by Sean Kelly
Maybe you’ve seen the parody picture that has gone viral (bad choice of words these days!) on the internet recently of Doc Brown and Marty McFly from Back to the Future.
Wearing his perpetually alarmed expression, the time-traveling Doc warns Marty, “Whatever happens, Marty, don’t ever go to 2020!”
It makes us laugh because it has been a year like no other… and it is not even half over yet!
And now there’s something new to add to 2020’s dark resume right along with everything else that has happened.
Something that made us think of silver.
We’ll get to that in a moment. But first, what happened.
On Monday (6/15), people across the US discovered their cell phones were not working. They couldn’t make calls or send texts. Family members were out of touch. Parents couldn’t check on their children. Social plans were disrupted. Business calls didn’t go through. Messages weren’t received. Call-backs weren’t made. Meetings were missed.
The problems spilled over to Facebook and Instagram. People we know were affected. Perhaps people you know were as well.
It didn’t take long for some to conclude it was a hack, a cyber-security attack on US telecommunications. The report by The Sun, a British tabloid, read, “A MASSIVE cyber attack targeting the USA was feared last night as major telecoms, internet and banking platforms were crippled at the same time.”
It passed along claims that the outages were “caused by a large-scale distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, meant to cripple services by flooding them with traffic so they are unusable.”
Millions of people on Twitter and elsewhere read that it was attack. One congressman echoed the claim. But it didn’t take long for a cooler explanation to prevail. Since T-Mobile, apparently most affected by the service problems, merged with Sprint in April, some traced the problem to an update in merging the two companies’ technical systems.
T-Mobile’s CEO said it was “an IP traffic related issue.” That sounds plausible to us. The FCC intends to investigate.
Whatever the cause of the problem, the incident should focus us on how utterly dependent we are on systems that may not be robust. In this era of pandemics and lockdowns, with closed business, and workers furloughed, to say nothing of riots, protests, looting, and arson, you need to ask yourself if you are prepared for large-scale interruptions in the things that make our modern lives work.
What happens if there is an interruption in the power grid because of mismanagement or sabotage? If public utilities fail in a lawless environment? If banks and other businesses are forced to close, if there are urban fires, road closures, or “no-go zones” in your town?
What happens if the ATM machines stop spitting out cash? What happens when solar events interfere with satellite communications.
What happens if there is a wave of bank failures, or if a foreign government dumps US treasuries?
These are sensible questions that arise, not out of alarmism, but because our digital infrastructure in 2020 is increasingly complex and fragile. That is why technology and security officials gather from around the world to discuss just these questions.
That is why this cell phone failure made us think of silver.
We strongly recommend that each family have a portion of their wealth and savings in silver. Silver coins provide a small and convenient form of purchasing power, a bread-and-butter currency for emergencies like these and in times of currency failure.
Owning physical gold and silver is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself from Black Swans, low predictable events that carry outsize impacts. Not only is silver especially favorably priced now compared to gold, silver coins and bars are an important part of your self-protection in 2020.