Tag: security

Google’s Tentacles Stretch Further: Verify Your Identity

I had an old ‘smart phone’ lying around and I thought about reconnecting it for one single purpose for our business.  It would not phone, it would not text, it would not even go to a website and search.  It’s only job would be to take a photo, and upload the photo to our private cloud storage.

Of course, I know that Google is invasive and nasty so I was sure to create a new account, without linking any of my personal contact information to the account.  For the single purpose of uploading photos, surely they won’t want to know who I am, right?

Wrong.

I remember years ago before I had started my google exodus journey (89% complete now, btw) they had added this neat little ‘security’ feature under the log in.  It was saying ‘Add a phone number to make sure you won’t ever get locked out and to make sure we can verify your identity.”  That was the start of my ‘questioning’ period.  Why does my email provider need my phone number?  And why do other companies not ask for this?  And if I give them this number, and they are connected to my telecom, will this provide tracking even if my GPS is off?  Etc, etc.  I remember always choosing the ‘skip’ option when this prompt came on.

It seems like skipping this option is now over.

Today while setting up this phone, I successfully:

  • created a new and anonymous google account on the phone
  • created fake answers to the security questions, not linked to me.
  • skipped adding the phone feature
  • saw the successful account creation message

Then, as I went into the google play store to download the only app I need to do the only purpose this phone will perform, there was a ‘something is wrong with your account’ message.  I entered the password about 5 times and it still spewed the same error.

Finally I went to the gmail login page and tried to log in that way where I was greeted with the message “Suspicious account activity is suspected” (something like that).  I then was *forced* to ‘verify my identity” with a phone number.  It gave me two options: sms (text) or voice.  So, I went and got my Fongo number, which works for both SMS and voice calls no problem, and I entered that and chose the SMS option.

It then spewed out a message “You can’t use this phone number.”

Really?  Go figure.  It’s a fully working phone number which can receive texts.
Then I chose the ‘voice call’ option since there is nothing wrong with that whatsoever.  And, as long as the owner of the phone number is there to receive the call and enter in the code, the identity is verified, right?

Wrong.

It also would not accept my fongo number for that voice call either.

Finally, just to test the theory, I gave google one more piece of my identity.  I entered my ‘big telecom’ personal cell phone number into the sms verification code window and *boom*.  Instantly I received the code which I entered and the account was activated.

Now it is proven that there is no way to be part of google without giving them *undeniable proof of your identity* but even worse, your big telecom phone number.

I encourage everyone reading this to start their own google exodus journey because it’s for sure that you’ve already given them way more than you thought.

Don’t wait.  Ubuntu is there as the solution and on any platform.

ps. Yes, you could probably use a pay-as-you-go phone to accomplish this account verification – I didn’t test.  This would be better that what I did.

 

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Pokemon Go Away!

Pokemon Go Away Forever.

I didn’t even like the original Pokemon playing cards.  After all, the short form is ‘pocket monster’ and why on earth would I want my kids to have a monster in their pockets, let alone in their room or in my house?

The great part about Pokemon Go is that I have never seen it with my eyes, nor cast a gaze on one of its players.

I have never Pokemon’d myself – and I never will.

But from what the general media is saying, a lot of people are Pokemonin’ themselves around town.  And the creeps and weirdos are all over it and the parents don’t care.  But then again – they didn’t stop their kids playing with their smart phones and tablets so what’s the big surprise that they are now getting lured into old vans down dark streets?  Their phones lead straight to the prey and the gatekeeper was blissfully enjoying ‘quiet time’ with their own phone when it happened.

So don’t act all surprised when things fall apart.  The buck stops with us adults.

I believe Pokemon Go will be the catalyst towards change for a new group of people who realize that something is going seriously south with our world.

How did my phone lead me here?

How did they find out where I live?

How did he know that I didn’t like whole wheat bread?

Something is very creepy. Something is very sinister.

And these adults will look down at their mobile device and realize that they, too, have a monster in their pocket and the monster isn’t Pokemon.

The real pocket monsters are Apple and Google.

 

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Healthy Biblical Position on Privacy and Security

Second revision: March 17, 2016

The other day I indicated to a Bible-believer friend that I would prefer to only communicate with this person (and everyone else) by means of Telegram or secured email, rather than SMS messaging or totally unsecured email.  To my surprise, this person replied back that they were ‘unsure of their biblical position on privacy’.

