Monthly Archives: September 2014

Every question has an answer

In the past days there has been a lot of publicity about the theft of private images and their distribution on to the wider Internet without the consent of the owners of the images.  This occurred because the photographs which the people thought they had deleted had been uploaded to their iCloud account, their iCloud account was hacked by the person who then published the photographs.

The way in which a person will gain access to an individuals iCloud account is normally through working out the password. Which is why it is very important to use complex passwords and change them regularly on your accounts.  Complex passwords need to be more than 8 characters long and contain letters (both capital and small) , numbers and special characters such as %, ^, ! *.

One area that requires particular attention and many people may not yet be aware of is the installation of apps on phones and pads.  On Android devices, all apps that are installed take access to content and features of your phone so that they can operate as intended.   These range from accessing your location and GPS features to making calls and accessing photographs.  Though it’s not possible for the owner of the phone to manually select which permissions to allow, as it is on the iPhone,  knowledge of what permissions each app will take, can at least offer food for thought when choosing whether or not to install apps.

 

The whole issue begs consideration of the wider issue, as to whom and what has access to your digital content and devices, and how do you protect your property.  On one side you can say that there is very risky to have data, photographs, emails etc. on any device that is connected to the Internet.  There is truth in this.  But, it can also be said that people living in individual houses are more at risk of theft and burglary than people living in a stone fort with one entrance, as each house has a door and potentially this door can be broken into.  This has not stopped people buying individual houses when they had the resources and doing what is necessary to protect the house and its contents. Safe use of technology involves informing yourself of the risks involved and protecting yourself and your family.

 

There are another group of people who say that we must accept that everyone has access to all of our information, and be comfortable with that.  To that opinion I would add the cautionary note of the following tale to which I was introduced recently.

It is a short story written by a Frederick Brown ,published in 1954.  This story describes the moment when a super computer which connects all the computers in the Galaxy, and contains the answer to every known question is turned on.  The inventor is given the honour of the first question and he duly thinks of a question that no single machine has been able to answer to date. He places the question “Is there a God?”to which the mighty voice of the machine answered “Now there is a God”, then,  realizing the extent of their surrender of control over their own lives to the machine,  the inventor reaches out to turn off the machine ” A bolt of lightning from the cloudless sky struck him down and fused the switch shut

It is fair to say that when people are using technology that is connected to the Internet, they risk having their data stolen. When people make posts and share photographs on social media sites, they risk organisations profiling their behaviour for marketing and other purposes.

We are not innocent victims of this incredible technology.  There are steps we can take to ensure that our devices are as secure as possible and we can decide what we wish people to know about us and what we do not, what it requires, as with the security of our homes, is diligence.

 

The Answer by the Muppets