Welcome to the Jun. 15, 2013 issue of
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|TODAY'S TOPIC: GOING INCOGNITO||
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Much ink has been spilled in the last couple of weeks about the NSA and CIA spying on Americans. (It's OK if they spy on them "durn furriners," but hey, not on us 'Murricuns!) So then, how can we minimize intrusions on our privacy? My main browser is Chrome, which has various privacy settings. To get to them, though, you have to click on the "Customize and control Google Chrome" three-bar icon on the far right of the toolbar, scroll down to the bottom of the window that opens, then you click on the "Show advanced settings..." link. There you'll see "Privacy" section as I show in this screenshot. If you click on the "Content settings..." button, you can check "Send a 'Do Not Track' request with your browsing traffic," and also set Chrome to tell you when a website attempts to use your webcam or not allow any websites to use it. Those are just a few of the rather important settings!
After the "Content settings..." button, the next button is labeled "Clear browsing data..." (sometimes called the "porn" button, for obvious reasons). I use it often, but not because I watch porn: maintaining four websites means that I often need to see how a change will look on the Web, not just browsing it from the hard drive on my PC. Browsers by default keep in their folders on your computer a "cached" history of all recently viewed web-pages, so that if you re-visit a website your browser can bring up almost instantly without having to fetch it from a remote server again. But in my case, I don't want to see those old pages in my "cached" history, I want to see how the brand-new changes I've made look on the Web. So if I click the "Clear browsing data..." button, I can choose to delete history from the past hour, the past day, the past week, or everything. (Hint: the quick-keys to see these choices from wherever you are in Chrome are Ctrl+Shift+Delete.)
If I've been making more than a couple changes in close succession to one of my web-pages, Chrome will show a message at the top of the above clear-browsing pop-up window: "Psst! Incognito mode (Ctrl+Shift+N) may come in handy next time." When you press the Ctrl+Shift+N keys together, you'll see a new pop-up:
You've gone incognito. Pages you view in this window won't appear in your browser history or search history, and they won't leave other traces, like cookies, on your computer after you close all open incognito windows. Any files you download or bookmarks you create will be preserved, however.
Going incognito doesn't affect the behavior of other people, servers, or software. Be wary of:
- Websites that collect or share information about you
- Internet service providers or employers that track the pages you visit
- Malicious software that tracks your keystrokes in exchange for free smileys
- Surveillance by secret agents
- People standing behind you
Learn more about incognito browsing.
Because Google Chrome does not control how extensions handle your personal data, all extensions have been disabled for incognito windows. You can reenable them individually in the extensions manager.
Note that it mentions "Internet service providers or employers that track the pages you visit" ...which also means Mom, Dad, and Big Brother, the NSA, can track you too. All it takes is installing another program such as a children's Web monitor in your computer that records all Internet traffic. There's not much a child or the average Joe can do about that, unless he's a nerd and can figure out how to use an encrypted proxy server to handle all his Internet traffic. A "free" program I've tried that does this by encrypting and routing your Internet traffic through its VPN (Virtual Private Network) is Hotspot Shield. By "free" I mean it's ad-supported, and the ads are really intrusive, so I uninstalled it.
In our previous issue of CN.Net-News we talked about Windows 8 and how some whiners complain that their dearly beloved Start button has passed away, gone up into "the Big Bit Bucket in the Sky." Well, there is yet hope for those who can't wait until the fall when Microsoft rolls out "Blue" (the code name for Windows 8.1) with the Start button brought back to life again:
Go to www.Pokki.com to get a free (and I mean really free, no adware!) Windows 8 Start button, plus hundreds of free apps including lots of games, quick viewers for Gmail, Google Calendar, You-tube, Instagrille, Hulu, Amazon, eBay and more. There are at least a couple other Windows 8 Start button programs that cost $4 or $5, but the free Pokki program works quite nicely!
You can customize your Pokki Start button to use the new Windows 8 logo (shown here, in the lower left corner of the photo) or Pokki's cute little acorn button, you can place icons for your favorite programs on the Pokki Start pop-up that appears when you press the Windows key, and you can even choose to have Windows 8 start up either at the new Start screen or the traditional desktop... just like the upcoming Windows 8.1 Start button will do.
Back to all of the ballyhoo over the last two weeks - the NSA "spying on us" and a CIA contractor breaking his oath in order to "blow the whistle" on them - isn't really anything new: in our Feb 27 2010, Oct 30 2011 and Mar 24 2012 issues we've written about the links between the NSA and Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter and all the major phone companies. I've worked with one of the military branches of the NSA, and then in computerized telecommunications, with telephone companies and Web programming for many years. This kind of sifting and sorting through electronic communications and records of telephone calls has been going on for decades, I can assure you. Which leads us to our next section:
The Security Blurb:
Here's a quote from the latest newsletter of Bruce Schneier, one of America's best-known security experts:
We don't know a lot about how the government spies on us, but we know some things. We know the FBI has issued tens of thousands of ultra-secret National Security Letters to collect all sorts of data on people -- we believe on millions of people -- and has been abusing them to spy on cloud-computer users. We know it can collect a wide array of personal data from the Internet without a warrant. We also know that the FBI has been intercepting cell-phone data, all but voice content, for the past 20 years without a warrant, and can use the microphone on some powered-off cell phones as a room bug -- presumably only with a warrant.
We know that the NSA has many domestic-surveillance and data-mining programs with codenames like Trailblazer, Stellar Wind, and Ragtime -- deliberately using different codenames for similar programs to stymie oversight and conceal what's really going on. We know that the NSA is building an enormous computer facility in Utah to store all this data, as well as faster computer networks to process it all. We know the U.S. Cyber Command employs 4,000 people.
We know that the DHS is also collecting a massive amount of data on people, and that local police departments are running "fusion centers" to collect and analyze this data, and covering up its failures. This is all part of the militarization of the police.
Remember in 2003, when Congress defunded the decidedly creepy Total Information Awareness program? It didn't die; it just changed names and split into many smaller programs. We know that corporations are doing an enormous amount of spying on behalf of the government: all parts.
We know all of this not because the government is honest and forthcoming, but mostly through three backchannels -- inadvertent hints or outright admissions by government officials in hearings and court cases, information gleaned from government documents received under FOIA, and government whistleblowers.
It kinda warms the cockles of your heart to know the government is watching out for you... of course just to keep you safe, doesn't it?
The goal of our CN.Net-News is to share information that we think you'll find helpful as you wrestle with that little monster on your desk or at your side, your computer. And we aim to present this information from a Christian worldview. Thanks for your time!
"Dr. Bob the CompuNerd"
Robert D hoskEN
See the "nerd" in my name? (It helps if you're a little dyslexic!)
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