When thinking about personal digital security, I would disagree with some of the information that I have been hearing in the media and in casual conversation, but there are a lot of points that are absolutely correct.
One of the points that I totally agree with is that everyone needs to understand the issues with their security, to understand exactly how much of a sitting duck you are when you groggily connect to that juicy free public wifi and start up your music streaming, your chat sessions, and start logging into any number of other places (including your bank) online with laughably weak passwords.
I’ve demonstrated on many occasions how the average laptop-toting public will do these things exactly. If they think of security at all, they assume that if they can’t see someone looking at their screen or watching them type that nobody sees what you are doing. This reminds me of the “Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal” in The Hitchhiker’s Guide. [If you cover your eyes, this keeps anyone else from seeing you.]
If you are on an open network and your communications are in the clear, anyone else connected to that network can read your communications.
Would anyone be interested in some discussion of basic personal digital security? I wouldn’t create a slew of “how to hack the planet” posts, because not only do those walkthroughs exist, but anyone interested in that would already understand the basic concepts of security they would be circumventing.
I do have to say that the Snowden files and the other interesting news blurbs about federal snooping are not a surprise at all. When the Homeland Security Act was being proffered, all of these issues were being hotly debated among everyone I knew at the time in IT, and especially in security. We all foresaw the egregious over-application of this law and the wild shenanigans that it would put into place, what it would cost in dollars, what it would cost in time, and what it would cost in loss of freedom.
Thought exercise: Think of any time you have been on or near an airplane since 2002. How much extra time, effort, money, and stress was involved than the same flight in, say, 1999? Now, for all the airport reconfiguration, all the DHS staff and equipment, all the footwear removal and body scans, all of it on all flights everywhere… How has it helped?
The NSA (a rogue agency)that, if you remember, never existed in the first place (roight.)
Edward Snowden Speaks at SXSWi
If you didn’t see the talk, the ACLU has published a copy Here on YouTube
In the sxsw video, they mentioned some good basic tools (some of which I happen to be using at the moment). If you wanted to read about them or get copies, I’ll helpfully point you in the right direction to learn:
- TOR – The Onion Router TorProject
- Tor is developed and run by The Electronic Frontier Foundation Which is a great resource for articles on your rights and current issues.
- If you are planning to download TOR, I would also recommend getting the browser plugin HTTPS Everywhere
- For a bittorrent download of the TAILS liveCD, LinuxTracker TAILS X86 0.33