Web browsers

July 12, 2022

How to browse safely

Did you know that your web browser is one of the most vulnerable applications? It is one of the applications that has the most information about you, and every piece of data can be exploited to become an entry point for hackers. Browsers have information such as: sites visited, passwords, credit cards, GPS location, and can even execute malicious code on your system.

Browsers can be a source of vulnerabilities as they can be attacked directly to steal your stored information, as well as execute malicious code when you download the file and view it with the browser. Incognito mode on some browsers is not really anonymous, your web browser still stores information about your browsing session, including the websites you visit and the files you download.

When you are in incognito mode, your service provider can still see what you are accessing.

How to surf safely?

1. Make sure the URL starts with HTTPS://. The “s” stands for “secure”. This indicates that the website uses a secure connection and that your data will be encrypted. The data transferred between you and the host cannot normally be read by a third party.

2. However, even if the website uses a secure connection, be aware that your open tabs can override their rights. If you have a “malicious” tab open, it can access information on your secure website. Make sure you only have tabs with secure sites and if you have any doubts, just open a new browser page with one tab so the site will be isolated.

3. Another way to stay safe online is to avoid storing passwords in your browser. Stored passwords are easy to access and can be stolen. If a hacker can get access to your computer or phone where the passwords are stored, they will be able to access your accounts easily.

4. Use a password manager. Even if you are using an encrypted phone or untraceable phone, this ensures that you have strong passwords, which you can generate from the manager so they are all unique and strong. You don’t have to remember all the different passwords, just the one in the handler, and since that’s the only one you’ll have to remember, you can use a very hard password. An excellent open-source manager is Keepass.

Use the best privacy phone, the most secure smartphone, an encrypted phone or an untraceable phone.

Were you followed up today?

April 6, 2022

Yes you did !

Unless you have the best privacy phone on the market, every time you connect to the internet you are observed, and maybe even judged, who knows? I’m talking about cookies.

Long story short, cookies are small spies that follow you when you connect to a web page. Their primary role is to facilitate our navigation, keeping in memory some of our data, for example: the websites you have visited, our logins and even passwords. So if you come back to the same site you don’t need to rewrite everything.

Great or disturbing?

Actually, both! Some cookies do improve the user experience, making it more personalized, but the reality is a bit different. Most of the time, “third-party tracking cookies” are added.

Imagine that tomorrow, when you wake up, 5 random people follow you absolutely everywhere, a bit like your phone. You go to work, to the gym, go shopping, have a drink with friends, a conversation with your therapist, your doctor. It was an ordinary day for you but you were stalked all the time.

How much information do you think these 5 people have learned about you, in one day? How much of these data would you rather have kept for yourself? Whatever, you go to sleep, tomorrow is another day.

The next morning these 5 people are still there, in front of your bed but this time, they have invited friends, and they all want to talk to you. They suggest you ways to get to work faster, show you a restaurant that makes your favourite food and tell you to train a bit more if you want to stay healthy.

Anyway you hardly listen to them and you start your normal week day. After your job, you meet your best friend, hang out, walk in the street and end up in your favourite bar. Interestingly your friend is also followed by 5 people. But it is okay because they stay behind your chair so they don’t take much space.

But while you are discussing shopping with your friend, they keep interrupting your conversation to inform you that a store is having a promotion on an item and another has bad reviews. It is bothering you but however, it is hard to tell them to stop because they do not really listen.

Finally it is Friday (my dudes), the last day of a long working week, and you wake up as usual at 7am with your strident alarm. The 5 stalkers are still here. They were actually taking notes of your sleeping behaviour, in case you wanted to increase the productivity of your nights. They start giving you tips, they have recorded your snores and finally, they purchase a fancy device to help you sleep. The bill ? It is ok, this one is free as long as you keep it activated during the nights.

You have received the sleeping device, you have reviewed your favourite bar, you have posted your daily status online, it was a good evening, you don’t go home alone. And what now? Would you really make love in front of these voyeurs? Because, yeah, they can help you with some tips, toys and fancy pills. But you’re not done. They will push some of the best-reviewed-food down your throat and they will leave you empty-headed. You will vote for their party and eventually give up your last boundaries.

I’ll stop here.

Cookies bring in information that brings in money.

We are the product. This must change.

We are a Swiss tech company

February 17, 2022

Well, I am not saying what you’re about to read is the truth – one must keep in mind that black or white arguments are always reductive and simplistic – but what if the big tech companies have no interest in guaranteeing you security? Even more, what if they are benefiting from your lack of privacy?

Internet is a huge thing based on an – almost – infinite number of stakeholders. Among them, you, the casual users are the main player in the game. You are the key to the system. Without you, the
internet would be a private and contained network between professionals, exactly how it was at its beginnings: an interconnection of hosts allowing efficient numerical communication between (mostly) universities.

Now Internet has overtaken the world. Everything is part of it, even your fridge, your baby webcam, and your TV.

What does it mean?! It implies that you are a node of the network and your usage benefits other players. For example, you rent access from your ISP that relies on other national and international
infrastructures that requires maintenance and upgrades… Anyway, your data is crossing the whole planet and is transiting (directly or indirectly) through many companies.

These companies rely on marketing research to adjust their offer to their customers and eventually to you, the final user. Because remember, without you, they wouldn’t exist. Therefore they require to stimulate a demand to grow. Thus they must know your needs and how to influence them. And it is exactly how your data enters the game. From your data, these companies can extract your
personality and use it to stimulate a will.

At this point, it is easy to understand that by protecting your data, they cut themselves from this huge source of benefits. Because with raw or sorted data they can sell, analyze, sell the analysis, or
just sorted databases, anonymously, recreate fictional or real personalities by crossing the databases and most of them sell advertising spaces based on the data collected and the preferences of their users… As data are duplicable and constantly fed, they can do it indefinitely!

Many agencies are willing to buy or trade this new commodity. From black to gray to “ethical” data markets, this new product is sourced in different ways. For example, big tech companies can sell
them and it is traded officially, or it can be bought on the dark web from hackers: the more precise and personal the better!

These agencies buy and resell databases to big companies that use them for their marketing research. For example, a full medical file can cost from 200-300USD on the dark web; pharma of
assurances corporations just love them.

Let’s stop here. This is a long list and I don’t want to trouble your sleep. Just keep in mind that this new high-value commodity (Facebook has roughly 95% of revenue from it) is and will be the key to the new economy’s business models. However, information is the pillar of our free speech and democracy. Protecting free access to the web should be on the lips of every tech companies’ CEO; putting users at the center shouldn’t be an argument to use us.
What if all you’ve just read is a picture of our current tech-invaded world? What if we are at the edge of a numerical deep revolution that will radically change the way we interact?

Please, prove me wrong; I will be delighted to admit my mistakes. But unfortunately, the recent privacy scandals seem to warn us against a terrible truth: we are not the users anymore. We are the
products of a cold machine.

You don’t like this future ? The cosmic revolution starts here. Be part of the wave. We need you to
save the world.

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