Safe Data Keeping

Do you use your computer for everyday tasks such as banking and shopping?  If so, then you should definitely make sure that you are following computer security best practices.  Malware and hackers are everywhere, and with the proliferation of online business and banking it has never before been more profitable to be an online data thief.  Not only that, but hackers are getting more and more advanced in methods to steal your passwords and other useful information.  No longer is it just enough to run the free version of Norton and get away with it.  You have to truly invest in not only some good security software but you should also ensure that you are following some rules in terms of other safe habits as well.

Ensure You Back Up Your Data

Since the most destructive malware programs involve “ransomware” that hijacks all of your data and locks it up behind unbreakable encryption.  If you have recently backed up your data, then you won’t even have to worry – you can just format your computer and start fresh.  However, if you don’t have a backup, then it’s time to worry.  Unless you have the key (which you would have to pay a ransom for) then you might be out of luck completely.

Besides defending yourself from data deletion and corruption, backing up your data will also protect you from loss or just the simple failure of the components on your computer.  Although solid state drives aren’t known to break as much as old style hard drives, it is still a possibility that your computer will suffer damage and you will lose data.

Employ the Use Of Protection Software

“Use protection!” If you are doing any sort of sensitive stuff on your computer like banking or shopping and using your financial information, then you want to make sure that you are running the latest version of a reputable antivirus AND antimalware software.  These are two parts of a well crafted defense against the dark arts of all the bad stuff that’s floating around out there.  I highly recommend getting a program with active defense against internet browser attacks as well as redirects and drive by installations.  I highly recommend Malwarebytes.  Sometimes people ask me whether or not Malwarebytes premium is worth it, however I answer that with a resounding yes.  It has protected me from lots of would-be attacks.

Always Update Your Software

If you’re not allowing your software to automatically update itself to the latest released versions then you are missing a huge aspect of online security.  These updates are usually aimed at repairing security holes that hackers like to exploit.  If you aren’t updated then you are vulnerable to attacks.

I highly recommend that you enable automatic updates because let’s face it, nobody remembers to update their computer software.

Avoid Bad Internet Neighborhoods

When browsing, avoid adult, gambling, and hacking sites.  These are known bad areas and you increase your chances of attack by quite a bit if you surf these sites.

In closing I hope these tips help you have a safer computer experience.  It’s a wild world out there and hackers want to exploit everything.

Government Tech And FOIA

If you think that the government is following correct procedure in terms of disseminating information in appropriate manners, think again.  There is a lot of talk on how the government was covering up the militarization of the space program from the 40’s to the Cold War and how FOIA was used:

Twenty-eight of the papers that failed the security review were presented in sessions whose attendance was restricted to three categories of people: U.S. government employees; U.S. citizens, Canadian citizens, or permanent residents in the United States, all of whom had to show proof of their citizenship or immigration status; and citizens of allied countries who could produce a letter from their embassies certifying their citizenship and approving their attendance at the meeting. All attendees signed a statement acknowledging that the information contained in the papers comes under the export control laws and that it cannot be freely disseminated.

This use of an exemption to the Freedom of Information Act to shift papers into restricted sessions is viewed with apprehension in some quarters because it may be used as a precedent for imposing restrictions on unclassified scientific papers. “The SPIE incident sends several distressing signals,” says Rosemary Chalk, executive director of the Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility of the AAAS. “The imposition of export controls on papers scheduled for presentation in open sessions represents a significant broadening of government controls beyond the normal sphere of classified research,” she argues.

Allan Adler of the American Civil Liberties Union questions the legality of applying Freedom of Information exemptions in a situation for which they were never intended. Moreover, he argues that the new regulations themselves represent a worrisome extension of Defense Department authority over information that it does not own.

It is by no means clear that the Defense Department sees this episode as a model. Young notes that the procedures “worked well in the panic situation we were in,” but says he would like to see a lot more discussion before they are applied routinely. “We can’t use this as a model and put it in place without realizing what problems it creates for the societies,” he says. “I don’t know how it’s going to end up.”

SPIE officials believe, however, that technical societies may be forced to accept such controls. According to Lewis Larmore, the society’s president, SPIE’s governing committee held a meeting during the conference at which “all of us agreed that if we are going to stay in business we are going to have to kowtow to these rules.” Although the bulk of the contested papers were salvaged by shifting them into restricted sessions, “we’ve lost our virginity,” Larmore noted.

The incident also sent a shiver of apprehension through parts of the academic community because it threatened to undercut a policy worked out last year under which no restrictions would be placed on the publication of results of basic research funded by the Defense Department on university campuses (Science, 26 October 1984, p. 418). The policy was spelled out in a memorandum written by former Under Secretary for Research and Engineering Richard DeLauer and reiterated in a letter from Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger to the head of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. It applies to all Defense-funded research in the 6.1 budget category (essentially basic research), and on-campus research in the 6.2 category (essentially applied research) unless “there is a high likelihood of disclosing performance characteristics of military systems, or of manufacturing technologies unique and critical to defense.”

So if the FOIA is not being followed, what then?  It begs the question and also gives light to people like Edward Snowden who crusaded to give the public a light into the shadow government.

This is an important thing to be aware of as a citizen, whether you are interested in promoting FOIA attempts and preservation or not.