Please consider the following!

In lieu of a quick shutdown I was left to think about what advice I could leave behind that would be of significant value for your businesses, especially in the long-term picture.  There were quite a few new things I have learned over the past few years, mostly from my involvement with Bleeping Computer, the Unified Network of Instructors and Trained Eliminators (UNITE), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Open Source Initiative (OSI), and the Free Software Foundation (FSF).  These organizations have greatly impacted my life and taught me A LOT about what’s going on with computers and technology internationally, and as a result has changed my thinking entirely about how we should use our computers.
So drawing on that knowledge and adding a few idiosyncrasies I’ve found helpful, please consider the following key points for your technology use:
  • we should use open-source software when possible

    • it’s time to re-think how we approach software, and stop companies from nickel-and-diming us with unnecessary costs
    • it’s often FREE to use, fully customizable for any size company’s needs
    • it’s reviewed and maintained by a community, which means no secret tricks in the code and better chances to find/fix bugs
    • it supports knowledge over possession, instead of paying for the software license you are paying for the knowledge of using the software
      • an expert from the community will charge XX/hr to setup and configure, and there are often support plans
      • someone internally can invest “sweat equity” as there is often extensive documentation and a forum to post questions
    • Examples, most are cross-platform, i.e. works with Windows, Mac, and Linux!
      • Firefox for Internet
      • Thunderbird for E-mail
      • LibreOffice for Documents, Spreadsheets, Presentations
      • KeePassX for Password Vault, Password Generator
      • VLC Media Player for anything from DVDs to downloaded movie files
      • GIMP for image editing
      • Virtualbox for virtual computers, servers, and more
      • there are so many more out there, try to search with “open source” in your keywords when looking for new software, you will be surprised that there is nearly an option for everything!

  • we should start encrypting our communications, especially text messages and phone calls

    • it’s time to realize everything is recorded. every call, every text, every e-mail, and it’s alarming what can be done with this type of data.  if this sounds paranoid, read the articles from Wired and Forbes regarding Rob Joyce, the NSA “Hacker-in-Chief”, presenting at the Enigma 2016 conference.  Then take a look at the NSA Utah Data Center specifications.  My favorite parts are the claim of storing a yottabyte at the data center in 2012 which equates to about 250 trillion DVDs, and the sign out front that says: “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.”
    • Examples, the focus here is free, open-source (for security reasons in this case), and cross-platform.
      • Signal Private Messenger for text messages, all messages can only be read from the sending/receiving device, nothing can be read in transit.  On Android it can be used as the default text application, and I use it daily!
      • Signal Private Messenger for phone calls, the call is setup over the data (cellular data or wifi) connection, and nothing can be listened to in transit.  Each party gets a word to confirm to ensure connection is secure.
    • E-mails are a bit trickier, as there may be options through your e-mail service (such as gmail, google apps, hotmail, etc), or there may be an option with your e-mail client (Outlook, Thunderbird, etc).  Encryption involves having a public/private key pair, which may sound like jibberish but means everything when it comes to encryption as security.
  • we should start encrypting sensitive information, especially passwords

    • it’s time to ditch the spreadsheets, if a paper copy or “offline” copy is needed it can be printed or saved to a USB then kept in a safe
    • Examples:
      • KeePassX, linked earlier, is a great way to store passwords and similar information in a single, encrypted database file
      • OpenVPN for remote access, free VPN software with very high security standards
      • Let’s Encrypt for certificate authorities and on-line SSL certificate usage
  • we should always have a backup

    • it’s time to buy a portable USB drive if you don’t have one, and to make sure you always have your information in two places
    • be sure to encrypt the USB drive before storing any information on it, so that if it is stolen the files are inaccessible
    • Examples:
      • Redo Backup for bare metal restores, image backups
      • Snap Backup for simple file backups to USB
      • EncFS / Safe for encrypting file systems, so that files cannot be read from a drive or folder without a secure password
      • Duplicati for off-site, encrypted backup storage using common on-line services

Thank you all for the time we spent together and the things we learned, being of service to our customers was a blessing and enlightening experience for me personally, and I truly do wish you each the best in your future endeavors.

Best Regards,
Jason Schrader
Enlightened Communications LLC