Tag: Cybersecurity

Don’t Connect to a Public Wi-Fi Network Anywhere You Wouldn’t Go Barefoot

By Jamie Winterton

We’ve all done it. Maybe because of work pressures—you need to catch a plane but are also pushing toward a deadline. Maybe out of sheer boredom—your flight is delayed yet another hour and there is really only so much time you can spend at the airport bar before noon. Whatever the reason, we’ve all been there—stuck in the airport, looking at a list of little Wi-Fi signals, some without the lock next to them, wondering … it couldn’t hurt, could it? Just this once?

Of course, airports aren’t the only place with skeezy Wi-Fi. Coffee shops, parks—bring your device to any public place and see what networks are out there. Your phone is constantly calling out, looking for any Wi-Fi networks it has connected to in the past, and any networks that it might want to connect to in the future. (Your smartphone is definitely in an open relationship with your home network.) Some of these Wi-Fi networks have names you want to trust: OHare Airport Official Wi-Fi, for example. Some definitely scream “stay away”—like GetOffMyLAN. Some are bizarrely complex—Purchase4478_Open3’—and some are thoroughly bland—Netgear00. But what do you really know about any of them?

Read on Slate.com

Keeping Grandma and Grandpa Safe Online

By Jamie Winterton

In June, a collective “awwwww” reverberated across the internet, as the story of a polite British grandmother who included please and thank you in her Google searches gave everyone the warm fuzzies. “I thought, well somebody’s put [the search results] in, so you’re thanking them,” she told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. “I don’t know how it works to be honest. It’s all a mystery to me.”

That mystery, however, can be dangerous.

Read on Slate.com

The Justice Department’s Newest, Strangest Attempt to Gain Access to Suspects’ Smartphones 68 32

By Dan Gillmor

As federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies continue to lobby for access to encrypted information on the devices we use every day, they are coming up with more, and more radical, legal arguments. In the most brazen current example, the Justice Department asserts that since device “sellers” like Apple only license the software, they can be required to divulge the contents of data on the “buyers’ ” phones.

If law enforcement wins with this logic, the consequences will be far-reaching. But one foreseeable, if almost certainly unintended, effect would be to give a huge boost to the open-source and free software movements. Before I explain why, here’s some background.

Read on Slate.com

Roff, Heather M.

Controversial Trade Deal Could Thwart Computer Security Research and Tinkering

By Dan Gillmor

If you back up your DVDs, or analyze your software to make sure it is secure, you may soon face a surprising penalty: the physical destruction of your computer, phone, or other device.

Hyperbole? Not so much, based on the latest leak from a budding international “trade” deal largely concocted and managed by the Obama administration. The Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, involving a collection of Pacific Rim nations, has been finalized and will soon go to Congress (and legislatures in some other nations) for approval. Based on what we know so far about a deal that has been kept secret from the American public, it is little more than a daisy chain of corporate favors in the guise of removing trade barriers.

Read on Slate.com

Will Apple’s Control-Freakery Turn Personal Computers Into Big iPhones?

By Dan Gillmor

When Apple introduced its latest tablet computer earlier this month in San Francisco, CEO Tim Cook called the iPad Pro—a large-screen tablet with a detached keyboard—the “clearest expression of our vision of the future of personal computing.” The general reaction to this, once people stopped tweaking Apple for reinventing the Microsoft Surface, was applause.

Not from me. Cook’s assertion reminded me of my declaration in a blog post five years ago, that the MacBook Air I’d just purchased was probably my last Mac. Apple, I said, was becoming more and more control-freakish in how it allowed customers to use the hardware they’d purchased. It seemed clear that the company intended to move its personal computers “into a more iPad/iPhone-like ecosystem, where Apple gives you permission to use the computers you buy in only the ways Apple considers appropriate.”

Read on Slate.com

This Might Be the Best Internet Service Provider in the U.S.

By Dan Gillmor

When we moved to our current Bay Area home in 2010, it seemed wise—given our reliance on the Internet for our work—to get both cable Internet and DSL service, to ensure a connection in all but the worst of circumstances. We had one choice for cable: Comcast, which is under no obligation to share its lines or central facilities. But because of different rules governing copper-line connections, we had more than one choice for DSL. And rather than send money to AT&T, a company that has earned widespread contempt—notably, most recently, for its eagerness to turn over its customers’ data to the government’s pervasive-surveillance maw—we opted for a more trustworthy alternative.

Our DSL comes from a small company called Sonic, based north of San Francisco. It’s an independent in an industry dominated by a cable-phone cartel notorious for greed, customer disservice, and control-freakery. Sonic is innovative and aggressive in good ways, expanding its footprint by providing excellent service at a fair price. It has (from first-hand experience) a genuine commitment to customer service. And, reflecting the civil-libertarian beliefs of its founder and CEO, Dane Jasper, it is the anti-AT&T when it comes to privacy and security.

Read on Slate.com

I Use an Ad Blocker to Stop Third Parties From Tracking My Web Browsing. I’m Not Sorry.

By Dan Gillmor

To my friends in the news business: Yes, I block your advertising, or at least some of it. Yes, I block your videos, or at least some of them. Yes, I block you and your business “partners” from tracking my every online move.

And yes, I recognize that this may cause you some financial difficulties. But you’ve given me little choice. Blame yourselves, not your audience.

I’m among the growing legions of people who are fed up with what you and the advertising business have done to my online experience. To sum up, you’ve damn near ruined it.

Read on Slate.com

Google’s Latest Enhancements Come With Enhanced Privacy Concerns

By Dan Gillmor

Of all the adjectives we might apply to Google, relentless increasingly feels the most apt. The more you use the company’s offerings, the more you should like this trait, because something enormously powerful is taking shape—a collection of services that will make a lot of people’s daily lives easier to manage.

But as Google showed this week at its annual I/O conference for developers in San Francisco, that relentlessness comes at a price. We are collectively handing over not just our data to a corporate giant, but also the content of our lives—and in the process giving the company unprecedented power.

Read on Slate.com

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