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Yahoo and Google Data Availability to Law Enforcement & For Legal Process

email magnifying glass

 

As we’ve surmised by now, Lois Lerner’s missing emails exist – somewhere.  There’s also now the availability of cloud hosting, a method of saving your email on the net that allows you 24/7  access from any remote location.  So, do you really know what happens to all of your subscription information, emails, attachments, etc., once you shut down an email account?  What if your information is requested by law enforcement or in anticipation of litigation?   What is the legal process in such a case?

We’ve conducted research into data retention by the two major service providers: Yahoo and Google:

YAHOO

yahoo data save

Compliance With Law Enforcement:    PRESERVATION

Will Yahoo! preserve information?

Yahoo! will preserve subscriber/customer information for 90 days. Yahoo! will preserve information  for an additional 90-day period upon receipt of a request to extend the preservation.   If Yahoo! does not receive formal legal process for the preserved information before the end of the  preservation period, the preserved information may be deleted when the preservation period expires.

 

GOOGLE

What kinds of data do you disclose for different products?

To answer that, let’s look at four services from which government agencies in the U.S. commonly request information: Gmail, YouTube, Google Voice and Blogger. Here are examples of the types of data we may be compelled to disclose, depending on the ECPA legal process, the scope of the request, and what is requested and available. If we believe a request is overly broad, we will seek to narrow it.

Gmail
Subpoena:

  • Subscriber registration information (e.g., name, account creation information, associated email addresses, phone number)
  • Sign-in IP addresses and associated time stamps

Court Order:

  • Non-content information (such as non-content email header information)
  • Information obtainable with a subpoena

Search Warrant:

  • Email content
  • Information obtainable with a subpoena or court order
YouTube
Subpoena:

  • Subscriber registration information
  • Sign-in IP addresses and associated time stamps

Court Order:

  • Video upload IP address and associated time stamp
  • Information obtainable with a subpoena

Search Warrant:

  • Copy of a private video and associated video information
  • Private message content
  • Information obtainable with a subpoena or court order
Google Voice
Subpoena:

  • Subscriber registration information
  • Sign-up IP address and associated time stamp
  • Telephone connection records
  • Billing information

Court Order:

  • Forwarding number
  • Information obtainable with a subpoena

Search Warrant:

  • Stored text message content
  • Stored voicemail content
  • Information obtainable with a subpoena or court order
Blogger
Subpoena:

  • Blog registration page
  • Blog owner subscriber information

Court Order:

  • IP address and associated time stamp related to a specified blog post
  • IP address and associated time stamp related to a specified post comment
  • Information obtainable with a subpoena

Search Warrant:

  • Private blog post and comment content
  • Information obtainable with a subpoena or court order

Note about general Gmail retention:  Even if you Purge your Trash email or shut down your gmail account, your email remains available for recovery for 20 days beyond when the mail is deleted or the account closed.

Please feel welcome to contact us with more specific questions regarding data retrieval from these two major service providers (and lesser used ISPs w/unique data product.)

BNI Operatives: Street smart; info savvy.

As always, stay safe.

 

 

SPECIAL EDITION: Charity Scams – Spotting Them & Guardian Go-To Info Sites

earthquake
(Given the breaking news, this is a compilation piece, thanks to news coverage and background information from CNN, FOX, AARP and Scambusters. )

After tragedy strikes – as it did this Sunday, August 24, 2014 in California — expect two immediate reactions: Well-intentioned people will want to give donations. And scammers will want to take them.

Within hours of any disaster, charity scams go into full swing. Even before  Superstorm Sandy made landfall, 1,000 new websites with “Sandy,” “relief” or related keyword search terms in them had been registered, many of them by scammers.

Some of the bogus websites seek your credit card number to collect supposed donations, possibly also using that information later for identity theft. Others infect your computer with malware that can ferret out sensitive information, such as your account numbers or passwords.

Fraudsters also do their work by blasting out thousands of spam emails, text messages and phone calls. They get their word out on Facebook and Twitter and even go door-to-door.

