Tag Archives: Internet privacy

Bruce Schneier Sees Three Emerging Cyber Threats – NOT Cybercrime Related

imageParadoxically, a significant percentage of the very people (self described security experts), who love to paint computer users as “sheeple” (people unable to think for themselves, followers, lemmings, ….. ), adhere religiously to the party line when it comes to cyber threats – the party, in this case, being the security application industry – and, its unrelenting “scare them to death”, marketing tactics. I can’t help but wonder, who the real “sheeple” are.

It’s hardly surprising, that this type of “harum-scarum” focus, has the potential to camouflage other significant cyber threat issues (other than the cyber criminal issue). Issues which include Internet privacy (now there’s an oxymoron), censorship, and illegal law enforcement tracking – just to name a few – all of which should be a focus of examination, and analytical conversation.

Bruce Schneier, the Chief Security Technology Officer of BT (British Telecom)and the author of the best sellers “Schneier on Security,” “Beyond Fear,” “Secrets and Lies,” and “Applied Cryptography,” as well as the inventor of the Blowfish, Twofish, Threefish, Helix, Phelix, and Skein algorithms, recently revealed his top three emerging cyberspace threats – none of which, you’ll notice, has anything to do with cyber crime security, per se.

Here’s Schneier’s take on these issues – issues which, in his view, have the potential to be more dangerous than cybercriminals.

Last month, I participated in a panel at the Information Systems Forum in Berlin.  The moderator asked us what the top three emerging threats were in cyberspace.   I went last, and decided to focus on the top three threats that are not criminal.

The Rise of Big Data – By this I mean industries that trade on our data. These include traditional credit bureaus and data brokers, but also data-collection companies like Facebook and Google.  They’re collecting more and more data about everyone, often without their knowledge and explicit consent, and selling it far and wide: to both other corporate users and to government.  Big data is becoming a powerful industry, resisting any calls to regulate its behavior.

Ill-Conceived Regulations from Law Enforcement – We’re seeing increasing calls to regulate cyberspace in the mistaken belief that this will fight crime.  I’m thinking about data retention laws, Internet kill switches, and calls to eliminate anonymity.  None of these will work, and they’ll all make us less safe.

The Cyberwar Arms Race – I’m not worried about cyberwar, but I am worried about the proliferation of cyber weapons.  Arms races are fundamentally destabilizing, especially when their development can be so easily hidden.  I worry about cyberweapons being triggered by accident, cyberweapons getting into the wrong hands and being triggered on purpose, and the inability to reliably trace a cyberweapon leading to increased distrust.  Plus, arms races are expensive.

Obviously, it’s important to have a functional understanding of cybercrime and, the steps one must take to lessen its impact at an individual level. But, it’s equally as important to be aware, that behind the scenes, in a manner of speaking, major changes are occurring which will impact how you use the Internet and the risks and exposures, unrelated to cyber criminals, you may be required to accept.

Forewarned is forearmed, and all that.

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Filed under Opinion, Point of View

Google’s CEO’s Privacy Statement – A Freudian Slip?

image In a recent interview with CNBC, Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt, made the following assertion on Internet privacy: “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place…………………….” A statement, in my view, that is essentially the equivalent of moralistic claptrap.

Moreover, it’s a statement which translates easily into that foolishly held belief, “If you’ve done nothing wrong – you have nothing to worry about.” The truth is, the realities of the world we now live in continue to emphasize; despite the fact you have done nothing wrong – you have everything to worry about.

Consider this:

Disk wipe utilities, disk cleaning utilities, and file shredding utilities, are among the most popular free downloads on the Internet.

Most web Browsers offer a private browsing mode.

Encryption software is often advertised as a way to protect private, personal, or sensitive files.

Anonymizer applications, such as Hotspot Shield, are advertised as a way to protect a user’s online identity.

While there are multiple uses for the software applications, or application options, described above, a primary use of such software is to ensure a certain level of privacy. Of course, if you’ve done nothing wrong you don’t need to use these applications, right?

