NSA: Please Turn off the Lights When You Leave. Nothing to See Here.

Linux Advocate Dietrich Schmitz shows how the general public can take action to truly protect their privacy using GnuPG with Evolution email. Read the details.

Mailvelope for Chrome: PGP Encrypted Email Made Easy

Linux Advocate Dietrich Schmitz officially endorses what he deems is a truly secure, easy to use PGP email encryption program. Read the details.

Step off Microsoft's License Treadmill to FOSS Linux

Linux Advocate Dietrich Schmitz reminds CIOs that XP Desktops destined for MS end of life support can be reprovisioned with FOSS Linux to run like brand new. Read how.

Bitcoin is NOT Money -- it's a Commodity

Linux Advocate shares news that the U.S. Treasury will treat Bitcoin as a Commodity 'Investment'. Read the details.

Google Drive Gets a Failing Grade on Privacy Protection

Linux Advocate Dietrich Schmitz puts out a public service privacy warning. Google Drive gets a failing grade on protecting your privacy.

Email: A Fundamentally Broken System

Email needs an overhaul. Privacy must be integrated.


Cookie Cutter Distros Don't Cut It


The 'Linux Inside' Stigma - It's real and it's a problem.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Turn a Deaf Ear

Linux Advocate Dietrich Schmitz reminds readers of a long ago failed petition by Mathematician Prof. Donald Knuth for stopping issuance of Software Patents.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

5 Ways to Improve Your Privacy Online

5 Ways to Improve Your Privacy Online

A A  Text Size
Print Version
E-Mail Article
5 Ways to Improve Your Privacy Online
In this post-PRISM era, it's only natural to assume your Internet activity is an open book -- and you may just be right. "Always assume anything you put into a computer can be read by someone else and act accordingly," said John Simpson, privacy project director at Consumer WatchDog. How to reclaim some of that lost privacy? Start with these five steps.

It wasn't long after the Internet came into widespread use that online privacy became a growing concern. After all, anytime people are connected through their computers and sharing resources online, there's the potential for prying and abuse.

Such concerns were compounded with the arrival of social networks, online banking and, of course, malware -- among other points of potential weakness. Then -- just last month -- PRISM happened.

Today, it's only natural to wonder just how much of your Internet activity is truly private -- or to suspect that none of it really is.

Fundamentally, all data on the Internet falls into two broad categories: private and encrypted, or nonencrypted, publicly readable clear text.

Those two simple classes of data are continually shuttling around the Internet, either streaming in real-time or being persistently stored in archives as document and image files or in database records.

The reality is, without some method of strong encryption, anyone with access to your personal store of data can read your clear text documents, emails and files, in addition to seeing any other intermingled binary objects like photographs.

When you sign onto Facebook or Google, for example, you give both implicit and explicit permission to the respective Internet service provider to use part or all of the data associated with your activities in the manner specified by their Privacy Statement and Terms of Service agreement. Each ISP has them. Read them and determine if they are acceptable.

In the case of Google, your data won't be shared, but it will be parsed by Google (computer-speak for scanning keywords and lexical expressions for interpretation) in order to "intelligently" position personalized advertisements in your data stream for you to see while navigating their Web portal sites such as Google.com, Google Plus and Gmail.

Yet, even if your ISP says it won't share your data directly with third parties, how can you trust, much less verify, that such isn't being done?

The sad truth is, you probably can't -- nor should you. You also can't verify that your data isn't being passed around the Internet.

Even if Google were deemed 100 percent trustworthy and maintained an impeccable record on privacy with stringent security, should one hacker succeed in cracking your Gmail account's password, for example, that personal data -- if stored in non-encrypted, public form -- is then directly readable by the hacker.

"Always assume anything you put into a computer can be read by someone else and act accordingly," John Simpson, privacy project director at Consumer WatchDog, told TechNewsWorld.

Act accordingly indeed. In that regard, approach how you conduct yourself the same way you do in the physical world in public places.

The degree to which privacy is possible today is a matter of debate, but the bottom line is that all of your Internet activity is up for grabs unless locked away using encryption. That doesn't mean, however, that there aren't steps you can take to protect yourself at least to some extent.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pick Your Reality: Sunshine, Rainbows and Lollipops or U.S. Economic Collapse?

by Dietrich Schmitz

You may think I am over-reacting or you may think I am a 'nut', or, you might actually begin (hopefully) to see things my way.

