How Much Privacy Are Internet and Computer Users Really Afforded?

What’s that famous line in all the spy movies where the CIA agent reminds another character as events occur and conflicts arise; “Trust No One!” Well, my friends judging by how social networking is shaping up, I’d say the Internet is also on that list. Why you ask? Because there are people, humans, and you know, there are folks everywhere behind the scenes making it work and deciding which way it has to evolve. There is a lot of money and value in information and big data, it is big business – it means power and control of over every individual, country, and yes, even the world – seriously. Okay, let’s discuss this one shall we?

According to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) in a Wall Street Journal article on March 27, 2012 titled; “Regulators Urge Web Privacy Rules” by Julia Angwin; “Simply put, your computer is your property. No one has the right to put anything on [your computer] that you don’t want.”

Okay thanks for that clarification, but please answer another question for me if you will; if the advertisers and marketers cannot track you, does that mean that only the government can?

Now then, you might say to me, “Lance, give it a rest and stop listening to Conspiracy Theory Talk Shows like Coast-to-Coast AM every night,” and yes, I get that debating point, truly I do, still, just because the American People aren’t paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t looking at everything you are doing. It’s almost as if Big Data and Big Brother are working together to replace the “Spirit in The Sky” when you die or so Norman Greenbaum says.

Next, in case you aren’t on the EFF Electronic Freedom Foundation email list, why not read this article posted on March 30, 2012 in the New York Times titled; “Conflict Over How Open ‘Do Not Track’ Talks Will Be,” by Edward Wyatt and Tanzina Vega which stated; “Technology companies want to talk with the government about protecting privacy on the Internet. They just want those talks to be private.”

Fine, more private government meetings, this after President Obama allots some $200 million in his budget for “Big Data” and more government “clouds” and data centers, along with the proverbial national security issues and anti-cyber warfare campaign. So, it’s readily obvious to me, and realize I am on the side of the “good guys” but it is still obvious to me that we are going to track everyone, and keep all the data in a giant data center storage in Utah somewhere from the reports I’ve been reading, no not on Art Bell’s Coast-to-Coast Website.

Personally, I’ve been observing humans in their natural habitat some four and a half centuries, and seriously, I’m not sure if I can trust one of them, well, except myself. And when it comes to groups of humans involved in making money, politics, Machiavellian rule, or crony capitalism – hmm? Doubtful. Indeed, I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.

Internet and Computer Security Should Be a Part of Every Home Security Solution

These days it seems as if you can either find a security expert or a computer security expert, but seldom both. The security expert is knowledgeable about physical security systems, alarm systems, and camera systems but knows little about networks, computer viruses, or internet attacks. The reverse is also true, as most internet security people do not know a thing about physical security. To me, security is security and protecting my property, whether it be stored in my living room or on my computer, is very important. Why then, do we all tend to separate physical security and computer security instead of considering both together?

Protecting your computers and the information stored on them is critically important. It is often difficult or impossible to retrieve data that has been destroyed by a virus, and doing so can be very expensive. The good news is that we can easily protect our computers from internet bad guys without spending a fortune.

We hear about “network security” all of the time. In theory, a bad guy can access your wireless router and then proceed to steal your files or trash your computer system. This is true, but only if you share files across a network – which most people don’t need to do! If you are not sharing files or programs a bad guy can play around with your router all night and not be able to do much damage, aside from changing the settings on your router. Here is the simplest solution – when you buy a router go in to the settings, give it a name, and set a WEP or WPA password. It is really just that easy! If they cannot get your router they cannot get your computers!

Attacks that come from the internet in the form of viruses or malware are not particularly aimed at your computer specifically. They are designed to do various things, none of them good, using your computer. These too are easy to defeat with little energy or money. With so many programs and so much software available designed to protect your computer from viruses and malware, how do you know which one’s really work and which one’s are a waste of money? You don’t have to buy the most expensive name brand software in order to be protected. You would be surprised what I have found really works – and what does not.

You Think Your Internet and Computer History is Erased? Think Again!

