There are things that you never hope will happen, but last week one of these things happened. Someone of our group was targeted and photo’s of her Facebook Timeline were copied into a fake account. For what reason? I don’t know and basically I don’t care. The account is not active no more and that is the only thing that counts.

To who of the ladies in our group this happened is not important. She is already shocked enough about this. Basically, we all are. Emotions within our group go from unbelief to anger.

How could this happen as all the photo’s were “friends only”?
First, what could be that one the “friends” was not as trustworthy as was assumed.
Or one of the friends doesn’t have the security on Facebook as tight as it should be and specially for Facebook goes the “as strong as the weakest link”-principle.

On request I checked, together with the people in our group, all the Facebook configurations and changed it where needed. Specially the privacy settings got a close look.
The result was that friend lists got cleaned up to people who one can trust. Photo’s got cleaned up, many photo’s were removed from Facebook.
As last all the profile pictures of the ladies in the group were changed into a photo or picture of something else.

Miranda was the only exception in this as her profile picture is the only photo of herself on Facebook. She has only her Facebook account to see what the others of our group post and to react on that.

For the same reason I have placed our weblog in “maintenance mode”.
For the members of the group who had there a photo of themselves as avatar-picture, I replaced those with a picture of their zodiac sign (not that anyone of us believes in astrology or anything alike, but it is a bit of fun this way).
With the help of the others, we scanned through the content of the weblog (thank you for that). Although at times there is written about private subjects, there were only a few articles that we declared “private” (so only certain registered members can read them).
With knowing this I will set our weblog to “public” again.

Within the group we will discus if we can do anything more to prevent things like this.

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Privacy again

by Rob on

It kinda funny, after reading a newspaper this morning I decided that it was about time to write an article on privacy again… and just I noticed that Patrick did the same on his weblog yesterday.

This morning I read that the government has far reaching plans to gain control on the information flow on the Internet. The technique they want to use for this is “Deep Packet Inspection”. This means that they will literally check the contents of the data-packets that are send over Internet (to put it simple, there is more to that).
This means that they can check every mail that is sent and check every file that is transported over the Internet.
They also want to check behavior of people. An example that was literally mentioned was that someone who bought an expensive camera and earned some more money then normal was already a suspect for producing porn with children? This is too stupid for words.

Don’t get me wrong. I think that porn with children is disgusting and should be acted very hard on… but not with any grounded proof. This is even forbidden by our Constitution. There is clearly stated that someone is innocent until proven different and there should be a very clear suspicion before there may be acted on someone.

To be honest, I think whole child porn-argument is not what is really behind this all. Governments and their “secret agencies” fear the Internet because it out of their control (see the whole Wikileaks matter). And I think the real reason is that they want to have grip on what is happening on the Internet.

I agree with Patrick what he writes on his log, that is too silly for word when you use PGP/GnuPG, masked IP-numbers, OpenProxy and things like that make you a suspect of cybercrime.

Me? I already use GnuPG (the Open Source version of PGP) and I will encourage all people I exchange regular mail with to do the same. Already all mail I exchange with Marion is encrypted with GnuPG. Chatting I will do more and more through Skype because of its high level of encryption. And if I can find a thing to protect my privacy…. I will!

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This they promised never to do…

by Rob on

They promised us over and over again never to use the Dutch security number (“SOFI Number”) to connect all kind of databases together.

What did they do? They renamed the “SOFI Number” it to “BSN Number” and do with that what they said they never would do.

Today I needed to have some x-rays made. At the counter of the poli I was told that I needed a new medical card for the hospital. So okay I handed over my card for the insurance company. They also needed my ID card or passport. I was like “WTF?????”.

On the new medical card my BSN Number (better known as SOFI number) is registered. With other words, my complete medical history is now connected to all the other databases that are accessible that use the BSN Number….


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Something to think about

by Rob on

Today in another discussion about privacy and security (with many “I don’t have anything to hide” folks) I did read something that said it all for me…

When they came for the communists, I didn’t say anything…
I am not a communist.

When they came for the Union people, I didn’t say anything…
I am not an Union member.

When they came for the Jews, I didn’t say anything…
I am not a Jew.

When they came for the Catholics, I didn’t say anything…
I am not a Catholic.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to say something!!!

(Reverend Niemöller, Germany)

Privacy and security is something that should concern all of us and should be a reason for all to stand up! And specially nothing about turning away from things pretending you did not see anything!

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Encryption, part II

by Rob on

Encrypting again…

Like I use to say, when you do something do it good. And when you find something to improve, do it.

For mail I can use GnuPG to sign and/or encrypt my mail. And this is working very well. Marion and I use it all the time. We talk often per mail about things that are not meant for everyone eyes. After all, mail has concerning privacy only the value of a postcard.
It is amazing to see what kind of confident information people sent through mail without even over thinking it.