“Tragedies inspire people to give,” says H. Art Taylor of the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. “After every natural disaster and manmade catastrophe, we see an outpouring of generosity … along with the inevitable scams and frauds. We urge donors to take the time to make sure their donations are going to legitimate charities.”   Here’s how:

1. Check it out

Before donating to a charity, take time to authenticate it. In addition to the Wise Giving Alliance, charity names and reputations can be vetted at Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, Scambusters and GuideStar. You can also contact the agency in your state that regulates charities. Be suspicious of charities not listed or with questionable track records.

2. Don’t let them in

Unless you previously donated to an organization and have already provided your contact information, it’s wise to assume that an unsolicited donation request by email or phone is a scam. Don’t click on links in emails, Facebook or Twitter; they can unleash computer malware.

3. Examine the Web address

When using an Internet search engine to find charities, treat the results pages with caution. Carefully read organizations’ Internet addresses before clicking on them. Scammers often create rogue websites with sly misspellings, tweaks or sound-alike names. Also know that legitimate nonprofit organizations typically end in .org, not .com.

We know your hearts are big.   Certainly, donate if you can and want to but be careful and be smart.

BNI Operatives: Street smart; info savvy.

As always, stay safe.

Municipal IDs and Illegal Alien Amnesty Making E-Verify Compliance Difficult.

everify

(The sentiment reflected in the above jpeg are not reflective are our views but rather a notice circulating online – and one that does not address the real issues facing employment of undocumented immigrants.)

Currently, employers are required to verify employee work eligibility in regard to the potential new hire’s legal residence in the United States.  Seems like a fairly simple regulation but let’s first identify the inter-related issues of this type verification with the distribution of municipal IDs for undocumented aliens and proposed amnesty for the 11 – 12 million illegal aliens currently residing in the United States.  Below are brief definitions of these three programs/factors and then we pose the question of the real viability for true compliance with E-Verify.

 

E-Verify:

U.S. law requires companies to employ only individuals who may legally work in the United States – either U.S. citizens, or foreign citizens who have the necessary authorization.

E-Verify is an Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States.

Source: E-Verify

Municipal IDs:

“New York City is creating its own official identification card, which is excellent news for immigrants without papers and other New Yorkers who hope to make their city a more secure and navigable place. Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the bill on Thursday (July 17, 2014). The cards are supposed to be available early next year.”

Source: NY Times

Amnesty for Illegal Aliens:

The proposed immigration amnesty would benefit the 12 to 20 million undocumented aliens (illegal immigrants) currently living in the United States. An amnesty for illegal aliens forgives their acts of illegal immigration and implicitly forgives other related illegal acts such as driving and working with false documents. The result of an amnesty is that large numbers of foreigners who illegally gained entry into the United States would achieve legal residency status (Green Card).

Source: USAmnesty. org

Having defined these three factors that are intertwined in the hiring of new employees, let’s explore the inherent compliance issues for employers. 

 – E-Verify requires employers to verify the eligibility of new employees within 72 hours of their first paid work date.

 – The requirements to obtain a municipal ID are still in flux with the ACLU having filed suit in NYS, claiming that illegal aliens will be “outed” by the program if required to present birth records.

 

 – A large amnesty grant presents its own obvious problem for previously undocumented aliens when attempting to gain employment.  There is no mechanism within the E-Verify program to allow for the vetting of those awarded amnesty. 

In our research for this article, we were unable to find any sources of information that addressed these issues.  HR departments, small business owners who employ their own hiring practices and any other entity that is mandatorily obligated to comply with E-Verify have thus far been left completely in the dark as to methods of acceptable employment verification but I’m fairly certain penalties for noncompliance – through no fault of the potential employer’s efforts – will not be waived.

We’ll be monitoring this situation closely and being you updates as available.

BNI Operatives: Street smart; info savvy.

As always, stay safe. 

 

Deep Face: FB’s Facial Recognition Software Can- and Probably Will, Follow You Everywhere Online.

deep face

 

 

(We believe our readers will easily make the connection to the uses of  facial recognition capabilities as it applies to law enforcement and the field of law.  For this reason, we sought and received permission to reprint this article in its entirety from ExtremeTech.  This technology has advanced so quickly that its implications for the future are limitless – good, bad or indifferent as these applications resolve.  Read on and draw your own conclusions.) 

