Technology and Business Law Blog

O v. W

Bush’s shadow still looms over the justice department.

President Obama, as soon as he took over the office issued  memos to designed to improve the federal government’s openness and transparency. The first memo instructs all agencies and departments to “adopt a presumption in favor” of Freedom of Information Act requests, while the second memo orders the director of the Office of Management and Budget to issue recommendations on making the federal government more transparent.

In-spite  of Obama’s directive, the justice department is still trying to shield the dirty secrets and methodologies of the Bush administration, which was one of the worst administrations in the history of this country. It was a sham democracy, and the administration conducted more terrorizing activities under the pretext of security than any terrorists from outside the country. All the freedoms and values that this country was built on were cast aside without any recourse. Organization like the EFF, the ACLU and others tried their best to resist these by filing law suits and bringing these issues and activities in the open to create public awareness.

The Bush Justice Department said it would use any legitimate legal argument to defend withholding records from the public.The Obama administration is just advocating the opposite and seeking openness and disclosure, but we might just never come to know the dirty secrets of the past administration. The silver lining is that it is the past administration and thank God it is over and hopefully we don’t have to be subjected to humiliating treatment each time we are in the public for the simple reason that we look different or that our name sounds different.

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February 18, 2009 Posted by | Executive Privilege, Security, Surveillance | Leave a comment

Password Security

Getting hands on personal information leading to breach of identity and security issues is the hottest methodology of criminals. Thanks to the Internet, as I had earlier mentioned there is tons of information just available to just about anybody about just about anybody (that is right) and so ease of availability leads hackers and others to get their hand on it.  This can be done by being anywhere in the world and access other people’s information again anywhere in the world. It surely is a world without borders since the web servers can be hosted anywhere in the world. This is exactly what happened at Monster.com were details of 1.3 million job seekers were stolen.

Hackers broke into the U.S. on-line recruitment site’s password-protected resume library using credentials that Monster Worldwide said were stolen from its clients, in one of the biggest Internet security breaches in recent memory. Talking about password protection, a 23 year old convicted computer hacker states that it hacking into corporate computers is the easiest thing to do- “so easy that a caveman could do it.” Read this. The main reason stated by him is that the computers were insecure with default passwords and once he had the default password then “we’d have all sorts of information, basically the whole database, right at our fingertips.”

Keith Rhodes, chief technologist at the U.S. Government Accountability Office, said “Default passwords are a silly problem,” said Rhodes, who is widely considered to be the federal government’s top hacker. “But they were able to take a silly flaw and turn it into a business. … It disappoints me, but I’m not surprised.”

Password security is real important even with our personal computers and one has to take the time to set up a unique password that is not generic and change it often especially if on-line accounts are used and financial transactions are being conducted.

September 26, 2007 Posted by | Computer hacking, passwords, Security | Leave a comment

Cybercriminals on the Prowl

The other side of the coin to the Internet’s convenience of world at ones finger tips is that the crimes being committed on-line are also on the cybercriminals finger tips, ranging from identity frauds, seducing kids on-line to the latest one of “online hitman scams“. Before the Internet era, crimes against people were mainly conducted within certain geographical boundaries but now with the Internet and access to people around the world at everyone’s fingertips, everyone in any part of the world who is having an on-line presence of some sorts is now a pry and an easy target to the cybercriminals.

Gees, were we better off in the good old days before we were able to function without becoming dysfunctional if we don’t use the net?

June 21, 2007 Posted by | cybercrime, Security | Leave a comment

The Ongoing Privacy Battle

Google and privacy issues have been synonymous lately. Google continues to forge ahead with personalization projects and it’s new product iGoogle has personalized home pages that store a slew of content preferences based on user names, and not on anonymous IP address which Google uses to store individual search data.

Privacy International has characterized Google as “an endemic threat to privacy” .

Google and other companies who come up with the latest technology tracking people in the normal course of their lives and their searches over the net and thus keeping tab on their day to day activities, come up with defenses stating that all the information gathered is confidential or that the appropriate security measures have been taken, but the problem is that these so called security measures don’t stand the test of time because there are others out there who are always prying and snooping and take it up as a challenge to hack through these security technology and they do and will succeed.

Cracking through these security measures put up by the likes of Google, gives these hackers a thrill and such information could fall into the wrong hands. As naive as it may sound my question is who is profiting from developing all this technology that snatches away people’s identity and peace from themselves. The reality of life is that unless one wants to live in a cave in isolation, just conducting normal day to day activities and being part of the society threatens people’s privacy and people have become a pawn in this game.

June 20, 2007 Posted by | privacy, Security, Technology, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Microsoft Virtual Earth, Google Earth and Google Street View

Microsoft Virtual Earth not to be left behind Google Earth came up with the ariel high resolution very clear and identifiable incredible 3D photographs of properties including private residences. For example if you went to Zillow.com (which partners with Microsoft Virtual Earth) and plugged a residence address a few homes in and around the neighborhood show up. The pictures are very clear, every tree, shrub and yard decoration shows up. Even the cars parked in the drive way can be seen. Privacy and security issues have been raised especially on private properties and the defense is that images of people, pets, etc in their yards have been deleted and that a particular property cannot be identified in isolation. Another defense could be that anyone driving by the neighborhood can see the property or a aircraft flying low can see all this from the air since it is in plain view.

Now that may be true but a normal person flying over or driving by a private residence usually does not take high resolution pictures especially of an enclosed high wooden fenced backyard and post it on the web. The above argument fails if I plug in a private residence address that is a corner lot because then just that property’s layout is totally identifiable.

I would think when people enclose their backyard with tall wooden fences and shrubery it is because they want privacy and security. Such high resolution pictures makes it easier to break in or plot a break in. A person intending to break into a property can drive by the property note the street address, the location in the street/neighborhood and then look up the topography of the backyard in Microsoft Virtual Earth and plan a break in.

Now Google’s “street view” raises similar issues and a European technology lawyer says that this could breach European privacy law; (See Google Street View could breach Law) so then why is it not a big deal in the US? Do we have to be on the look out to see who is spying on us and not be sure where our picture will show up and be paranoid about our day to day activities?

June 13, 2007 Posted by | privacy, Security | 4 Comments