Public WiFi

Public wifi is certainly handy, especially when one is traveling. But there are risks involved, and the following article describes more about this risk:

Now, I'm not suggesting one doesn't use public wifi -- I use it frequently. What I do recommend is that you use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) whenever you're on a public wifi network.  

hich VPN should one use, you might ask? There are many reviews available of VPNs on the internet. Here's one to read, if you have an interest:,2817,2403388,00.asp

f you're on public wifi, and not using a VPN, the first article above clearly shows how easy it is for hackers to snoop on your computer activity. So, just be careful when using public wifi.

Jim Hamm

Who's Listening

        In a letter dated July 10, 2015 the Electronic Privacy Information Center, goes into some interesting details about “Always On” consumer devices. Maybe you have one or more of these devices. 
        Mentioned and described are Google’s Chromium browser, Mattel’s “Hello Barbie,” Samsung’s “Smart TV,”  Microsoft’s Kinect in Xbox consoles,  Amazon’s voice-activated computer program “Alexa,” Google Nest Cam,  and Canary Connect. 
        EPIC ‘s letter was sent to Attorney General Loretta Lynch of the US Dept. of Justice and Chairwoman Edith Ramirez of the FTC, and requests workshop and investigation of these devices.  Here's the letter:  

Trying Out the VPNs

        "In a recent posting (3/16/15) Jim Hamm gave us a lot of useful information on using VPNs," says Jim Hays.  You'll remember VPN is Virtual Private Networking. 
        He goes on to say,  "Intrigued, I decided to set one up, both to protect my privacy when using public wireless networks and to allow me to access my email accounts in the Prescott Library using an email client (as opposed to a web-based client). Since I will be using the VPN only while traveling or while using public hotspots I opted for Private Tunnel ( a metered Virtual Private Networking service that provides an extremely easy to use and hassle-free experience. 
        "Pricing: the first 100 megabytes is free; 50 gigabytes costs $12.00; 100 gigabytes costs $20.00; 500 gigabytes costs $50.00. There is no usage time limit for the bandwidth you purchase. Private Tunnel offers clients for Mac OS, Windows, Linux, iOS and Android.
        Jim concludes with,  "However you can use any OpenVPN client that will run on your setup. (I used Tunnelblick ( on my MacBook.)"

What THEY Don't Want You to Know

         On the lookout for helpful info Jim Hamm steps up to the plate with this one:  "Here's an article that provides some interesting information about your cell phone. We use AT&T, — just look at the 'generous' offer they made to us for only $29/month...(grin)"

        Check out this article from USA TODAY:  What cellphone companies don't want you to know

        Kim Komando goes into some detail about "super cookies,"  how Facebook and cell phone companies AT&T and Verizon track and sell your information, how to turn off tracking — she likes DuckDuckGo.  Read the whole thing. 

Good-bye, Privacy

        In an article dated February 17, 2015 the writer goes into detail about your latest lack of privacy in your home and in your car.  The site shows photocopied information from the various companies' “privacy policies.”  
        The companies discussed are: Samsung Smart TV, LG Smart TV, Xbox Kinect, Amazon Echo, GM’s Onstar, Chevrolet’s MyLink and PDRs, Google’s Waze, Hello’s Sense, and Hertz cameras in its rental cars. 
        Got one of these?  Did you read the fine print? 

        (You could also add Safari which lets you check "Block Cookies and Other Website Data ALWAYS."  And soon you'll find 30 cookies (and other website data) have been added and info collected from your computer via the Internet.)  Well, more or less . . . 

Search Privacy

        Here's some input from Jim Hays,   "In a recent posting David Passell mentioned using "duck duck go" to ensure search privacy. Another option is Startpage ( which claims to be 'the only third-party certified search engine in the world that does not record your IP address or track your searches.' 
        "StartPage is compatible with a broad range of browsers including Firefox, Safari and Chrome. StartPage can also be used to visit third-party websites with total privacy by using the StartPage Proxy."

Cyber Vulnerabilities: Did You Know?

