Citizenfour

citizenfour

It’s been a long while (almost two years in fact), since I posted a movie review.  It’s not that I haven’t seen any good movies in this period, but more of the fact that I tend to sound repetitive when I write these.  Watch that, this one is awesome, etc.

Last night I’ve watched “Citizenfour“, and I have to say I’m shaken by that documentary.   And I’m not a privacy or security freak, and I was somewhat familiar with Edward Snowden’s story.  This film, while portraying his personality, is not so much about him, as it is about the state of affairs.

As a non-US citizen, I have very little interest in what the US government is doing.  I don’t particularly care if someone is recording my Internet traffic, Google searches, or the phone calls I make.  I’m not worried about ending up “on the list”, or anything like that.

But not everyone is like that.  I do understand how government surveillance can be used, how data can be analyzed, and how pressure can be applied.  And I do share the point of view that the balance of power between the government and the people is way off (and not only in the US), and that we are beyond the point of any meaningful individual resistance.  It’s just that I don’t do anything about it, and Edward Snowden did.

For me personally, quite a few things were new in this film.  It was interesting to learn about the variety of NSA and CIA programs, the depth of their rich, and the technology that is in place already.  Some of it does sound like science fiction future, but is in fact very possible.   The stuff about security access in the NSA, drone video feeds, data gathering, analysis and search, with real time notifications, etc – all that was insightful.

The other side to the movie that I found interesting was the whole process that was used to expose these documents.  There is in fact no framework as to how such things can be done, what should and shouldn’t be published, how things can be verified, etc.  The move to remove his own bias and pass on the responsibility onto the journalists was interesting.

Overall, I think that the more people see this movie, the better.  The issues raised are very important and we should know about them.  It doesn’t only affect criminals or terrorists or Americans.  It affects everyone.  In particular everyone who has a phone, or a computer with an Internet connection, or a credit card.  After all, there are 1,200,000 people on the US watch lists, and from what I understand, this list is growing fast.

 

HTTPS availability affects website’s Google ranking

Google has been pushing for wider HTTPS adoption for a while now – converting its own services, working on the SPDY/HTTP 2.0 protocols, etc.  Now, it seems, they want other people to start adopting HTTPS too.  And what’s better way than add it as a signal to Google Search rankings?

[…] over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it’s only a very lightweight signal—affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content—while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.

Nice!  Especially for those selling SSL certificates…

Data loss prevention software

Data loss prevention software – theory. Symantec DLP – implementation.

Data loss/leak prevention solution is a system that is designed to detect potential data breach / data ex-filtration transmissions and prevent them by monitoring, detecting and blocking sensitive data while in-use (endpoint actions), in-motion (network traffic), and at-rest (data storage). In data leakage incidents, sensitive data is disclosed to unauthorized personnel either by malicious intent or inadvertent mistake. Such sensitive data can come in the form of private or company information, intellectual property (IP), financial or patient information, credit-card data, and other information depending on the business and the industry.

Safe display of external images in Gmail

Official Gmail Blog lets us know that the latest update to Gmail now safely shows external images.  Most other email programs and services disable image show by default, because these can either contain all kinds of malware, or they can be used for tracking.  Gmail solves it now by downloading those images and serving them to users from its own servers.

But thanks to new improvements in how Gmail handles images, you’ll soon see all images displayed in your messages automatically across desktop, iOS and Android. Instead of serving images directly from their original external host servers, Gmail will now serve all images through Google’s own secure proxy servers.

So what does this mean for you? Simple: your messages are more safe and secure, your images are checked for known viruses or malware, and you’ll never have to press that pesky “display images below” link again. With this new change, your email will now be safer, faster and more beautiful than ever.

I’m not the biggest fan of HTML emails, but since I have not much choice in this area, I’d rather receive emails with images – at least I won’t be trying to make sense of empty layouts with no text anymore.

Facebook Android app update is insane …

… even for me.  I’ve been saying for a while that the privacy is pretty much dead, but this new update of Facebook Android app is asking for way too may permissions even for my taste.  Some of the things that it “needs” now are: access to make phone calls without user intervention, accessing information about other running applications, and drawing over other applications’ screens, so you won’t even know anymore who is responsible for what you are seeing.

When I got an update notification, I thought, at first, that that was a mistake of some sort or a really late and lame April 1st joke.  Albeit it’s not.  Even Slashdot runs the story.

For now, I’ll hold the old version.  Maybe Facebook will rectify this new change.  If not, then I’ll get rid of it and go back to Twitter and, possibly, Google+.