Starting Privacy with Ben Gillenwater | Starting Strength Radio #55 Starting Privacy with Ben Gillenwater | Starting Strength Radio #55

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Thread: Starting Privacy with Ben Gillenwater | Starting Strength Radio #55

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    Default Starting Privacy with Ben Gillenwater | Starting Strength Radio #55

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    Mark Rippetoe and Ben Gillenwater discuss privacy when using the internet and useful tips to get started with securing your internet presence. Ben Gillenwater was Northrop Grumman's youngest Chief Technologist where he advised leadership teams for corporate and government programs. He has a long IT history working on F-18 Super Hornet and F-35 projects, along with lots of stuff he can't talk about.


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    Ray Gillenwater is offline Administrator, Starting Strength Gyms
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    Ben is a unique character. Some of my earliest memories are of him tearing down PCs and rebuilding them with upgraded components, pre-internet. He is values first, business second - a rare trait considering how highly-paid digital mercenaries are these days. I am proud to call him my brother and we are fortunate to have his brainpower focused on helping SS reach more people. This was episode was fun to watch - I hope you all enjoyed it.
    Last edited by Ray Gillenwater; 05-08-2020 at 12:26 PM.

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    why I am concerned is that obviously no one can listen to everything so they have computers with algorithms that red flag certain words or dialects , places whatever, and so if you say these words enough you get to the point your an active investigation and placed in a file that can be viewed by certain people...then when another agent views your file he sees you've already been investigated thus raising his suspicion ...you could end up a prime suspect in all types of shit just because you like to say certain words

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    I’ve now installed NextDNS since watching that interview.

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    I enjoyed this podcast. Benji's knowledge is a tremendous asset to the starting strength community.

    What is the opinion on the Librem phones? Is that a larger drop in the bucket than going with Apple?

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    THIS is the most important podcast on the internet.

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    Mainstream - there's an element of what you're expressing that is true in that speech analysis and sentiment analysis are performed on some of what the world's governments record. A large part of that means we don't usually have to concern ourselves with being caught up in an investigation because the entities doing the recording are not interested in you and I. They are typically interested in specific people who are already part of a targeted investigation.
    Investigations do not typically begin because of what words were said in a phone call. Intelligence analysts leverage a lot of tools, but in this specific context the tools they use are connecting a lot of dots. Words said in a phone call, text message or e-mail are each one of those "dots". Other "dots" include things like who you talk to, when you talk to them, who those people in turn talk to, what they talk about, what they do online and in person before and after each of those conversations, where you spend your money, what you spend it on, etc. This is why Palantir makes a lot of money and wins a lot of government contracts - they do a great job at gathering and analyzing all the "dots".
    What we do have to concern ourselves with is that these same programs that are attempting to identify and find the "bad guys" have made mistakes in the past and will continue to make mistakes in the future. Hoovering up all the world's communications into a centralized environment for ongoing analysis results in innocent people getting stuck in the system.
    A low-level example of how government programs of this nature can play out in our lives as innocent civilians is when the TSA puts somebody on the no-fly list because their name is spelled the same way as some criminal somewhere. This happened to a colleague of mine with a background in the intelligence community and an active security clearance - the TSA put him on the no-fly list and there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it. He's not the only one - there are supposedly a number of innocent people on the no-fly list because the concept of innocent until proven guilty has apparently been lost on the leadership teams at DHS and TSA. If you follow that thread further, the same concept has been lost on those that approve the funding of these programs. Here's looking at you, US Congress.
    The summary of what I'm trying to say here is that you don't have to worry about your phone calls alone making you into a target of the NSA or FBI. If you like worrying, you might worry about mistakenly getting caught up in their unconstitutional web of lies and deceipt. But that worrying won't do you any good because there's not a damn thing you can do about it other than hope that your information doesn't get abused by somebody you've never heard of that lives in DC who is actively disincentivized to do the right thing. Our current policies around surveillance are not in your best interests.

    Nockian - right on, glad to hear it. Just in case you haven't done so already (and for others reading this) - remember to go to my.nextdns.io and go through the setup process to create a configuration ID for yourself, check off whatever you want to block in the Security and Privacy tabs and just poke around in general. Once you've done that, make sure to put your configuration ID into your nextdns client(s) on your computer and/or phone. After about an hour, check out your nextdns logs and prepare to have your mind blown at the amount of things your computer and/or phone are doing over their respective network connections. I get a bit of entertainment and satisfaction out of going through my nextdns logs and seeing all the craziness in there that's been blocked.

