Some Cookies Are Yummy!

Not all browser cookies are bad for you. Many of those little tasty files that get dumped on your system serve a useful purpose.

I am somewhat security conscious when it comes to my surfing habits. I prefer as much privacy as I can manage without ruining my browsing experience. Achieving that can be problematic, though, these days. Yes, I run some privacy extensions like NoScript, Adblock+, Better Privacy, DoNotTrackMe, and FlashBlock in my Firefox browser, but there are also other habits that I have when it comes to using that browser.

I like to clean my snail trails (history, cookies, etc.) occasionally, but unless you have some special settings set in your FF browser Preferences, you’ll be inconvenienced each time you toss your cookies by the fact that you’ll lose your active logins on your favorite oft-visited sites; forcing you to login again after you’ve cleaned and tossed everything.

Of course, you can selectively delete cookies in FF, but if you’ve been surfing for a week or so before you decide to clean things up, you may have hundreds of cookies you’ll have to cull through carefully without tossing your important ones. It’s a pain in the rear end to have to do it that way. There used to be some FF extensions that would “protect” certain cookies for you, but most have not been updated to be functional in the newer versions of FF.

I’m going to show you how you can easily protect your important cookies and login data within FF’s Preferences without the need for another extension or any other mind-boggling procedures. Note: I’m using FF in Linux here. It’s probably similar in MS Windows, but you’ll have to investigate that for yourself.

The following mini-tutorial will be referring to this image:

Click to open in new tab/page

OK, here we go…

In order to be able to dump your cookies and other flotsam and jetsam out of your browser and still retain your favorite website logins and site preferences, you’ll need to do the following within your Firefox Preferences:

  1. Open your FF Preferences (Menu: File –> Edit –> Preferences) and choose the Privacy tab as shown in the image above.
  2. Within the Privacy area, use the pull-down menu under History to make the selection shown. This will open up the sub-menu of options just underneath.
  3. Set your History sub-menu options as you want them to be. NOTE: Where you see “Keep until:” under Accept Cookies, you MUST set FF to “I close Firefox” for this to work at all. If you manually remove all cookies using the Clear Recent History tool (Menu: History –> Clear Recent History) or the Remove All button in Cookie Viewer, then you really will REMOVE ALL COOKIES, even those of your Exceptions white-listed sites (see next step).
  4. Click on the Exceptions to the right of the box and another small window will pop up showing you what websites are white or black-listed in FF. You should add your favorite sites’ website address as shown in the image above and Allow them. This will allow those sites to retain cookies after automatic cleaning takes place. You can also block sites from installing cookies on your computer by adding the website address and clicking on Block.

If all went will, your Firefox should clean itself (when you close it) of the detritus of browsing and  yet retain the login and site preferences for your favorite sites that you had added to the Exceptions list as Allowed in Step 4 above. Now your FF browsing experience will be bit less bothersome for you. Your FF will start back up next time with a clean slate; ready for your day’s surfing pleasure, but you won’t have to re-login to all of your favorite sites. :)

As always, comments, corrections, suggestions on better methods, etc. are always welcomed here.

Later…

~Eric

Image credit: screenshot of Firefox Preference setting windows (c) V. T. Eric Layton

 


Bond, James Bond @ Encrypted Email 4 You

So, you want a little more privacy in your email communications with grandma, huh? Don’t want those pesky NSA analysts snarfing up that chocolate chip cookie recipe?

Well, this article is just what you need.

Recently, over at Scot’s Newsletter Forums, we were discussing email encryption options and methods. It’s a fun thread. Give it a looksee. There is some good info and some useful links to be had. For me, this is the culmination of all the recent stories regarding NSA and FBI email and Internet snooping spurred by the revelations of ex-NSA contractor, and current guest of Mr. Putin, Edward Snowden.

People should be more conscious of their privacy, I think. You’d be amazed how many people think that email is private. I asked five of my family and friends about this in the past couple days. Everyone of them thought email was at least as private as 1st class USPS mail (snail mail). None of these folks were technical types. They were just aunts, truck drivers, etc… everyday people. Sadly, I’d bet that many techies out there are just a confident of the privacy of their emails.

