Google’s Titan Security Keys are Now Shipping

In an article earlier this year, Security Keys have been Good to Google, So Now the Company wants to Sell them to You, available at https://tinyurl.com/yahrjxek, I pointed out that “Google’s workforce hasn’t suffered a single confirmed account takeover in over a year. The impressive security stat is due to small USB security keys issued to all 85,000 of the company’s employees.” That’s impressive for a high profile company that is known to attract hundreds, possibly thousands, of would-be hackers who try to break through Google’s security every year.

One of Google’s tools to keep hackers from breaking into employees’ computers and cell phones is a device invented by Google called the Titan Security Key. I also stated it “…is coming soon to the Google Store for consumer Google accounts.” Now that day has arrived.

This morning, Google announced that the Titan Security Keys are now shipping to anyone who wants to purchase these devices. In fact, Google sends two Titan Security Keys, not one. One has a USB connector on it and plugs into any Windows or Macintosh computer, or into most any Linux computer, to offer security. The second Key in the box uses Bluetooth to connect to smartphones and tablet computers.

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Chromebook: Probably the Most Secure Computer You Can Buy and It Only Costs $140 and Up

Chromebook computers have become very popular for many reasons. The most obvious reason is because they are cheap. You can purchase a Chromebook for $140 from Amazon at https://amzn.to/2K57U6j. I have occasionally seen even lower prices during various sales. Admittedly, that is the price for a bottom-of-the-line barebones Chromebook but it will still perform most all of the functions that 90% of the computer users need. Many would-be Chromebook users will decide they want more memory or a better display screen or a better keyboard or perhaps all three. Even so, most Chromebooks sell for $200 to $400. You can even find a very few higher-priced Chromebooks but the high-priced systems appeal more to business users, not to individuals with modest computing needs and modest pocketbooks. Even the lowest-price Chromebook will run most of the apps that run on high-priced Chromebooks.

Nearly three out of every five machines used in schools run the Chrome operating system, according to researcher Futuresource Consulting at http://bit.ly/2LWHpS5.

A Chromebook is also super easy to use, making it very appealing for adolescents, teenagers, and adults who are not yet computer-literate, including your mom. Not only are Chromebook computers successful in schools but anecdotal reports I have heard indicate that they are undoubtedly the best computer for non-computer-literate senior citizens. In short, a Chromebook is probably the best computer for anyone with modest computing needs who is looking for a reasonably-priced computer. It is not a business-laptop replacement.

Many expert and non-expert users alike appreciate the facts that Chromebooks never get viruses, boot up in ten seconds or less, have very long battery lives on a single charge, and are easily carried in a backpack or other carrying case. (Most Chromebooks weigh less than three pounds.)

Even computer gurus frequently purchase Chromebooks for use as low-cost computers to be used mostly when traveling for checking email, Facebook, and other tasks that don’t require powerful computing capabilities. Do you really need an expensive (and easily stolen) laptop simply to check email from a coffee shop?

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Apricorn Aegis Padlock SSD: a Secure, Hardware-encrypted, Solid-State Drive that Fits in a Pocket

Do you have information that you want to keep private? It might be something you want to hide from business competitors, your boss, your spouse, your children, or from a girlfriend or boyfriend. For small amounts of information up to 200 gigabytes or so, an encrypted flash drive is probably the most convenient method of storing secrets. You can purchase pre-encrypted flash drives or else encrypt any normal flash drive by using any of a number of encryption products.

But how do you encrypt a lot of information, such as one to perhaps twelve terabytes of data?

I suppose you could purchase a bunch of flash drives, encrypt each one, then break up your data into smaller pieces and store each piece in a separate flash drive. That would be effective but awkward. Instead, you might prefer to purchase an Apricorn Aegis Padlock external disk drive.

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Security Keys have been Good to Google, So Now the Company wants to Sell them to You

Google’s workforce hasn’t suffered a single confirmed account takeover in over a year. The impressive security stat is due to small USB security keys issued to all 85,000 of the company’s employees. Companies that produce these small pieces of hardware, like Yubico, have seen tremendous growth over the last two years thanks to rapidly accelerating adoption — but they will now have fresh competition.

The Titan Security Key can be purchased by Google Cloud customers now and is aimed at admins and other high-value users. However, it is “coming soon” to the Google Store for consumer Google accounts.

Details may be found at https://9to5google.com/2018/07/25/google-2fa-titan-security-key/.

