Not scared of algorithms? Perhaps you should be.

August 27, 2015 Comments Off on Not scared of algorithms? Perhaps you should be.

A while back, I wrote about a run-in I had with a rental car company, or to put it more accurately: a rental car company’s algorithm. It’s quite frightening to think about the implications of “lights-out” algorithms making important decisions that can affect all aspects of your life. And as someone who witnesses – first hand – the often abysmal job that enterprises do when testing their APIs (which frequently have algorithms running beneath the covers), I’m particularly concerned about what this will spell for the future.

If you’d like to learn more about these possible repercussions, check out the extremely well written article by Frank Pasquale on aeon.co.

Cyberspace is no longer an escape from the ‘real world’. It is now a force governing it via algorithms: recipe-like sets of instructions to solve problems. From Google search to OkCupid matchmaking, software orders and weights hundreds of variables into clean, simple interfaces, taking us from query to solution. Complex mathematics govern such answers, but it is hidden from plain view, thanks either to secrecy imposed by law, or to complexity outsiders cannot unravel.

If you’d like to read more of my posts about Big Data, click here.

Excellent article on laptop encryption

April 28, 2015 Comments Off on Excellent article on laptop encryption

Did you know that you have very few privacy rights when you cross a border (into the US or anywhere else in the world, for that matter)? I blogged about the dangers of bringing a laptop through customs a while back. Naturally, it’s a good idea to remove any sensitive information from your laptop, especially when you’re traveling. For those situations that require you to keep important data on a computer that’s at risk of being inspected (or stolen), full-disk encryption can be a lifesaver.

Operating system vendors have been doing a great job at strengthening their products, so there’s really no excuse not to take advantage of encryption. Here’s a link to an excellent article from Micah Lee on The Intercept that explains how to do this on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers.

intercept

With step-by-step instructions, it’s one of the best written tutorials I’ve seen about this topic. It’s well worth your time to make the effort, but remember: don’t lose your password!

Last day to tell the FCC you support an open Internet

July 15, 2014 Comments Off on Last day to tell the FCC you support an open Internet

Eight hours to go. That’s how long we have to get pro-Net Neutrality comments submitted to the FCC in front of their first comment period deadline — and save the Internet.

Let’s make our power clear, by submitting more comments than the FCC’s ever seen before.

Click here to visit our brand new website and send the FCC a formal comment demanding support for Net Neutrality. It’ll only take a minute:

https://www.battleforthenet.com

We’re in a battle to for the Internet as we know it. Net Neutrality guarantees all websites — start-ups, blogs, independent media — an even playing field. It’s essentially the First Amendment of the Internet.

But the cable companies want to gut Net Neutrality to increase their profits: Without Net Neutrality, those corporations can kill websites by relegating them to slow lanes if they don’t pay fees — or if they just don’t like the content they contain.

Many of you have already signed petitions to the FCC or President Obama — and so have literally millions of others. That’s incredible — and it’s had a huge impact. But now we all need to go one step further and submit formal comments into the FCC’s Net Neutrality proceeding.

It’s really quick and easy, and carries way more weight than the usual petition signature does. You’ll be a formal part of the process.

Click here to submit a formal comment to the FCC before the end of this comment period — it’s over TOMORROW:

https://www.battleforthenet.com

Originally the FCC was poised to undermine Net Neutrality all together. Because we all pushed back, now they’re considering adopting rules that would save it.

But they’ll only do so if we speak out again, even louder.

We can make a huge statement: We have a chance of submitting more comments than the FCC has ever received on an issue before.

The cable companies have millions of dollars and armies of lobbyists and public relations firms — and since they own so much of the communications infrastructure, it’s especially easy for them to push their propaganda.

But we have millions of people on our side — and our only chance of beating the cable companies is if we all take a stand, together.

Click here to visit our brand new website and send the FCC a formal comment demanding support for Net Neutrality. It’ll only take a minute:

https://www.battleforthenet.com

Thanks!

