it’s not where you placed it, then you know something is wrong.

This is one of the simplest security measures you can do and I can tell you it’s been used all over the world.

So, the next time you’re at a hotel and you want to see if the maid really obeys the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door, use this simple trick.

And, obviously, if you do come back to your room and you see your paper on the ground, you may not want to enter and go get hotel security.

If you do decide to enter, make sure you know how to safely clear the room, even if it’s something as small as a hotel room.

Should you use a password manager?

Any cyber security expert will tell you that one of the biggest cyber threats we face in 2020 will be hackers targeting inadequate passwords.

Far too many people still use passwords that can be easily guessed by sophisticated hackers.

In 2019, over 8.5 billion online accounts were compromised, with over 5,000 individual data hacks.

The fact is, a staggering 81% of cyber breaches involved either a stolen or weak password.

To make matters worse, over 70% of people admit they reuse passwords at work, even though, 91% of people admit they know reusing passwords is poor practice.

One of the more well-known cyber attacks that involved a weak employee password was when cloud storage firm Dropbox was hacked and over 68 million users’ email addresses and passwords were stolen.

At the time of the cyber attack, Dropbox practiced good user data security by encrypting passwords using a more secure standard called bcrypt.

The bcrypt algorithm for protecting passwords is very resilient to hacking.

The problem was the breach was the result of the reuse of a password a Dropbox employee had previously used on LinkedIn.

In other words, it wasn’t necessarily a weakness in Dropbox software, but rather an employee.

The Dropbox hack is a perfect example of the need for tight security at the user end, including the use of strong passwords, two-step authentication and not reusing passwords.

Americans unquestionably suffer from password overload with the average e-mail address having 130 online accounts registered to the e-mail.

In other words, the average American has at least 130 passwords to remember if they don’t reuse passwords.

Since remembering that many passwords is nearly impossible, I want to share with you the top password manager apps that you might want to consider to keep your login credentials safe.

Dashlane. This app offers a free version that allows you to store 50 passwords on one device.

If you need to use multiple devices or have more than 50 passwords, the base price is $59.99 per year.

Dashlane works with Windows, MacOS, Android, iPhone and iPad. Plus, it has browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, Edge and Opera.

Dashlane provides a simple and secure way to manage your passwords and includes a built in VPN for added security.

1Password. 1Password costs $35.88 per year and works with Windows, MacOS, Linux, Chrome OS, Android, iPhone and iPad.

In addition, it has browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.

This user-friendly password manager lacks a free version, but you can try it for free for 30 days before signing up.

Also, a one-year subscription comes with 1GB of document storage and optional two-factor authentication for additional security.

An added feature for those who frequently travel is a travel mode option that lets you remove your 1Password sensitive data from your device when you travel and then restore it with one easy click when you return.

Bitwarden. Balancing the features between free and paid password managers can be tough.

The great thing about Bitwarden is you get all the necessary features for free, but the premium edition adds useful bonus features, at a lower-than-usual price of $12 per a year.

This password manager works with Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iPhone and iPad and includes browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera, Vivaldi, Brave and Tor Browser.

Bitwarden is a basic password manager that can store and automatically fill your passwords across your devices and popular browsers including Brave and Tor for free.

It lacks some of the bells and whistles of other password managers, but for $12 a year it’s a good inexpensive option.

The reality is, if you are still using your children’s birthday as a password it’s just a matter of time before it gets hacked.

This year, there is no doubt that hackers will target our biggest cyber weakness, which will always be human error.