We, Americans, are going to hell in a handbasket.  There are simply now way too many trending indicators that all converge and show what is happening -- an economic collapse is underway.  It's a frightening thought, but what is being talked up outside of mainstream media is that we are going to experience something far worse than what happened with Wall Street and the Banking system in 2008.  Some say it will be far bigger than the Great Depression. (Image credit: drawception.com)

You may be asking yourself, what does this have to do with Linux?  Directly and indirectly our economy has everything to do with sustainable living and if we cannot live, then nothing else will matter.

Thus, I am intentionally bringing to you a series of reports which I feel obligated to share because the information is being suppressed in mainstream media.  This is the canary in the coal mine keeling over and dying Folks.

So, please share this post with your colleagues, friends, and family.  

God Bless America.

Thank you.

-- Dietrich


Show This to Anyone That Believes Things are Getting Better in America

February 10, 2013 
by Michael Snyder
How can anyone not see that the U.S. economy is collapsing all around us?  It just astounds me when people try to tell me that "everything is just fine" and that "things are getting better" in America.  Are there people out there that are really that blind?  If you want to see the economic collapse, just open up your eyes and look around you.  By almost every economic and financial measure, the U.S. economy has been steadily declining for many years.  But most Americans are so tied into "the matrix" that they can only understand the cheerful propaganda that is endlessly being spoon-fed to them by the mainstream media.  As I have said so many times, the economic collapse is not a single event.  The economic collapse has been happening, it is is happening right now, and it will continue to happen.  Yes, there will be times when our decline will be punctuated by moments of great crisis, but that will be the exception rather than the rule.  A lot of people that write about "the economic collapse" hype it up as if it will be some huge "event" that will happen very rapidly and then once it is all over we will rebuild.  Unfortunately, that is not how the real world works.  We are living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world, and once it completely bursts there will be no going back to how things were before.  Right now, we are living in a "credit card economy".  As long as we can keep borrowing more money, most people think that things are just fine.  But anyone that has lived on credit cards knows that eventually there comes a point when the game is over, and we are rapidly approaching that point as a nation.
Have you ever been there?  Have you ever desperately hoped that you could just get one more credit card or one more loan so that you could keep things going?
At first, living on credit can be a lot of fun.  You can live a much higher standard of living than you otherwise would be able to.
But inevitably a day of reckoning comes.
If the federal government and the American people were forced at this moment to live within their means, the U.S. economy would immediately plunge into a depression.
That is a 100% rock solid guarantee.
But our politicians and the mainstream media continue to perpetuate the fiction that we can live in this credit card economic fantasy land indefinitely.
And most Americans could not care less about the future.  As long as "things are good" today, they don't really think much about what the future will hold.
As a result of our very foolish short-term thinking, we have now run up a national debt of 16.4 trillion dollars.  It is the largest debt in the history of the world, and it has gotten more than 23 times larger since Jimmy Carter first entered the White House.
The chart that you see below is a recipe for national financial suicide...
U.S. National Debt
Of course things have accelerated over the past four years.  Since Barack Obama entered the White House, the U.S. government has run a budget deficit of well over a trillion dollarsevery single year, and we have stolen more than 100 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day.
It is the biggest theft of all time.  What we are doing to our children and our grandchildren is beyond criminal.
And now our debt is at a level that most economists would consider terminal.  When Barack Obama first entered the White House, the U.S. debt to GDP ratio was under 70 percent.  Today, it is up to 103 percent.
We are officially in "the danger zone".
If things really were "getting better" in America, we would not need to borrow so much money.
Our politicians are stealing from the future in order to make the present look better.  During Obama's first term, the federal government accumulated more debt than it did under the first 42 U.S presidents combined.
That is utter insanity!
If you started paying off just the new debt that the U.S. has accumulated during the Obama administration at the rate of one dollar per second, it would take more than 184,000 years to pay it off.
So what is the solution?
Get ready to laugh.
The most prominent economic journalist in the entire country, Paul Krugman of the New York Times, recently suggested the following in an article that he wrote entitled "Kick That Can"...
Realistically, we’re not going to resolve our long-run fiscal issues any time soon, which is O.K. — not ideal, but nothing terrible will happen if we don’t fix everything this year. Meanwhile, we face the imminent threat of severe economic damage from short-term spending cuts.
So we should avoid that damage by kicking the can down the road. It’s the responsible thing to do.
You mean that we might actually do damage to the debt-fueled economic fantasy world that we are living in if we stopped stealing so much money from future generations?