 

Facebook’s facial recognition research project, DeepFace (yes really), is now very nearly as accurate as the human brain. DeepFace can look at two photos, and irrespective of lighting or angle, can say with 97.25% accuracy whether the photos contain the same face. Humans can perform the same task with 97.53% accuracy. DeepFace is currently just a research project, but in the future it will likely be used to help with facial recognition on the Facebook website. It would also be irresponsible if we didn’t mention the true power of facial recognition, which Facebook is surely investigating: Tracking your face across the entirety of the web, and in real life, as you move from shop to shop, producing some very lucrative behavioral tracking data indeed.

The DeepFace software, developed by the Facebook AI research group in Menlo Park, California, is underpinned by an advanced deep learning neural network. A neural network, as you may already know, is a piece of software that simulates a (very basic) approximation of how real neurons work. Deep learning is one of many methods of performing machine learning; basically, it looks at a huge body of data (for example, human faces) and tries to develop a high-level abstraction (of a human face) by looking for recurring patterns (cheeks, eyebrow, etc). In this case, DeepFace consists of a bunch of neurons nine layers deep, and then a learning process that sees the creation of 120 million connections (synapses) between those neurons, based on a corpus of four million photos of faces. (Read more about Facebook’s efforts in deep learning.)

Once the learning process is complete, every image that’s fed into the system passes through the synapses in a different way, producing a unique fingerprint at the bottom of the nine layers of neurons. For example, one neuron might simply ask “does the face have a heavy brow?” — if yes, one synapse is followed, if no, another route is taken. This is a very simplistic description of DeepFace and deep learning neural networks, but hopefully you get the idea.

Sylvester Stallone, going through DeepFace's forward-facing algorithm

Anyway, the complexities of machine learning aside, the proof is very much in the eating: DeepFace, when comparing two different photos of the same person’s face, can verify a match with 97.25% accuracy. Humans, performing the same verification test on the same set of photos, scored slightly higher at 97.53%. DeepFace isn’t impacted by varied lighting between the two photos, and photos from odd angles are automatically transformed (using a 3D model of an “average” forward-looking face) so that all comparisons are done with a standardized, forward-looking photo. The research paper indicates that performance — one of the most important factors when discussing the usefulness of a machine learning/computer vision algorithm — is excellent, “closing the vast majority of [the] performance gap.”

Facebook facial recognition fail

Facebook tries to impress upon us that verification (matching two images of the same face) isn’t the same as recognition (looking at a new photo and connecting it to the name of an existing user)… but that’s a lie. DeepFace could clearly be used to trawl through every photo on the internet, and link it back to your Facebook profile (assuming your profile contains photos of your face, anyway). Facebook.com already has a facial recognition algorithm in place that analyzes your uploaded photos and prompts you with tags if a match is made. I don’t know the accuracy of the current system, but in my experience it only really works with forward-facing photos, and can produce a lot of false matches. Assuming the DeepFace team can continue to improve accuracy (and there’s no reason they won’t), Facebook may find itself in the possession of some very powerful software indeed. [Research paper: "DeepFace: Closing the Gap to Human-Level Performance in Face Verification"]

What it chooses to do with that software, of course, remains a mystery. It will obviously eventually be used to shore up the existing facial recognition solution on Facebook.com, ensuring that every photo of you on the social network is connected to your account (even if they don’t show a visible tag). From there, it’s hard to imagine that Zuckerberg and co will keep DeepFace purely confined to Facebook.com — there’s too much money to be earned by scanning the rest of the public web for matches. Another possibility would be branching out into real-world face tracking — there are obvious applications in security and CCTV, but also in commercial settings, where tracking someone’s real-world shopping habits could be very lucrative. As we’ve discussed before, Facebook (like Google) becomes exponentially more powerful and valuable (both to you and its share holders) the more it knows about you.