Being quite surprised, and being who I am, I replied back in a simple email that “this is not a topic of discussion because it’s so simple” and I blasted out my points.  I am not sorry for hitting this person hard with my opinion, but I am sorry, perhaps about making it sound like the dialogue was one way, and for not dedicating further explanation to my strong opinion.  People like me need to remember that technology for most people is like some kind of ‘magic’.  It just kind of works.  And when it doesn’t work they hate it.  It makes their life more convenient (so they think) and they do *not* want to change what works for them today.  That’s why you will see old people emailing forwarded attachment for young people to waste their time trying to open and then regret wasting their time opening…

But as a first step, I tried to imagine what they must be thinking about in terms of a position and brought it up with another believer and he came up with these things they must be considering:

  • God knows all, and my privacy exists not. If I’m not hiding from God, then why do I need to hide from people/man?
  • God’s will will be done, somewhat independently of my technological choices (Though He will choose to work through man).

I now can see how thoughts like these might actually put someone in a position of inaction or even a kind of technological paralysis, if you will.  Again, I understand more than anyone how making a big technological change takes time and thinking and often gets dropped down the list.

But if you claim to to believe and follow the teachings of the Bible, then you have a much different position to take and to me, this is a very simple position which I established with the following series of questions which needed to be answered:

  • Is technology based in the world, or based in heaven?
  • Did God warn us about end times events?
  • If God gives a warning, do we heed the warning or do we go along as if He never spoke?

And so, this conversation, to me, is very similar to the conversation of “Why should I be worried about the environment if Jesus is coming tomorrow and the whole earth will be destroyed anyway?”  The reason someone would take this shallow perspective about God’s wonderful creation is because the creation scriptures were either missed, or God hasn’t yet opened their eyes.  But it’s certainly *not* the right way to treat the world while you are here.   People who have not yet gotten serious about their privacy and security with their technology are much like those who haven’t spent the time or energy to be concerned about the environment.  Yes, Jesus is coming tomorrow, but before that He has called us to be wise stewards of things while here and respect His creation.  Yes, Satan is having a heyday by spying on you but there are wonderful solutions out there that are not difficult to implement.  But, back to the unanswered questions above:

Is technology based in the world, or based in heaven?

It’s wordly. It’s part of the world’s system.  Although it’s not in the Bible I feel confident there is no internet connection or GPS needed in heaven.  Furthermore, I feel that God has given us creative minds to help protect us against evildoers and the enemy’s work against us and our families while we bring the Good News to a dying world.  Another analogy I thought of was the smoke alarm.  Can God save you supernaturally from the perils of fire in your home? Certainly.  But he has also given us a simple device and a 9 volt battery which allows us to focus on sleeping instead of wondering if the house is on fire….  I really like that peace, but feel free to remove your smoke alarm, cowboy…

Did God warn us about end times events.

Yes.  There will be a mark of the beast which will prevent you from buying, selling, and essentially living normally in this earth’s system.  If you do not believe this will be facilitated by technology, you need not read further – you are out to lunch and seriously need a cold glass of water splashed in your sleepy face. It’s in the book of Revelation.  I think chapter 13.  Go ahead, read your Bible.  You clearly have missed your quiet time…

If God gives a warning, do we heed the warning or do we go along as if He never spoke?

Now, if you thought I was being hard on you up till now, put on your seat belt.  I have a strange feeling you will agree that the prophetic mark of the beast will be a technological device/system/chip/etc.  The Bible also says that we will be ‘hated by all nations for the name of Jesus.” (Jesus said that somewhere).  So I don’t foresee any other future for the Bible believers other than bleak in this world.  That’s also why Jesus said to ‘take up our cross daily’ and why Paul said somewhere “I die daily”.  This world ain’t our home sheepsters.  And so eventually all of us will be persecuted and killed.  Jesus promised it.  It’s a guarantee.  Sure, the rapture might happen before, during or after, but we can be sure that before then the enemy will be gathering digital data on who the believers are for simple one-stop destroying.  If there were no options at all to prevent, slow down, hinder, make more difficult, aggravate, challenge, etc this process, I’d say lie down in a ball and do nothing  because it’s over.  But there are lots of easy, fun, and excellent solutions to make the process much more difficult.  So, do we just go the way of the world in the treatment of our privacy and the privacy of our family, or do we take wise, active steps towards protecting this precious gift called privacy?  Do you let your children change into their pyjamas in front of an open window at night time because ‘you have nothing to hide’, or do you close the blinds as a preventative measure to prevent evil behaviour towards you?  Maybe you want to change naked in front of the window, but please, for the sake of your children, who rely on your wise leadership, close the blinds for them. And do the same with your digital life if not for you, for your children.  God did not put these prophecies in His word *only* as a warning.  A smoke alarm does not sound just to let you know the building is on fire, but to motivate you to get up and *do something*!

