Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Web Secret 519: Cybersecurity - part 1

This past March, I was the recipient of a $3,000 scholarship to attend the 2018 Yale Cyber Leadership Forum.

Yes, my alma mater charges $3,000 to attend a day and a half conference.

The Yale Cyber Leadership Forum aims to bridge the divide among legal scholars and practitioners, technology experts, business leaders, and policymakers from across the globe on how best to understand and counter the most pressing cyber security challenges of our day.” This article aims to summarize what was discussed as it applies to mental health practitioners and organizations.

The Forum brings together a diverse set of thought leaders who are eager to share their experiences, learn more about the array of cyber threats, gather new strategies for overcoming cybersecurity challenges, and contribute to discussions of the best way to tackle the challenges ahead.

Note: Forum attendees were asked to follow the Chatham House Rule. We like to be as pretentious as possible in the Ivy League. For the rest of the world, at a meeting held under the Chatham House Rule, anyone who attends is free to use information from the discussion, but is not allowed to reveal who made any comment. It is designed to increase openness of discussion.

In a nutshell, this is what I learned:
  • The field of cyber security is in its infancy
  • Law and policy are lagging far behind technology
  • It’s not just a tech issue, it’s a people issue. More on that later.
To elaborate, our intelligence leaders believe the risk of a cyber-attack eclipses terrorism as the greatest threat to the USA. If even one of our major infrastructure components (power grid, Internet, financial system) is compromised by a cyber-attack, the other two collapses and we are headed towards catastrophe. Complicating this narrative is the fact that through the world wide web, everyone around the globe is inter-connected.

As one expert put it: “We are as secure as the rest of the Internet.” Great.

These are the countries which have the greatest expertise in cyber warfare:
  1. Russia
  2. China
  3. North Korea
  4. Iran.
Quelle surprise!

We are vulnerable to cyber-attacks for a variety of reasons, which I will explain in next week's post.

None of it is good news.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Web Secret 518: The Weed Tube

The US and marijuana regulation = mess.

While the federal government style views pot as illegal, most of the states are in full rebellion. No two states are alike - some have legalized both medical and recreational marijuana, some just medical, some (a minority) don't allow either.

I am fairly confident that eventually both medical and recreational will be legal.

In the meantime, there is, (since March 1,) The Weed Tube, a how to channel devoted to - you guessed it - marijuana focused videos.

If you want to take the pulse of the marijuana legalization movement, there's no better place to start.

The posts range from the fanciful to serious demos and reviews. Here are a few:

Sesh Cannabis First Impressions

How To Make A Strawberry Bowl

A week in my life – Hilton Head Island

Don't judge.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Web Secret 517: Protecting your privacy on Facebook

Unless you've been living under the proverbial rock, you know that Facebook is experiencing (putting it mildly) a privacy problem.

We have been advised to shut down our accounts. Realistically, not everyone wants to do that.

Wired magazine published guerilla warfare alternative: "A drag queen's guide to protecting your privacy on Facebook by breaking the rules."

To wit:

Change Your Name: Using a chosen name allows you a bit more control over how your data is collected, stored, and used. By adopting a chosen name, it’s possible to stay in touch with friends who can decode who you really are, while avoiding others who you’d rather not be able to find you. Plus, using a different name on different platforms makes it just a bit harder for trackers to connect the dots between your accounts, activity, and behaviors. But it’s not always practical to change your name; you may have better luck starting with a new account.

“Like” Like Everyone’s Watching: Another easy way to make it more difficult for companies to paint a clear picture of you is to give them false, misleading, or simply too much information. For example, if you don’t want to be targeted by manipulative political ads, perhaps try “liking” some pages or politicians who don’t fully match your values; the same goes for favorite brands, places, celebrities, or anything else you can support. Think of this as throwing the company off the scent.

Tag Photos Incorrectly: Similarly, try mis-tagging photos of friends—or use photos of celebrities, cartoons, or inanimate objects—to confuse Facebook’s facial recognition and computer vision algorithms.

Click All the Ads: You may also want to try clicking all the ads Facebook and other platforms deliver to you—especially the ones you’re not actually interested in. Again, this effectively hides your real interests within a sea of not-quite-real information.

Share Accounts: Finally, for those of us trying to curb our social media addictions, another option is to share an account with friends or family. That way, you can still make sure you don’t miss important updates or events, while making it harder to trace you personally.

Here's my suggestion: go through your list of your Facebook friends and ruthlessly delete the people who you are not close too.

At the end of the article, the author writes: "Are these foolproof? Certainly not... Are they ethical? I think so. Until companies come clean about their motives and give us real options to present ourselves authentically, to control the flow of our data, and to opt out of particular kinds of tracking, I’d say we’re justified in taking steps to protect ourselves..."

And that, my friends, is the truth.