Watch_Dogs “We are Data” – Creepy Cool Big Brother Interactive City Map

wearedata

If you don’t visit any websites today, take the time and visit this one: We Are Data and prepared to be amazed (and totally creeped out)!

According to Ubisoft’s website, in the video game “Watch_Dogs”, Chicago is a smart city where data is used to solve all sorts of complex city problems. To show the amount of real data that is actually available now, they made a big brotherish type website where you can view data from three major cities, in real time. The data is then placed in it’s location on an interactive map.

Watch_Dogs WeareData gathers available geolocated data in a non-exhaustive way: we only display the information for which we have been given the authorization by the sources. Yet, it is already a huge amount of data. You may even watch what other users are looking at on the website through Facebook connect.

You first select a city, then you can select on a blue diamond that gives an exact location in the city. You are then zoomed into an overhead map where you can see traffic lights, ATMs, mobile network locations, etc. Kind of cool, but the creepy factor jumps up as you also see live tweets and other social media information. You can click on the social media icons and see actual posts from people in that area!

wearedata1

This really makes you think, if a video game company can pull this off, what can other organizations do that have different agendas? Imagine an interactive map that provides actual cell phone user data. Or if clicking on the CCTV video icons actually showed you the video from the location.

Sound far fetched?

It really isn’t. What if an interactive map pulled in live cell user data, say from one of those fake cell towers (or from planes) you hear about? Open or easily hacked webcams and CCTV video camera interfaces could be added – ever hear of Shodan? Heck, vulnerable routers or again easily hacked ones could also be made available.

Sadly as a high-tech society, we share way to much information electronically. We also give up a lot of electronic security in the name of convenience. In doing so, we have made big brother type scenarios an actual possibility!

The best thing we can do is make sure our devices are secured and encrypted. Turn off any Geo-Location information, and set privacy features when using social media. Never leave network devices set to the default credentials. And finally, never trust public Wi-Fi!

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Russia Requires Popular Bloggers to Register

Russian president Vladimir Putin cranks down further on internet and press freedom by quietly signing into law a new “Blogger’s Law” on Monday.

According to the NY Times, the new legislation states that “any site with more than 3,000 visitors daily will be considered a media outlet akin to a newspaper and be responsible for the accuracy of the information published” and must register with the government.

What this means is that any blogger with a large following will have to register and tie what used to be somewhat anonymous speech with verifiable identification. In doing so the Russian government will be able to more closely monitor (and control) what it’s citizens are saying on the internet.

Along with reports of increased monitoring and filtering of Russian TV, news media and newspapers, this is yet another move by Putin to control free speech. And with the recent mass protests in Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine it makes you wonder if those “Pro-Russian” forces in Eastern Ukraine really understand what system that they are embracing.

Removing your Location and Personal Details from “Spooky-o” (Spokeo.com)

Spokeo.com is one of the coolest websites on the web when you are trying to find someone, but it can also be very creepy. In most cases Spokeo lists your name, relatives, location and even a picture of your house. Available to anyone on the web.

But how do you get out of their database?

If you live in the US and want to find information about someone, just go to Spokeo.com, put in their name and state and you can find a lot of information about them including the location where the person lives and past locations going back years!

This has led some people to nick-name the search site, “Spooky-o.com” as at times it indeed can be pretty spooky.

But how does it work?

So, if you search for Bill Gates in the US you find this:

Spokeo 1

There seems to be a lot of Bill Gates in the US.

But what about Bill H. Gates in Medina, Washington?

Well, that narrows down the search quite a bit. One of the returns shows this:

Spokeo 2

Without a Spokeo account, you can see parts of the address, phone and e-mail address. But with an account you can get a lot more information. This is something that a lot of people probably won’t want to be publicly accessible.

So, how can you get out of Spokeo’s database?

Thankfully, Spokeo provides an opt-out page which will remove your information from their database. Simply look up your name in spokeo and copy the url of the page you want removed. Then, surf to:

http://www.spokeo.com/optout

And fill out a small form including the spokeo url and your e-mail address.

Once Spokeo receives the form, they do in fact remove that record from Spokeo.

If you have multiple records listed, unfortunately you have to do it multiple times.

Social Engineers use sites like Spokeo to gather information about a target. If you want to remove your information from Spokeo, hopefully this will help provide you with a little more internet privacy.

Granted your personal information is still out there, the form does not remove you from the sources that Spokeo uses, but at least it removes it from one location!

Secure E-Mails Services Going Offline – NSA replacing Snowdens with Machines

Looks like the privacy war continues to heat up. Though the NSA claims that they are not reading everyone’s mail, two secure online e-mail providers just shutdown citing pressure from the US government. Also Gen. Keith Alexander wants to replace NSA system administrators (like Snowden) with machines!

First Snowden’s e-mail provider Lavabit closed it’s doors:

 

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. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on–the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.

What’s going to happen now? We’ve already started preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. A favorable decision would allow me resurrect Lavabit as an American company.

This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.

Sincerely,
Ladar Levison
Owner and Operator, Lavabit LLC

And now Silent Circle has announced that they too are shutting down:

However, we have reconsidered this position. We’ve been thinking about this for some time, whether it was a good idea at all. Today, another secure email provider, Lavabit, shut down their system lest they “be complicit in crimes against the American people.” We see the writing the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail now. We have not received subpoenas, warrants, security letters, or anything else by any government, and this is why we are acting now.

Crazy stuff and the news just keep getting better. This morning, Foxnews announced that in an effort to reduce leaks, NSA Chief Gen. Keith Alexander wants to replace up to 90% of it’s systems administrators with… Machines.

We trust people with data. At the end of the day it’s all about trust. If they misuse that trust, they can cause huge damage,” He said.

Misusing trust? Umm… Yeah, it’s like that…