So – you got this Amazon Alexa device at Cyber-Monday? And maybe a connected “smart” plug or light bulb? Before you start adding more “smart” stuff – here’s what you need to know. Read More →
Yep – those little ESP chips are cute. And powerful. And easy to program. And much more. But if you are going to control more than – say a closet light – you want to think about security. This requires hashes and tracking of the current time.
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Sometimes we have to send short command sequences and/or replies over unprotected networks. Especially when working with IoT environments. Though SSL/TLS is always preferred – sometimes it’s just too much overkill. Read More →
Cheap IoT devices like power plugs are mostly manufactured in China. They connect to “bridging” servers we don’t really have control over, they are usually not documented and those required “bridging” services may fail or even be terminated at any time. Which would of course render your (or my) “smart” power plugs useless. Time to do something about it. Read More →
I remember my first “ping” to prep.ai.mit.edu. This must have been around 1993 . I worked with networks before that time, hacking X.25 networks and using embedded “out dials” to reach phone line connected BBS systems around the word. All my life has revolved around the “net”. So – I know a thing or two about the Internet. Let me make something very clear: We lost net neutrality years ago. Read More →
The problem with geeks: We are never satisfied. But that’s not too much trouble for those of us who learned to code in the dark-ages (emm .. about 25 years ago). We are used to sit down and learn, analyze, create or change stuff until we’re happy. Which lasts about 10 minutes ….. or until we find something else that needs to be changed.
Alexa, Google Home, Siri – the new revolution of computing power is the spoken word. You just tell a device what you want and – voila – it happens. But in order for stuff to happen – say turning lights on – a few of things have to be considered to create a safe environment. Read More →
When exactly did it start? When did we start to refuse to accept the responsibility for our own data? How can it be that we are storing our digital selfs and our most valuable digital assets on other peoples storage devices? When exactly did we surrender our digital liberties in the name of convenience?
I was meeting a business colleague the other day. While we were talking I wanted to show a web page I recently discovered but I didn’t bookmark it on my laptop. While I was trying to find it again using Google search, my colleague laughed:
“Why don’t you link your browser with your Google account? Much more convenient.”
Well – I could have told him that I don’t entrust other people with data that is important to me. I could have told him about what providers learn from your bookmarks, browsing history and related data, but I knew he just wouldn’t understand. And I wondered: How can we claim to be free people if we don’t don’t care about our “digital self” ?
Why are we fighting government intrusion in our private life if we are willingly share all information about it with Google, Microsoft, Apple or others?
Most of us own mobile spying devices and carry it around each day. We give big business and the government access to our locations 24/7. It’s easy to interpolate our favorite super market, gas station, if and what religious buildings we’re visiting. Even the color of our skin and some indication of our wealth can be derived from the places we visit. People don’t have a problem with this and happily add more and more devices to give those providers even more and better information.
OK Google, what do you know about me?
Personal assistants like “Siri”, Amazon’s Echo or Google’s voice assistant are intelligence simulators that may be amusing (for a while), but they are also data collection inlets for big databases. As are other “intelligent” devices connected to the cloud: thermostats, cameras, light switches and more. Every click, switch and video is analyzed and recorded, everything adds to the collection of data available to anybody willing to pay. Add Facebook and other social networks and that database about you and everybody else gets big and fat.
The government has to adhere to laws. Private business? Yeah. Right.
Now – on top of all this, people “linking” their browser information to Google, Apple are throwing even more intimate details of their life into the loving arms of their chosen data collection kraken. Why on earth would anybody do that?
Well – it’s convenient.
Big business couldn’t be happier. They want you to store everything in their clouds. Your email is most likely already there. Your ebooks? Sure. Your music and videos? Of course. Your personal snapshots? Absolutely. Everything is available everywhere. For you to access. For you and anybody else.
Even the free software community has surrendered. Who has software that easily allows you to sync your phone, web browser or other data on your own server? That makes you independent from big cloud providers and returns your liberty? Where are the geeks that create free software solutions for “intelligent” devices, voice assistants or “Internet of things” units? Some try – but most fail. Because the big providers remove the necessary interfaces. They simply don’t want to give their users freedom of choice.
Even Mozilla makes it almost impossible to sync your browser data on your own server. I wonder why?
Let’s find ways to get our digital independence back. Let’s develop software and solutions that allows us to use clouds, even our own clouds, to provide safe, easy to use and convenient services without the need to feed the wolves. Learn more here: Electronic Frontier Foundation
Plenty of services use a standard email-address as login token. This has advantages: The user doesn’t need to remember another keyword and the service provider knows that the email address is unique and can be verified. But there’s one BIG problem: Other people know your email-address and – with it – 50% of your login credentials. How to to eat the cake AND eat it? Read More →
I recently “upgraded” to CentOS 7 and got a Radeon RX 480 graphics card to go along with the upgrade. Everything went well but a nagging problem needed special care.