Oh the humanity!
It is horrifying to think that all that one of the "top economic minds" in America can come up with is to "kick the can" down the road some more.
Unfortunately, neither Paul Krugman nor most of the American people understand that our financial system is actually designed to create government debt.
The bankers that helped create the Federal Reserve intended to permanently enslave the U.S. government to a perpetually expanding spiral of debt, and their plans worked.
At this point, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.
So why don't the American people understand what the Federal Reserve system is doing to us?
It is because most of them are still plugged into the matrix.  A Zero Hedge article that I came across today put it beautifully...
US society in a nutshell: Chris Dorner has been around for a week and has 222 million results on Google; the Federal Reserve has been around for one hundred years and has 187 million results.
If nothing is done about our exploding debt, it is only a matter of time before we reach financial oblivion.
According to Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff, the U.S. government is facing a "present value difference between projected future spending and revenue" of 222 trillion dollars in the years ahead.
So how in the world are we going to come up with an extra 222 trillion dollars?
But it is not just the U.S. government that is drowning in debt.
Just check out this chart which shows the astounding growth of state and local government debt in recent years...
State And Local Government Debt
All over the United States there are state and local governments that are on the verge of bankruptcy.  Just check out what is going on in Detroit.  The only way that most of our state and local governments can keep going at this point is to also "kick the can" down the road some more.
And of course most of the rest of us are drowning in debt as well.
40 years ago, the total amount of debt in the U.S. economic system (government + business + consumer) was less than 2 trillion dollars.
Today, the total amount of debt in the U.S. economic system has grown to more than 55 trillion dollars.
Can anyone say bubble?
The good news is that U.S. GDP is now more than 12 timeslarger than it was 40 years ago.
The bad news is that the total amount of debt in our financial system is now more than 30 times larger than it was 40 years ago...
Total Credit Market Debt Owed
At the same time that we are going into so much debt, our ability to produce wealth continues to decline.
According to the World Bank, U.S. GDP accounted for 31.8 percent of all global economic activity in 2001.  That number dropped to 21.6 percent in 2011.  That is not just a decline - that is a nightmarish freefall.  Just check out the chart in this article.
We are becoming less competitive as a nation with each passing year.  In fact, the U.S. has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forumfor four years in a row.
Most Americans don't understand this, but the United States buys far more from the rest of the world than they buy from us each year.  In 2012, we had a trade deficit of more than 500 billion dollars with the rest of the world.
That means that more than 500 billion dollars that could have gone to U.S. workers and U.S. businesses went out of the country instead.
So how does our country survive if hundreds of billions of dollars more is flowing out of the country than is flowing into it?
Well, to make up the shortfall we go to the countries that we sent our money to and we beg them to lend it back to us.  If that doesn't work, we just print and borrow even more money.
Overall, the United States has run a trade deficit of more than 8 trillion dollars with the rest of the world since 1975.
That is 8 trillion dollars that could have saved U.S. businesses, paid the salaries of U.S. workers and that would have helped fund government.
But instead, our foolish policies have greatly enriched China and the oil barons of the Middle East.
Sadly, politicians from both political parties continue to boldly support the one world economic agenda of the global elite.
Just consider how destructive many of these "free trade" deals have been to our economy...
When NAFTA was pushed through Congress in 1993, the United States had a trade surplus with Mexico of 1.6 billion dollars.
By 2010, we had a trade deficit with Mexico of 61.6 billion dollars.
Back in 1985, our trade deficit with China was approximately 6million dollars (million with a little "m") for the entire year.
In 2012, our trade deficit with China was 315 billion dollars.  That was the largest trade deficit that one nation has had with another nation in the history of the world.
In particular, our trade with China is extremely unbalanced.  Today, U.S. consumers spend approximately 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that Chinese consumers spend on goods and services from the United States.
But isn't getting cheap stuff from China good?
No, because it costs us good paying jobs.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, the United States is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.
Overall, more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have been shut down since 2001.  During 2010, manufacturing facilities in the United States were shutting down at a rate of 23 per day.  How can anyone say that "things are getting better" when our economic infrastructure is beingabsolutely gutted?
The truth is that there are never going to be enough jobs in America ever again, because millions of our jobs are being sent overseas and millions of our jobs are being lost to technology.
You won't hear this on the news, but the percentage of the civilian labor force in the United States that is employed has been steadily declining every single year since 2006.
