Scary Happenings on Your Internet and Electronics

A snippet from a reply from one of my Senators asking about the NSA…

“As you may know, under one of the programs, the NSA has for seven years collected on a daily basis information related to Americans’ telephone calls.  This information includes the telephone numbers called, along with the date, time, and duration of calls.  The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) – a special federal court created in 1978 to review the government’s applications for surveillance orders – has allowed the collection of this metadata under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act.  Section 215 amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 to allow the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to apply to the FISC for an order to collect a broad array of business records and other tangible things relevant to an authorized investigation.  Previously, the authority was limited to the collection of only records from certain businesses, such as hotels and car rental agencies, and the FBI had to provide facts tying the records to a specific person.”

A Russian group of programmers are planning to sell commercially a root kit that will capture and forward anyones banking information, if they can get the software on their computer. You can be the first in your neighborhood to have this software for about ~ $2,500.00 US.

Some companies who offered encrypted email are shutting down due to fear of government scrutiny. They don’t want to take the hit for illegal activity being tied to their product. They ‘claim’ a concern for their customers, and perhaps a little fear of government scrutiny around themselves too?

The Tor network bust of a few weeks ago that netted a hundred plus people receiving and transmitting child porn, upset large numbers of people who deal in things less than legal. It also upset people who were led to believe tor was the utlimate internet privacy tool.

The infamous Pirate Bay frustrated because some governments have blocked them, have created their own browser so individuals may bypass government restrictions and get on with what they want to do, rather than what is permissible.

NSA and Internet

NSA and others are logging your electronic life

Some Internet Service Providers have agreed to email you, or flash you a screen a message if they detect you downloading copyrighted information illegally. “In case you are not aware”, is the reason given. To determine if you are downloading copyrighted information all your internet usage will need to be monitored.

Certain Televisions can spy on you per one newsworthy article on a techie website. The software running the television is very vulnerable to being hacked over the net. If there happens to be a camera or microphone attached to the television, well, you may be streaming media (your personal life) to people you do not know. Imagine seeing yourself in a compromising situation that took place in your front room in a youtube video?

An East Coast couple had a visit by several men in suits and badges after some rather innocent web searching by family members after the Boston Bombing. It appears one can look up anything on the web, however they can’t do it in conjunction with other sensitive topics. Sort of like the ‘three strike’ rule in baseball. Too much curiosity wakes the cat.

Besides the obvious, “What’s next, are we going to have cameras and microphones in our living room spying on us?” Do we already? At least the Internet is already taking action. One of the things I love about technology is changes happen fast. No need to be reactive when you can be proactive.

Here is what a little casual browsing turned up today:

Mozilla corporation is working on an ad blocking browser. If I understand correctly is it is blocking advertising streamed with secure web pages, because of the security issue it opens up. The issue stems from insecure content being delivered on a secure connection. Lots of opportunity for bad things to happen.

Advertisers are in an uproar, claiming their web site material will now be ‘stolen’. Hmmm, how do you steal information posted freely on the web? Some websites are threatening to go subscription only.

I say, good luck making a living with that business model. If the ads didn’t dance across the page, or block all access to content, I don’t think we would be at this point.

Since there is legislation either in the works or passed making the sender of copyrighted materials a felony offense, Usenet has gone to encrypted postings. At least by those that have a clue.

Operating systems on a flash drive or CD are gaining even more attention. If you cannot trust your computer has not been compromised – an unprotected Windows XP machine lasts less than 20 minutes on the net before being taken over – systems on a removable cd or flash drive are the way to go. They are read only, and cannot unless you allow it store any information. This means there can be no root kit, virus, or malware cookie sending your bank account information home to Daddy.

Encrypted phone calls will make a splash on the scene soon, if you haven’t heard about it already. Encrypted messaging is already here for those that want it. Each of us will have to decide how badly we want to talk with someone. Enough to match their encryption methods, or not talk at all over electronic medium?

Electronic security has always been a game of catch up. No matter how fast any Government, service provider, or other group is, they will never be ahead of the curve when it comes to halting illegal activities on the internet. No matter how quick they are, the internet as a whole is quicker.

Some people are resorting to triple encryption, just because they can. An email message, text message, or document is processed through three different encryption programs. In other words they are encrypting a document that that was created, encrypted, encrypted again, and finally encrypted a third time using different encryption techniques. Lot of work to say get a carton of milk on the way home from work.

Other people are sending out texts and emails containing trigger words, and I can guess you know what those are. Emails that have no purpose other than to trigger the NSA’s software into action, especially if they are sent with light encryption

Which brings me to my main point. Is the internet in jeopardy of shutting down? Unless you are comfortable with every key stroke being logged, worrying about your bank accounts and your very private information being sent to another computer, having your browsing habits logged and analyzed, your friends and family watched,it may be.

Is the internet going to end up as a nameless, faceless place, where the only web traffic is encrypted, and the only web sites still up, talk about gardening, and cooking and other acceptable topics while the NSA studies each word in an article?

Will all your web travels and searches be logged and monitored? How about the privacy of your own computer, laptop or tablet? Will it keep your private matters private, or will it contain a backdoor where all your actions can and will be monitored?

These are real questions and real concerns. Let your officials know how you feel about all of this. Apathy and nameless fear got us this far. If left unchecked, the world of computers and the internet, may go the way of the home phone, boom box, and so many other things we thought would be around forever.

