I have been a technology enthusiast for as long as I can remember. While I’ve written often about macos security, mac software and using the mac in general, I try to maintain working knowledge on all major platforms. It had been a while since I’ve used windows as a daily driver at home so I built a gaming rig, loaded up windows 10 and made myself familiar all over again.

In the process of this journey, I’ve needed to find suitable replacements for apps and platforms I use on a daily basis, some for productivity and some for security. …


Over the last few years, the use of virtual assistants has exploded. And they are everywhere. There are the obvious assistants like Alexa and Google Home units and Siri or Bixbi on your phone. Newer cars even come with their own voice assistants. Then there are things we take for granted like voice dictation, automated customer service phone numbers, and online translation services.

The ability to ask a voice assistant to turn on your lights, change a thermostat, look up the weather, the scores to last night’s big game, or define a word you are unfamiliar with is actually extremely…


Photo of Alexa mute switch
Photo of Alexa mute switch

So you decided that in this day and age, the allure of a digital voice assistant and the extra productivity, capabilities and entertainment it provides is worth the risk of invasion of privacy, and the other pitfalls placing such a device in your home entails. No, you’re not crazy. This whole blog is about the balance of security and privacy on one side and the participation in modern life, with all the convenience, productivity and enjoyment that comes with it on the other. …


One of the biggest leaks of privacy on your computer is your browser. Whether the leaks come from the website you browse to (tracking cookies, fingerprinting, etc), from the browser itself (diagnostic info, interest tracking, cloud-based history collection, etc), or from your ISP being able to observe everything you do.

Enter Brave, a browser specifically built from the ground up for privacy. It covers many of the issues from the three categories above:

Websites

Brave implements what it calls Shields to protect you when visiting sites. The shields perform security enhancements such as blocking ads and tracking requests, blocking known phishing…


Incoming USPS mail sent to your email inbox

Did you know the United States Postal Service (USPS) will email you a scan of each piece of mail in transit to your address for free? Each day you receive an email with a scan of each piece of mail coming to you that day. This is only available in certain areas, though it seems to be fairly broad. And of course, this article only applies to US addresses served by the USPS.

Now, if you’ve followed me on medium, you know I am trying to promote privacy and security to the world, and this seems to be the opposite…


By default a new mac provides you with a good deal of privacy out of the box, but there are settings you should change and tools you should add before you call it safe.

Full Disk Encryption

The very first thing you should do, especially on a MacBook, is to turn on FileVault. FileVault is the built-in full-disk encryption (also called data-at-rest encryption) solution in macOS.

Without full-disk encryption, if somebody gets your laptop, all they have to do is either take out your storage device and put it in another computer or boot your computer in target mode and they can see…


The Digital Advertising Aliance’s AdChoices is a program for users to be able to Opt-Out of tracking for dozens of online advertising companies. It does so by setting a cookie with your privacy selections included, which is used by advertisers the next time you visit a site using their ads.

To begin, visit the site http://optout.aboutads.info

The site will scan your current settings and cookies and then give you a list of the DAA’s member ad services and your current “customization” setting and the ability to opt out.

“Customization” here means that they use tracking information about you in order…


What does Google actually know about you? It turns out that it is not that hard to view, download, and analyze much of the data that Google has on you, and make changes to what is being tracked.

To begin, visit the Google account dashboard at https://myaccount.google.com/dashboard

Once logged in, you are presented with a number of cards, each representing a Google service that you may have data on.

Google account dashboard

Each card presents a count or piece of information about the service and the data you are storing on it. Expanding the card will show more information about what you are…


The outcry from privacy advocates on personal information on Facebook is not necessarily about the existence of your information on Facebook itself, but how Facebook uses that data and who it gives it to. For instance, if you post pictures of your new baby on Facebook for your friends and family to see, you *want* your friends and family to know you have a new baby.

But you don’t necessarily want Farmville, Bank of America and Gerber Life Insurance to know. Or worse, unscrupulous employees of random companies to have access to that knowledge.

On Facebook however, it is easy…


Have you ever had a dozen terminal windows open to a remote system you are working on only to be suddenly disconnected and have to start completely over? Or been so wrapped up in a project across multiple windows and hosts that you stayed at work way later than you were supposed to just so you wouldn’t lose your place and have to start over in the morning? By using a combination of iTerm2 and tmux, you can regain control of your workflow, lose your fear of the disconnect, and be much more productive.

iTerm2 is a very capable terminal…

Dave Smith

CEO of NovCon Solutions LLC. Cat herder, pentester, Information Security professional, technology and shiny stuff enthusiast. http://novcon.net

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