Younger workers have been hit particularly hard.  In 2007, the unemployment rate for the 20 to 29 age bracket was about 6.5 percent.  Today, the unemployment rate for that same age group is about 13 percent.
If you are under the age of 30 and you aren't living with your parents, there is a really good chance that you are living in poverty.  If you can believe it, U.S. families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.
Our economy has been steadily bleeding huge numbers of middle class jobs, and many of those jobs have been replaced by low paying jobs in recent years.
According to one study, 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.
And at this point, an astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.
Oh, but "things are getting better", right?
Maybe if you live on Wall Street or if you are an employee of the federal government.
But for most families this economic decline has been a total nightmare.  Median household income in America has fallen forfour consecutive years.  Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.
Sometimes people forget how good things were about a decade ago.  About three times as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as were sold in 2012.
But we like to live in denial.
In fact, a lot of families are trying to keep up their standards of living by going into tremendous amounts of debt.
Back in 1983, the bottom 95 percent of all income earners in the United States had 62 cents of debt for every dollar that they earned.  By 2007, that figure had soared to $1.48.
Fake it until you make it, right?
But how much debt can our system possibly handle?
Total home mortgage debt in the United States is now about 5 times larger than it was just 20 years ago.
Total credit card debt in the United States is now more than 8 times larger than it was just 30 years ago.
We are a nation that is completely addicted to debt, but as the financial crisis of 2008 demonstrated, all of that debt can have horrific consequences.
As the economy has slowed in recent years, the Federal Reserve has decided that "the solution" is to recklessly print money in an attempt to get the debt spiral cranked up again.
Have they gone overboard?  You be the judge...
Monetary Base 2013
And of course this won't have any affect on the value of the money that you have been saving up all these years right?
Every single dollar that you own is continually losing value...
Purchasing Power Of The Dollar
Overall, the value of the U.S. dollar has declined by more than 96 percent since the Federal Reserve was first created.
As the cost of living continues to go up and wages continue to go down, millions of American families have fallen out of the middle class and into poverty.
If you can believe it, the number of Americans on food stamps has grown from about 17 million in the year 2000 to more than47 million today.
But "things are getting better", right?
Incredibly, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless.  This is the first time that has ever happened in our history.
But "things are getting better", right?
There are now 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing.  That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.
But "things are getting better", right?
In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 55.1 percentare covered by employment-based health insurance.
But "things are getting better", right?
Today, more Americans than ever have found themselves forced to turn to the federal government for help.
Overall, the federal government runs nearly 80 different "means-tested welfare programs", and at this point more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one of them.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans live in a home that receives direct monetary benefits from the federal government.  Back in 1983, less than a third of all Americans lived in a home that received direct monetary benefits from the federal government.
So is it a good sign or a bad sign that the percentage of Americans that are financially dependent on the federal government is at an all-time high?
And in future years the number of Americans that are receiving benefits from the federal government is projected to absolutely skyrocket.
Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid, and things are about to get a whole lot worse.  It is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.
If you take a look at Medicare, things are very more sobering.
As I wrote recently, it is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.
At this point, Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  That comes to approximately $328,404 for every single household in the United States.
Are you ready to contribute your share?
Social Security is a complete and total nightmare as well.
Right now, there are approximately 56 million Americans collecting Social Security benefits.
By 2035, that number is projected to soar to an astounding 91 million.
Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.
Oh, but don't worry because "things are getting better", right?
I honestly do not know how anyone can look at the numbers above and come to the conclusion that the economy is in good shape.
We have accumulated the largest mountain of debt in the history of the world, our economic infrastructure is being gutted, we are bleeding good jobs, government dependence is at an all-time high and we are getting poorer as a nation with each passing day.
But other than that, everything is rainbows and lollipops, right?
If you want to see the economic collapse, just open up your eyes.
And if dramatic changes are not made quickly, things are going to get much, much worse from here.
Please share this article with as many people as possible.  Time is quickly running out and there are a whole lot of people out there that we need to wake up while we still can.
The Economic Collapse Is Happening