Jesus instructed us to be alert and to have our lamps full of oil for we know not when He is coming.  This ‘being alert’ is accomplished through the intellect as well as the spirit.  Jesus also said “Wow.  You guys fully trust your weather network meteorologists but you can’t even see the signs of my coming!”  So, Jesus gives us helpful hints along the way.

Jesus also said that your body is the temple.  I believe that means that we are to do as much as possible to respect that life and preserve it for life is a gift and the life is in the blood.  If you foolishly hand yourself over to be persecuted when a handy-dandy preventative tool was available, that’s just a dog gone waste, in my humble opinionatedness.

Since we are absolutely certain that persecution is coming, we must also be aware that there is a Judas in every group, unless you think that you are less susceptible than Jesus to a Judas.  The Word of God also talks about how our enemies will be those people of our own families for the name of Jesus.  Why do I mention this?  Because it’s critical that everyone be on board with privacy-protecting technology or the weakest link will collapse the group.  Especially if you are meeting in homes and looking less ‘churchy’ than the mainstreamers.

The JW’s like to look at persecution as a blessing but that’s not the blessing God is talking about.  Let’s work with this quick example.

Scenario 1: You are standing beside a railroad track.  You hear a train coming.  You jump on the track and say “God will save me!”  SPLAT!  Ooops.

Scenario 2: You are standing *on* the rail road track.  You hear a train coming.  You stand still and take no action and say “God will save me!” SPLAT!  Oops.

In both cases, you have committed sin.  The first was a sin of action and the second a sin of inaction.

In my increasingly opinionated humility, I believe by not protecting the privacy of yourself and your family and putting yourself in harms way knowing now that there are ways to prevent harm – that you are not pleasing the Lord.

Conclusion

How about this: Let’s forget your personal pain, suffering and inconvenience related to improving your technological habits.  Let’s say you just don’t care about you and that ‘God is coming soon anyway, so whatever.”  By not doing your part you are definitely hurting someone else who values privacy right now, because the seeds of loosely transmitted data are always felt in a crop down the road.  You are also assisting their enemies in all of their dirty work.  You are *not* “assisting terrorists” as the popular media would like to deceive you into believing.  No matter what way you look at this, giving freely *your* data only assists them with the task of hurting you and those around you – perhaps not today but one day. I also don’t mind a little bit of self-inflicted, but I shudder to think that lack of care about myself (ie. an unencrypted email about Jesus to my friend) might wind *them* up in jail or worse.  In this case sharing is *not* caring.

Perhaps you are thinking that by handing over all your data freely that you are helping the world catch bad guys. Ok, let’s roll with that idea.  Then, since you are not bad, you are actually wasting the time and computer resources of these good cops and their spy work because they are using unnecessary resources to spy on you – a good guy.  If you just encrypted, they would have passed over you and moved on to the foolish criminal who didn’t encrypt and caught him quicker.

Ultra Conclusion

The root cause of this ‘position problem’ is not a biblical one but an earthly one.  It’s one that needs to be dealt with in the earthly, soulical, intellectual way with the reasoning faculties that God gave you.  The problem is also rooted in your priority set.  Are you watching TV for an hour a day?  You could have spent that “technology time” learning about privacy solutions instead of having the boob tube pump fear into your heart with unfounded comments like ‘assisting terrorists’.  The other root cause of the problem is habits.  Bad habits die really hard.  The first step to stop smoking is to hear about the possibility that it might be bad for your health.  This blog has now been that to you for technology.  You know now.  You cannot claim ignorance.  The second step is to learn more to find out if it’s true.  This blog is only partly that.  You must now go and learn for yourself to see if what I’m saying is hogwash or beefdirt (just made that up).  The third step is to take action.  Do something.  Don’t just hand everything over to everyone on a silver platter – it’s really unwise – and it’s not nice to people who are trying to maintain *their* right to privacy.