Where does state security and individual privacy divide? Should everyone be investigated around the clock because they might be something they are not advertising? Where is the line on personal privacy? Will it extend from the search for possible terrorist activity to tax fraud, income tax evasion, searching for any and all illegal activity?

In the mean time, maybe there is no need to worry about backing up your documents, perhaps the NSA already has a copies you can download under the, “Freedom of Information Act”? Write your representatives, and let them know how you feel about his. If you don’t tell them what you think, big business and the government will.

Martin & Zimmerman Who’s Standing Where?

I am still confused about how I feel with the Zimmerman, Martin Stand Your Ground ruling. I did not attend the hearing, and I need to trust the jury did the right thing, and made the right decision. Unfortunately, from what I understand of the events that took place and the bias of the law itself, the ruling does not sit well with me.

In my understanding:

Martin is walking down the street Zimmerman is in a vehicle driving down the street.

Zimmerman gets out of his vehicle and approaches Martin who stands his ground, literally.

Martin is shot by Zimmerman.

It does not seem to be any more clear than this. Everything that happened after Zimmerman got out of his vehicle does not matter to me. If Zimmerman never got out of his vehicle, there would not have been a shooting.

As for the Stand Your Ground defense. It seems to me that it was Martin who used his legal right to stand his ground against an aggressor, not the other way around. Zimmerman could have driven away.

If I was a young man of Martins age, I would not have ran. I would have stayed put as is my right. I feel if Zimmerman didn’t think he had the backup protection of pulling out his gun, and using it, he could have left his gun locked up in his vehicle.

Perhaps Zimmerman felt empowered by the thought of having his gun on his person if he decided he needed it. Martin felt empowered by his martial arts knowledge and previous fights.

Martin depended on his youth and his ability. It wasn’t Martin’s first rodeo, or at least I do not think it was. He was, I read taking, martial arts classes. Usually people who do, have a need to. A young man by himself is a target. Martin was young, he was strong, and I feel, he felt he could take care of himself if he needed to.

Here it is the way I see it. Martin is walking along, Zimmerman stops his vehicle, gets out and approaches Martin. Obviously it isn’t to ask directions or share a joke. Martin being a young man thinks if worse comes to worse, he will get his ass kicked, but he doubts it. At any rate he isn’t going to take any crap from this guy. He has every right to be where he is. Martin is shot, and dies.

Yet Zimmerman is allowed to use the Stand your Ground Defense. It sounds like Martin was expected to use the cower and run away defense because Martin was not in the courtroom to say He was Standing His Ground and reinforcing his right to be there on that street, whether he had family, friends, or business around there. He was free to go and do what he wanted, and walk down that street was what he wanted.

I know if it were me, instead of Martin, I too would have stood there. So would you if you feel that strongly about personal rights, and personal freedom. I would only get beat up once. I would live with myself every day thereafter for the rest of my life.

In my opinion, or it appears to me, Zimmerman, the older Man approached a much younger, stronger man and created a conflict that got out of hand, and Zimmerman panicked.

Instead of halting the provocation at any time before the conflict turned physical, Zimmerman perhaps steeled himself with the idea that he was in charge. Of course the fight was one sided. Here is a young strong man fighting with a older out of shape man, who is spending as much time trying to get his gun out of his pocket, as he is in trying to defend himself.

I didn’t watch the trial daily, and I may be wrong in what I think are the facts. What I think I do know however is, one man left his vehicle and approached another man when he should have stayed in his vehicle or driven away.

Who had the right to claim they were Standing Their Ground?

I’m rude, and I don’t care

The cold call must take a special type of personality on both ends of the conversation for a successful sale. Most of the cold calls I encounter are over my land line telephone. Some cold calls are door to door.

Peter called me two days ago. Caller id: v3957286419 or similar informative caller id string. I was instilled with confidence before I even answered. These numbers are flags saying, get ready, here is another one.

Me, “Hello?”

“Hello this is Peter”

Me, “Yes Peter”

“I am with xyz security systems”. We will be in your area…click.”

Did I need to hear any more?

After years of commercials, commercialism is part of my phone etiquette. Who is Peter really? Peter could be the next door neighbor who never talks to me in person. Peter could be some poor schmuck who needs to pay his rent and this is the best he can do. Peter may in prison, who chooses to cold call rather than sit in his cell.

Who is xyz company for that matter? Do they even exist? Are they running a new scam? Are they casing houses for theft? Do they really exist or are they part of some boiler plate operation trying to get money from the unsuspecting.

unknown number

Having your time wasted by telemarketers

If I was Peter, would I want to call me? If I was xyz company would I want Peter to waste his time calling me? Who created the list I am on where cold callers think the confidence game is a game I play? isn’t there a list somewhere where it says, “This guy doesn’t play the confidence game?”

The xyz company is going to be in my area shortly. That also means the xyz company will be out of my area a short time later. Maybe Peter and his buds, or the company he works for, cased the neighborhood and and decided we are ripe for a fly-by-night security system cold call?

The same rules apply to Jesus Preachers who go door to door. Is there anyone who has not heard of Jesus, the bible, or how to live life in a Christian manner? Why should I place my confidence in some never seen before door to door bible thumper? I have made up my mind on Heaven, hell, and how I choose to live my life.
When I really feel energetic, I invent an imaginary product to sell and pitch it to them. I think my Son in Law has the best system. At the door, he tells the unwelcome visitor to follow him. He starts working in the garden, or other project. He tells the unwelcome visitor to help while he/she talks. He tells me he gets about fifteen minutes work from the younger ones. He also rarely answers his phone.