Ideas and suggestions to maintain your privacy, both online and off.
I started the Privacy Blog because I am dismayed by what I see, read, and hear in today’s world. Edward Snowden has revealed the abuses of governmental agencies in snooping on its citizens. Other governments do the same. Cyber criminals frequently hack into servers and individual desktop computers around the world. Corporations snoop on your buying habits, your political and religious beliefs, and more in order to learn about you and to inundate you with “targeted advertising.” Foreign governments surreptitiously flood you with “fake news” in order to influence your votes for political leaders. Potential employers snoop to find private information about potential job candidates.
Then there’s Facebook… Armed with nothing more than a Facebook user’s publicly-available information, anyone with an Internet connection and a few dollars can obtain personal information they should never have access to. Starting with the information found on Facebook, then combining it with other publicly-available information on the Internet, some of which requires payment of a fee, anyone can obtain a Facebook user’s date of birth, e-mail address, or estimated income. In fact, by using this unencrypted information, an identity thief can obtain almost all of the data he would need to apply for a loan or a credit card in the name of an unsuspecting Facebook user.
Facebook isn’t the only online problem but it certainly is today’s worst violator of personal privacy.
Luckily, these problems are easily avoided if the user understands the solutions available.
I first became immersed in security and privacy issues when I spent four years as a cryptographic technician in the U.S. military. On a daily basis, I handled some of the nation’s most secure messages and telephone calls, including war plans, intelligence data, and even messages from the President of the United States and very senior government officials and military officers.
The technical details of cryptography undoubtedly have changed since my days in the field but the basics are still the same: even the most casual unencrypted information can be collected and used by those who wish to do you harm. However, a combination of common sense and encryption can keep your private information just that: private.
This blog will contain suggestions about how you can improve your personal privacy and improve your security, both online and off.
As always, I welcome suggestions.