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Role Reversal: How the U.S. Became the U.S.S.R.

by Dietrich Schmitz

As an American, and over and above my advocacy for Linux, I feel obligated to share with you a major issue which I feel is vital for you to know that has not reached mainstream media.

I believe that our country is nearing the point of a serious economic downturn.  You may read the story below from former Assistant Treasury Secretary Dr. Paul Craig.

Also, please watch the video at the end of the story of an interview with Dr. Craig conducted by USAWatchDog.com.

Please share the reprint of Dr. Craig's story with your colleagues, friends and family and get the word out.

-- Dietrich


July 23, 2013

Role Reversal: How the US Became the USSR

I spent the summer of 1961 behind the Iron Curtain. I was part of the US-USSR student exchange program. It was the second year of the program that operated under auspices of the US Department of State. Our return to the West via train through East Germany was interrupted by the construction of the Berlin Wall. We were sent back to Poland. The East German rail tracks were occupied with Soviet troop and tank trains as the Red Army concentrated in East Germany to face down any Western interference. (Image credit: paulcraigroberts.org)
Fortunately, in those days there were no neoconservatives. Washington had not grown the hubris it so well displays in the 21st century. The wall was built and war was avoided. The wall backfired on the Soviets. Both JFK and Ronald Reagan used it to good propaganda effect.
In those days America stood for freedom, and the Soviet Union for oppression. Much of this impression was created by Western propaganda, but there was some semblance to the truth in the image. The communists had a Julian Assange and an Edward Snowden of their own. His name was Cardinal Jozef Mindszenty, the leader of the Hungarian Catholic Church.
Mindszenty opposed tyranny. For his efforts he was imprisoned by the Nazis. Communists also regarded him as an undesirable, and he was tortured and given a life sentence in 1949.
Freed by the short-lived Hungarian Revolution in 1956, Mindszenty reached the American Embassy in Budapest and was granted political asylum by Washington. However, the communists would not give him the free passage that asylum presumes, and Mindszenty lived in the US Embassy for 15 years, 79% of his remaining life.
In the 21st century roles have reversed. Today it is Washington that is enamored of tyranny. On Washington’s orders, the UK will not permit Julian Assange free passage to Ecuador, where he has been granted asylum. Like Cardinal Mindszenty, Assange is stuck in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London.
Washington will not permit its European vassal states to allow overflights of airliners carrying Edward Snowden to any of the countries that have offered Snowden asylum. Snowden is stuck in the Moscow airport.
In Washington politicians of both parties demand that Snowden be captured and executed. Politicians demand that Russia be punished for not violating international law, seizing Snowden, and turning him over to Washington to be tortured and executed, despite the fact that Washington has no extradition treaty with Russia.
Snowden did United States citizens a great service. He told us that despite constitutional prohibition, Washington had implemented a universal spy system intercepting every communication of every American and much of the rest of the world. Special facilities are built in which to store these communications.
In other words, Snowden did what Americans are supposed to do–disclose government crimes against the Constitution and against citizens. Without a free press there is nothing but the government’s lies. In order to protect its lies from exposure, Washington intends to exterminate all truth tellers.
The Obama Regime is the most oppressive regime ever in its prosecution of protected whistleblowers. Whistleblowers are protected by law, but the Obama Regime insists that whistleblowers are not really whistleblowers. Instead, the Obama Regime defines whistleblowers as spies, traitors, and foreign agents. Congress, the media, and the faux judiciary echo the executive branch propaganda that whistleblowers are a threat to America. It is not the government that is violating and raping the US Constitution that is a threat. It is the whistleblowers who inform us of the rape who are the threat.
The Obama Regime has destroyed press freedom. A lackey federal appeals court has ruled that NY Times reporter James Risen must testify in the trial of a CIA officer charged with providing Risen with information about CIA plots against Iran. The ruling of this fascist court destroys confidentiality and is intended to end all leaks of the government’s crimes to media.
What Americans have learned in the 21st century is that the US government lies about everything and breaks every law. Without whistleblowers, Americans will remain in the dark as “their” government enserfs them, destroying every liberty, and impoverishes them with endless wars for Washington’s and Wall Street’s hegemony.
Snowden harmed no one except the liars and traitors in the US government. Contrast Washington’s animosity against Snowden with the pardon that Bush gave to Dick Cheney aide, Libby, who took the fall for his boss for blowing the cover, a felony, on a covert CIA operative, the spouse of a former government official who exposed the Bush/Cheney/neocon lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
Whatever serves the tiny clique that rules america is legal; whatever exposes the criminals is illegal.
That’s all there is to it.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Your Privacy and How Not to be Surveilled on the Internet

