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A Podcast on Computer Security & Privacy for Non-Techies

A Podcast on Computer Security & Privacy for Non-Techies
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A Podcast on Computer Security & Privacy for Non-Techies




Data vs. Democracy (Part 1)

They say we are in the Information Age and that data is the new oil. But many (including my guest, Kris Shaffer) are saying that was is truly valuable today is attention, not information. Information is so plentiful now that it almost has no value. And because just about everything on the internet is free, we're paying for it with our attention. Marketers have gone to great lengths to study human behavior and they know exactly how to get and keep our attention. Unfortunately, these...


The Rise of Browser Fingerprinting

Marketing companies have come up with may clever ways to track our travels around the web, hoping to garner as much information about us as they can. At the same time, privacy-conscious organizations have given us tools to maintain our anonymity by countering these tracking technologies. It's the usual arms race - one that privacy advocates were mostly winning, with VPN's, blocking third party cookies, and privacy-enhancing browser plugins. But now we're faced with the nuclear option:...


Preventing & Mitigating Identity Theft

How are our identities stolen? What happens to our identity information after its been stolen? Once we realize we've been hacked, what can we do to mitigate the damage and recover from the consequences? I'll discuss this and much more with Amyn Gilani from 4iQ - including why you shouldn't be participating in all those fun social media quizzes. Amyn Gilani leads strategy and product at 4iQ. Previously, he was a Chief Technologist at Booz Allen Hamilton where he provided expertise to federal...


Dropping Dropbox

I've been a Dropbox user for many, many years. But recently, they've gotten really pushy - trying to get me to save all my photos and docs there, integrating with MS Office when I didn't ask it to, and pushing me to upgrade. Now it tells me I need to deactivate all but three devices (I have probably 7-8). I've been looking for a secure and (more importantly) private alternative for a while now, and this pushed me to move. Today I'll compare several cloud sync services and tell you why I...


Risky Business (Part 2)

You've got ransomware! Now what? If you had the foresight to create safe backups, you can restore your data and move on. Sometimes the hackers screw up and you can actually recover your files directly without paying for the key. But in many cases, you have no real choice but to pay. Cyber insurance can not only help you cover those costs, but insurers can deal directly with the hackers for you and help you with the restoration process. Joshua Motta is the CEO and Co-founder of Coalition, the...


Risky Business (Part 1)

As our world becomes increasingly technical and interconnected, we become more susceptible to technical misfortunes and feel more impact when they inevitably occur. In the first half of my interview with Joshua Motta, we'll talk about the recent rise in ransomware attacks: how people and companies get infected, what we know about the hackers, and why ransomware is such an effective and debilitating attack. Joshua will even explain how ransomware has become a cottage industry unto itself....


Don’t Forget to Wipe Your Data

What happens to all the files, photos, songs and other data on your devices when you resell them or throw them away? Well, if you don't do anything, all that data is still there, waiting for someone else to access it. A recent study showed that 60% of used hard drives still had accessible data on them. Today I'll tell you how to properly wipe the data from your smartphones and computers before you get rid of them. And there were a lot of other news items this week, including severe bugs in...


Not Just a Face in the Crowd (Part 2)

So what happens when your face print (or any biometric info) is stolen from a server? You can't change your face like you can change your password. Is there anything you can do to avoid your face being scanned or prevent your face from being recognized? What can you do right now to halt the use of facial recognition technologies while we sort out all the social implications? The answers to these questions and more in the second half of my interview with EPIC's Jeramie Scott! Jeramie Scott is...


Not Just a Face in the Crowd (Part 1)

Use of facial recognition technology (FRT) is exploding around the globe. While touted as a convenience for checking in for a flight or crossing the border, the opportunities for abuse are staggering. People act differently when they feel they're being watched. There's a reason we have sayings like "dance like no one is watching". But US agencies like TSA and CBP have gained access to treasure troves of faces from DMV and passport databases, without ever asking our permission, and they're...


Google’s Not-So-Private Sandbox

No doubt sensing the impending US privacy regulations, Google has released a plan to "enhance" user privacy... by finding different ways to track you. Instead of relying on cookies and fingerprinting, Google proposes that we just come out in the open and formalize tracking technologies. While that could give users more transparency and a modicum of control, the bottom line is that Google is really just trying desperately to save its business model (ads based on tracking). While there are...


