Category Archives: Security
New Year’s annual reboot provides an excellent opportunity to review your overall security situation online. Though many people faced with recent revelations of government and corporate tracking and surveillance may despair of doing anything at all, Internet security is more vital than ever – as every one of the Target customers caught in this year’s massive holiday hack would surely agree. Security v. Privacy It may well be impossible to block surveillance and still conduct business and social activities normally online. But it is possible to survive online with a relative degree of safety. However, these days, security and privacy are not the same. Some steps you could take to enhance one could actually be counter-productive for the other. For instance, many people, concerned with the fact that email is as private as a postcard, urge encryption. Yet at this point, it is by no means certain which (if any) means of encryption really are secure, and evidence suggests that it may simply raise suspicions from the authorities, who are said to store encrypted communications indefinitely, “just in case.” It’s not just government surveillance either. The big tech corporations such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, and Microsoft, while supplying information to the feds, are skimming vast amounts of data from their customers for their own commercial purposes. Since much of this is done through cookies – those little files they put on your computer – which are also necessary to … Continue reading
Since this summer, a number of disturbing news reports have come out that highlight the amount of ongoing surveillance of the Internet by the National Security Agency. Mainly due to leaks to leaks from former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, these have outlined a huge systematic government effort to watch everything and everyone online. “Controversial” and “important” do not even begin to indicate just how vital and contentious these game-changing revelations really are. The basics facts now known about\ these programs is outlined in this month’s SWCP Portal, in an article called “The Spooks in the Machine.” It is complete with links to all the original stories. So check it out, especially if you’ve been wanting to follow this important story but haven’t had the time. So stay tuned – you can depend on the Portal continuing to cover this in the future, with analysis of what it means and what, if anything, can or should be done.
In the wake of ongoing revelations of online government surveillance, what many observers have suspected is now shown to be true. As Google CEO Eric Schmidt once famously said: there is no anonymity in the future of the Web. As the head of one of the companies chiefly responsible for this, he should know. It’s not just the government spying on you online, either, through Internet giants Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and Skype, among others. Millions of phone calls, all postal mail, even your physical location in traffic (note: pdf format) is all being recorded and stored. Not only do you have little or no control over this massive ongoing collection, you can’t find out anything about it: it’s all classified. Even if you haven’t done anything suspicious, you can’t get any of that information via the Freedom of Information Act. However, the hypocrisy of the big corporations in strenuously denying any knowledge of such practices is probably legal necessary. The laws that permit Internet spying by service providers also forbid under pain of criminal penalties any acknowledgement of such surveillance. However, some corporations have gone to great lengths to accommodate the feds. Microsoft, for example, helped them evade their own encryption in their email program. In fact, Microsoft has installed backdoors in its software to permit secret NSA access at least since 1999. They are likely certainly not alone. Now that the door’s been cracked open, more and … Continue reading