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The Internet of “Things” is the Jonestown of Privacy

The latest lunacy to arrive for the internet is the Internet of Things. Things being any device that takes electricity and can be equipped with a wireless transceiver.
I’m not sure who coined it, nor do I care, as it has to be the single dumbest meme since Social Networking.

Social Networking is the Jonestown of the Advertising Industry.

The Internet of Things theory is we interconnect our computers and or ‘smart’ phones with every other appliance and gadget we own. Really? Status updates from your appliances, car and TV?

Google’s Nest Labs which makes Thermostats and smoke alarms is the poster child for this lunacy. Here we have a device with an LED display that can be programmed to allegedly save you money by learning your habits and patterns, and stop unnecessary heating and cooling. Having an ‘app’ on your phone to play with your thermostat is just a bit nuts. Most folks look at their thermostat twice a year, during heating and cooling seasons.

The first problem with this is your house is probably not airtight, and its construction negates any ‘savings’ you may achieve. Raising the temperature when you are not home and lowering it before you arrive is a nice theory, and the electric companies make a compelling case for setting your temps higher.
(You can live life at 79 degrees in the summer) The problem comes in the physics of temperature control. By raising and or lowering your temps, your HVAC unit has to work much harder to control this swing, negating any ‘savings’.

Being WiFi enabled just gives hackers another opening into your life either by war driving or compromising your smart phone. To add insult to injury having the phone company flogging these products on their sites and the information traveling over their networks just adds another bit of surveillance information that gets passed along to three letter agencies.

SMART TV’s are Back in the News again. I have written about this before. The latest revelations concern any brand of Smart TV sold that is compatible with the new HbbTV standard (short for hybrid broadcast-broadband) which is giving advertisers a gigantic pulsing erection to TARGET you with Messages. This is not some obscure hack only discussed in hacker forums, but is a real threat.

From Forbes comes this nugget
“Broadcasters and advertisers have been eager to use the HbbTV to target ads more precisely and add interactive content, polls, shopping and apps, to home viewers. But millions of TV sets would be vulnerable to hackers with the right gear, as long as the sets are receiving an over-the-air digital broadcast signal.”
Source Forbes.com

Now if your TV is connected to your home network, or smart phone your life is gonna be basically over.

The Internet of Things is not content to screw around with your house, they also want to fuck up your driving as well.

GM whose first foray into automotive spyware interactive driving was OnStar, billed as a safety feature originally. Their latest brainchild is an app that lets you scan a license plate, then text the driver.

New ways to practice road rage.

the creep factor is enormous..
……
Hi Hal I noticed you have a large pack of toilet paper in your back seat, Would like us to come and check out your plumbing?
…..

Hey baby, how about pulling over at the rest stop?
….

Hello Hal. This is the Onstar dispute resolution APP. We noticed that You texted another driver about an un-signaled lane change, would you like us to help you resolve this?
…..

Hello Hal. Your last text to another driver contained threats regarding bodily harm. The Police have been notified and your car will be shut down in 30 seconds, so please move to the shoulder and await the authorities.
…..

To add insult to injury having the phone company transmitting this information over their networks just adds another bit of surveillance information that gets passed along to three letter agencies.

One important point that is not mentioned by the IOT weenies is every electrical device has an OFF Switch.

The Internet of Things is the Jonestown of Privacy

Surveillance as a business model is the only thing that makes a site like Facebook possible.

I have been on the internet probably longer than majority of current folks today have had pubic hair. Some of the promises of universal access, universal information and something for everyone, like left handed pipe fitters who enjoy hamsters, is coming, but at a cost that is risking everyone’s privacy, safety and security.

If you want to understand how fucked up the internet is today, READ THIS.

Yeah it is this bad.

P.S. The title of this posting is a take away from the author Maciej Ceglowski posting from the link above. If you missed it here it is again. READ THIS.

Chrome’s HTTP Switchboard

Privacy in web surfing is becoming a much more complicated endeavor with the vast quantity of advertiser supported sites on the web. Web analytic, data miners and data sucking Social Networks Icons on sites not only compromise your privacy but also slow down your surfing.
Using the Chrome Browser is no more or less a compromising choice than the other major browsers.
There is a new tool in the drive for privacy on the internet for the Chrome Browser, HTTP Switchboard This is an amazing tool. A great explanation can be found over at BetaNews
Before you rush over there using Chrome as it is a Chrome Only Tool, lets lock down your chrome browser.

A Feature of the Chrome browser is the incognito mode.
Below is a screen shot of Chrome in Incognito Mode Notice the grey color with the guy in hat and shades in the upper left corner? You are Incognito Baby!

Going incognito doesn’t affect the behavior of other people, servers, or software. Be wary of: Websites that collect or share information about you Internet service providers or employers that track the pages you visit Malicious software that tracks your keystrokes in exchange for free smileys Surveillance by secret agents People standing behind you Learn more about incognito browsing. Because Google Chrome does not control how extensions handle your personal data, all extensions have been disabled for incognito windows. You can reenable them individually in the extensions manager.