 

 

 

Atom, World`s Smallest 4G Rugged Smartphone

NOTE: This article isn’t strictly about privacy. However, it is about a very small cell phone that should become popular and also works well with Zello, the privacy-oriented walkie-talkie app. Go to https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aprivacyblog.com+zello&t=h_&ia=web to see my previous articles about Zello.

A review in the Digital Trends web site says, “The Unihertz Atom won’t replace your smartphone, but it’s perfect for outdoors.”

While I haven’t yet had my hands on a Unihertz Atom cell phone, I suspect that description is accurate. It appears to be tiny, rugged, and resistant to water, mud, and all the other nasty stuff one finds in the great outdoors. I don’t think the Unihertz Atom is a good phone for everyone but it certainly will appeal to those who spend a lot of time outdoors, either for work or for pleasure or both.

One thing that appeals to me is the red push-to-talk button on the side of the Unihertz Atom phone. It works with the Zello push-to-talk walkie-talkie application, which is also pre-installed on the phone.

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ASUS Chromebox 3 is Now Shipping

Chromebook laptops have long had a reputation for being some of the most private and most secure computers available. For details, you might want to read my previous article at http://bit.ly/2r2PhZS and the dozen or so other articles by other authors, starting with the list shown at http://bit.ly/2r0L9ty. What fascinates me is that these highly secure laptop computers are amongst the easiest-to-use computers and also are amongst the cheapest laptops available today. A number of manufacturers have had great success with Chromebooks, selling millions of them to schools, corporations, and private individuals alike. They are very popular amongst people who are not computer experts, including adolescents, senior citizens, and lots of adults who have never used computers successfully before.

By definition, a Chromebook is a laptop computer but a different version, called a Chromebox, is available as a desktop system. For some reason, Chromeboxes have never become as popular as Chromebooks. Now ASUS is trying to change that.

ASUS has produced Chromebox computers before but recently announced the Chromebox 3 series of desktop computers. Amongst other things, the announcement stated:

“ASUS Chromebox 3 is the latest addition to the ASUS Chromebox family and is powered by an 8th Generation Intel Core processor and DDR4-2400 memory for faster, smoother and more energy-efficient performance. It is equipped with a versatile USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port for fast data transfers, power delivery, and DisplayPort connectivity. ASUS Chromebox 3 will also support Google Play.”

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Hands On with the Aegis Secure Key 3z, a 100% Hardware-Based Flash Drive

Do you have some information, pictures, maps, databases, or other digital items that you would like to keep secret? Maybe it is your state lottery numbers that you play every week. Perhaps it is last year’s income tax return. Then again, you might have secret plans for your company’s new product that is under development. Perhaps it is the contact information for your bookie. Maybe you want to keep something secret when passing through Customs and Immigration at some country’s port of entry. How about the Christmas gifts you might purchase for your spouse?

Whatever the information, you can store it in encrypted files or folders on your computer’s hard drive. If you want the information to be portable so that you can access it from a computer at the office, a different computer at home, and from your laptop computer when traveling, storing the information on an encrypted flash drive might be a better solution.

Creating encrypted flash drives is not difficult. In fact, there are many different ways of doing that on Linux, Windows, or Macintosh computers. See https://duckduckgo.com/?q=create+encrypted+files+or+folders&t=hf&ia=web for a list of articles describing encryption methods. The difficulty involved and the security of the encryption varies widely, depending upon which encryption product you use to create the encrypted files or folders.

Another method is to purchase a 100% hardware-based flash drive that has encryption capabilities already built-in. The phrase “100% hardware-based” means that the device is not dependent upon encryption software. Instead, the encryption method is built into the hardware of the device. These 100% hardware-based devices usually have built-in keypads or some similar method for entering encryption codes. The result is that they cannot be “cracked” by software alone in the method that most software-encrypted flash drives can be decoded. Most of the commercially-built, 100% hardware-based encrypted flash drives have very heavy-duty encryption that has passed high-level security audits.

In short, I trust the commercially-produced, special-purpose encrypted flash drives much more than I do a standard flash drive that has been encrypted by some off-the-shelf, general-purpose encryption software. A super-cautious person could even encrypt the secret files by using encryption software, then storing the encrypted files in a 100% hardware-based encrypted flash drive. The result is “suspenders and belt” encryption: everything is doubly encrypted for extreme security.

This week I purchased and started using an Aegis Secure Key 3z 100% hardware-based flash drive. I have only used it a few times so far, but I am very impressed with it.

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