Monday, July 29, 2013

We're "fed a constant stream of journalistic pap"

One of the most significant articles you'll read anytime is by John Naughton, professor of the public understanding of technology at the Open University, published in The Observer, July 28, 2013:
"Without [Edward Snowden], we would not know how the National Security Agency (NSA) had been able to access the emails, Facebook accounts and videos of citizens across the world; or how it had secretly acquired the phone records of millions of Americans; or how, through a secret court, it has been able to bend nine US internet companies to its demands for access to their users' data.

"Similarly, without Snowden, we would not be debating whether the US government should have turned surveillance into a huge, privatised business, offering data-mining contracts to private contractors such as Booz Allen Hamilton and, in the process, high-level security clearance to thousands of people who shouldn't have it. Nor would there be – finally – a serious debate between Europe (excluding the UK, which in these matters is just an overseas franchise of the US) and the United States about where the proper balance between freedom and security lies.

"These are pretty significant outcomes and they're just the first-order consequences of Snowden's activities. As far as most of our mass media are concerned, though, they have gone largely unremarked. Instead, we have been fed a constant stream of journalistic pap – speculation about Snowden's travel plans, asylum requests, state of mind, physical appearance, etc. The "human interest" angle has trumped the real story, which is what the NSA revelations tell us about how our networked world actually works and the direction in which it is heading..."
Knowledge that Microsoft, Facebook, Google and other major communication and technology companies have joined in the U.S. government's snooping program should cause us to rethink our personal computer security. For example, if you rely on Microsoft Defender for firewall protection, you might as well turn it off. John C. Dvorak, long time writer on technology wrote this in his PC Magazine column:

Why We Can No Longer Trust Microsoft, July 12, 2013
"...Microsoft, despite denials, appears to be in bed with the NSA. Apparently all encryption and other methods to keep documents and discussions private are bypassed and accessible by the NSA and whomever it is working with. This means a third party, for whatever reason, can easily access confidential business deals, love letters, government classified memos, merger paperwork, financial transactions, intra-corporate schemes, and everything in between.

"With that said, do you really want to buy a Microsoft product?...

"...Curiously, we've all known about the possible links between NSA and Microsoft since the Windows 2000 era when odd DLLs began to appear, which observers surmised were some back-door codes..."

This slide describes what happens when an NSA analyst "tasks" the PRISM system for information about a new surveillance target. 

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  1. I agree with Dvorak. If you are concerned about privacy and security you should stop using Microsoft (or any other proprietary) products. Build your own servers and devices using free open source software. Do not trust the cloud.

    That is probably a daunting task for most people, but it is feasible and not as difficult as it appears. In the meantime, tools are available to use which reduce your risks on most platforms:

  2. I would never trust my info to " the cloud ". I may be a nobody, but I will be damned if I will store my photos in the cloud.

  3. Four students developed an antidote to info grabbing Facebook, it's called Diaspora, and it's free:

    July Morning



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