Chrome in Incognito Mode


Here is what Incognito does.

Going incognito doesn’t affect the behavior of other people, servers, or software. Be wary of:
Websites that collect or share information about you
Internet service providers or employers that track the pages you visit
Malicious software that tracks your keystrokes in exchange for free smileys
Surveillance by secret agents
People standing behind you
Learn more about incognito browsing.
Because Google Chrome does not control how extensions handle your personal data, all extensions have been disabled for incognito windows. You can reenable them individually in the extensions manager.

The information below is Windows Specific. Hopefully somebody on a Mac will explain this for those users.
In Windows to make this happen, find the Icon for the Chrome Browser, Right mouse click and click on Properties
The Properties dialog box appears.

Properties Box

Properties Box


Scroll to the end of the Target Window which says
“C:\Documents and Settings\your computer name\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe”
and add the following: space-incognito so the target window now says:
“C:\Documents and Settings\your computer name\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe” -incognito
Do Not forget the space after the quote and before the minus sign. It will not work otherwise
Now your Target Window should show
Going Incognito

Going Incognito


Click Apply, Click Okay, and you are done.
You’ve gone incognito. Pages you view in this window won’t appear in your browser history or search history, and they won’t leave other traces, like cookies, on your computer after you close all open incognito windows. Any files you download or bookmarks you create will be preserved, however.

At this point it will erase your history, searches and cookies on exit, however the damage has already been done as even in incognito mode Chrome accepts cookies.
I have written about privacy before under the pithy title of Advertising Rights Management ARM:
Advertising Rights Management ARM
Advertising Rights Management ARM 2
In any case in incognito mode you need to go to Settings> Extensions> and enable your extensions to work in incognito mode.
Chrome’s HTTP Switchboard is a new privacy tool for the Chrome Browser. It is more complicated than AVG Do Not Track, albine Do Not Track Me, AdBlock Plus, and Ghostery, but the quantity of information about the sites is amazing. And you can allow or deny cookies, scripts, Plugins, iframes on a case by case basis.

An exciting addition to your privacy on the web. Highly Recommended!

[Bonus Link: How to Always Start Any Browser in Private Browsing Mode]
Hat Tip: Joe Crawford

National Insecurity

The image shows a mobile phone and the headline reads, Now equipped with 3-way calling, You, Whoever your're Calling and the GovernmentI was rummaging in an old hard drive looking for something else when I ran across this gem. Back in the day when blogging consisted of building pages by hand without databases, and cookies.

This was an ACLU Full Page ad in the April 15, 2001 New York Times Magazine.

April 15, 2001

Yeah, if you think about it for just a moment Spying on American Citizens has been going on a whole lot longer than folks just tuning in. The NSA’s current ‘Not Me’ dance surrounding this type of intercepts is a Three Card Monte bullshit play.

This is info laundering on a massive scale. Intercept, ship it to England or wherever, and get it back as Foreign Intel. See? ‘Not Me’! Fred Astaire has nothing on these guys. In the coming weeks and months, whoever has the Snowden files will probably report that the NSA is collecting the content as well as the metadata associated with its gill netting of the Internet. Like voice recognition software that flags conversations that use bad terrorism words. Speech recognition has been around a lot longer than facial recognition software.

Then whoever is the Public Info person will probably drag out some file to prove that they stopped some terrorism event. If only we had a pay for performance funding model we might see some validity in their work.

In any case remember The First Rule of Internet Club:
THERE IS NO PRIVACY ON THE INTERNET!

Quote of the Day

Our Business Does Not Depend on Collecting Personal Data

a line in the Apple Report on how it handles government information requests.

Think about that when you are browsing the net on sites or ‘social networks’ with ads,telling you that you have to provide information to use their sites.

A Better Browsing Experience is shorthand for selling your ass down the river.

Lightbeam for Firefox

I spend a lot of time configuring browsers for clients to block ads, cookies, and javascripts that sites use to track folks around the web.
The First reason is where I go and what I browse ”ain’t nobodies business but my own.”

Companies both large and small keep for forgetting one important point. That is that everybody who uses the web pays for their connection and without us, they will have a very hard time getting any attention.
So their position is to steal information, plant cookies, interrogate our browsers, and use third party companies to track us? That is just the companies that want to sell us shit.

The so called “Social” sites, Facebook,Twitter,Instagram,Myspace,track you across the web whether or not you have an account. All those little buttons are trackers.

The second reason is the websites load faster by not allowing this junk to litter up your screen.
Lightbeam aka Collusion is an add-on that allows you to see what sites are attempting to shovel into your machine.

Mozilla’s Firefox Browser has a new add-on Lightbeam for Firefox

Lightbeam is a Firefox add-on that enables you to see the first and third party sites you interact with on the Web. Using interactive visualizations, Lightbeam shows you the relationships between these third parties and the sites you visit.

Try it and then get your self some ad blockers, and other add-ons to give the power back to the folks who deserve it, namely everyone of you reading this. Yeah it is a bit rough, but I bet it will scare the shit right out of you.

