Control, Alt, Google

Mountain View, CA/USA – May 21, 2018: Exterior view of a Googleplex building, the corporate headquarters complex of Google and its parent company Alphabet Inc.

There’s a popular keyboard shortcut <Control><Alt><Delete> that, generally speaking, interrupts or facilitates interrupting a function. For example, if a program on your computer hangs or crashes, you press this popular combination to force the program to close.

Today I’m coining a new term, <Control><Alt><Google>. In a nutshell, you can now tell Google to delete the data (or history) it has on / about you. In this post I want to cover three items: 1) What data is stored, 2) Why you should care about deleting it and 3) How to tell Google to delete your data.

What data does Google store (courtesy of my friends at Lifehacker)?

  • Web and app history. This includes voice and audio data from Google assistant and other apps; data collected from apps synced to your Google account; all Chrome browsing history.
  • YouTube search and watch histories
  • Google Maps history and GPS location data

Why should I care about deleting this information?

A more tangible reason is that deleting your data is helpful for up-to-date content (and ad) curation. People change, our tastes evolve, and periodically deleting your outdated content history is like giving your YouTube, Google Play, or even Google Podcast recommendations a refresh based on your current interests.

Deleting it means Google doesn’t always have enough information about you to make recommendations on what it thinks you’ll like, or where you might want to go. CNBC

How do I request Google to delete my data?

  1. Go to your Google activity dashboard.
  2. Click “Activity controls” from the left-hand sidebar.
  3. Scroll down to the data type you wish to manage, then select “Manage Activity.”
  4. On this next page, click on “Choose how long to keep” under the calendar icon.
  5. Select the auto-deletion time you wish (three or 18 months), or you can choose to delete your data manually.
  6. Click “Next” to save your changes.

Repeat the steps above for each of the types of data you want to be auto-deleted, the three noted above (Web and app history, YouTube search and watch histories and Google Maps history and GPS location data). For your Location History in particular, you’ll need to click on “Today” in the upper-left corner first, and then click on the gear icon in the lower-right corner of your screen.

Then, select “Automatically delete Location History,” and pick a time.

https://www

What is https and why should you care? That’s the topic for today’s post!

HTTPS is a protocol for secure communication, widely used on the Internet. When you enter data into  website (i.e name, address, credit card number), the owner of the website has to “send” this information somewhere for processing. HTTP on the other hand is a unsecure protocol for communication.

Let’s use an analogy to illustrate: if an armed guard needs to transfer money from his truck to a bank, he could simply put the money in a paper bag that anyone can open (think HTTP), or he can put the cash in a safe that only the bank has the combination to unlock (think HTTPS).

HTTPS is the protection of exchanged data while in transit. wikipedia

HTTPS is not 100% foolproof because keys/combinations can always be hacked; but, when you see this designation on a website you can be a little more sure protection in is place.

Feel smarter? If you know to look for HTTPS before entering personal data into a website, I’d say you are!

 

WiFi Everything

In case you’ve been living under a rock, we’ve officially entered a world where we track everything on our smart phones. From food, to exercise and more. I wanted to share two (2) products I read about today that aim to continue this trend:

  • LOONCUP – The world’s first SMART menstrual cup. Meaning it can sync data about flow, color, heaviness, etc.
  • KENSA – A thermometer that records your temperature.

Click the images below for more information. Happy recording.


There is no Online Safe Zone

macIn case you haven’t noticed, computer hackers are taking over the world! Surely you’ve heard of Anonymous, the “invisible” group threatening to release all sorts of information. I’ve said this so many times – the next “war era” will not be using bombs or grenades, it will be done online! And in case you haven’t noticed, it’s already started. Before we get into the details, here’s a simple truth: “Everything you do or say online can be used against you.” That disclaimer should be tied to every smart phone, computer or tablet issued in the entire world.  People who are smart enough to know how to program a computer (and exploit it) can make all of our worst nightmares a reality. You remember – there was the Target data breach (40 million cards affected), then came Home Depot and even more recently the US Government and Ashley Madison (online affair site – those hackers made good on their promise and exposed cheater’s names, credit card numbers and home address).  Even Hillary Clinton’s camp is  not smart enough to know that emails CAN ALWAYS be recovered.