With all this in mind, I’m here today to enlighten you just a bit about email privacy (or lack thereof) and simple, yet very secure, methods you can use to ensure that what you send to grandma will only be read by grandma. We’re going to talk a bit about email encryption using OpenPGP. You can do this in GNU/Linux, MS Windows, or MacOS. Encryption works everywhere for the most part. You just need a couple tools to make it happen.

The Cone of Silence

My focus is on the Thunderbird email client using the Enigmail extension in GNU/Linux, Slackware to be specific. However, encrypting of emails and attachments is not difficult in any operating system. You just may have to use different means and applications to achieve it. Enigmail uses a protocol called OpenPGP. It is a very secure means of encrypting email and other documents using the Pretty Good Privacy data encryption method.

Security In-a-Box has created an excellent illustrated tutorial for setting up Enigmail in Thunderbird. I wouldn’t even attempt to top that one. Click on the hyperlink and learn very quickly and easily what you need to do to set this all up for yourself. In a matter of a few minutes, you can have your T-bird set up and capable of sending/receiving encrypted emails to your family, friends, workmates, etc.

For you MS Windows folks, there are also options. Windows Mail has a short FAQ regarding digitally signing and encrypting emails. It’s concise but informative. If you want to utilize OpenPGP in MS Windows, you can also do that thanks to the German government for creating an app called Gpg4win that allows you to set up and use OpenPGP in MS Windows just as you would in Linux.

There are quite a few good websites that explain email encryption, its methods, and the tools necessary to perform this feat. Here are a few to help you understand how this stuff works:

It might seem complicated, and the encryption part is pretty heavy stuff mathematically speaking; however, to actually utilize the tools available to encrypt your email and documents is not at all complicated. You drive your car yet you have no clue how the internal combustion engine works, right? Well, there you go. You don’t have to be Einstein to encrypt your emails. C’mon! Even grandma is doing it. Give it a try. Encryption can be FUN! And remember…

Privacy is a right.

Security is YOUR responsibility.

Trust no one. Encrypt everything.

Have some fun with it. You might even learn a thing or two. :)
Later,

~Eric

Image Credits: The Cone of Silence from the Get Smart television series. Image ownership unknown. Used without express permission. Contact author if this is a copyright violation. Image will be removed.

Don’t let KAOS read your mail.


The End of the Internet…

… and quite possibly your own personal privacy? How has it come to this?

The truth is outing in small bits and pieces. It’s like a large sack of feces oozing from small rents in its skin. The Surveillance State is very reluctant to give up its game plan. Are people like Assange, Manning, Snowden, and others really the EVIL plotters and traitors that governments around the world are desperately trying to paint them up to be? As more and more of the reality of our current security/surveillance apparatus comes out in to the light of day for our shocked appraisal, can we see a pattern here? Are we being lied to by our governments? Nah… say it ain’t so, Joe. :(

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under
robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be
satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

~ C. S. Lewis

A few days ago, Ladar Levison of Lavabit did a brave thing.

I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations.

Just today, Pamela Jones of Groklaw did a brave thing.

There is now no shield from forced exposure. Nothing in that parenthetical thought list is terrorism-related, but no one can feel protected enough from forced exposure any more to say anything the least bit like that to anyone in an email, particularly from the US out or to the US in, but really anywhere. You don’t expect a stranger to read your private communications to a friend. And once you know they can, what is there to say? Constricted and distracted. That’s it exactly. That’s how I feel.

Where will this end? These are brave people mentioned above who have decided to NOT participate in a system they can no longer believe in or recommend to others. This is one type of bravery. Another type is the Manning, Snowden, Assange type. And still another type will be those who will eventually rise up and do something about our world going so wrong on us. Really, folks… George Orwell didn’t have a clue. He had no idea of the technology that would be just around the corner to make his nightmarish world come true in spades!

Big Brother is watching you!

~ George Orwell

More seepage today from that sack of shit…

U.S. futuristic spy apparatus taking shape

The Department of Homeland Security recently tested a crowd-scanning project called the Biometric Optical Surveillance System — or BOSS — after two years of government-financed development. Although the system is not ready for use, researchers say they are making significant advances on it. That alarms privacy advocates, who say that now is the time for the government to establish oversight rules and limits on how it will someday be used.