What if every page visited, every email sent, every chat logged could be retrieved by someone? Scary thought huh. Well you may not be doing something illegal, you may not have anything embarrassing or even have anything of high value someone could steal. But just the thought someone could retrieve all that information is a scary thought that most people do not even think about. This article is not meant to scare you or put you in fear of ever using the internet again. It is just a reminder and wake up call for those not aware that there are ways to recover all that data, for good or for bad.

“Computer forensics” is the actual term used for retrieval of data. If you just erase your email or file and think it is gone, you are wrong. Through ways of computer forensics and software it is possible to retrieve that data. Now if you go through a more elaborate way of erasing files like encryption, degaussing, overwriting or physical destruction, it is argued that it is impossible to retrieve data. You can count on the fact that your employee, family, school mate or a random person is not going to be able to retrieve that info. It is still debated whether or not the computer forensic experts & government agencies can or cannot retrieve the data through advanced techniques though.

If you want to delete data from your hard drive and still be able to use the computer, your best bet is software.

Software does this through what is called shredding or wiping a file. Pretty much it usually just overwrites the existing data with new data in different patterns. If you do this you have to be sure of what you are trying to erase, because after you overwrite data there is no way to get it back(assuming you do not work for the government and retrieval is really possible).

Encryption is another method which in most cases works well, but it is not full proof and still has the ability to get hacked and retrieved.

Degaussing is a method of removing a magnetic field of a hard drive or disk. This method works great, but at the same time ruins your hard drive so you cannot use it again.

Reformatting, reimaging or repartitioning a computer does not always overwrite every area of the drive, it may appear to be erase but some of the drive is still there and able to be retrieved.

So before you just throw or give that computer away, just remember that if you simply erase files it is not enough to permanently get rid of them. The best way if you are going to use your computer or pass it on is to use a software application to overwrite the data. If you are going to destroy a computer or do not care about it anymore, the best way is degaussing or physical destruction like incinerating, adding corrosive chemicals, physically breaking through shredding or grinding etc.

This all can be good or bad news depending on the purpose of your deletion or retrieval of information and hopefully you now have a better understanding of how computer forensics & data retrieval works and the steps needed to protect yourself.

Internet and Computers, A Game Changer – AI, Robotics, BioTech, and NanoTech Are Next

It has often been said that he who controls the media, controls the minds of the people. The printing press gave an advantage to those who used it. Today, those who control the information have almost unlimited abilities to control and capitalize on that information. Thus, information technology has been a game changer in nearly every sector sense its arrival. The era of big data is now the changer of the game. Okay so, who owns the future in the next period?

Well, let me take a stab at it, but first to catch you up to speed on this topic, why not read this book below:

“Who Owns The Future?” by Jaron Lanier, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2013, 416 pages, ISBN: 978-145-16549-67. Also the author of “You Are Not a Gadget” which was one of his earlier books, published by Vintage Press, 240 pages, 2011, ISBN: 978-030-738997-8.

The author works now for Microsoft Research, prior he’s had stints working with all sorts of corporations which use information to drive sales – he’s worked with algorithms for high-frequency trading, and sophisticated computers for insurance companies determining risk analyzing all the big data at their disposal. He’s watched companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook move ahead of the pack – companies like Cisco, Oracle and others build the systems to take the game to the highest levels.

Fine, and this makes sense, his knowledge, experience and observations are relevant for the future and in hindsight. Now then, what of the future, will big data still rule the world or will AI, Robotics, BioTech and NanoTech take the lead? Well, I suppose I could submit to you, as might Jaron Lanier, that in those sectors, big data will help those companies leveraging that data the best reach the top and control and own those industries.

Consider how important big data and computing power is to artificial intelligence? Without the computing power it’s not useful at all is it? What of robotics, same thing right, and you have to merge AI with robotics to get to the fullest potential there, again, big data is keenly important to success. In BioTech, the same thing, we already see that don’t we? DNA isn’t simple, it takes computing power to figure it all out. Material science is simple in concept, but complex to make it work for you. It seems that big data, and information technology will rule the game for the next era won’t it? Please consider all this and think on it.