Thursday, June 5, 2014

Reset the Net

It's been a year since Edward Snowden's revelations about how government spies spy on us all... and, although there is a lively debate going on, the U.S. government has still not restrained the spooks to within Constitutional limits.  The recent USA Freedom Act voted for in the House is a much-weakened version of a not-tough-enough-to-start-with piece of legislation.  A farce, basically.  Cream pies any minute!

Unless it's very well done, I'm not that fond of farce on stage...

I'm less fond of farcical spy-romping in my medical records, my finances, or my personal and professional life.  Our whole lives are online or over cell phones these days.

But we don't have to wait for politicians to get their act together.

A photo from the farce Too Many Cooks at Circle Theatre
See the guy under the counter listening?  

We can MAKE the internet more private.  Ourselves.  And we can demand more security from providers and websites.  I find the TV remote challenging, but even I know the most basic security move we all need to take:

The first step - right now! - choose different passwords for each website and choose stronger passwords.

"123456" is no good.  Neither is "abcdef."  "Letmein" or your address or your dog's name are just lame.  Choose a long string - 12 digits is good - and make those a mix of upper and lower case letters plus numbers and, for extra toughness, some punctuation.  Make passwords random!

But you can't remember such a long random string.  So you'll either need to write this down somewhere very secure indeed, or need to post it to a secure "lockbox" kind of internet service (which makes me nervous), or make your "random" string actually a mnemonic that you CAN remember... but that no one else can guess.

Password strength is the first layer of protection against identity theft and peeping government.

Read BoingBoing's good article on net security HERE to learn much much more.

Let's keep the eavesdropping on stage, huh?  Where it has a chance of being funny.

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