At Least 200 Federal Websites Have Expired SSL Certificates

UPDATE: A few hours after this article was published, an agreement to allow unpaid Federal workers to go back to work and be paid was announced. Obviously, that is great news even though it is only a temporary agreement. However, do not expect immediate resolution of the problems detailed in this article. The employees face a big backlog of work to be done that probably will require days, or even weeks, to resolve at a time when the same employees are also trying to handle normal, day-to-day business requirements. Resolution will require some time.

We all know the familiar story of the 800,000+ U.S. workers, and the millions of contractors, who are not receiving paychecks. There is one aspect of this story that is not as well known, however. The problem is that no one is renewing SSL and TLS security certificates on web sites. Even worse, most of the web sites are also unmonitored. That means if a hacker or a spy does manage to break into one of these government web sites, nobody will notice and there is no one available to react to block the continued access.

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Why You Might Want to Give Up Your Landline Phone

Millions of people are cutting the cords of landline phone service and have switched to cellular or VoIP (internet calling) services. You might think, “That’s nice, but I like my wired landline phone. I plan to keep it forever.”

I bet you will change your mind before long. You may not change it today, but I suspect you will change within a very few years. When you do, you probably will find you then have more privacy and lower expenses than you do today.

Rather than paying the higher prices for the next several years, I might suggest you might evaluate your options TODAY to see if it makes sense for you to switch now.

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Predicting Household Demographics Based on Image Data

Our friends (?) at Facebook have submitted a patent application for technology that claims it can predict who your family and other household members are, based on images and captions posted to Facebook, as well as your device information, like shared IP addresses.

The application, titled Predicting household demographics based on image data, was originally filed May 10, 2017, but made public this week. The system Facebook proposes in its patent application would use facial recognition and learning models trained to understand text to help Facebook better understand whom you live with and interact with most. The technology described in the patent looks for clues in your profile pictures on Facebook and Instagram, as well as photos of you that you or your friends post.

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Facebook Is a Normal Sleazy Company Now

Interesting reading: excepts from an article by Siva Vaidhyanathan in the Slate web site at http://bit.ly/2PWUQa6:

“The leaders of Facebook can no longer pretend they are special people running a special company. Facebook is now just another normal sleazy American company run by normal sleazy executives, engaged in normal sleazy lobbying and corporate propaganda.”

Later in the article:

“All of the scandals and crises the company has facilitated in recent years are examples of Facebook working as it was supposed to.

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Ads Will Soon Appear in WhatsApp

Bad news: Advertisements are coming to WhatsApp. Like we need more advertising on the Internet?

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. WhatsApp once was a successful freeware and cross-platform encrypted messaging and Voice over IP (VoIP) product that treated its customers like real human beings. Then the company was bought out by Facebook for approximately US$19.3 billion. Since then, the encrypted service has been abused by various groups. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WhatsApp#Reception_and_criticism for the details.

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A New Report Claims Internet Freedom Continues to Decline Around the World

Governments are reining in liberty for the eighth consecutive year, Freedom House reports.

Digital authoritarianism is on the rise, according to a new report from a group that monitors internet freedoms. Freedom House, a pro-democracy think tank, said today that governments are seeking more control over users’ data while also using laws nominally intended to address “fake news” to suppress dissent. It marked the eighth consecutive year that Freedom House found a decline in online freedoms around the world.

Details may be found in an article by Casey Newton in The Verge web site at: https://tinyurl.com/yc8r5mpo.