Final note

I know this isn’t easy.  That’s why I’m writing hard to you.  It takes a bit of a kick in the hindquarters to start down a new road.  But here is the great news – each day gets easier.  With the right people around you and with enough time dedicated, you’ll be making great choices for you and your family in no time.  I hope this will spare many of you brothers and sisters a lot of future pain.  I’ll do my best to blog more practical solutions here as I find time but don’t sit around and wait for me.  The answers are easy to find.

And please – don’t be offended someone cuts off communication with you using technology if you refuse to remain unwilling to become proactive; You can’t expect them to put themselves or their family at risk for you when there are solutions available.

Milestones to Start (some are instant, some quick, some perhaps less quick)

Things You Can do Today to Improve

  1. Start hanging out with people who care about privacy.  If most of your circle ‘has nothing to hide’ – you’re in deep doo-doo. Find a local Ubuntu group, for example.
  2. If using chatting IM apps, use Telegram. Telegram has encryption. Ditch the others ASAP. Bring your friends to Telegram when you ditch.
  3. Replace SMS with Telegram app wherever possible. SMS is brutally spied on.
  4. For email set up PGP encryption.
  5. Convert all your current computers to Ubuntu operating system
  6. Get immediately off: Facebook and Linked in and any other compromised ‘social media’.
  7. Ask all of your friends and family to respect you and your privacy by not asking you to participate in anything that violates your privacy (ie. unsecure email, SMS, etc)

Things you can do Today and Tomorrow (money may not permit today, but should be in plans)

  1. Start hanging out with people who care about privacy.  If most of your circle ‘has nothing to hide’ – you’re in deep doo-doo. Find a local Ubuntu group, for example.
  2. When you buy your next mobile device, make sure it’s Ubuntu
  3. Disconnect from everything Google. And I mean *everything* (yes, it’s possible)
  4. Wipe the hard drives 100 times and sell or discard anything Apple/Mac
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Is Gmail Safe to use ‘Just for Business’?

No.  Google is *not* safe to use ‘just for business’, I confirmed clearly today.

About seven or eight years ago when I moved my whole life over from proprietary operating systems to Ubuntu, I was still using services like Gmail, Google search engine, Twitter, and a few other ‘services’ like these every day within the Ubuntu environment.  Thankfully, I had the opportunity to hear first hand the following most unfortunate story from a German employee of the company that I owned at the time:

“My good friend was just about to get hired for the German police force. She passed all the physical exams and did all the other training courses.  There was no reason whatsoever that she should not have been hired.  This was her dream job.  Then, one day, she was sat down by the decision maker and in one sentence her dreams were crushed .  This is what they said:

“We are sorry but we cannot hire you.  You are connected via Facebook, to a known criminal.”

She explained that she didn’t even know this person beyond a hello in a bar and that he was in fact the friend of a friend, not her own friend.

Too bad.  So sad.  The end.  A dream crushed.

All because of Facebook’s most excellent free ‘social service’.

I immediately shut down my Facebook account and started warning everyone I know to do the same.

But Google and gmail remained.  Why?

Four main reasons: ignorance, habit, free (as in $, but not freedom), and monopoly of android OS

Slowly over time, I was able to able to get rid of the usage of Gmail and Google search in my daily life, but even now there are traces of these accounts because of my android mobile device(s).  Thankfully I’m now aware and nearly moved over to the much better Ubuntu mobile, but it takes time and even now for business I’m back and forth between systems while the kinks are worked out.  For an article about some bigger-picture reasons why you should start ditching Google, here is an article I wrote a while back.  The main reason was I could literally feel their peeping eyes when custom ads and subtle very suggestive marketing started showing up all around me in browsers, the inbox, and even in obviously targeted emails that I started receiving.  Everything was *very* tailored to my thoughts. Someone was *definitely* watching me.  And I I did not like the feeling.