This better alarm more than just privacy advocates. It better damned well alarm YOU, dear reader. Put down your damned mobile device for a couple minutes. Get off Facebook for just a moment or two. Pick up a newspaper. Visit an online news site. Pay attention to what’s happening to your world right now, this minute. Do it for yourself. Do it for your children and grandchildren. Be aware and BEWARE. Understand where this is leading. Comprehend its ramifications for you and those you love and the world as a whole.

All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.

~ Edmund Burke

You can take this article anyway you like. Consider it a rant by some tech geek or silly blogger. Peruse it and giggle uncontrollably. Or, even better… don’t just look, SEE. Wake up. Don’t just heave and push your way into the chute like the rest of the sheeple. The choice is yours… while you still have a choice.

Later…

~Eric

Further reading:


Invasion of the Data Snatchers!!!

Above here, you’ll see my new email and forum signature line.

What’s this all about you may very well be asking yourself. It’s about something that I find extremely disturbing; the continued erosion of our personal liberties in exchange for the promise of security and safety. As people from around the globe continue to swear undying enmity towards those who may, per chance, hold differing opinions regarding which bearded wise man sits up there in the clouds and manipulates the fates, governments around the world are taking this opportunity to strip us of all our liberties and freedoms that men have fought and died for over the past eons.

New technologies and methods of surveillance are being used by the governing powers to monitor and document your every word. movement, and action. They haven’t figured out how to monitor your thoughts yet, but give it time. George Orwell would be amazed. He was spot on, but a few years early. The technology had to catch up with his predictions.

Now that most communications, be they Internet or telephonic, are in digital format; it’s ever so much easier for the data to be sifted, copied, stored, etc. You couldn’t do that with analog. You would have had to actually record voice communications with some sort of recording devices; magnetic tape, for example. With digital, all they need to do is save your recent phone conversation with auntie Agatha to a file on a hard drive somewhere. They can peruse it, transcribe it, copy it, even manipulate it easily with the help of any computer. Ain’t tech great?

You better watch what you say to your auntie from now on. While you’re at it, you better be careful where you go (your cellphone is tracking you), who you are seen with (cameras everywhere), what you borrowed from the library (Anarchist’s Cookbook a big NO-NO), and definitely what you purchased from Amazon last night. It’s all out there just waiting to be picked through by whomever might be interested. They don’t have to actually go through your garbage cans late at night anymore. All your garbage is stored on servers all over the world nowadays… your credit records, medical records, consumer records, even what you’re viewing on those fancy new digital TVs via cable.

Moving out to that plywood shack in the woods and typing up your manifesto on that old Underwood typewriter is sounding more and more tempting every day, huh? Besides, it’s so much quieter out there. Watch out for those satellites and drones, though. There’s NO PLACE TO HIDE anymore. They’re watching YOU! It’s OK to be paranoid these days. Your silly delusions about THEM being out to get you might not be so silly after all. You do have a good supply of weird uncle Bob’s tinfoil hats, right?

Later…

~Eric

Here’s some interesting reading for you:

NSA, FBI mine Internet firms’ data, documents show - Tampa Bay Times

Daily Report: U.S. Confirms That It Gathers Online Data - NY Times/Bits

Obama Calls Surveillance Programs Legal and Limited - NY Times


The Latest Stallman Rant

Always entertaining, often enlightening. Read what Mr. Stallman has to say about Ubuntu’s new relationship with Amazon.

Ubuntu Spyware: What to Do?

One of the major advantages of free software is that the community protects users from malicious software. Now Ubuntu GNU/Linux has become a counterexample. What should we do?

Read the rest of this interesting article HERE.

Later…

~Eric


Dude! Where’s My Data?

My faithful readership may remember that I’m not a fan of cloud computing at all.

I feel that it’s just another way to restrict Internet usage, suck up your data, track your habits, and make $$$ for the greedy mega-corps currently circling around one another in the Internet seas seeking fresh meat (you) to gorge upon.

In light of the recent TERMINATION of operation of MegaUpload by Agent Smith and his colleagues, one has to wonder what happens to all the legitimate data that was stored on those servers? Are you one of the unlucky ones who is quite possibly having your private data scoured by the IT department gnomes at BIG BROTHER Central? Disturbing thought, huh?

