I first published this in 2013 but since I’ve been asked recently by several friends, I figured I update it with more current information. For the record, I’m a CISSP, and as such, computer security is always in the top of my mind. For me, that also extends to privacy. Since I spend a good amount of time at airports, hotels, coffee shops and generally roaming around, having a VPN service has become a necessity for me as well as for anyone who values their online privacy and safety, even at home.
Yes, my really nice Samsung Galaxy Note 4, with an excellent camera, perfect size, and bright screen… Coming out of an Uber in front of my house at night, fell on a second curb that was put there for protection. I was about to give 5 stars to my driver, when baam! Face down. Since my phone was in my hand, it landed screen down with all my weight. The poor thing kept vibrating at random intervals with no other visible activity.
I don’t think it takes a lot of brainpower to realize why Internet users need to proactively make every effort to protect their online privacy. Every piece of data that can be extracted with regards to our behavior, will be harvested and sold, with various purposes, from behavioral modeling for targeted advertisement, to potential profiling by 3-letter government agencies that may not agree with that you are trying to view. On the same note, storage has become so cheap over time, that this data could be available for years to come, so searches made today, could conceivable put you in some list years from now.
I resisted joining Facebook for quite some time, not because I’m a Luddite or an old timer, but rather because I know better than most people what goes on underneath the surface of such type of platforms. I also know well what happens to companies that become public and now face the constant pressure of produce results for the quarter. There is no free lunch… However, most of my family in Chile, Europe and the USA have chosen that medium to communicate and share their daily lives and updates, without any regard for their sense of privacy or even a clear understanding of what they are giving away for the service they get.
I’ve never been very fond of keeping something as sensitive as my personal email in a service provider. I used to run my own email server at home based on Zimbra a few years back, but like everything else, it became cumbersome. Updates, backups and having to deal with restrictive ISP policies around SMTP made me finally give up and move all my 14 years of email to Google. But I knew what was going on.