Privacy Act of 1974

Dog Whistle Politics Attack Consumer Privacy (Again)

Dog Whistle Politics Attack Consumer Privacy (Again)

In a quiet press release, lost among the battle to defeat the disastrous Affordable Care Act repeal U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz) introduced a bill to gut the regulatory power of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC).  The joint resolution is extremely short, stating that the Senate "disapproves the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to 'Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunication Services,' and such rule shall have no force or effect." 

Senator Flack, a huge recipient of the extremely conservative Club for Growth PAC, is more concerned with repealing everything Obama touched than he is in understanding the personal journey that privacy necessitates, or the implications a repeal of these rules would have on technology and the economy.

Privacy As Currency

Privacy As Currency

Arguments for and against the use of "Big Data" to tailor services and advertisements litter the blogosphere, but one thing is certain: Without this data, many of the tools society depends on would be inconceivable. However, these revolutionary tools aren't without consequences.  In one prolific example, captured by Charles Duhigg in his book The Power of Habit, the national retailer Target predicts the pregnancy of, and sends relevant advertisements to, a teenage girl at such an early stage of her pregnancy that her family, friends, and boyfriend had not yet been informed of the new development. The situation caused such an uproar among privacy advocates and those against general 'creepiness' of the situation, that Target artificially diluted the accuracy of its algorithms in order to prevent alienating future customers. 

While companies like Target grapple with the nuances of using this data, break through technologies have emerged that enable us to turn our unused rooms into mini-hostels, prevent food shortages in Philadelphia, and create insanely popular TV shows like Luke Cage. Unfortunately, these technologies face the same privacy concerns that Target once grappled with, and the privacy debate continues to evolve.  This evolution must continuously be refined as society and technology advance, or the political, legal, and ethical frameworks it helped create will no longer provide much protection. Unfortunately, while this debate has evolved around the safety of consumers and the protection of data, there has been little discussion about the economic security of consumers and their data.

Just as countless technological innovations were made possible throughout human history by capitalizing on previously wasted byproducts, data must one day cease to be treated as happenstance, and be understood for the value it possesses. It's not enough for the government to protect the only physical safety of its citizens, it must enable its citizens to be educated and capable enough to fight for their economic security in light of a booming industry. It's only in doing so that consumers will be able to understand the true cost of their consumerism.

 

Defense In Depth

Defense In Depth

Security can be an overwhelming topic to get started and as a result, a concept known as Defense in Depth has been making its way across the industry for the last couple of years.  Defense in Depth is an organized and systematic way to ensure that your network is as unattractive to hackers as reasonably possible. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as “unhackable,” so the object of security is to make the costs of attacking your network more than the benefit of doing so without incurring more cost in defense than your network’s security is worth. Defense in Depth does this by breaking the security process down into eight distinct phases.

  • Security Through Obscurity
  • Establishing Identity
  • Encryption and Hashing
  • Hardening your Devices
  • Preventing Intrusion
  • Adhering to Laws
  • Routine Maintenance
  • User Education

These sections are only a snippet of the fifteen pages that I've dedicated to security and privacy in my 140pg book, Understanding IT: Decoding Business and Technology. I've posted this to introduce the concept of Defense in Depth as it relates to the Malware Business Model and as a precursor to Cutting The Cord, Episode Four: Securing Your Network [Episode One and Two]. The topics covered here may be broad strokes, but before a specific technical understanding can be reached, the frameworks have to be established.