Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Privacy in 2023

On the one hand, there really is no such thing as 100% digital privacy anymore, mostly because anything that you do digitally can be hacked by someone, or the government, or inadvertently by yourself.  A couple of interesting examples from a real-crime TV show series include the guy who told his friend he murdered someone, the friend (rightly) went to the police, then as often happens, the police had the friend call the guy up to try to get him to confess to the crime while being recorded.  The murderer told his friend that phone lines weren't secure so he should download the Signal app where they could communicate freely.  The friend downloaded the signal app and the murderer did talk freely about the murder not knowing that everything he said was being recorded by the police while the friend was using the signal app in the presence of the police.

In another case, a teenager murdered his mother.  The teen told the police his mother went to take a nap then he went to take a nap and when he woke up he found his mother dead.  Unfortunately for the teen, every single thing he did on his phone was accessible to the police.  It showed that the kid was using his phone almost the entire time, looked up how to hide a body, and when the police saw that the in-home surveillance camera system was missing, the cell phone showed a path, within inches, of the kid walking to a specific point by the lake, taking a moment, then turning around and going back to the house.  Needless to say, the surveillance system was found in the lake right where the location information on the cell phone said it would be...and it showed the kid murdering his mother.  The moral of these stories: everyone leaves a digital footprint these days that can be trapped, tracked, and if needed, used against them immediately or at a later date.

Many people think that since they aren't criminals and always follow the law, they don't need to worry about privacy but nothing could be further than the truth as covered in this video.  While total privacy is probably a foregone idea, there are many things you can do to give yourself a bit of privacy even if you don't really need it.  Consider: 

  • Pay for as many things in cash as possible.
  • Use a deGoogled phone (Rob Braxman and Side of Burritos on YouTube cover this topic thoroughly).
  • Use Linux on your laptop instead of Windows or the Apple OS.
  • Do not use unnecessary apps on your cell phone.  Period tracking apps for women in states that outlaw abortion are an obvious conflict when it comes to privacy.
  • Everything you post on social media can be found and used against you.  See any contentious person who goes viral in the media these days and you will see copies of their tweets and Facebook posts from years ago resurrected to add fuel to the proverbial firestorm they are currently experiencing.
  • Scrub metadata from pictures and emails.  One guy who was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was pretty freaked out when fans used his social media posts and location data on pictures to find him on the trail.  While these people had no ill intent, the guy was weirded out and if, for example, someone wanted to murder him, he would have been a sitting duck without even knowing it.
  • There's literally no end to the ways that AI (artificial intelligence) will be used with your digital data in the future.  Currently it is used to make deep fake funny videos but it can also be used to make compelling, yet totally untrue, evidence against a person in a criminal trial too.
  • Additional privacy can be had by using a private email, a VPN, Brave browser, TOR browser, cryptocurrency, etc.  The caveat, however, is that technology changes so quickly that a secure service today may be hacked tomorrow and you could be screwed (see also the LastPass mess). 
  • The tldr for this topic: be careful of everything you do digitally, take reasonable precautions to make your online activities secure, change your passwords regularly, consider old fashioned entertainment options instead of being online 24/7, and check out the YouTube tech channels on the sidebar that deal with this topic.

1 comment:

  1. I save a lot of your posts as they're so incredibly helpful in preventing me from becoming too complacent. Thank you!