Ring’s Orwellian Doorbell

Today we speak with EFF's Matthew Guariglia about the creepy new partnership between Amazon's Ring Doorbell division and local law enforcement. Recent disclosures reveal that Amazon has partnered with over 400 police agencies to market their product and share surveillance footage. While these footage requests can supposedly be refused by the Ring owners, there appear to be circumstances where Amazon will provide footage without consent. The marketing of Ring has changed from convenience to...


Choosing a VPN Provider

Evaluating VPN providers on privacy is really, really hard. Even if you read all their privacy claims, how do you know if they're telling the truth? I've read many reviews on many sites, but the recent review from The Wirecutter is the most comprehensive and helpful review I've ever come across. It focused first and foremost on privacy - something many other reviews fail to do, instead focusing on more readily verifiable aspects like speed, number of servers, and cost. In recent years, some...


The Great Cellular Sellout (Part 2)

In the second half of my interview with EFF's Aaron Mackey, we'll discuss why our federal agencies are not enforcing the laws already on the books that should be protecting your privacy, the real implications of tracking someone's location, other ways in which we're tracked, and how you - as a consumer and citizen - can best defend yourself and advocate for better enforcement and protections. Aaron Mackey works on free speech, privacy, government surveillance and transparency. Before...


The Great Cellular Sellout (Part 1)

In January 2019, Motherboard broke a story about how cellular providers were allowing your location information to be sold to several third parties, effectively allowing anyone to buy the real-time location of any cell phone. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has brought a suit against AT&T and others, claiming that this practice broke several state and federal laws. Today in part one of my interview with the EFF's Aaron Mackey, we'll discuss this case and why our location data can expose...


The Tyranny of the Default

Marketing firms love to tell us that we control our privacy - you simply need to opt out of tracking! Like Dorothy, we've had the power all along. Just click your heels three times and uncheck all those pesky tracking options under Settings... somewhere. Which, statistically speaking, no one ever does. It's the Tyranny of the Default. I'll discuss why it's so hard. (Spoiler alert, it's on purpose.) Also in today's show: Apple massively expands its bug bounty program; several "air gapped" US...


The Great Hack

In today's show, I'll discuss the Capitol One hack that affected over 100 million card users and applicants. I'll also cover the latest in the backlash against Apple, Google and Amazon over humans listening in on your private digital assistant voice recordings. The Ring doorbell, whose parent company was bought by Amazon, is quickly becoming a darling of local law enforcement agencies due to its ability to share surveillance footage. School districts are being hit with ransomware and being...


Get Your Equifax Settlement

Two years after the massive Equifax breach, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reached a tentative settlement that will purportedly provide some restitution to the 148 million Americans who whose data was leaked. Unfortunately, there are lots of little devils in the details - not to mention the this settlement has yet to be approved. However, you can (and probably should) go ahead and submit your claim. I'll give you all the details and tell you how do it. In other news, Firefox is...


Privacy in a Box (Part 2)

In the second half of my interview with Winston Privacy CEO Richard Stokes, we talk about why your data is so valuable to advertisers and what you can do to limit all this tracking. In particular, we'll discuss the Winston box which acts as a sort of force field around your home network, preventing all your "smart" and "internet of things" devices from reporting on your every move. Richard is the CEO and founder of Winston Privacy. Previously, he was the founder of, one of the...


Privacy in a Box (Part 1)

Protecting your privacy today is hard. It's really hard. It's too hard. Every 'smart' device you own is tattling on you, constantly, to dozens of companies. Your phone, your tablet, your PC, your TV, your streaming box, your DVR, your smart thermostat, your internet-connected medical devices... The list goes on and it gets longer every day. What if you could not only see all these illicit communications but also block them all, in one feel swoop? In part one of my interview with Richard...


Big Brother 2.0

The US government is once again looking to break or hobble encrypted communications in the name of national security and law enforcement. They claim that we're "going dark" - that modern end-to-end encryption used in apps like Signal and Wickr that protect user privacy are preventing them from keeping us safe and bringing the bad guys to justice. Cryptographers and technology companies have soundly squashed the idea of putting "backdoors" in these systems that supposedly only the "good guys"...