Online Privacy Tips From Edward Snowden.

From : www.inc.com

You don't need to worry about online privacy unless you have something to hide, right? That old adage just doesn't ring true in an age where intelligence agencies consider anyone within three "hops" of their surveillance targets fair game for scrutiny. Consider this: The average Facebook user, with just 190 friends, has over five million people in their extended network with just those third-degree connections (friends of friends of friends).It's not just the government watching your every move, either. Advertisers, social networks, and even email companies collect a huge amount of user data.Online privacy is a concern for every internet user and no one understands this better than Edward Snowden.The former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower now speaks out regularly on privacy issues and has shared some fantastic tips for internet users over the last year. Here are a few of his greatest online privacy tips.

Avoid popular online consumer services like Google, Facebook, and Dropbox.

f you'd rather spend a week without food than a day without Facebook, you're not alone. However, in an October video interview for The New Yorker Festival, Snowden listed Facebook and Google as "dangerous services" users should avoid to protect their online privacy.Google and Facebook have each had their share of privacy scandals over the years and have taken steps to improve, he noted. It's not enough, though. Their data protection and privacy controls still aren't up to snuff, according to Snowden.Another major offender? Dropbox, an online storage solution Snowden skewered for its lack of local encryption. Instead, he recommends services like SpiderOak, whose local encryption means the server never even knows the plaintext contents of the data it's storing.

Encrypt your hard drive.

You might already use password protection on your files, but that's just the first step in protecting the contents of your hard drive.At SXSW 2014 in Austin last March, Snowden again spoke via videoconference about online privacy and personal data security. Encryption, he said, is the "defense against the dark arts" for the digital world.Encrypting your entire hard drive offers protection in case your computer is ever lost or stolen (or seized). You don't have to be a techy to do it.Some newer operating systems have built-in disk encryption tools such as BitLocker, which is standard with Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise, as well as 8.1 Pro and Enterprise. OS X users can use the built-in FileVault 2 encryption tool, while Linux users can opt for a distribution like Ubuntu, with a built-in Linux Unified Key Setup (LUKS).A decent external solution is Symantec's Endpoint Encryption, which also offers data loss protection and will run you around $111 per year. It also protects your removable media.

Avoid online tracking with browser plug-ins.

Advertisers and brands collect an incredible amount of user data, in order to personalize shopping experiences and better target audiences with ads.Even if you appreciate the customized shopping experience inherent to this retailer data collection, you have to remember that others can probably see your activity, too.Browsers like Chrome and Internet Explorer 10 now offer do-not-track settings, but adding a browser plug-in adds an extra layer of protection and anonymity.Ghostery is one of the more popular options and is available for Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Safari, and mobile systems Android, iOS and Firefox Android. It will show you the number of trackers detected and give you the option to block them en masse.

Encrypt online communications in chat and email.

Protect your online communications and even your phone calls with encryption services.Silent Circle bills itself as "the world's solution to mobile privacy" and was designed to protect mobile users from widespread data collection. They offer a variety of voice, text, video, and file transfer encryption packages for individuals and business users.You can encrypt your email in Microsoft Outlook, or use a Web-based email service with built-in encryption, like Hushmail.For online chatting, try a service like ChatCrypt, which encrypts messages before they leave the browser, making them visible only to the opposite end user with the password.

Use Tor for online browsing.

Once the gold standard for anonymous online browsing, Tor's reputation was tarnished this past summer when its creators were forced to admit it wasn't impenetrable.Tor stands for 'The Onion Router' and was so named because of its multiple layers of security. Basically, it bounces your communications around a network of relays, making it difficult (if not impossible) for anyone to track your online activity. The websites you visit aren't able to collect data that would expose your physical location, for example, and you can access content that might otherwise be unavailable to people in your region.The creators of Tor readily admit, "Tor can't solve all anonymity problems; it focuses only on protecting the transport of data." Still, it's a useful open-source tool for those concerned about their privacy.We all have something to hide--maybe not from law enforcement, but from advertisers, hackers, bots and even your favorite friendly retailers. The key to protecting your online privacy isn't discovering one magic bullet tool, but a combination of online privacy tools that suit your online habits.

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Why is the free software movement important?

From : www.fsf.org

Free software is software that gives you the user the freedom to share, study and modify it. We call this free software because the user is free.To use free software is to make a political and ethical choice asserting the right to learn, and share what we learn with others. Free software has become the foundation of a learning society where we share our knowledge in a way that others can build upon and enjoy.

