Google loves you to death. They love everyone actually, or more to the point, everyone’s private data. There’s gold in them ones and zeros and most people offer them up quite willingly for their daily digital fix. Google loves to store data about you when you’re not looking. That’s what happens when you invite a vampire into your home. Tough as nails to kick out and they leave a trail of confusion and mayhem when they finally do hightail it.
Like little cousin Eddie whose long since outlived his welcome. As a fairly strong privacy advocate, I like to manage online privacy by controlling the data I make available online. The problem is that Google’s been getting smarter at meta-managing me by my own keywords on other search engines. The only option is to enact whatever privacy controls are required yourself. Or don’t use any of Google’s services. And that my friend is a very long the list that includes: Google Search Gmail Google Plus Google Alerts Google
Books Google Finance Google Groups Google Hotel Finder Google Flight Search Google Translate Google Trends Life Search (or Google China) … and a host of others. The master list of course is a lot longer. The data-mining operations for each of these services cost millions each day. Google’s algorithm tries to predict what you’ll want tomorrow or next Christmas. That’s fine with some people because it’s legal after all and they’ve been doing that forever. The problem is that they share this with any government that pays them or allows them entry into the country. This becomes a problem overseas if you need
to use online storage. Enter Google Drive.
Google Drive makes for one helluva solution for business travelers who need to protect sensitive files from cross-border guards. The guard loves to confiscate laptops and pen drives because, well, they want to look competent. Just upload the data to Big G before you hit the US border and you’re good to go. This also works if you have to travel to out-of-the-way places like The Philippines. Well, most of the time. So what’s the problem then? Google is the problem, just as iCloud was a problem for a few celebrities
who got hacked. It happens every year. Just ask Jennifer Lawrence how she feels about tossing her pics ‘in the cloud’ after her nudes got hacked and leaked.
There are plenty of other risks too:
- Law enforcement can access it with a judge-signed warrant.
- The NSA can give the FBI full access to your files.
- Any alphabet agency can access it. Agencies like the DEA, ATF,
CIA, & the IRS if they have the NSA’s ability to bypass Google’s
encryption (which Google only beefed up after the media revealed
that the NSA was siphoning data from their tailpipe.)
- Employees may upload personal info in the cloud which, if hacked,
cause financial issues and maybe even a lawsuit.
- Any bank you deal with may deny you any reimbursement of lost
funds if you store bank details in the cloud. They’ll consider it
‘negligence’ on your part.
It’s more effective to use an encryption app like Veracrypt or PGP to work with Google Drive. What I do is: – First fire up Veracrypt or Truecrypt 7.1a – Create a
storage file, – Pick 2 algo-based encryption schemes with SHA-512 keys – Put all my sensitive files in there.
- Then and only then do I upload the encrypted files to Google Drive.
When I need to alter my work, say update a new draft of a novel I’m working
on but don’t want Google scanning it for ‘offending’ terms, I just copy the
encrypted doc out of Google Drive, update it and then re-encrypt and re-upload
to Google Drive. If I ever want to delete it, I just delete the encrypted storage
file. It’s easy peasy and it’ll be eons before Google has Skynet’s quantum
computers to crack the encryption key
Encryption and Google
As I mentioned, any governmental agency can and will access your cloud storage via a subpoena sent to Google. But what are the consequences if law enforcement confiscates your phone? Your laptop? It happens. And as it so happens you may be arrested on a totally separate case but they’ve insufficient evidence
Except your laptop and phone are now in their hands. Here are the risks,
number one of which is:
- Doppelgangers. Enemy numero uno. Any login cookies for Google
- services (like Google Docs) can be copied to impersonate you, or
- they can login to all Google accounts in Firefox or Chrome and act as
- the Real You.
- They can steal your password from the browser’s password storage
- file if you’ve no master password set.
- And with your password they can reset it in Google and all Google
- Chrome might cache parts of files or documents the last time you
- logged in.
- Or they can use Data Recovery Tools to retrieve your deleted files.
You can avoid each of the above scenarios by using a full-disk encryption program. As long as your phone or laptop is powered off when they take it (and
you’re not in a jurisdiction where they can beat the password out of you), you’re safe as long as the country in question respects your right to remain silent.
As for a searching solution that replaces Google outright, I use and recommend DuckDuckGo. It’s not as laser-refined as Google is, but they must
operate exactly as advertised.
- They don’t track you.
- They don’t sell your search data to other websites
- They don’t require cookies.
- They don’t collect metadata on you
- They don’t store your search history.
It’s black and white without a lot of legalese that most people just skip through anyway. Clear and plain as day. If they ever decide to embrace the dark
Google Chrome 2022
Google Chrome’s a lot like Stephen King’s Christine, a 1957 Plymouth Fury who loves its owner a bit too much. She runs fast and hot and horny and like that
hellspawn of a car, Chrome’ll resist any temptation to tinker, mod, or otherwise tighten her steel gaped maw because she thinks she can do the job better than
you can. Besides, why should she take orders from some lowly peon, anyway?
But I’ll tell you how it all ends: It ends with the kid owner paying a high price for putting a speed demon ahead of his family. Chrome, like Christine,
‘repairs’ herself without permission a little too often for my liking. She’s certainly fast though, just like Christine. But she’s not that fast. And
there are some serious consequences to not looking under the hood.
Here are a few gems that are considered ‘benefits’ to the end-user by Google:
- Each web url you type is sent to Google for the auto complete
- function – without telling you.
- Each file you download gets sent to the Big G too. They verify it
- against a master ‘white list’ then link your IP address to that file for
- Chrome checks every hour on the hour a list of blacklisted URLs to
- ‘protect’ you. Even opening Chrome tells Google where you are.
- When you logon to Google Gmail, they know everything about your
- browser: Tabs, History & all Bookmarks. Then they store it in one of
- those giant data centers of theirs.
- Will load a site before you finish the address.
Remember: If you are getting it for free, you are not the customer. You are-cybertelugu