How You Can Protect Your Secrets with Encryption

News stories over the past few years about the unconstitutional actions of the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies should serve as a wake-up call for all of us. Yes, there are many people and organizations trying to obtain information about you. From hackers in third-world countries, to companies trying to sell you products, to semi-secret agencies of the U.S. Government, it seems as if nearly everyone is trying to find information about you. Indeed, many people seem to have a phobia about storing their personal information on servers on the Internet.

What saddens me most of all is that the entire issue is so easily avoided: encrypt the information. When you leave your house, I suspect you lock the door. When you leave your automobile in a parking lot, you probably lock it up, too. The same should be true with your information. When you leave your information unattended, whether it is in your home when you are not present or someplace in the cloud, you should lock it up.

Simply put, encryption programs scramble data within the file or files that you specify so that no one else can access that data without the key that you keep. If anyone does manage to obtain a copy of your file, all they will see is something that looks similar to this:

lj,Rn’G9%$#ho\mG{njbhdmnRle=iuwHdwk|,mfmn~jJYle

Security is under your control at all times because you have the key and you decide who gets copies of that key. Encryption is easy to do, requiring only a few seconds, and (in many cases) it is free of charge.

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Vivaldi – A Privacy Oriented Web Browser

Today’s world is already comparable to George Orwell’s dystopian novel ‘1984’, since “everyone is being followed and everyone’s information is being collected.” Lack of awareness of the amount of data harvested online is “a perfect storm of a really bad idea,” according to Jon von Tetzchner. He said he was increasingly concerned about data collection and tracking by tech giants like Google and Facebook. He wants to change that.

von Tetzchner is the creator of Opera, the well-known web browser. Now he has a new project. Yes, he’s creating a web browser again. However, this one promises to be very different from Opera. He has since launched Vivaldi, which includes functions he says bigger browsers lack. Vivaldi.net does not track searches and is based on an online community of users who recommend features, he said. It also offers a million ways to customize everything.

You can learn more about the Vivaldi web browser and even try it for yourself at: https://vivaldi.com.

Governments are using a Microsoft Zero-Day Vulnerability to Spy on Windows Computers

Government hackers were using a previously-unknown vulnerability in Microsoft’s .NET Framework, a development platform for building apps, to hack targets and infect them with spyware, according to security firm FireEye. The firm revealed the espionage campaign on Tuesday, on the same day Microsoft patched the vulnerability. According to FireEye, the bug, which until today was a zero-day, was being used by a customer of FinFisher, a company that sells surveillance and hacking technologies to governments around the world.

Details may be found at http://bit.ly/2f6rsO9.

Use the FREE On My Disk Software to Create Your Own Private and Secure Personal Cloud

You probably have read a lot in this web site and elsewhere about the various file storage services in the cloud. Some of the better known ones include Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, SugarSync, SpiderOak, Tresorit, Mega.nz, and perhaps a few dozen others. These are valuable services that allow you to gain access to your files wherever you are, to (optionally) share files with others, and to copy files from one of your computers to another. However, there are two major drawbacks to these services:

1. They tend to charge a lot of money if you have a lot of files you wish to keep available.

2. You have to give your files and, more importantly, CONTROL of your files, to someone else.

To be sure, all the better file storage services provide industrial-strength encryption that prevents anyone else from being able to read the contents of your files—not even the employees of the file storage service. Nonetheless, many people are uncomfortable with giving control to strangers on the Internet.

I often hear or read comments from non-technical computer owners who say, “I don’t trust the cloud.” That statement always comes from someone who doesn’t understand how encryption works. Even so, convincing someone to forego their fears of giving up control is nearly impossible.

One new product called “On My Disk” would seem to solve both problems.

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Microsoft Won’t Patch 20-Yr-Old SMBv1 Vulnerability (You Should Just Turn the Service Off)

If you use Windows 10, you need to read an article by Laurent Giret that describes a recently-discovered security weakness in Windows that apparently has been there for at least 20 years. The fix is simple: turn off SMBv1 file sharing protocol from your PC. Most people don’t need it anyways.

You can find the article at: http://bit.ly/2whtwFR.

Kaspersky Now Offers a Free Antivirus Program for Your Windows PC

Kaspersky is a Russian security vendor that offers several well-known and well-respected anti-virus and anti-malware (“malevolent software) products. Now the company is launching a free version of its award-winning antivirus software worldwide. Kaspersky Free offers the most basic protection for free for everyone who wants it. And all without bombarding you with ads.

Kaspersky Free is now available in selected countries. In the words of Eugene Kaspersky himself, it offers “the bare essentials: file, email and web antivirus; automatic updates, self-defense; quarantine; and so on.” These are essentially “the indispensable basics that no one [Windows user] on the planet should do without.”

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Telegram Now Sends Disappearing Messages, Just Like Snapchat

Telegram is a very popular program for instant messaging as well as for sending pictures, videos, and even making voice calls to other Telegram users. I have written about Telegram several times in the past. You can find my past articles by starting at: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aprivacyblog.com+telegram&t=h_&ia=web.

Now Telegram has greatly increased user privacy even more.

The cell phone app now lets you send your friends “self-destructing” photos and videos that disappear after a few seconds. How long it takes for the media to go away depends on how long you set the timer for.

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