Sebastian Anthony at ExtremeTech wrote an interesting article about the demise of MegaUpload. Here’s a tidbit:

There have always been two major concerns about cloud services in general, and cloud storage (Dropbox, Megaupload, SkyDrive, iCloud, and so on). The first is privacy: When you upload data to a third party, there’s always the risk that they can look at the contents of your files. Some cloud providers securely encrypt data, but many don’t. The second issue is data security and integrity: Does the third party keep a tight ship against hackers? What happens if a hard drive fails? What protections have the cloud provider put in place to mitigate against natural disasters, bankruptcy, or being shut down by the Feds?

Yes. What happens to your data? Who gets to look at it? The “folly of cloud storage”; it is, indeed.

Rebecca Lipman at The Motley Fool writes:

Government access to cloud computing files
Many note that the timing coincided too conveniently with SOPA online protests. And although SOPA has not passed, the death of Megaupload, which is seen as a kind of victim to the government’s fight against piracy, brings some interesting, if not disturbing, aspects of cloud computing to life.

Get wise, folks. Stop volunteering your personal data to these giant data-sucking companies like Google and Facebook. Keep your personal data where in belongs… in your personal possession; meaning on your own damned system. Drives and drive space are so BIG and cheap these days, you could have your very own server farm in the back room of your house to store all your stuff. You don’t need to be uploading it to Suckle or Slurpbox so they can sift it and then target you with advertisements.

Anywho… that’s just how I feel about this. Y’all have fun now. :)

Later…

~Eric

Further reading:

Megaupload’s demise: What happens to your files when a cloud service dies? – ExtremeTech

Popular file-sharing website Megaupload shut down - Yahoo Finance

Feds Shut Down Megaupload: Warning Sign for the Cloud Storage Model? - The Motley Fool


Google Wants YOU!

Well, they want ALL of your Internet usage data, anyway.

In yesterday’s news, stories were published all over the Internet regarding Google’s new upcoming NO-OPT-OUT Privacy Agreement due to hit the streets in early March. Google, in their ever widening, ever more frenetic feeding frenzy to control every bit of data on the Internet, has decided that they will now combine ALL of your data across all of their apps, that you are already so addicted to using, into one nice and easily (for them) accessible pile.

BIG BROOGLE, er… I mean Google will now be able to track your activity online from your Gmails to Auntie Em all the way to that stash of Uncle Bob’s tinfoil hat designs that you have sitting in your Picasa account. So, is that cool or what? Google is a giant seine net that scoops up every bit of cyber data that you so kindly make available to them on a daily basis. They use this data to ENRICH themselves, their shareholders, and their business partners. If you ain’t in any of those categories, you ain’t seeing any $ showing up in your bank accounts, even though it’s your data providing them with that money.

So, is there something wrong with making a buck? No, of course there isn’t. That’s the capitalist way, comrades. It’s what has made America China great! I don’t have an issue with companies and individuals making money. Hey! Money makes the world go ’round. Commerce is good. However, when you are forced to agree to terms by a bully in the schoolyard who takes your baloney sandwich that mom packed for you, well… that just ain’t right.

I’m not naive. I know that Google isn’t the first evil empire to do this stuff. There was Microsoft before them, forcing folks buying computers to use their OS… or at least pay for it. Once you got the system home, you could wipe that OS off the drive and put something good, like GNU/Linux on there. ;) You still had some choice, if you were knowledgeable enough and had the motivation. The sheeple just used Windows; just like the sheeple will continue to use Google. That’s the way of the world, I s’pose. Doesn’t mean I can’t bitch about it, though.

Choice is yours folks. Remember the saying, “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.” Free minds, free knowledge, FREEDOM! Only the greedy feel the need to use profit/loss columns to determine something’s worth.

Later…

~Eric

Further reading:

Google announces privacy changes across products; users can’t opt outWashington Post Business

Google Privacy Police Change: How Does It Affect You? – International Business Times

Google’s Privacy Policy: A Wakeup Call, But That’s It - PCMagazine

Related article:

Google Won’t Pwn Me! - Nocturnal Slacker v1.0

Image credits: Google is watching you – ownership unknown. If you own the copyright to this image, contact the author to amend usage here.


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