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Keep You and Your Stuff A Little Less Available to 'Them'

Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Saturday, 15 November 2014


Folks that throw dirt on you aren't always trying to hurt you, and folks that pull you out of a jam aren't always trying to help you.” – Jack Beauregard, “My Name is Nobody,” Refran Cinematographica, 1973

If you think it’s all about you … you’re right!

Samsung, Apple, Ford, M&Ms, Johnson & Murphy, Dos Equis, Gucci, etc. want you to buy something.

Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. want to know more about you so they can sell you to someone that wants you buy something.

Google, Amazon, Dropbox, Facebook, Microsoft, etc. want you to put your stuff in their cloud so they can look it over and figure out if it has any resale value.


Every government agency in every country in the world wants to know where you’re going, what you’re doing and what you’re thinking so they can make certain you’re supporting them in the fashion they want to be supported.

Slimeballs  (hackers, whackers, phishers and cybercrooks) want to tap into their information about you because most of the time, they’ll find enough scraps of your information to use … profitably.

The real goldmine of computing/communications device activity is getting just the right information from the information repositories – think Big Data – to create opportunities for “them.”

Yep … it’s all about you!


Free Stuff – All of those things you view, listen to, read, play and follow online are free – at a price.  That’s right, you don’t have to “pay” a penny, franc, kopek, rupel, you name it, because people are just lining up to give you access to stuff.  After all, you signed up and accepted their terms so  … life is good.

The big hitter bad folks use brute force DDoS (distributed denial of service). It was huge the first half of the year when groups were heavy-handed with more than 100 events involving the barraging of servers with 100Gps and about 5,800 20Gbps


All’s Fair – They used to say, “All is fair in love and war.”  Today’s war has moved into cyberspace and the goal of really smart code writers is to find the weaknesses and limit the damage.  DDoS creators, malware writers and cyberthieves constantly come up with new ways to take advantage of users who feel they are practicing safe computing and it’s really just the other guy’s problem, not theirs.

Once they break down the outer walls, they gather the information they want.

If that doesn’t work, they simply demand a ransom or …

The heck of it is that the infrastructure folks you figure are taking care of your stuff really aren’t that prepared for cyberattacks, according to a report from Ponemon Institute.

They found that 70 percent of the firms you entrust your information to had at least one security breach in the past 12 months.

Wait a Minute

Before you start assigning blame, most of the security folks say that you’re the weakest part of the whole chain – stupid passwords that haven’t been changed since Nixon left office, shortcuts around the security because “it’s just a pain,” and so are the poorly trained folks inside the organization.

For most, security takes a distant second place to minimizing storage, system, infrastructure downtime.

As Nobody noted, “It's always the best who are the first to go.”

Oh and that BYOD (bring your own device) program the boss initiated that you thought was so cool?


On Your Own - Most IT teams have two key missions – keeping the firm’s business up and running and protecting mission-critical systems/data.  With more and more organizations allowing people  to use their own devices (computers, tablets, smartphones),  they find it difficult to impossible to enforce security and privacy rules on employees who often have the most current, most organizationally sensitive data on the devices.

Don’t think that just because you have the absolute latest and most valuable company information on your computer, tablet or, smartphone that it’s being protected.

Sorry, but IT folks have enough of a challenge of keeping the wheels on the train rolling, figuring out in which Cloud they have their Big Data, who’s borrowing from it; and frankly, what the **** to do with all of the information they’ve been grabbing from everywhere.

They may have put a contingency plan in effect to brick your device – which yes, is useless as a brick or your coworker if it’s lost, stolen or misplaced.

It can be undone “if” it’s recovered, but it’s a royal pain.

You could back all your stuff to the cloud and be more visible to nasties; but wait, we just said their security sucks.

Maybe, despite the cloud services’ best effort to convince you otherwise, IDC reported last year that less than 15 percent of the information will actually be stored in the cloud.

Most of it will simply pass through the cloud or be “touched” by it.

That’s enough for bad folks to grab something, just don’t give them a heads up.

Just Looking

Of course, they aren’t alone:

  • Facebook experimented with manipulating user emotions.
  • Google has been offering “personalized search” for years and the only way to do that is to know more about you than you know about you.
  • Microsoft doesn’t scan your emails for ad purposes just for malware, phishing, spam detection … and you do that how without scanning emails?
  • Mobile phone companies have supercookies
  • Yahoo returned to adding cookies on your device so it could more effectively give you the information you were interested in.

Jack Beauregard saw what happened and observed, “Which means you ain't going nowhere.”

There are ways to make yourself less visible and my kids are masters at it.


Being Stealth – Instead of simply accepting the fact that organizations and individuals can see and track you online; people are increasingly learning about pro-active things they can do to make themselves more visible online.  You can’t completely disappear when you’re connected, but you can make it more difficult for “them.”

They were born connected and they know how to hide themselves (or at least be less visible) to hackers/criminals, people from their past, advertisers, people who might criticize/harass them, bosses/coworkers, the government, law enforcement and skip chasers.

Not a big deal to me because I don’t spend enough time there … just ask my Twitter followers, they’re terribly lonely.

I keep my devices to myself and wasn’t terribly worried when the Anti-Phishing Working Group announced that nearly one-third of the world’s systems were infected by malware, that the number of attacks was growing rapidly in tablets and smartphones and the next attack was probably going to be our 4K smart TV.

I regularly use Kaspersky, MalwareBytes and AVG to check/clean my devices … just in case.

So where do I store my data … just in case?

First of all, its spread all over my systems/devices - two desktops, an ultralite, tablet, smartphone - and synced as often as possible.

According to IDC, average folks have 128GB of stuff on their notebook, 256GB on their desktop, 64GB on their iPad and less than 16GB on their iPhone/Galaxy.

Still it has to be protected (saved) off-device just in case.

While Cloud folks offer personal clouds I prefer real personal clouds because although the device – ultralight computer, tablet or smartphone is lost or “borrowed,” it can be replaced--but the data?

Personal Clouds

So I have my own personal clouds and use them all the time.


Personal Cloud – Rather than back up and store important/sensitive information in The Cloud, people increasingly carry small, rugged storage devices – SSD and HD – to store files off their devices just in case the device is corrupted, hacked or the worst happens.  External portable storage is the cheapest insurance you can have.

My neat little USB-powered 480GB SSD (encrypted) fits easily in my pocket and has all my “gotta’ have” office and personal files just in case something happens to my notebook, tablet or smartphone.

I also carry a really small 1TB ruggedized HD just in case that also contains less frequently accessed files because sometimes the iNet isn’t available.

At home, there’s a 12TB unit that’s almost full what with the kids music and videos and at the office a 20TB software RAID 5 device (RAID 5 ensures nothing is lost unless there’s a natural disaster and then that will be the least of my worries).

Sure, it’s a lot of “extra” storage; but remember, the future of computing is a battle for your personal information.


I know too many people who have been crushed because they lost vital files.

I’ve also about firms that were burned and closed their doors because their data was lost … forever.

I don’t dwell on the dark “what if” scenarios because if they happen, they happen.

That’s the whole description of a disaster.

But a little pre-crisis planning doesn’t hurt … just in case.


As Nobody said, The secret of a long life is you try not to shorten it.”

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