But all of the above spew is just preamble to my main point which is to answer this question:

“Is it ok to use Google (specifically Gmail) if I only use it for business. “

To be honest, I’ve been a hypocrite.  I knew from my previous research and hours of time spent reading articles that Google is to be avoided at all costs because of the most glaring attacks on personal privacy in literally everything they do.  However, because I started a new company and the other founder was most comfortable with Gmail, I figured it wouldn’t affect us too badly if we just used it as a quick launching pad since we were in a mad rush to set up and he had configured this in the past for our former company.  I figured if I used it just in my Thunderbird email client and didn’t touch the webmail client that I would somehow be more safe from the peeping-tom eyes of Alphabet Corporation and it would not negatively affect me *personally* (i.e. at my personal residence) nor compromise my *personal* position and decision to live a life of privacy and quiet personal enjoyment.

I am sad to say, and not surprised to report that I was wrong and my error compromised my personal privacy and the privacy of my family and set me back many steps from the years of work I had invested in un-googling (or de-googling, whichever verb you choose).  And the way I figured it out happened in the most glaring way this morning – thankfully – or it might have taken me longer to figure it out (I wasn’t the fastest kid in school).

I was reading my Bible (very personal) and went to the normal site where I listen to an audio Bible.  Since I had un-Googled, the ads that appear in the main advertising pane of this site have always been very general.  They were relevant to the ‘general audience’ of a Bible reader. Example ads would be ‘Tour to Israel’ (Christians love those), Audio Bible on CD (not sure who would buy those but they are probably old), and the like.

But today was different – Very different.

Today the advertisement was for a hotel.  But not only is it odd that an advertisement for a hotel should show up, but it was not just any hotel.   It was a *local* hotel.  Huh? And not only was it a local hotel, but it was a very, very small boutique local hotel that nearly no one in the city even knows exists.  Huh???  But the part that really made me squirm was the fact that it was a hotel that I had *just* reached out to for a sales call for my new company – by email.   Ok.  Now I’m concerned.

And why am I bothered by this?  If you are asking this question you are likely thinking one or all of the following:

  • he probably sent them an email or sent an email about them from his Gmail (webmail)
  • he probably searched them first via Google search in a browser or used Google maps and Google tracked it
  • who cares?  I have these custom ads showing up around me all the time and I don’t mind. I have nothing to hide!

The last point was thrown in for fun and if you believe that you should close my blog post and go back to your fully compromised life – but don’t don’t say I didn’t warn you.  However, if you legitimately do want to live a more private life and be spied on less, and were assuming the first two bullet points above, to my surprise and to yours, you are wrong.

I have not *ever* opened my business email with Gmail web mail.  I have not done it once and definitely not from my home.

I have not *ever* searched this hotel with Google search engine, not even for a map (I use www.duckduckgo.com for my search engine which doesn’t track you)

The only place that I ever communicated about the hotel was by email, to the contact point at the hotel, using Thunderbird email client, from my home office.  The wild part is that I’m not exactly sure how they did it. I can only guess that the IP address of my computer (I sadly don’t use a VPN service yet because I’ve been too busy to figure it out) was attached to the email that I sent.  The email then went through the Google servers using the typical email server settings that are plugged into the Thunderbird email client, and then the body of the text (I sadly have not yet set up PGP encryption for the business email either – yes bad me) was analysed by Google.  Once the IP address was connected to the scanned text of the email body, it was sent off to it’s Google ad-words department where the appropriate advertisement was then pushed to my Bible web page as an advertisement when they saw me show up online from the same IP address of my home office this morning.

And the part that *really* chaps my hindquarters is the fact that we are *paying* Google for this email ‘spying service (corporate gmail)’ every month knowing full well that I’m not only participating in this spying, but also endorsing it.

I’m guilty of not putting more energy and effort into protecting myself and my family, but the global effort needs to start soon so that there is a critical demand for a better privacy.  Why is it that I feel that I am one of the odd ones out because I am making some effort?  Is it not possible for the average person to take what they see before their eyes and take small action steps about it?

“But I have nothing to hide!” 

Please take a moment to read these two articles from reputable sources:

http://www.wired.com/2013/06/why-i-have-nothing-to-hide-is-the-wrong-way-to-think-about-surveillance/

http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/it-security/why-nothing-to-hide-misrepresents-online-privacy/

Nothing to hide is pure bunk.  You simply don’t yet value one of the most fundamental *rights* available in our countries.  And if you do not begin to value it soon and help, you will lose this right and deeply regret it (think North Korea).