by Dietrich Schmitz

Now that the dust has settled over the disclosure that the NSA has been actively engaged in a surveillance program called PRISM for several years, we can now get down to the business at hand. (Image credit: www.techinasia.com)

Namely, this post highlights some of the ways you, the general public, can exercise your right to privacy on the Internet all on your own and for free.  The discussion is limited to Desktop systems only, not Tablets and Smartphones.

Some rules apply to this discussion:

1) Don't talk about private matters in a public place
2) Don't leave your valuables in an unsecured public place, lock them away for safe-keeping
3) Provide information only on a 'need to know' basis

If those rules seem obvious, it's because that's how you conduct yourself in the physical real world.  And, it's no different on the Internet.  That is common sense really when you think about it.

On-line Storage

Kim Dot Com and the MegaUpload ISP seizure by the U.S. government is a blazing roadside neon sign from which we can all learn.  It's an incomplete yet to be told story about how people used this site for storage of their personal things but turned into an International scandal when corporate entities assisted by the government brought pressure to bear with a website take down.  The whole issue of what happened and how it was handled is still unclear, but it is nonetheless emblematic of what potentially can happen if such a take down occurs and results in interrupted service for all ISP tenants, irrespective of whether they were negligent in any way.

It also points to the question of 'how' data is stored on Cloud ISPs.  Is the ISP doing anything to protect your data?  If so, what?  Those questions should be answered before storing any sensitive data in the Cloud.

In fact, MegaUpload did nothing to protect its customers' data.  As a result, the majority of tenants were held hostage to a takedown because of a few who used the site for illegal file sharing.

So what should you be looking for?  If you really have sensitive personal data then take the same precaution as you would in the real-world -- keep it locked away and don't give the key to anyone.

In the real world that is fairly easy to accomplish.  That's why we have a burgeoning business with locksmiths and safe manufacturers and such to maintain privacy.

As for the Internet, well, essentially the only way to guarantee your privacy is by employing encryption. That's it my Friends.  Encryption.  And, the only 100% fool-proof way to do defeat access thereto is with what is called Zero Knowledge Encryption (ZK).

Effectively, ZK encryption encrypts your data store at an ISP but only you have the private key to unlock the data. (Image credit: www.spideroak.com)

ZK cleans up a heretofore otherwise 'messy' relationship between the lessor of Cloud storage drive space and lessee who stores data in it for free or an agreed to periodic subscription fee.  As a direct side effect and benefit of using ZK technology, the lessor then has zero knowledge of what the lessee is storing.  Had this been the case with Kim Dot Com and MegaUpload, Kim could have asserted 'plausible deniability'.  In so doing, neither the RIAA nor the MPAA would have had reasonable and justifiable cause to legally challenge MegaUpload, as the ISP could irrefutably claim to possess no knowledge of what the lessee is storing.  Thus, commercial and governmental third-parties would have no choice but to come directly to the lessee to question how that space is being used and would be put in the position to present specific details for their inquiry directly related to suspicion of wrong doing and demonstrating probable cause for granting any search warrant.

Currently, the U.S. Patriot Act has a provision called a demand National Security Letter which allows U.S. governmental access to any ISP to obtain a copy of any account holder's private data and it legally restrains the ISP from communicating in any form that the event occurred to anyone.  Microsoft, Google and civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, are petitioning that such represents a violation of our constitution's First Amendment rights with the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court which oversees provisions of the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.

So, you can plainly see why it is coming to this.  Encryption.  Use it to protect your privacy.

Start looking for an ISP that offers Zero Knowledge, such as SpiderOak and Wuala.  Any other form of encryption in the Cloud is unacceptable.