Other posting about your privacy
Advertising Rights Management ARM
Advertising Rights Management ARM 2
TV LIne Your Privacy 0 Cookies 20 and Trackers 4
Facebook’s latest Privacy Violations, History Sniffing and Web Journalism.

The NSA Big Data and You

Over the past several months documents detailing the National Security Agency’s electronic eavesdropping, wiretapping, data mining, and legal? coercion of software, hardware, telephone, and Internet Service Providers across the internet have come to light.

If the NSA is concerned with threats to America traveling across the internet from foreign countries, there is no reason having rooms in telephone companies in the heartland of America sweeping up domestic internet traffic, when they have the ability to trap and grab all traffic from the routers that are connected to the trans continental fiber optic cables that carry traffic into and out of the US. As for satellite internet providers, tapping that traffic by I.P address alone is sufficient to allow the NSA to carry out its mission while keeping their hands off domestic communications.

If the NSA were truly Working on National Security, identifying and taking down ‘botnets’ which are used to corrupt personal computers, for stealing credentials, usernames, passwords, banking, credit card information, and other financial information, would be a step in the right direction. The major bot nets and their command and control servers are almost exclusively foreign. In the tinfoil hat corner the NSA may be trying to co-opt these for their own purposes. One wonders…

I mentioned in an earlier posting that:

Terrorism is not a bomb problem, a gun problem, a poison problem, it is a hearts and minds problem. Terrorism is not an institutionalized way of life regardless of the loud and repeated proclamations of various government and law enforcement agencies.

To date the major players that actually have identified bot nets and taken them down have been private companies, notably anti virus vendors, security companies, and Microsoft. However Microsoft is not the white knight they would have you believe. Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages

That the NSA is creating and storing large databases of information from metadata to entire social network connections is only surprising to to folks who assume that “privacy” settings mean a damn thing to spiders, scrapers,indexers, or bot nets. An impressive explanation of Big Data can be found from Irving Wladawsky-Berger, who has probably forgotten more about big data than most folks know. Data-Driven Decision Making: Promises and Limits

Having large databases and using them are two different things. An example of this is your favorite search engine. Depending on who you use and how you search for stuff determines what you will get back. Banging a couple of words will give you millions of links whose value drops off quickly either as a result of connections made with third parties, paid placements, or mining your search history as part of this “service”.

More targeted complex queries will give you better results, but the effort required in this day and age of 140 character thought reinforces the idea that you only need a few characters to get what you are looking for. Which sadly, is what search engine providers and social network sites are counting on. And if recent earnings reports are close to accurate, this belief of instant gratification, and basic laziness of folks is a winning strategy.

Which brings us back to You and I. The First Rule of Internet Club is There Is No Privacy. If it is on a machine connected to the Internet, which also includes the machine you are reading this on. It will belong to someone else soon. Not just sitting on a social network site server, a search engine database, or the NSA, everything you post, write, display, phone, text, chat, or search for will end up in a database run by folks whose only concern for your welfare is driven by greed or fear.

The Internet is a wonderful place filled with amazing people, places and things. It is also home to Thieves, con men, charlatans, and spies. It is filled with greed and fear.

It is up to you and I to determine the direction of the internet’s future. One post at a time.
Ask yourself, Whose heart and mind is stronger?

Cookieless Monster Privacy Invasion

From the 2013 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, comes this report on browser fingerprinting.

Cookieless Monster:
Exploring the Ecosystem of Web-based Device Fingerprinting [PDF]

HatTip Metafilter

You can find out what information your browser shares with sites using Panopticlick Created by the EFF.
Panopticlick tests your browser to see how unique it is based on the information it will share with sites it visits.
Surprising amount of information.

Advertising Rights Management ARM 2

Previously I shared my favorite add-ons for browsers to surf ad free

The Browser Makers are getting on the privacy train.

Here are some guides to secure your browser from tracking.

Google Chrome Settings

Firefox Settings

Internet Explorer

Safari

Advertising Rights Management ARM

When you venture out on the web, and go places like here, you are a guest. Normally guests are treated with respect, and are not subject to ID checks, cavity searches, pickpocketing or data theft.

Commercial websites do not treat you like a guest, but rather squeeze you for every morsel of information they can grab from your computer to sell you shit you can probably do without.

Advertisers, Marketeers, and websites that are supported by advertisers think that your personal information from your IP address to your browser history, cookies, Local Storage Objects and other information on your personal computer is theirs for the taking.

Cookies are not required to build or present webpages.

Anybody who tells you that they are required is lying.

The current scheme is having a Third Party manage advertising is what is creating this crisis in privacy.

You have the choice to deny info thieves anything but what you choose to share.

Privacy is not the default setting in your browsers. Although that is changing. But there are things that you can add to deny data collection, tracking and restrict invasion of your privacy.

I like to call it Advertiser Rights Management. ARM
Here are a few things that you can add to your browser to take back your privacy
My personal favorites are
AdBlock Plus
AVG Do Not Track
Albine Do Not Track Me
Ghostery

This is your internet. Take it back from the pricks who think that you are fodder for marketing.