So, now I’ve confirmed my worst fear about using Google for business, even the paid corporate Gmail.  I’ve confirmed that Google is taking my business emails, analysing the content somewhere, taking my IP address (which in my case was my personal residence) and then using it against me for their further gain.  Even though we pay them and even pay them *more* than what our local email service provider would charges for the same storage and service, they do this to us.

I rest my case, Your Honour.

But wait! There’s more!

By participating in Google’s game, I am also compromising our *client’s* information and, *without their consent*.  If the content of this email was scanned and it involved a prospective customer, that means that *all* company emails are being scanned and used for purposes of which I was not fully aware at the time.  What other things are they doing to us and our customers?  See this article I wrote before about REALTORS and what I view as a breach of fiduciary duty to their clients.

I now believe that it is not right for us to, in good faith, publish that we are protecting our client’s privacy.  By using Gmail in business one is knowingly (now that you read my post at least) putting not only your own company’s information at risk but also the information of your clients.

Do you have a privacy statement that looks something like this:

“COMPANY NAME demands directors, employees, officers, etc to safeguard client data during and after their employement, etc, etc.”

I now question whether a company is compliant with such statements and whether or not a client could, if they could prove you were using a service like Gmail, sue your company for being in such obvious breach of their data.  Your clients, when they send you an email, are not expecting your company to be working cooperatively with a vendor who is analyzing their data.  And if they are, they will likely not be suing you.  But there might be a client like me who doesn’t want you broadcasting their data without their consent.  I would be very unpleased if I was the customer of a company using Gmail knowing what I know now.

It is also very unfair to impose Gmail on an employee, especially if they will be working from home.  I suppose if they only work from within the office, that would be fine but if they take a phone or laptop home and do company emailing, they are putting the privacy and security of their personal lives on the line for their work – which is totally unfair if not disrespectful.  Yes, they could quit and move elsewhere but wouldn’t it be better to brag to them about how much you respect their privacy and their family’s and even help them set up their home more securely?

I’m deeply concerned that our company is not alone in this very risky situation.  I am aware that this stuff is difficult to find time to learn about and to subsequently change. Out of habit we operate.  Out of saving a few bucks (or thinking that you are) we operate.

It is typically the case that a big company change will only occur after the nasty event has already happened (ie. a data breach, privacy breach lawsuit, etc).  But if we start diligently today dedicating a little time to making positive change, I’m fully convinced that in one calendar year the world would be a much safer place to use the internet.

Something to chew on at your next board meeting…

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The Race to Convergence: Or is it a Marathon?

This article started out kind of exciting.  It explained how Ubuntu was about to show, on a large commercial scale the unveiling of convergence of multiple devices.  For those who don’t know what convergence is, it’s the ability for multiple devices to converge into one user experience – without the need for multiple processors and hard drives.  For a company that sells desktops, laptops and tablets, it is a scary, scary business proposition.  For a company that sells high quality screens or high powered mobile phones, it could be a dream come true.  Essentially, the ‘computer that you carry in your pocket’ can be instantly connected to whatever screen you feel like.  It’s truly the most disruptive reality to hit the computer hardware market, in my opinion, in recent history.  One thing is for sure – the entire world is begging for it whether they even know it or not. Combining that with the increase of people sticking their digital lives on ‘clouds’ (other peoples’ computers) this disruption is also poised to be a seriously dangerous one for those who don’t make wise choices.

This article, although it was smart to feature Ubuntu as a forerunner, it foolishly tried to give credit to Microsoft for ‘truly being the first’ to do convergence. First, did they?   I had no idea.  Nor do I care.  Nor does anyone else I roll with.  If the name has ‘Microsoft’ in it, we flee for the hills.  Why? Because it’s compromised out of the box.  It is dangerous.

So, while reading this article, it became even more apparent to me that the ‘battle for the operating system’ will eventually be won by Ubuntu in numbers (it is already won in principle) and it will happen not by speed (even though development is moving fast like lightning) but by security and, although the word might sound cheesy and not a popular choice in a tech article – love.  You see, Ubuntu cares about you, because it’s built by people who care about things other than shareholders’ dividends.