Anyway, yesterday I suddenly realized that I also store confident information on my laptop outside my mail. Things as documents and pictures. Some work related files. These files were fully accessible by anyone who could put their hand on my laptop. Which could happen if in the worse case my laptop gets stolen, but even when my laptop stands on my desk and I am away from my desk.

So I looked for a program for file encryption. I found one that serves my purpose completely. This program is called TrueCrypt. TrueCrypt is Open Source and that way I can be assured that there are no backdoors (because the source is available to anyone).
With TrueCrypt you can create volumes, when not mounted these volumes are encrypted and so not accesible by anyone. And so their contents are safe for stranger eyes. And this is how it should be…

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Red Bubble

The Israeli sociolist Etzoni claims that the government is so trustworthy that civilians don’t have to be scared when their privacy is taken away from them. It seems that he has a lot of support among the Dutch politicians.

Yes, of course it is the wet dream of every government to have access to all information about someone in one mouse click, no matter if this information is relevant or not.

First thing that comes to mind is: Who guards the guardians? In this case clearly nobody! And so we are ourselves responsible for this. But with all the measures the government takes “to protect us against terrorism” the individual privacy will break down more and more.
Sure, terrorism needs to be taken care of. But realize that the change that you will die by a traffic accident or a fatal disease is many times bigger then a death by a act of terrorism. So I think I know where the priorities should be… Clearly not this main focus on terrorism (and specially not how it is used by leaders of many countries, Europe and The Netherlands included).

1984? Big brother? Not far away fiction, but close by reality.

Strange enough (or maybe not that strange) many IT specialists are very concerned about the current threats for human privacy. They know the possibilities to connect databases and set relations between them, even when these databases are stored on great distance from each other.
Mostly they also realise the risks of this kind of things. One has only to think of misinterpretation of data, accessibility of data, security of data to mention a few.
Sure, there are enough people who are also worried about their privacy. But a majority doesn’t even care, if they realise at all what is going on.

Sadly many people relate a demand for privacy to that you must have something to hide. It is the other way around. That I see no need that someone else knows all about me, doesn’t mean I have something to hide. It is just not their matter to know all about me.
And lets be honest, everyone has something to hide… your employer who shouldn’t you are looking for new job… your partner who should not know about that night you really misbehaved when you where younger… the neighbors who don’t have to know with bars you visit in the weekend… and so and so. Small examples, but that is also privacy! Take it a to a higher level and you know what the privacy I am talking about. Think about examples as physical privacy (as searching your bags without real reason or the use of your DNA), information privacy (the way governments or organizations handle our personal information as age, addresses, sexual preference, political opinion and so on) or freedom from excessive surveillance (our right to go about our daily lives without being surveilled or having all our action caught on camera).

Privacy is important to have and to protect…
And yes:

“People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.”


(Credit photo: Red Bubble)

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Oath of Secrecy

by Rob on

One small victory for privacy.

The Dutch High Court decided that a doctor may keep his Oath of Secrecy, even when his patient is involved with a crime. This because every person has right of health care, this is a basic human right. No one should be scared to stay away from a doctor because this doctor could call the police or alike.

I agree with this. 

Fred Teeven, member of the Dutch liberal political party VVD and old prosecuting attorney, thinks that doctor act kinda “silly” about the Oath of Secrecy. Of course, for most politicians and justice people privacy is something that makes their work harder and so unwanted. I bet he is against encryption as well (personal joke).

Lately I am very concerned when it comes down to the privacy of people. It is something to think about and even more to worry about.

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by Rob on

I just read on a site that the EU wants to store the fingerprints of people from other countries travelling by plane.

I made a remark about this to my co-workers here at the company I work. They just couldn’t care or were even not bothered by it.
They couldn’t care less that your fingerprints is unique information that gives access to so many things that are very private things about your person that is stored in many resources all over the world, that are sadly more and more connected to each other.

They wave it all simply away with words as “I have nothing to hide…”. Basically they say, I have done nothing wrong, so I don’t need privacy. So foolish…

Sheep… fearing and following the mass. Out of everything they said it showed that they prefer (false) safety above privacy. As said by a famous person, people like this don’t deserve either and will loose both in the end.

The so called fight against terrorism seems to be the goal that should be reached by all means. Yet, the change that you will be involved in a (deadly) car accident is much bigger then being involved in an act of terrorism.

And no, I don’t say that terrorism shouldn’t be fought. It must, but not by all means and at any cost. Privacy of the person is something anyone should stay out as long there is no valid reason that would cause someone to loose the right on privacy (a serious crime as example).

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