When I first launched this blog in 2008, the world was a much different place. That may sound like an old cliché, but I stand by that statement. Think for a moment about where we were; Obama was poised to become POTUS for his first term, American Idol was in its seventh season, most of us failed to understand the true meaning of the term “sub-prime lending,” and the iPhone was only just beginning its global dominance of the mobile device market.
Fast-forward nearly nine years and technology has all but taken over. Our entire existence is digital, from shopping and banking, to navigation and entertainment, we manage every aspect of our day-to-day lives with technology. Thanks to the ubiquity of hand held devices, all manner of Internet connected gadgets (the “Internet of Things”), and the ability to connect from virtually anywhere, we have become completely dependent on technology for almost everything.
And this dependency comes with a price—our privacy.
As a Cybersecurity professional I know, arguably better than most, just how exposed we are while performing routine tasks in a world where an online presence has become not only commonplace, but a necessity. It is unfortunate, but most Internet-connected businesses are tracking our every online move, attempting to glean every last drop of our digital habits for their own gain. And, let’s not forget an ever growing number of evil-doers who would seek to profit by stealing our private information and selling it the highest bidder.
Furthermore, there are those in the government that would like to infringe on that privacy as well. Some would seek to limit our Constitutional right to free speech. Still others would have you believe that in order to fight terrorism, we should give up more of our own freedom—especially when it comes to technology, by allowing the government to limit encryption methods, or force tech companies to install “digital back-doors” that would allow easier spying by law enforcement.
Add to this the current political climate, where nation state hacking has become a very real and present danger, possibly even aided and abetted by the incoming administration. The same administration that would seek to limit freedom of the press, and curtail other forms of free speech in order to preserve the illusion of its political prowess.
The online world has become a hostile place, and it is likely to get worse before it gets better.
I found myself thinking about my old blog again, within this new context. What if I attempted to provide some timely and useful information that people may want and need to protect themselves in these increasingly unfriendly times? I began to feel compelled to share my own knowledge and experience to provide some helpful guidance and advice for others to use.
So, I’ve decided to start blogging again with a new purpose. I’ll be writing instructional posts aimed at providing the average (read: non-cyberprofessional) person with the tools and knowledge they need to stay safe, and maintain their privacy, in this increasingly hostile world. We’ll start with the basics; the things that everyone should do to protect themselves from everyday threats like malware and online tracking, using and managing strong passwords, or configuring two-factor authentication (2FA) for commonly used web sites. Then we will move on to more advanced things like sending and receiving encrypted communications, and anonymous browsing using the TOR network.
I’ll also be growing a list of relevant links in the blogroll for easy reference. Here you’ll find shortcuts to privacy information, detailed instructions for security tools, and other topics you may find helpful.
I hope you will find this information useful. Of course, whether you choose to implement the protections I propose is entirely your choice—as it should be. But, if you are worried about your decreasing privacy and feel like you have lost control of your digital life, my mission is to provide you with some tools to help you take back control.