Announcing the new Privacy Blog

If you have been reading this genealogy newsletter for a while, you probably know that I often write about privacy and security-related topics. These articles usually have nothing to do with genealogy but are topics that I feel strongly about.

I am dismayed by what I see, read, and hear in today’s world. Edward Snowden has revealed the abuses by governmental agencies in snooping on its citizens. Other governments do the same. Cyber criminals frequently hack into servers and individual desktop computers around the world. Corporations snoop on your buying habits, your political and religious beliefs, and more in order to learn about you and to inundate you with “targeted advertising.” Potential employers snoop to find private information about potential job candidates. Retailers do not protect your credit card information properly; we often read about hackers stealing millions of credit card numbers from retailers’ servers.

And then there is Facebook…

Luckily, these problems are easily avoided if the user understands the solutions available.

I first became immersed in security and privacy issues when I spent four years as a cryptographic technician in the U.S. military. On a daily basis, I handled some of the nation’s most secure messages and telephone calls, including war plans, intelligence data, and even messages to and from the President of the United States and very senior government officials and military officers.

The technical details of cryptography undoubtedly have changed since my days in the field but the basics are still the same: even the most casual information can be collected and used by those who wish to do you harm. However, a combination of common sense and encryption can keep your private information just that: private.

I decided to start a new, separate blog to publish some of my how-to articles concerning the protection of privacy today. The Privacy Blog is available now at http://www.privacyblog.com.

This blog will contain suggestions about how you can improve your privacy and keep your security, both online and off. You may notice that I started the blog by republishing some articles that have previously appeared in this newsletter. However, there are a couple of new articles already available at http://privacyblog.com and I expect to publish new articles frequently.

If you have an interest in protecting your privacy, credit cards, address, bank account information, and more, you might want to visit the Privacy Blog often.

As always, suggestions and comments are welcome.

8 Comments

I’ve already sent the link to people through Facebook. Thanks, Dick, for sharing your expertise in this way, all in one place. I’ve Bookmarked it for future reference.

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B not sure how you feel abt all this,,but I do think being secure about ourselves and info is important. I am thinking that some of the things that people and esp young 10=25 need to be careful abt info and pics they “share” on the comuter is important.. No need for a quick reply..just thinking about it.. Heimers game with 2 mins remaining and he’s tied.. Mom

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The new ‘PIV’ I.D. badges issued to Federal employees, civilian and military alike, contain chips with much easily intercepted personal information entirely unrelated to our jobs. From what I understand, no law in Congress authorizes this. Someone in Homeland Security simply felt entitled to require it.

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Why does the Privacy Blog not use the first and simplest level of creating some privacy on the web: https? If I try https://privacyblog.com I get a security warning about an invalid certificate!

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    —> Why does the Privacy Blog not use the first and simplest level of creating some privacy on the web: https?

    Because there is no sensitive information stored on the blog’s web site. I don’t want to know or to store any of your private information on a blog that describes how to keep your private information secret. SSL encryption (the use of “https”) is a requirement only when there is information to be protected, not visible to everyone. Everything on the Privacy Blog is public and is visible to everyone, therefore making SSL a waste of time.

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    To comment on the Privacy Blog one has to give email address and name, which counts as personal data, sure one can use a throwaway address or fake name, but it would be better if the transmission of that information was private. https also guarantees that the site is the one it claims to be and no-one is modifying the content whilst in transit. Electronic Frontier Foundation has a good account of why sites should default to https: https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere/deploying-https

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    —> To comment on the Privacy Blog one has to give email address and name, which counts as personal data,

    Yes, and that information will be displayed to everyone else whether https (SSL) is used or not. The same is true on almost all other web sites that have comments sections or discussion boards. It is very rare for web sites to hide that information whether https is used or not.

    If I pay for an SSL certificate for this web site, it won’t change anything that is displayed to the visitors to the site. The same is true on almost all other web sites that have comments sections or discussion boards.

    As you pointed out, the solution is simple: if you don’t want your real name to be displayed, use a pseudonym. Looking at the names here, I think that happens often.

    Like

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