Let’s run this basic scenario.  You buy the latest, most fashionable phone by Microsoft or Apple.  They boast this cool new feature that allows you to plug it into a big 60″ screen and now it’s your computer (Ubuntu had this for years, btw, but I digress). It’s convergence!  You show Grandma and Grandma thinks you are the bees knees.  You take a selfie with Grandma and there is a picture of her Bible behind her favourite chair.  As you get in your car your photo is magically whisked away to the cloud service you love so much provided, by force, by your over-priced phone manufacturer.  Meanwhile, back at your local government, they decide (without vote, of course) that they don’t like what these Bible readers believe and decide to persecute them and kill them.  They ask Apple and Microsoft for access to review stuff on their servers (your cloud) and they say no.  They say yes.  They say no.  They pull out the guns.  They say yes.  They say yes, too. Oh! And look! There is Grandma with her Bible.  Busted with Bible. Bye bye, Grandma.

And so my point is this: it doesn’t matter who gets to convergence first.  It matters who gets there securely and with freedom as a top agenda.

And if you didn’t know, you could, right now, have Ubuntu in your pocket.  You can either buy one out of the box, or have someone help you put it on supported hardware.

What are you waiting for?  Your Grandma to get busted?

Go healthy.  Go Ubuntu.

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Eye Spy with Alphabet Google’s Little Eye Something that is Creepy

Some people think google and their new secret daddy ‘Alphabet‘ are ok.  Perhaps this article will convince you otherwise?

In the past, google would very slowly ‘creep’ you from behind.  They’d take a little ‘peek’ over your shoulder at your personal information and then kind of ‘accidentally’ share that information with advertisers.  No biggy.  People get their ‘free’ services and feel like it’s ok to have a bit of ‘peeking’ since all this ‘great’ stuff is free.

How about if they peek down your shirt, though?

Or, wait! Would it be ok if they watched you while you were changing in your bedroom?

Good news!  Now they can with their new hyper-overdrive-creep-cam!

Why ‘peek’ when they can go for the full meal deal and simply watch you live?

Well… they are trying to deny that but hey.  They lied about the green LED light so maybe they’d lie about that too?

Enjoy your google nest cam, ladies!  Enjoy the extra security of ‘home security’.

The following solutions are available to you if you are a victim:

  1. remove the camera and throw it away
  2. litigate Alphabet into the dark ages
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Google forced by Europe to remove search results?

All I can say is ‘beware’ if this European ruling against Google gains traction. All of the pain mentioned in this BBC article will become real including, but not limited to:

  • censored information like China
  • abuse of power by those with money to fight in court (ie. a company with a lot of money could have the whistle blowing work of an individual removed from public record)
  • false sense of security for those who had information removed (it’s still out there for those who want it)
  • the exodus of tech companies from Europe
  • and more!

This may be one of the most relevant stories to all of us that I’ve read in a long while.

It may also be a time to either dump or buy your Google stocks.

 

 

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Kakao Talk Privacy Problems

I was always too busy to try to research why something about Kakao Talk bothered me.  The first time I put it on my mobile device I was mesmerized by the way it, without any involvement of my own, loaded a contact list of people I knew who were using it, or not.  I was mesmerized until I thought about where that data came from and then realized it came from my own phone’s contact list.

So this thing raided my contact list and grabbed data without me ok’ing it…  people I had called just once from my phone are now my Kakao friends…

Then I watched pretty much every Korean I knew show up on this.  Then a few folks from Iran, then pretty much right across the board.

Then I saw photos being shared and the app taking over as the main hub of the phone.  When they introduced a kind fof VOIP peer-to-peer calling it was game over.  Kakao *was* their phone.

Within short notice I deleted the app.  I don’t recall if I closed the account..

Today a Korean student of mine pointed out that she thought she was ‘ok’ in terms of privacy because she doesn’t really use Facebook.  I asked if she used Kakao Talk.  She said ‘yes’.  I said ‘There you go.  You are in danger.” She was shocked. The problem is that I didn’t have anything concrete to tell her.  So I decided to do some research for her.  Here is what I found to start with and your comments would be great to hear.  Perhaps some stories of privacy issues.

This story should just about sum it up.  When the police came knocking, Kakao Talk quickly handed over what they asked for.

Here is a quote from their privacy policy that should concern you [my comments in these bracket things:

KAKAO will collect the following information to make our services better.