BNI Operatives: Street smart; info savvy.

As always; stay safe.

How Do Teens Get Their Info? Let’s Ask One. Introducing the Beacon Bulletin, Jr.!

With this special edition, we launch a new feature of the Bulletin –  Beacon Bulletin, Jr.  As important as it is for adults to have accurate sources of current information, it is perhaps doubly so for the younger members of our society in that  they are now beginning to form their viewpoints, gain perspectives and develop core beliefs.  To that end, please welcome our newest and youngest guest writer, Meghan E. Olden.

meghan olden

meghan olden 2

 

(We couldn’t decide which of the Many Magnificent Looks of Meghan to go with so here are two of our favorites!)

Meghan is a Maryland high school student with the goal of become a professional writer.  Her interests and activities include creative writing, graphics, winter color-guard,  marching band and visual arts.  She lives with her parents and is well protected by her one sibling –  older brother, Eric,  and enjoys the loyal company of her faithful, lovable family dog, Lizzy.

We realize that many of our readers are parents or guardians of children.  (For the purpose of this article, we are focusing on teenagers.) Given the rapid  information site turnover rate in Tech Age 5.0, and the incredible amount of data available to teens today, how and where are they obtaining critical information on which to base their forming perceptions and desire to self-educate?

In Meghan’s own words:
This summer, in wanting to stay healthy, I became more active recently.  I choose an old favorite for exercise – biking.

One of my recent bike rides found me back at my elementary school from which I had graduated 5 years ago.   I eventually found myself sitting on top of the monkey bars of the deserted playground that I had not stepped foot in since I’d moved on to high school. The overwhelming silence brought about reflection after I realized how different it felt. What so long ago felt gigantic – the high bars and enormous space – were now almost too small to fit me.  I was suddenly aware of how much I’d changed since the last time I’d been sitting there and how much more, well, opinionated, I had become.  In elementary school, I, like most children, just accepted what we were taught or had overheard/witnessed in our homes and school environments as gospel.  Young children often parrot their relatives and or friend’s parents without question and with very little understanding of the words/thoughts that they are rote repeating.  (As an example, my five y.o. cousin was recently playing in my living room, with the tv on in the background.  A brief clip of President Obama speaking aired and without lifting his head from his car toy, he called out, “O’Poo-poo head”.   I asked him why he called the President this name and he shrugged his shoulders.  I asked him why he thought that the President should be called this name.  He said he didn’t know. Obviously, he’d heard this comment at home, school, at a friend’s home…)  I know I’m guilty of simply repeating things I’ve heard from others without question but that afternoon, sitting on those now seemingly tiny monkey bars, it occurred to me to question more.  Having advanced to high school, I’m finding myself in the right environment to begin researching interests on my own and from there, develop my own opinions.

High school is a hot bed of differing ideas being brought forth, exchanged, and debated. It’s the time when people my age begin to question what they observe and begin to affirm their beliefs.    In recent years, I’ve started to ask questions. I’ve begun to look at different perspectives, opinions and views. Being exposed to different ideas can be a very enlightening experience. But I also recommend starting with a neutral perspective.  I learned this from watching the same YouTube video two years apart. The first time, I came in with a “this person is completely wrong, I’m sure of it.” view, and I walked away at the end,  quite offended. The second time, it was with a “let’s see what they have to say” attitude and I came out of it thinking, “Hey, they actually have some valid points!”.

This also led me to thinking, we – people my age – have to learn how to find a mix of sources of information so that we can view things from different angles and determine for ourselves our beliefs and positions on important issues.  In a few short years, I will be voting. I should be as informed as possible on what is going on around me, the country, the world… as possible.

To that end, I recommend the following informational sources for teens, and well, just about anyone:

Politics:   http://www.ontheissues.org/default.htm. provides an unbiased presentation of many political leaders and their views on different topics, as well as information on upcoming presidential candidates.

News: http://www.alternet.org

Health and Medicine: http://www.sciencedaily.com/news/health_medicine/ and http://www.mentalhealth.gov/ has you covered. for the blues or anything else like that that may be on your mind.

