privacy projects

Bye Bye GMail, see you later OneDrive

Here’s my project to extricate myself from free services.  I’ve got an Android phone.  I use gmail.  And Hangouts.  And Google Maps.  And Google News

Google Now watches where I go to frequently and it thinks it knows where I work.  It sees the purchases I make and gmail tells it when they are being delivered.  It sees the places I go and makes suggestions on where to go.  It’s a little creepy

As such I feel motivated to do something about it.

Following in the footsteps of Bryan at Bad Voltage, I’m taking steps to extricate the “free” services from my technology life.  Starting today I’m moving away from GMail.  It’ll be a slow transition because it’s not a 5 minute job.  iPhone email and webmail are working.  But I think I want a more complicated configuration; multiple email domains, virtual users, etc.  That’s obviously part of the hook with Gmail and it’s Software as a Service model.  All that hard work is done for you.

(The irony that most of my mobile technology posts are pro-Android but from a security and privacy perspective, Apple’s mobile OS is probably much better for you – well that’s not lost on me.  I’m just sulking about it)

This is the second step I’ve taken.  The first was to give Firefox yet another go.  I’ve got a post brewing for a while about why Firefox is really the only browser to trust and the steps you can take to make it even more secure and private.  Back to the “too many eggs in one basket” theme of this post however – the summary is that nothing is free, there is a cost to everything.

But is it worth it????


Trust Issues

We trust Internet conglomerates to give us services but how much are we giving away for functionality?

I flit between being ultra paranoid about Google to fully embracing it’s services and living in the future.  This has been one of the more difficult posts to write.  I think that’s because I’m not talking about cold hard facts, but expressing a feeling. Every time I start, it ends up being a ramble about privacy and security, big brother, the youth of today not realising they over share, and get off my damn lawn….

The cold hard facts are that we have technology around us today that we couldn’t imagine 10 years ago, 5 years ago, probably even less than that.  And that technology needs data to do amazing things.  Forget about security of information, about privacy, about the concerns about a single organisation having so much data about you.  Embrace the future.  I’m sure Oppenheimer felt the same way.

It’s not just a GOOG thing

It’s not Google per-se that gives me pause for thought.  It’s the aggregation of data from different data points held by a single organisation that makes me nervous.  Think about all of the data in GMail, Google Plus, Google Drive, Android Fit, Nest, Google Wallet (the same can be said for, OneDrive, Office 365, etc.)  Individually most of those sources are relatively negligible.  It’s when they are aggregated that the data becomes so powerful.  And therefore so worrying.

So What?

Cold hard facts work much better than abstract examples

Look at Google Now.  Every now and again it’ll prompt you to ask if you’re interested in travelling to a particular location.  If you drive to the same place every morning, it’ll guess that’s your place of work.  We trust Google to have impervious security.  But anyone with a modicum of IT experience knows that nothing is bulletproof.  So, Google knows

  • my home address,
  • it has my work address,
  • it knows when I commute and when I’m not at home.  For hours at a time.

I’m pretty sure Siri or Cortana would do the same thing if I used them in anger.

With a little thought you can extrapolate that list to show that it knows an awful lot about you, your purchasing habits, your physical location, etc.  I trimmed it back to the above three points just to illustrate that on a very basic personal or home security perspective – you’d better hope and pray that Google has it’s very best security guys looking after you.  And yet nothing is ever really secure.  Not 100%