        “Car Hacked on 60 Minutes” is the headline that shrieks to grab your attention when you click on this CBS news article forwarded by Jim Hamm.   
        Quoting from this article,"In a dramatic demonstration, he (Dan Kaufman) and his colleagues use a laptop computer to hack into a car being driven by Stahl. Much to her surprise, they were able to take control of many of the car's functions, including the braking and acceleration."  Be sure to read the article.  
        Bringing this notice to us was the response of Jim Hamm when queried about another eye-grabbing article about the risks of using SmartTV.  
        Samsung notifies their customers “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.”

Health Data Privacy Issues

        "Health data that will soon be stored on iOS 8-powered devices could be a gold mine for ad networks, but Apple has made it off limits for now," so begins the article recommended by David Passell.  He reiterates, "No, developers will not be allowed to sell your health data for targeted advertising.  Read about it here.                                                David adds, "ZDnet includes a 'more' link. This takes you to a lot of other sharing sites and email is at the top.  You are not limited to Facebook, Twitter, and 'inShare' (whatever that is). 

Internet Tracking

        Maybe you saw this, Jim Hamm did.  "The creepiest Internet tracking tool yet is 'virtually impossible' to block, says Yahoo News."  and see this:   

Practical Privacy

    "Here is an interesting article on browser privacy mode," remarks David Passell.  "A use that really stood out for me was the way to circumvent the NY times 10 article/month limit. I will have to try that since I used to get a lot of news from NY Times site before they began charging. Now I use the freely available BBC news site."  Look here. 
       If you're using Safari and have clicked Block Cookies Always, and are continually aggravated at the number of Cookies noted, you might see if Private Browsing works for you.

Password Problems

        After speaking to the PMUG meeting this morning, Jim Hamm informs us,  "Here's another article about the NSA after our passwords again. As I discussed in my presentation today, articles about passwords and password hacking are increasingly in the news.

        "It's a tough call to balance the needs of national security with the needs for personal privacy."

Dropbox Peeks at Your Files

        "Although I like and use Dropbox frequently, here's an article that reminds us nothing is secure in the 'cloud', unless it's encrypted, and even then NSA might take a peek at your documents," notes Jim Hamm.  Here's the article for you to check:

Google Defends Sanning Email

"Here is an article discussing how Google defends their scanning every email sent or received through Gmail. Google says this is a 'normal business practice', and uses the info to tailor ads that appear beside your inbox."  Jim Hamm continues,  "I use Gmail, and the adds don't bother me, but I'm not fond of the idea of Google scanning the contents of every email sent through their system. On the other hand, Google is providing a useful service for free, so something or someone has to foot the costs.

        Jim goes on to comment,  "Perhaps Google already states this in their terms of agreement when one sets up a Gmail account, but wording somewhat to the following seems fair to me: as a user of the free Gmail email service the user agrees to having all sent or received emails subject to scanning by Google. If one doesn't like this, then don't sign up for the Gmail service -- use something else for your email service.
        So, this is Jim's question,  "I don't know, but perhaps other free email services such as Yahoo, Outlook Express and others may do the same thing. What do you think about Google's scanning of your emails? Armed with this knowledge, surely you won't send any of your passwords via email anymore, will you...(grin)."

So, What Do You Want Them to Know?

         It’s not a cheery handout today.  But as we keep hearing news reports the importance of  security and privacy grab our attention.  Of course, there are things we need to know and do.  Keeping up with the latest information is a necessary precaution for all of us.  Here is just a few possibilities for current sites for you to review. 

ID Theft, Opt Out Directions,  Free Credit Report,  Social Networking Danger

        See   lists articles on ID theft, security, privacy, cloud computing, medical info on HIPAA,  medical identity theft, and more.   
Lots of links are provided on this website. One article brought to our attention was “Top ten opt out list.”   The information goes into detail and when printed out is 12 pages long as it describes the various opt-outs you can use to stop information about you from being collected, circulated, and sold among various companies and government agencies.  
One company is described which builds detailed dossiers on consumers with “information scraped from social networking sites like Facebook, and is combined with public record data.”  Dossiers have been used in political campaigns and other businesses.  According to their quotation from Wall Street Journal this company’s segments recently included   “a person's household income range, age range, political leaning, and gender and age of children in the household, as well as interests in topics including religion, the Bible, gambling, tobacco, adult entertainment and ‘get rich quick’ offers. In all . . .  more than 400 categories, the documents indicated."
This site also gives consumer tips and links on how to get your free annual credit report.   
A February 2010 report discloses Digital Signage Privacy Principles which might be a new term and a previously unexplained form of sophisticated digital information collection.  