SIDE NOTE: I’m no fan of Hillary Clinton by the way. Charles Barkley was on Mike and Mike this morning. When asked who he would vote for at the moment, he said “No Democrat impresses me.” I agree!

Now, back to the subject at hand – I’ve always said, the dumbest criminal is the one who incriminates him or herself. Why photograph illegal activity? Or post it online? Or insinuate it? Or leave a paper / digital trail. Just not smart people!!! Even a PRIVATE Instagram account will not hold up to a WARRANT from a JUDGE. Facebook just LOST a case when it tried to challenge the legality of warrants requesting personal data from it’s members.

I ran across this article by The Verge, I knew it was worth sharing:

PSA: Everything you say and do is public: five rules for living with the internet

  1. Assume everything you do and say will be made public.
  2. Do not be seduced by privacy settings and passwords, which are temporary illusions that distract from the reality of the previous point.
  3. Understand that context and data are often one in the same. When you enter information on the internet, assume that you include the who (you), the what (the data), the when (the time of data input), the where (the site on which the data is being placed), the how (the device on which you input the data), and the why (the purpose of the site).
  4. Believe that all of your credit card transactions are being kept in a colossal, searchable ledger that one day will be made available for all to study.
  5. Believe that data does not disappear when you delete it.

Stay in the KNOW!

#READ #LEARN and #STRENGTHENYOURTOOLBOX

Encryption

EncryptionToday I watched Eric Snowden’s address at SXSW, transcript. It was a very interesting discussion. One of the more interesting and recurring themes mentioned as a way to protect personal data is called Encryption. It dawned on me that some people may not know what this is, so I’m here to explain!

There’s a whole lot of information that we don’t want other people to see, such as:

  • Credit-card information

  • Social Security numbers

  • Private correspondence

  • Personal details

  • Sensitive company information

  • Bank-account information 

Encryption is the process of encoding (or making secret) information so that only the person (or computer) with the key can decode it (HowStuffWorks). While there are many ways to encrypt information what I want to focus on the easiest way to tell if a website you frequent is encrypting the information you provide. The way to tell is with HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure ). It describes HOW websites should transmit data.

Let me give you an example – You open your browser and head over to your bank’s website, say Chase. When you get to the site, you enter your username, password and click on the button that says Log In.

chase

What happens to the information (username, password) that you entered? How do we make sure that no one can easily intercept (or hack) the data and log in to your account later?? As mentioned earlier, the HTTPS protocol mandates that this information be transmitted in a secure way… For the sake of this post, you don’t have to understand any more details than that!

What I want to focus on is how you can tell if a website you frequent is following the HTTPS protocol. That’s important because if you log into a site that does not use HTTPS, it’s like the equivalent of writing your username and password on a postcard and mailing it for the entire world to see (Slashdot). The simplest way is to look at the browser bar – you know, where you typed “chase.com”. If the site is using one of many encryption methods, you will see https://www.chase.com/ instead of http://www.chase.com/. Go ahead and try it out on your favorite sites…

https

So, you may be asking to yourself… “If HTTPS is more secure, why doesn’t every website use it?” Well, that’s because it’s expensive and requires more processing power (computer hardware). Or you be thinking, “Why doesn’t someone mandate that personal data always be transmitted in this way?” Queue Congress and the NSA! …

I just want you to be AWARE of the situation. If you are asked to make a payment on a website and you don’t see HTTPS in the browser, politely decline! If there’s a new, hot social media site that you want to join that utilizes your personal information and you don’t see HTTPS, think again!

Now, I hate to burst any bubbles, but encryption algorithms CAN BE HACKED. In the case of Target and the recent credit card debacle, they actually were encrypting credit card data and pin numbers. The problem is with the method of encryption they used. And yes, you can combine more than one encryption method to make information transmission more secure. It would be sort of like using a key to lock your doors + having a dog + setting your house alarm before you leave for work each day (yes, someone can still break into your house, but AT LEAST you’ve taken measures to protect your assets.) Just keep in mind that the method and approach is currently left up to the individual business or entity.

Knowledge is Power!