Currently, many people use proprietary software that denies users these freedoms and benefits. If we make a copy and give it to a friend, if we try to figure out how the program works, if we put a copy on more than one of our own computers in our own home, we could be caught and fined or put in jail. That’s what’s in the fine print of the license agreement you accept when using proprietary software.

The corporations behind proprietary software will often spy on your activities and restrict you from sharing with others. And because our computers control much of our personal information and daily activities, proprietary software represents an unacceptable danger to a free society.

The GNU Operating System and the Free Software Movement

What if there were a worldwide group of talented ethical programmers voluntarily committed to the idea of writing and sharing software with each other and with anyone else who agreed to share alike? What if anyone could be a part of and benefit from this community even without being a computer expert or knowing anything about programming? We wouldn’t have to worry about getting caught copying a useful program for our friends—because we wouldn’t be doing anything wrong.

In fact, such a movement exists, and you can be part of it. The free software movement was started in 1983 by computer scientist Richard M. Stallman, when he launched a project called GNU, which stands for “GNU is Not UNIX”, to provide a replacement for the UNIX operating system—a replacement that would respect the freedoms of those using it. Then in 1985, Stallman started the Free Software Foundation, a nonprofit with the mission of advocating and educating on behalf of computer users around the world. There are now many variants or 'distributions' of this GNU operating system using the kernel Linux. We recommend those GNU/Linux distributions that are 100% free software; in other words, entirely freedom-respecting.

Today, free software is available for just about any task you can imagine. From complete operating systems like GNU, to over 5,000 individual programs and tools listed in the FSF/UNESCO free software directory. Millions of people around the world—including entire governments—are now using free software on their computers.The FSF also provides other important resources to the community.

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Internet of Things(IoT) and Security.

From : www.theguardian.com

There is a technological juggernaut heading our way. It’s called the Internet of Things (IoT). For the tech industry, it’s the Next Big Thing, alongside big data, though in fact that pair are often just two sides of the same coin. The basic idea is that since computing devices are getting smaller and cheaper, and wireless network technology is becoming ubiquitous, it will soon be feasible to have trillions of tiny, networked computers embedded in everything. They can sense changes, turning things on and off, making decisions about whether to open a door or close a valve or order fresh supplies of milk, you name it, the computers communicating with one another and shipping data to server farms all over the place.

As ever with digital technology, there’s an underlying rationality to lots of this. The IoT could make our lives easier and our societies more efficient. If parking bays could signal to nearby cars that they are empty, then the nightmarish task of finding a parking place in crowded cities would be eased. If every river in the UK could tweet its level every few minutes, then we could have advance warning of downstream floods in time to alert those living in their paths. And so on.But that kind of networking infrastructure takes time to build, so the IoT boys (and they are mostly boys, still) have set their sights closer to home, which is why we are beginning to hear a lot about “smart” homes. On further examination, this turns out mostly to mean houses stuffed with networked kit.

“Because every home should be a smart home this Christmas,” burbles an ad from Samsung, “we’re treating you to some fantastic deals. Getting started is easy with SmartThings. Simply set up your SmartThings Hub and free app, add in your favourite products, and take control from another room – or another country. It’s simple to set up, too, meaning you can start making your home smarter in no time.” The smart things in question include sensors of various kinds, remotely controlled power outlets, a wireless hub and – of course – a smartphone app that enables you to turn on your lights (or see who’s in your sitting room) when you’re on a beach in Thailand.And it’s not just Samsung. Other big companies are getting in on the act. Google, for example, has bought Nest, an outfit that makes a “learning thermostat” that uses sensors and algorithms to learn about your energy usage and (it’s hoped) save you money.

A study by Accenture found that 13% of homes already have one or more IoT devices and predicts that 69% will have an IoT device by 2019.As with all such predictions, this one should be taken with a grain of salt. But suppose, for a moment, that it’s accurate and that within a decade a large proportion of homes have become smart. What would be the implications?

To qualify as a smart home, a house would have to have multiple devices (sensors, switches, thermostats, lights, etc), most of which would be linked wirelessly to a hub that in turn communicates with the outside world.The devices will monitor the activities and rhythms of the household so that they can optimise energy consumption and so on. That means data flowing from devices to other devices via the hub and perhaps also to external servers, suppliers etc. So a smart home monitors – or, you could say, spies on – its owner(s). And that could have serious implications for privacy.