(Or if you were looking for more of a daily life and nutrition kind of site and less technical there’s http://dailyhealthpost.com/)

Technology:  http://mobile.extremetech.com/?origref=#/latest

Personal safety: The Beacon Bulletin, of course! and (unbiased!)   http://www.ncpc.org/topics/violent-crime-and-personal-safety

- Meghan Olden

Thank you, Meghan, for this well thought-out and presented piece on a teen’s perspective on information gathering and the importance of forming one’s own opinions based on accurate research.    You have a brilliant writing future ahead of you.

(We will be returning to our usual format in next week’s Bulletin with the Jr. edition publishing in timely episodes.)

BNI Operatives: Street smart; info savvy (at all ages!)

As always, stay safe.

Personal Use of Drones for Beginners

drone moniotring person

 

There has been an alarming increase in the  number of drone/aircraft near strike incidents as reported in the news recently. (Personal drones – not those that can take out an entire village.)

The direct correlation to these near-misses by drones and planes is to that of drone availability and usage by private corporate entities (from cargo trackers to commercial real estate developers), publication photographers, the private sector for personal pleasure use and certainly in our field, that of investigations.

Further increasing their popularity, the price of a decent drone is very attractive:  $1,368 for this Phantom (one of the top devices for personal/business use):

phnatom 2

So where are we with the regulation of personal/corporate drones re: permissible use according to the governing regulatory agency, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).   Read for yourself :  From thenextweb.com (July 1, 2014):

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is in charge of overseeing airspace in the US and the guidance for non-commercial users. With the increasing realization for the potential of drones, it’s already looking closely at how – and when – they should be permitted for use by businesses (or individuals for commercial activity) in the US. All model aircraft use for business or commercial use in the US is already subject to FAA regulation.

However, if you’re hoping that Amazon’s delivery drones are just around the corner, you’ll be disappointed. The FAA ruled recently that drone use for business purposes will remain banned for the immediate future, but that hobbyist use is still OK for now, providing you follow a few rules.ParrotARDrone 730x567 How to use personal drones legally: A beginners guide

Specifically, the drone must be kept in your line of sight and clearly observable from your position on the ground, along with a few less-specifically definedpieces of guidance which are more applicable to model aircraft:

“Users are advised to avoid noise sensitive areas such as parks, schools, hospitals, and churches. Hobbyists are advised not to fly in the vicinity of spectators until they are confident that the model aircraft has been flight tested and proven airworthy.

Model aircraft should be flown below 400 feet above the surface to avoid other aircraft in flight. The FAA expects that hobbyists will operate these recreational model aircraft within visual line-of-sight.”

Obviously, there are a few differences between model aircraft and personal drones – the addition of a camera, in many cases, being just one – so make sure you look into any other applicable laws in your own State regarding the operation of drones or capturing of personal images.

It’s worth keeping in mind here that the classing of drones as business use still applies even if you’re using one over private land at less than 400 feet – even if that activity isn’t directly making you money. For example, a realtor using a drone to take aerial shots of a property is still in breach of the rules and cannot be operated under section 336 of Public Law 112-95 which covers hobbyists.

Two drones do in fact already have certification for commercial use – theScanEagle and Aeroenvironment’s Puma drone – but are only cleared for use in the Arctic. Neither of them are particularly like the sort of consumer drones available to purchase today anyway.

There also seems to be a general understanding that the FAA isn’t responsible for airspace under 400 feet, but this is incorrect, it says. According to the organization, it has broad provisions that cover from the ground up.

“Consistent with its authority, the FAA presently has regulations that apply to the operation of all aircraft, whether manned or unmanned, and irrespective of the altitude at which the aircraft is operating,” it states.

The FAA was planning to look at the use of drones for commercial purposes again and potentially put something more concrete in writing next year, but according to a recent review of the FAA’s progress, it’s falling massively behind its target delivery dates for any regulation covering UAS.

Again, we wouldn’t be surprised to ultimately see some provisions that cover personal drone use too.