(There are 'unofficial' rumors that Google is beginning to roll out encryption for their Google Drive storage.  If it is anything but ZK, don't use it for your personal data.)

Browsing the Internet

If you want to keep your Internet browsing habits truly private, deleting cookies, and setting the user agent string to 'DO NOT TRACK' are useless.  It's entirely up to the ISP to 'respect' the latter so don't rely upon it.

The best way to do anonymous surfing is by using a VPN proxy service.  Essentially, this service sets up the VPN service as a proxy connection encrypted tunnel between you and their end point.  The ip address given to you going out of the VPN's end point to the Internet is then randomized so that there is no relationship to your actual ip address and a translation mapping brings back all browsing over the VPN to you transparently.  Some VPNs are free, others will require a subscription fee payable monthly or yearly, such as vpnproxy, for example.

SocialNets and Chat

Being 'social' is the latest rage, of course, and the need to stay in touch with Friends encourages use of devices to text and chat.  Currently, Facebook and Google Plus use the open source standard Jabber/XMPP protocol.  By default, your chat log is stored in a central server.  And, Google very recently announced they will be phasing out Google Talk (the XMPP component) in favor of their own 'Hangout' proprietary protocol.

There is more than one way to keep your chat's fully private.  With Google's Hangout on Google Plus, you can explicitly set, for example, your chat as 'off the record' and there will be no persistent logging of your chat sessions.  Even then, if a third-party (cough PRISM) chooses to bridge your stream (aka 'Man in the Middle') they can eavesdrop on your voice, video, and text streams.

For the ultra-paranoid, currently there are a few solutions.  One is to use Pidgin with their 'Off the Record' (OTR) plugin, a name borrowed from the well-known cryptographic protocol of the same name.  This effectively allows taking any stream (AIM, Facebook, G+, etc.) and setting up an encrypted tunnel between you and the other person with whom you are communicating.

Another option is to install the Cryptocat plugin for Chrome or Firefox.  Cryptocat also uses the OTR cryptographic protocol for private messaging.

Otherwise, yet another alternative is to avoid using any of the standard messaging protocols in favor of a P2P decentralized encrypted connection via RetroShare.  I've written several stories regarding the importance of RetroShare.  Retroshare, being on its own P2P closed loop, has it's own secure messaging chat software.


Email by default is clear text and if you use it to communicate it can be read along the path of mail transfer agents to its destination recipient.  And, in the case of Gmail, that email along with everything else on Drive is all unencrypted.  That means all of your data can be read by third-parties.

Encryption solutions include using GnuPG or PGP encryption.  The problem with methods like GPG encryption is that, while free, most software application implementations are not user-friendly and, as such, difficult to use by the general public.  Commercial solutions include Symantec Encryption Solutions and Phil Zimmerman's newest Silent Circle, and are both viable options to consider. (Image credit: www.philzimmerman.com)

One other realistic alternative is to use RetroShare's email.  Essentially, Retroshare's 2048-bit RSA encrypted F2F channels are totally encapsulated on a 'closed loop' away from the world wide web's non-encrypted email system.  As such, RetroShare email is guaranteed to be strictly private and devoid of any spam.


If you want to employ tools which offer guaranteed pure privacy, then your list of choices is only a few.  I'll save you some trouble -- the technology used is called DarkNet and, while it does sound subversive, it, however, represents the only form of software technology which is  100% 'effective' in combating Internet snooping of any kind.  Not all darknets are alike and I would encourage you to only consider RetroShare's product.  If you want to fully lock down your RetroShare environment, you are only a few click settings away from running in pure stealth darknet mode.  You need not feel embarrassed in employing this tool -- it is the NSA who should be ashamed of their activities, spying on Americans without the use of the traditional and appropriate procedural Judiciary search warrant oversight process, which provides constitutional checks and balances on the potential for abuse of authority.

RetroShare offers currently the best reference design for what should be integrated into all computer desktop GUIs.  We accept the need for integrated Office Automation tools and soon privacy-mandated applications will find their way onto the Desktop as part of a standard default deployment of operating system software.

RetroShare is written in C/C++ using the advanced Qt gui framework and is currently available for Windows, Linux, OSX, and BSD machines.

Be safe.

-- Dietrich

Enhanced by Zemanta