To qualify as a smart home, a house would have to have multiple devices (sensors, switches, thermostats, lights, etc), most of which would be linked wirelessly to a hub that in turn communicates with the outside world.The devices will monitor the activities and rhythms of the household so that they can optimise energy consumption and so on. That means data flowing from devices to other devices via the hub and perhaps also to external servers, suppliers etc. So a smart home monitors – or, you could say, spies on – its owner(s). And that could have serious implications for privacy.

A study by HP, the computer manufacturer, for example, found that more than half of the 10 current consumer brands surveyed had obvious security holes. Home-owners who place too much trust in such devices could easily wind up on the Please Rob Me website.But this will change as the market matures. These are very early days in the smart homes business: the moment when your car will tell your oven to switch on when GPS indicates that you’re 15 minutes away will remain a marketing fantasy for the tech industry (and an April Fool’s Day joke for BMW) for a long time to come.

The bulk of the UK’s housing stock can’t easily be retrospectively reconfigured, so what will happen is that most of us will wind up buying odd bits of kit – a Bluetooth music set-up, say, or a home security system or a robotic cat flap – and then trying to figure out how it works. And what to do when it doesn’t...

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Are We Approaching Robotic Consciousnesses?

From : www.businessinsider.com

Robots can staff eccentric Japanese hotels, make logical decisions by playing Minecraft, and create trippy images through Google. Now the droids may have attained a new milestone by demonstrating a level of self-awareness.An experiment led by Professor Selmer Bringsjord of New York's Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute used the classic "wise men" logic puzzle to put a group of robots to the test.

The roboticists used a version of this riddle to see if a robot is able to distinguish itself from others. Bringsjord and his research squad called the wise men riddle the "ultimate sifter" test because the knowledge game quickly separates people from machines -- only a person is able to pass the test. But that is apparently no longer the case. In a demonstration to the press, Bringsjord showed that a robot passed the test. The premise of the classic riddle presents three wise advisors to a king, wearing hats, each unseen to the wearer. The king informs his men of three facts: the contest is fair, their hats are either blue or white, and the first one to deduce the color on his head wins.

The contest would only be fair if all three men sported the same color hat. Therefore, the winning wise man would note that the color of the hats on the other two, and then guess that his was the same color.

The roboticists used a version of this riddle to prove self awareness -- all three robots were programmed to believe that two of them had been given a "dumbing pill" which would make them mute. Two robots were silenced. When asked which of them hadn't received the dumbing pill, only one was able to say "I don't know" out loud.

Upon hearing its own reply, the robot changed its answer, realizing that it was the one who hadn't received the pill.

To be able to claim that the robot is exhibiting "self-awareness", the robot must have understood the rules, recognized its own voice and been aware of the fact that it is a separate entity from the other robots. Researchers told Digital Trends that if nothing else, the robot's behavior is a "mathematically verifiable awareness of the self".

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How Quantum Computers Work.

From : computer.howstuffworks.com

The massive amount of processing power generated by computer manufacturers has not yet been able to quench our thirst for speed and computing capacity. In 1947, American computer engineer Howard Aiken said that just six electronic digital computers would satisfy the computing needs of the United States. Others have made similar errant predictions about the amount of computing power that would support our growing technological needs. Of course, Aiken didn't count on the large amounts of data generated by scientific research, the proliferation of personal computers or the emergence of the Internet, which have only fueled our need for more, more and more computing power.

Will we ever have the amount of computing power we need or want? If, as Moore's Law states, the number of transistors on a microprocessor continues to double every 18 months, the year 2020 or 2030 will find the circuits on a microprocessor measured on an atomic scale. And the logical next step will be to create quantum computers, which will harness the power of atoms and molecules to perform < a href="http://computer.howstuffworks.com/computer-memory.htm" target="_blank">memory and processing tasks. Quantum computers have the potential to perform certain calculations significantly faster than any silicon-based computer.

Scientists have already built basic quantum computers that can perform certain calculations; but a practical quantum computer is still years away. In this article, you'll learn what a quantum computer is and just what it'll be used for in the next era of computing.

You don't have to go back too far to find the origins of quantum computing. While computers have been around for the majority of the 20th century, quantum computing was first theorized less than 30 years ago, by a physicist at the < a href="http://www.anl.gov/" target="_blank">Argonne National Laboratory. Paul Benioff is credited with first applying quantum theory to computers in 1981. Benioff theorized about creating a quantum Turing machine. Most digital computers, like the one you are using to read this article, are based on the Turing Theory.

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