Update: The section above has been edited to clarify that model aircraft in the US are currently subject to FAA ‘guidance’ rather than FAA regulations.

So, the bottom line regarding legality of drones for personal and business use is that we are still in the Wild West phase where anything goes – however, employ common sense.  There is no reason for a drone to be in an aircraft’s flight path.  And ignorance is not an excuse so be careful and ensure that your personal drone use won’t endanger others.

BNI Operatives: Street smart; info savvy.

As always, stay safe.

 

Movin’ On Out! Security Checklist for Away College Students.

moving in

 

September is an Instagram away and hopefully, new (and returning) college students have their housing situations squared away. For those students – and their families – making their first foray into living away from home, we’ve established a preparedness checklist to enable a smooth a transition as possible. Getting right to it, let’s review how to make safer and smarter choices in such areas as:

Safety:

Conduct a premises background check: Apartment building/private residence/apartment in home:

1. Conduct an address history check.

This type search – readily available through a myriad of public databases – provides a residents’ history for at least 20 years for the location. Given that the new potential residence is in a college town, high turnover rate is anticipated. However, check with local PD for prior criminal incidents at the location.

2. Interview neighbors and other tenants. No further explanation necessary.

Quality of Life: 

Select an area of residence based on minimum living requirements:

Safety

Noise

Crime stats

Accessibility to school/work/shopping/laundry facilities (if a factor)

Public transportation -vehicle parking

Pets (if allowed, know the rules)

Cutting Costs:

Rent with at least 1 roommate. Benefits:
-rent share reduction

-shared utilities: phone, renters insurance, gas and electric

-lower food expenses

-share 1 vehicle for transportation, if possible

Possessions Security:

- Photograph the residence – 360 degree photos – before moving in. Particularly note any damage. •

- Maintain a pictorial inventory of your property.

Tenant Responsibilities:

-  Ensure financial preparedness for at least 3 (three) months of bills in case of an emergency and if you have a roommate, that they unexpectedly vacate the premises.

- Create a budget prior to move-in, incorporating such factors as single, self residency or with roommates.

- Ensure that rent and utilities are ready for payment at least a week before due date.

- Without employing a Sheldon-like 239-page roommate agreement, establish a clear understanding and respect with fellow roomies re: visitors and unexpected drop-in guests.

Clear understanding of premises use w/property owner:

Prior to lease signing, there must be a mutual understanding of property usage rules such as:

-use of washer/dryer (if on premises)

-backyard privileges of backyard

Your rights as a tenant:

Ensure that right to privacy and that of the warranty of habitability are respected by having the property owner acknowledge the following: That,

- There will be no unannounced visits or entering your apartment without your knowledge.

- S/he shall place your security deposit in an escrow account.

- Leaks/plumbing issues for which s/he will bear the  financial responsibility shall be repaired asap

- That you be given a responsible ( 30 – 90 day) notice should the rental property become un-livable and that your moving costs be provided for by the owner.

Move-in recording security privacy measures:

- Ascertain if there are hidden cameras hidden your apartment. Check:

- bedrooms

- closets

- bathrooms/under sinks

- toilets/showers

The above advice may appear somewhat overwhelming but especially when one moves out into the “real” world, the safety, liability and comfort parameters should be forcefully set.

Above all , ensure several emergency contacts – local and family and may the first-time renter enjoy his/her new home!

BNI Operatives: Street smart; info savvy.

As always, stay safe.

 

DNA-Collecting Pen, Text Message Retriever & Other Cool Stuff

Uzi Tactical Pen: Write, Collect DNA, Shatter Glass In An Emergency

The Uzi Tactical Pen, is a  unique writing instrument that can double up as a potentially life saving tool should the (admittedly, odd) situation arise.  The DNA Catcher, (located in the crown of the pen),  is very sharp, and designed for use as a jabbing weapon that causes extreme pain to your attacker (and an opportunity to flee), while giving you a sample of their DNA to deliver to police. The crown also functions as a glass breaker (i.e, for an emergency such as being stuck in your car – car accident, flooding…). Made out of high-grade aircraft aluminum, the Uzi Tac Pen can write upside down or under water.