When you sign up for the Services or in the course of your use of the Services, KAKAO will collect your telephone number, contact information saved on your smartphone [I read this as *ALL CONTACT DATA*] or other device [other devices, like computers or wherever else you have installed this tentacled animal] (telephone numbers and names of third parties) [I read ‘third parties’ as ALL YOUR FRIENDS and FAMILY IN YOUR PHONE] , device-specific information, operation system and hardware information including the OS version, CPU and LAN card information, legal guardian information (if you are under 14 years of age), your status information [whatever you type in your status updates they know *AND USE*], name, birth date, ID [ID??????  WTF??], photos (including meta-information) [meta information includes *WHERE YOU ARE* by the way, if you didn’t know], service usage history, email address, location information [they already got that from your photos], IP address [this shows where you are as well] and cookies through the official website of KAKAO, individual applications or programs. KAKAO will also collect shipping information (including the name, mobile phone number and address) [Oh. Now they just take your mailing address.  Don’t worry. They already got it pretty close from the other data they took from you above] to ship your purchases [That’s a nice cover]. In addition to the above information [wait! We haven’t taken enough yet! We want MORE!], KAKAO may collect your credit card information [Why not? The CEO needs a bottle of wine with lunch], carrier information, gift certificate number or other information required for payment processing when you use paid services. Given the nature of the Services, the personal information we collect may differ depending on the application or program. Before you get started with an application or program, KAKAO will inform you of the personal information we collect to which you must consent in order to use the Service [that, sucker, was the little checkbox you clicked before you were allowed to start using it].

If that wasn’t enough, they also have special agreements with a bunch of other companies that they share your information with.  That means, that you will also have to study each of these companies to see how they are using your photos and information.  Good luck. You may need a few hundred years to do that.  Whenever you use their ‘services’ [what does that mean?] you agree to let them send all your data to:

We provide the following personal information to third parties to handle customer enquiries:

Parties to be provided with your personal information

  • Gifticon: SK Planet
  • Giftishow: KT mhows
  • GiftTing: Wincube Marketing
  • Cootoo: CJ E&M

It doesn’t get any better from there.

My recommendation would be to rid yourself of this app and it’s agreements ASAP.

One day your data will hurt you.

 

 

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Nik Wallenda, Confidence in Christ, and Assurance of Salvation

I was doing my weekly 3 minute review of what I’m supposed to consider important (scanning the news headlines) when I came across an article and video that actually made me open it in a fresh tab.

Nik Wallenda walked across this wire and became the ‘first person to cross the Grand Canyon on a type wire’.

Before I even read the article I started contemplating deep things about myself.  Would I ever do this?  Though I walk with Jesus, do I really have assurance of salvation (ie. If I were to fall from that wire, would I end the fall in heaven?)?

Then I watched the video and was interested to note that most of what he was saying while he walked was “Thank you, Jesus.”  Apparently Nik has assurance of salvation.  Many Christians would probably come down on me hard for encouraging such irresponsible behaviour and quote the scripture, ‘”Thou shalt not test the Lord thy God.”  To them I would say, “When was the last time thou stepped out of the boat and walked on the water?”

The act Nik performed might be perceived as insanity, but I suggest that we evaluate whether some of the things we do are insane.  Some people are insanely safe.  They hate their day jobs but they keep them because it’s safe.  They have always wanted to start a business or try something different but it’s ‘just too risky’.  I especially see this with government employees.  Many of these people take these jobs and all the associated nonsense because they perceive their path as the wiser and safer path (Pension, benefits, job security, etc).  I serve a lot of these fine folk coffee every day and last month another wave of cuts hit their department (it hit at least two major Federal Government departments in our building) and most of them are watching their lifetime colleagues getting picked off one by one – not my idea of safe or stable.

But not our Nik Wallenda.

He, on his own accord, got out of the boat and started walking. Nick took the ‘unsafe’ path and lives to tell about it (with videos on You Tube to prove it) while the rest of us watched from the sidelines.

Good for you, Nik. As tempting as it is to run back to the safety of solid ground, you have inspired me to continue in faith – not only down the narrow and difficult path of life with Jesus – but also in every part of my life so that one day I, too, might be able to kiss the solid rock of security on which I stand and look back on the exciting journey with satisfaction of a life well lived.

 

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