2021 Week 48 – You ARE Being Watched
I took some time over the long holiday weekend to finish a book I had started a few weeks ago and promptly start another related one.
Permanent Record by Edward Snowden is an eye-opening tale centering around a late 20-something NSA contractor who exposes the US Government’s mass surveillance system created after 9/11. Love him or hate him he brought to light the vast data collection of US citizens by their government.
No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald starts up with his interview of Snowden while he hides in Hong Kong before his trove of documents is released to the public by various medial outlets. Meanwhile, Laura Poitras films a series of interviews for her documentary Citizen Four. It goes into incredible detail about the surveillance systems in use around the world, by many countries, and details just how far they have gone to invade your privacy.
If you have any interest in this kind of stuff it’s well worth your time to seek out these books or at least watch the full documentary (available on YouTube with Ads (that will track you, haha)). It will chill you to the core and make you think about what you do online going forward.
As I wrote earlier this year everyone needs to be using a Password Manager application. My favorite continues to be Bitwarden. The free version is more than enough for most people but the $10 paid version adds some advanced features and helps support the development. Getting started with a Password manager is NOT difficult and is NOT a good excuse for NOT using one. Bitwarden for Beginners is a great place to start.
NordPass just released their annual Top 200 Common Password list. It shows what people are actually using to secure their private data as well as how long it takes to crack and gain access. If your password is on the list you should assume your accounts have been compromised because you probably use the SAME password in multiple places. The benefit of a Password Manager is that you can use a different, unique, password for every account and only need to remember ONE (secure) master password/phrase. The tool generates and documents the login details for you.
Another security tool you should consider using, especially if you use your devices in public, is a personal VPN account. This tool encrypts your traffic and protects you from anyone wanting to access your data. Sounds a little overkill but it’s not uncommon for someone to sit on a public network and watch for unsecured traffic to exploit. In fact, as far back as 2013 AT&T and Starbucks encouraged it! My personal favorite is Private Internet Access (PIA) which works on all devices including your phone and tablet. An annual subscription is $39.99.
I think that just about wraps things up for this week. It’s hard to believe 2021 is 90% over & we’re getting ready to settle down into the winter months. At least I have a stack of books to go through while hunkering down inside for the next 3 months. See you next week!