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You have your own reasons for seeking out privacy of course, in both your private and your online life, and I wouldn’t begin to presume to query, or to comment on those reasons. But, I seriously doubt it’s because you’ve done something “wrong”. Instead, it comes down to a fundamental human need – and the need for privacy is fundamental to who we are.

Noted security guru Bruce Schneier, puts it in a relevant context when he says:

“Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we’re doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance. If we are observed in all matters, we are constantly under threat of correction, judgment, criticism, even plagiarism of our own uniqueness.

We become children, fettered under watchful eyes, constantly fearful that — either now or in the uncertain future — patterns we leave behind will be brought back to implicate us, by whatever authority has now become focused upon our once-private and innocent acts. We lose our individuality, because everything we do is observable and recordable”.

The Internet is a reasonably true international digital representation of our world. A world with conflicting views on what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s socially acceptable and what’s not, and with varying degrees of both the recognition of, and the need for personal privacy.

For Eric Schmidt to state that he has the answer to this privacy riddle, in a highly complex world, or to assert his moralistic view as to what we should or shouldn’t do, is hardly the perspective one would expect from someone in his position.

He may be a whiz bang when it comes to search engines, but I suggest that he’s a dud when it comes to the psychology of human beings.

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Filed under Google, Interconnectivity, Living Life, Personal Perspective, Privacy, Surveillance

Internet Privacy – You’re Kidding, Right?

Rick Robinette’s guest writer article might surprise you. Rick lays out what the sum total of your Internet activity might mean for you now, and in the future.

Once It Is Out There, It Is Out There

I was thinking about the time I first accessed the internet, up to the present, AND was questioning myself; “What have I put out there?” Now, I am talking about anything and everything from emails, web accounts, web mail, online purchasing, online chatting, files, credit card numbers, etc.

Actually, I try to be very careful of what I am doing; however, what little I have put out there, is out there AND there is no turning back. The little bit of information I have put out there is just enough that my identity and privacy could ultimately be breached.

Recently we all read in the news where the ESPN reporter was a victim of a peepster who posted shots of the reporter on the internet. I actually was chuckling when there were reports of trying to stop this transgression and get it back.

There is no getting it back… In this case, the internet takes over, and these shots were sprinkling down on people’s PC’s like rain (a million drops a second). There is just no way to stop it and there is no way to get it back.

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It amazes me what people are putting out there on the social network sites, such as Facebook and MySpace. Remember, when the information you are posting is “all about you”, it could come back to haunt you years down the road.

The younger generation, oblivious to privacy, is telling it all and exposing sensitive matters about themselves that would make a sailor blush.

Email is another interesting tool that we use that leaves a trail. My email sending policy, is to keep it short and never express my feelings about something or someone. Once you hit that send button, it rockets into cyberspace, which in essence can be infinity.  Email can remain on servers forever.

To give you an example, when I retired, my email account (at a government agency) remained active for over 2 years until I demanded it be terminated.  Termination of the account took it out of the public’s view; however, my data and email correspondence was still there.

The purpose of this article is to heighten your awareness about your identity and privacy; AND to make you think about what information you are giving away about yourself. It is human nature to investigate and to be curious. With just knowing your name and your zip code, a person with bad intentions can get your address, a map to your house, a photo of your residence, your property tax records, and it goes on and on.

Are you out there?

Simply by using Google or Yahoo you can find an abundance of information by simply entering a person’s name; however, there are online services that specialize in deeper searches.

I encourage you to perform a search for your name, using these services. If you know of any other services, please leave a comment below.

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This is a guest post by Rick Robinette, who brings a background as a security/police officer professional, and as an information technology specialist to the Blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Rick’s site at What’s On My PC. Like me, you’re sure to become a frequent visitor.

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Email, Google, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, Privacy, Windows Tips and Tools, Yahoo