Traveling Brings New Challenges for Security and Privacy
        See  This website gives 20 pages of information.

Defending privacy at the U.S. Border:  a guide for travelers carrying digital devices   states that “for now, a border agent has the legal authority to search your electronic devices at the border even if she has no reason to think that you’ve done anything wrong.”  
It discusses such agencies as CBP, ICE, TSA.  Which other countries have you recently visited before entering the United States?  What other connections do you have there? 
Be aware of two basic precautions:  make regular backups so if your computer is ever taken, lost or destroyed you’ll still have access to your data, and encrypt the information on your computer.    
It gives details on how and why.  Talks about hard drives, flash drives, mobile phones, details, date and disk encryption, digital cameras. It goes into how to interact with border agents, what to say, how to behave.  The appendix lists 47 sources and their links with descriptions.  
You can click to download a PDF with this material. This might be something you’d want to pass along to your grown kids and friends who plan to travel this summer. 


These are not just the yummy ones Ginger brings to PMUG! Read on . . . 

What Info is Available for Internet Sites to Take? 

        Using Firefox:  are you collecting lots and lots of cookies?   See how to view history and clear what you don’t want saved.  Using Safari: 

        See   Indiana University knowledge base, dated 3-3-13.  Brief description of cache, cookies, history.   How to: for Firefox, Internet Explorer 7, 8, 9,  Chrome, Opera, Safari, Mobile Safari for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Android. 
        What personal information does Amazon gather and why? There’s 5 pages to read!  dated 4-6-12.
        Google’s Policy:  last modified 7-27-12.  Their policy in 8 pages; what they take and what you can determine on your end.  “We will not reduce your rights under this Privacy Policy without your explicit consent.”  Hmmmm.  

Password Managers Can Help
The query to Ben Patterson brings up info he wrote about iPhone, iPad:

How Safe is My Info on a Thumb Drive?

A handy little thumb drive can hold a lot of info.  But they can be misplaced, lost, mishandled.  Make a plan to store them and use them.  How long of a life do they have?  Probably you’ll want to back one up, then buy a new one & copy over again in a few years?  
An infected USB thumb drive can infect a computer.  This discusses software encryption, hardware encryption.

An Unexpected Phone Call From Your Grandson 

Oh, it was a young man’s voice on the phone, but he said, “Grandma, I’m calling from Rome and I need help.”  Who wouldn’t be concerned?  How did he travel so far from home?  What’s going on?  Asking a few questions like,  “Maybe you have the wrong number.  What did you say your name was?  What’s your sister’s name?”  Ask anything that only the real grandson could possibly know.  “Give me your phone number and I’ll call you back after I ...“  Make some quick excuse and sound sort of confused.  Your brain’s internal warning device is in full swing now.  You’ve heard about scams like this.  Don’t be cheated out of your $$$. 
Facebook gives crooks the information so they can find information to pretend to be your grandchild.     
Alert your grandkids about posting information on Facebook, etc that would jeopardize you or them!  A good reminder now and then shows you care about their safety.

So, What Can We Do?

While we are bemoaning the loss of truth, honesty, and respect in the world today we of the “generation with years of experience” must continue to be relevant and responsible. It’s part of our heritage, how mama and dad raised us to be decent and trustworthy.  It’s like doing push-ups for exercise.  Now, we’re exercising our brains.  And part of that is continuing communication.  Listen and learn.  Respond as best as you can!  
Let your computer help you keep in touch.  Let PMUG help you learn.  

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This was today's PMUG meeting handout from Elaine Hardt, May 18, 2013 

Do You Tweet?

        This article claims the Library of Congress is archiving every message sent from Twitter's six-year history from spring of 2006 to December 2012 — a total of 170 billion tweets —  and states, “ . . . the struggle now is for the LOC to create a keyword-searchable catalog for the vast amount of metadata associated with the archive, including the time and location that indicate a tie to certain events.”   Is anyone concerned about privacy?