Big Data security and privacy risk podcast

October 1, 2013 Comments Off on Big Data security and privacy risk podcast

I recently participated in a podcast sponsored by Edward Haletky at The Virtualization Practice.

My co-panelists (Edward, Iben Rodriguez @iben, Mike Foley @mikefoley) and I discussed many aspects of the inherent security and privacy risks that enterprises and the general public alike are encountering with Big Data. You can find a recording of the podcast here.

10 simple things you can do to strengthen your online privacy

June 13, 2013 Comments Off on 10 simple things you can do to strengthen your online privacy

It’s been a very disheartening couple of weeks for people concerned with protecting personal information. From the US Supreme Court’s ruling about routine DNA collection to the ongoing revelations about the NSA Prism program, it’s easy to feel helpless in the face of such massive data collection. And while the amount of surveillance – from governments, corporations, and even nosy individuals – is likely to increase, there are a few basic things you can do to help safeguard your data from others.

  1. Reduce your activity on social networks. Did you know that banks routinely check out your FaceBook profile? And now the IRS has joined the party.
  2. Encrypt important files. TrueCrypt is an excellent choice for this essential task.
  3. Use a secure search engine. Google is very clear about how it stores your search history. If this bothers you, take a look at DuckDuckGo and ixquick.
  4. Use a more secure browser. Chrome is a good choice, but there are additional offerings out there. You can expect this market to heat up in the wake of all these snooping disclosures.
  5. Clear your browser cookies regularly. Many web sites inspect these cookies to get a much better idea of your browsing history.
  6. Use TOR or a VPN. These options both offer greatly improved communication security. TOR is easy to set up and use, too.
  7. Create multiple email addresses. There’s no reason to route everything through a single address. Instead, consider setting up different accounts at various providers.
  8. Put your phone in airplane mode when you’re not using it. Your phone constantly transmits details about your location back to your service provider. If you’re not actively using it, why broadcast that information?
  9. Pay cash. Do you really need to charge that burger?
  10. Be stingy with what you share. It may sound anachronistic in this age of updating FaceBook with every trivial aspect of life, but consider simply entering less data about yourself online. For example, there’s no reason for you to provide an e-commerce site with your home, work, and mobile phone numbers.

I’ll be adding more tips to the list, so if this topic interests you be sure to check back here from time to time or follow me on Twitter at @RD_Schneider.

Data never really disappears, particularly when it’s supposed to

May 9, 2013 Comments Off on Data never really disappears, particularly when it’s supposed to

If you have a teenage son or daughter, you may be familiar with an app called ‘Snapchat’. Its claim to fame – that is, until earlier today – is that it deletes all messages (text, photo, or otherwise) within a few seconds, thus keeping sensitive information safe from the prying eyes of parents, police, marketers, and all sorts of other nefarious characters.

But lo and behold, as it turns out, Snapchat actually doesn’t delete the data after all. Instead, it’s simply moved to a hidden directory, where with proper time and tooling, it can be recovered. You can read all about it here.

Whether or not you’re prone to sharing too much information, the takeaway from this little debacle is that data never really goes away, especially once a smartphone gets involved – not to mention the cloud. Keep that in mind the next time you’re tempted to use technology to record, say, or write something that you don’t want anyone else to see or hear. 

Speaking about enhanced security capabilities for Hadoop

February 11, 2013 § 1 Comment

I’m looking forward to my speaking engagement at the Conference on Big Data Security this July in Boston. I’ll be talking about how to keep your Hadoop environment safe and secure. In particular, I’ll be discussing:

  • The key diverse technologies contained within a typical Hadoop environment
  • Current and trending security risks characteristic in Hadoop implementations
  • Setting and attaining realistic goals
  • Contrasting open-source vs. proprietary Hadoop security tools
  • Protecting your Hadoop landscape through controlled access
  • Inherent differences safeguarding data-at-rest vs. defending data while in motion

I hope you can join me there – it should be a very interesting conference.

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