Device Seziure V5:  Capture Texts, GPS Info, etc., from 4,000 mobiles, smartphones, and GPS devices

 

device seizure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Unless you are experienced in physical acquisition of mobile data, we suggest you coordinate with a digital forensics expert, depending on the purpose of the information recovery.)

In the manufacturer’s (Paraben) own words:

Depending on the Device and the Model, Device Seizure™ can Access the Following Data:
  • Current Text Messages
  • Deleted Text Messages
  • Phonebook (from the phone’s memory and the SIM card)
  • Call History including Received, Dialled and Missed Calls
  • Datebook, Scheduler, and Calendar
  • To-Do Lists
  • The Device’s Filesystem
  • System Files
  • Pictures and Videos
  • Java Files
  • Quicknotes
  • GPS Waypoints, Tracks, and Routes
  • RAM/ROM
  • PDA Databases
  • E-mail
  • Registry (Windows Mobile Devices)
  • Deleted Data

SenseAware really knows how to track a package

sensaware

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ve over-nighted an important document and need to know if it has definitely been received.  You can monitor FedEx online every 5 minutes (be advised that their status update lag can range from a few hours to a day) or you can use SenseAware.

FedEx has stepped up their tracking game with Senseaware, a drop-in sensor for packages that monitors every situation and condition of delivery possible.

This device is about the size of a BlackBerry, and it tracks situations( in near real time) such as exact location, whether or not the package has been opened or exposed to light. It even has a built-in accelerometer so it will detect when it has been dropped.

BNI Operatives: Street smart: info savvy.

As always, stay safe.

How To: Restore Your Computer’s Operating Speed

man asleep

One of the most frustrating things in our digital lives is a slow computer.  We might not be fully conscious when logging on each morning but there’s no reason why our electronic devices should be sluggish.

We buy an expensive new pc and revel in its start up, load and run applications speed  Inevitably however, our revered electronic device starts to slow down, crawling at each use and eventually, churning at a glacial speed when  performing routine tasks.  Once we’ve removed our enabling/denial behavior from the human-machine co-dependent relationship, we realize, “Hey. I have important stuff on here! What do I do now??”   Good response but before you can attack the problem, it needs to be identified.

So why the loss of the electronic device processing speed mojo?  The answer is actually quite simple and one need not approach nerd status to understand the causes and solutions.

The good news is that it’s generally not the device’s hardware that is the problem.  In most cases, the hardware is perfectly capable of being restored to its original glory and kept in optimum running condition with minimal effort.

Rather, the problem lies with changes that occur to the computer’s run programs. The 2 most common causes of slowdown (along with easy solutions) are:

Registry errors  –  the most common problem

Each and every instance in which a program, a game or file is uploaded, your device’s registery is updated with new instructions needed to operate that item.  However, when the item is removed, these instructions usually remain on your PC.  Every time you run your computer it tries to execute these instructions but, because the related program can’t be found, it causes a registry error.  Your PC is doing a lot more work than it should and the result is a significantly slower computer.

One of the best ways to manage this electronic slowdown is with a neat little tool from a Seattle based company called the Advanced Registry Optimizer (ARO for short).  ARO scans, identifies and fixes registry errors.  On top of the amazing results it offers, it’s so easy to install and use that it was recently awarded a coveted 4.5 star rating (out of 5) by CNET’s editorial staff.

You can now download a free trial version of ARO which will quickly scan your entire PC and identify the registry errors that may be bogging it down.  The free version eliminates the first 100 errors and if you have more errors that you want to clean-up or want to set the program to run on a regular basis (recommended) you can easily upgrade to the full version for a nominal fee.

To obtain the free trial version simply click here.

Spyware and viruses

Spyware and viruses are malevolent programs that are loaded on your computer without your knowledge or permission.  They have various purposes, including:

  • Changing the default search engine in your browser
  • Tracking your web surfing habits and showing you targeted advertising
  • Using your email program to send out spam to other email addresses
  • Stealing your personal information

Most spyware and viruses gain entry to our computers through files that we download online or as email attachments.  These spies and guise digital demons occupy a large amount of space and require significant computing power.

