Privacy and digital security is a personal responsibility. It can’t be anything else

17 July 2020 by Steve Blum
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Gagged by privacy

Three unrelated stories that broke within 24 hours demonstrate why digital security is a personal responsibility, and how blindly trusting third parties – individuals or private companies or governments – to look after your best interests is no solution:

  • The European Court of Justice nixed a data sharing safe harbor deal between the European Union and the U.S., pointing out in its decision that “the requirements of US national security, public interest and law enforcement have primacy”, which makes any promises of privacy meaningless.

Video downloads and all kinds of uploads driving Internet bandwidth demand

3 November 2018 by Steve Blum
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Video accounts for 58% of Internet traffic worldwide, according to a new report by Sandvine, an Internet technology and research company based in Waterloo, Ontario.

Netflix accounts for nearly one-fifth of all the user download traffic in the Americas – more than any other company or protocol category – and five percent of all user upstream traffic. That makes it the number one bandwidth demand driver in this hemisphere. Netflix is in third place on the user upload side, behind raw video – surveillance cameras, for example – and bit torrent.… More

Mobile OS security gains strength as a selling proposition

4 December 2016 by Steve Blum
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They mind their own business.

A reason for Sailfish’s existence, and perhaps even for the $12 million investment it received earlier this year is becoming clearer. It’s an alternative mobile operating system – a competitor to Android and iOS – that arose from the ashes of Nokia’s MeeGo operating system, which was scrapped when Microsoft bought the company.

But it didn’t buy everything and the Finnish engineers who stayed behind started a new company, Jolla, and kept working on it.… More

Speech-licensing regime for digital world challenged in court

27 August 2016 by Steve Blum
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You have the right to a lobbyist. If you cannot afford one, you’re screwed.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation launched a constitutional challenge to a federal law that criminalises what you do with digital media and devices that you think you own. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act outlawed nearly anything anyone does that circumvents restrictions on DVDs you buy, mobile phones you own and pretty much anything that involves digital intellectual property. The language is so broad that it can turn millions of unwitting people into criminals every day.… More

Niche computer maker Purism turns lack of trust into a selling proposition

12 June 2016 by Steve Blum
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Simple security comes at a cost.

If you want to know what every bit on your computer is doing, I mean really know, then you’re the kind of customer that Purism has in mind. The South San Francisco company makes a range of Linux-based laptops and tablets with 100% open source software not-quite-preinstalled. That includes applications of course, but also device drivers, the boot system and everything else.

Not-quite-preinstalled means that the device comes with all the software and a totally naked hard drive.… More

Blackberry shares the big one with the cops

17 April 2016 by Steve Blum
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Blackberry’s sole remaining selling proposition – security – has gone up in smoke with the revelation that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has the master key to decrypt messages on consumer phones. Investigative stories by Vice and Motherboard document how the Mounties read encrypted messages, and leave little doubt that it was with the company’s active assistance

Neither the RCMP, nor BlackBerry ever confirmed where the global key actually came from and the documents shed little light on the matter.


Backdoor to encrypted data required in proposed bill

15 April 2016 by Steve Blum
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California’s senior U.S. senator wants software, hardware and telecoms companies, and pretty much everyone else in the high tech universe to keep a master key to their encrypted products and services. And turn the key anytime a court tells them to do so. The draft of a bill by senators Diane Feinstein (D – California) and Richard Burr (R – North Carolina) says…

A covered entity that receives a court order from a government for information or data shall— (A) provide such information or data to such government in an intelligible format; or (B) provide such technical assistance as is necessary to obtain such information or data in an intelligible format or to achieve the purpose of the court order.