    Yngvi - I'm glad you enjoyed it! Seems you are an informed tech consumer. Librem is playing in an interesting niche that I think is really cool. They're going to great lengths to make their products maximally private by design. There are pros and cons to be aware of with high security products like this. The more secure your stuff is usually correlates to the more annoying it is to use. This is why not everybody's computer and phones are setup to be maximally secure - because doing so would just piss everybody off and probably make them less productive. This is also why Librem will never be a huge brand. The vast majority of their users will be tech nerds and even then many of those people will have other phones or computers in addition to their Librem devices. Buying and using a Librem device does increase the size of your drop in the bucket and furthermore it's putting your drop into Librem's bucket, which I commend. I'd say if you've got the extra cash and patience to try their devices, absolutely go for it. I think the team at Librem is deserving of the financial support. The balance between security and usability comes down to personal preference. The best way to find where your balance lies is to try some of the relatively extreme solutions for yourself.

    Kevnomatic - thanks for saying that, I'm glad you gained some value from our conversation.

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    Ah yes. Hadn’t realised I needed to create a config I.D. I like the VPN sign which appeared on my iPad.

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    I have listened to this 2x, but I was in a spot that I couldn't write down notes. To Do's are:
    1) use Firefox
    2) turn off location on phone apps requesting permission**
    3) Install nextdns on ALL devices
    4) use duck duck go

    Did I miss anything?

    **I have a follow up question though. I currently have location settings turned on for my wife/kids iphones, and my Galaxy. We use Life360, so I/we can see where each other is at all times. This is more of a family safety issue, so that in the worst case scenario, I could (maybe) see where my kids are...assuming they still had their phones on them. Is that defeating the purpose of turning off all location permissions except that one app?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mpalios View Post
    **I have a follow up question though. I currently have location settings turned on for my wife/kids iphones, and my Galaxy. We use Life360, so I/we can see where each other is at all times. This is more of a family safety issue, so that in the worst case scenario, I could (maybe) see where my kids are...assuming they still had their phones on them. Is that defeating the purpose of turning off all location permissions except that one app?
    Great question. The security and privacy settings on your phone, computer and all the apps you use will always end up as a balance between security and usability. Within that context, no, turning off location permissions in all but one app does not defeat the purpose of your attempts at increasing you and your family's privacy online. In fact, I'd say doing so is an effective way to increase your privacy. While you are still sharing some sensitive personal data with Life360, at least you're not sharing it with all the rest of the app simultaneously. There are a lot of companies out there that do data gathering for tracking purposes and even if you stop giving your data to just one of those companies then that's a win in my opinion.

    On the topic of location permissions within the apps on your phone - the latest versions of Android and iOS have some finer grain permissions settings that can come in handy. For example, when an app asks for your location, you can grant it temporary access for just that one time. Or you can grant it access only when the app is open and not when it is in the background (which is how mobile phone operating systems refer to an app that isn't currently open and showing on your screen). I use these finer grain permissions quite often myself. For the apps that legitimately need my location in order to serve their purpose (Maps and Yelp are too common ones for me), I give them location permissions only when the app is open. I do not give any apps access to my location while they're in the background. I don't want anybody but me to know where I am, unless I explicitly choose to share my location. My cellular provider and sometimes the mobile operating system itself both know my location at all times but unfortunately there's not much I can do about that other than powering off my phone and removing its SIM card whenever I'm not using it, which of course I'm not too keen on doing.

    The notes you've taken as your to-dos are great. You'll be giving advertisers and other tracking entities a much harder time following you around without your consent.

    Additional things to consider in your case are the apps on your Samsung devices that are provided by Samsung. Samsung (and other Android OEMs) does this weird thing where they build their own versions of the stock Android apps. For example - the phone app, the text message app, and the e-mail app. The trouble is that not only do they typically a poor job at making those apps work as well as or better than the stock Android apps from Google, but more importantly they do nowhere near as good a job as Google does at making their apps secure. I would recommend removing any Samsung apps and using the Google versions of those apps instead. Google is getting the data either way, so you might as well not also give it to Samsung and whatever potentially shady or negligent software companies they've partnered with to build their apps. I can tell you from first hand experience that Samsung does not audit their software anywhere near to the extent that Google does - like not even in the same universe. There are a bunch of websites that discuss what to remove from your phone, one of which is Galaxy S8 Bloatware List - What to Remove, Keep, Consider - Samsung Galaxy S8 User Guide - Tips, Tricks and Hacks | Tom's Guide. Notice they mention removal of the apps your cellular carrier includes on your phone - I would highly recommend following that advice. The cellular carriers often do a worse job at building software than the Android OEMs do and they absolutely do not respect your privacy.

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