The simple rule of thumb to follow is to not  download  programs from companies with which you are unfamiliar, especially games, screensavers, emoticons and the like.  In addition, do not open any attachment to an email unless you know – and trust – the sender.  Finally and perhaps obvious at this point of the technological cycle, ensure that an efficient anti-virus / spyware detection and removal app is running at all times.  Our suggestion (as a booster to your normal anti-malware app/service)  is  Spybot, from Download.

Enjoy your “new” pc.

BNI Operatives: Street smart; info savvy.

As always, stay safe.

Tactical Trainer, Christian Swann, on NSA-resistant Communication Encryption.

(This week, we bring you an informative article on protecting sensitive client data from our friend and one-woman whirlwind of accomplishments, Christian Swann (featured below): Christian is a writer, mom, edged and blunt tool instructor for law enforcement and the military, and a risk mitigation security and vulnerability assessment specialist.

christianswann

Be vigilant about protecting sensitive  client data with these tools.

 I wrote an article not long ago about protecting our personal and sensitive important information. As some of you are well aware, once your data is out there, it’s out there. From the first click of the “check out now” button, you are being traced, watched and analyzed. From how much you spend, where you shop, to your favorite products to your prime shopping time – you’re being tracked. But that’s just one aspect of this passive monitoring.   Big Brother (e.g. and fact, as we now all know,  the NSA) has the capability and may not only watching but also listening, recording and even transcribing your confidential client conversations.

What about when it’s not only your information that is being tracked, but your clients’ confidential information is at risk of also being recorded? As a risk and security director of a multi-million dollar company, it is one of the toughest questions and concerns I have. I’m in constant contact with high-profile clients and sensitive data.

The good news for lawyers, corporations and medical professionals, concerned about maintaining their duty of confidentiality is that there are tools and safeguards now to help them.

Legal and risk management specialists, such as myself, need to be very aware of the possibility (or now, probability) of  their communications being intercepted by empowered governmental agencies.  Given the ever-changing, nebulous status of agency data collection laws, legal professionals have to deal with the ambiguity of this usage of collected data –  while contending with the secretive nature of intelligence agency operations, as well as the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that oversees surveillance warrants.

Lawyers –  and anyone for that matter – should assume all of their conversations are subject to covert surveillance an should  take steps to protect confidential information.

I can’t stress enough that all pertinent emails, electronic messages and communications should be encrypted. There is no shortage of available encryption hardware and software, and I highly recommend using an encryption service such as ZixCorp or the open-sourced TrueCrypt: (Warning: this is an open source method and may not be as stable as desired.) Platform-specific devices are also available, such as, Apple’s FileVault.

“One can also purchase self-encrypting hard drives such as the Seagate Secure and already-encrypted flash drives – e.g.,  IronKey from Imation Corp.  and encryption software such as Symantec Whole Disk Encryption and Sophos Ltd.’s Safeguard“, says Lina Maini of Beacon Network Investigations, LLC.

As for passwords, I recommend a more secure method of authentication, such as security tokens or USB tokens.

Perhaps apparently, I’m a big fan of firewalls, and encrypting everything networked – from email to any and all telecomm technology apps.   I’ve also become a huge fan of the company Silent Circle. One of my favorite features of Silent Circle’s service is the ability to program burn settings.  I.e., one I’ve  sent any type of message: email, text, audio, it is then encrypted and will burn itself at the pre-set time. I’ve chosen.

Many people forget that one a voice message, text or email  has bent sent, that data  has to go through a provider, e.g.,  Apple, and is then is transferred back to the end-user, therefore leaving data footprints that can be copied.

For professionals that mainly communicate via phone, relief from eavesdropping is on its way. This month: Spanish smartphone company GeeksPhone and software company Silent Circle launch Blackphone, an encrypted smartphone that protects phone calls, text messages, emails and Internet browsing. Using VPN technology, Blackphone promises to be an NSA-resistant phone.I’m looking forward to ours arriving soon.

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