Security in Tech and Life

So much has been written lately about security and privacy, particularly because of the Apple vs. FBI feud. It scares me that so many people with the potential to influence the final outcome don't seem to understand the technical issues, nor the long term implications. The same technology that protects my family and me also protects the US President and any Americans overseas in scary countries without many civil liberty protections. 

Blake Ross' excellent wise-guy summary gives some great real world examples of security that everyone can understand, but also does a great job of giving a cliff notes overview of why building secure software is so difficult. Also, I had somehow never known the details of how they secure airplanes now:

 "For as much money and time as we’ve wasted on printer-powered air security, only one innovation has prevented another 9/11: Locked, reinforced cockpit doors. These doors can withstand gunfire and even small grenades.

But sometimes, 6 hours into a Cancun flight, 3 helpings into Delta’s Cargo-Class Seafood, a pilot needs to deposit a few small grenades of his own. So there’s a handshake protocol:

  1. When the pooping pilot wants to reenter the cockpit, he calls the flying pilot on the intercom to buzz him in.
  2. If there’s no answer, the outside pilot enters an emergency keycode. If the flying pilot doesn’t deny the request within 30 seconds, the door unlocks.
  3. The flying pilot can flip a switch to disable the emergency keypad for 5 to 20 minutes (repeatedly)."



Secure your digital life, now!!

What do Google, Amazon, and Apple have in common?  Well, they are probably the three companies I use the most in my day to day digital life these days and chances are the same for you.  But they are also the way that hackers were able to break into someone's iphone, ipad, macbook, twitter account, and gmail account within about 30 minutes, permanently deleting and destroying almost 9 years of a Wired writer's digital life (including the entire collection of photographs of the first year of his child's life).   What can be learned here to prevent this from happening to you? 1.  Setup 2-factor authentication on your gmail account.  Yes, it is a royal pain in the ass.  But you have too much to lose if your email account is hacked (I can only guess you have credit card #'s, SSN's, home addresses, passwords, etc. buried in your emails).  I'd suggest the same for Facebook.

2.  Shut off "Find My Mac" as it seems particularly dangerous and unsecure

3.  use different passwords for different accounts (especially the important ones).  I cheat here and use slightly different variations of the same core passwords which should protect most

4.  backup your files OFFLINE.  Cloud storage and backup is convenient, but at least once a month back everything up that you would not want to lose (think pictures) to a DVD or external hard drive that no hacker can get access to

5.  Spread the news about this, it's the only way that companies like Amazon and Apple (particularly guilty here) will change their policies.  A particular pet peeve of mine is the "security questions" needed to reset passwords, many of which companies give you no options for and are things that can easily be discovered via a web search.  We need to force companies to do better, there is too much at stake

Here is the original post from the wired writer for the complete story