For many years I have used both Windows and Mac products for computing. I have a laptop and numerous desktops that I use for work, leisure, mining, etc. Please don’t judge me for using a Mac. I’m technology agnostic and use the device that best suits my needs; not because I’m a fanboy. Recently I have been looking around for a new laptop. I would like to find a device that is more secure but beautiful and practical. Here are my requirements:
Works with Windows and Linux.
Looks and feels good.
Medium in size. Not too big and not too small.
Durable and flexible so that I can depend on it working for many years.
While I was doing my morning research I stumbled upon the video below. I haven’t bought one yet but I’m pretty excited to order one. This video was a pleasure to watch because this is how I look when I get a new toy in the mail. Especially one that is really well built and has been lovingly and thoughtfully designed.
Now you may be wondering why I have this here as this website is about secure phones. Well, I get asked a lot of questions about tech. Sometimes people would like to know about security for other devices. One thing that privacy-minded people are looking for in a laptop is a way to disable the camera. This laptop includes a camera shutter and a microphone hardware shutoff switch! Seriously, I don’t know any other manufacturer with these features. If you are really paranoid you can go one step further and remove the camera and microphone.
I am not a paid sponsor for Framework and I have yet to purchase their device. However, this seemed like a very interesting opportunity for those that love technology and are concerned about privacy.
I’ve spent most of my life building websites. Although much of my experience is on the programming end I am still very familiar with basic web marketing. One of the foundations of web marketing is integrating Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel on your website. This will allow Google and Facebook to track visitors to your website. The goal for them is simple, they are selling advertising and collecting data on the success of the marketing helps prove ROI. If you are a business spending $2,000 per month on Google Adwords you want to know that it is bringing you business. If it isn’t you want to know why and fix it fast.
On the surface, all of this seems pretty simple and straightforward. However, I don’t trust Google and Facebook to use this data for advertising purposes solely. There are many articles, here and elsewhere, that expose the deception and misuse of customer data by these big tech companies. If we are about protecting our data then it needs to be more than a phone but a mindset of security. It isn’t about hiding bad things because that isn’t why I want to protect my data. It’s about lack of control and loose of freedom. The more we give freely the more that governments and corporations will take.
For the reasons above and many others, I have decided NOT to install Google Analytics or Facebook Pixel on this website. We also use secure servers that are privately hosted by webClinic Pro. So know that your privacy is secure while you are surfing.
This morning I was doing my morning research. There is so much going on right now that it is hard to understate how historically significant this period in time will become. So patriots keep your eyes open and use your wisdom to discern what is true and what is not. I stubbled upon a great video this morning from TheKwakBrothers called The Great Reset and I think there is more here than meets the eye (see video below) .
If you don’t know what the Great Reset is the video provides a good summation, but in short it goes something like this:
Cause or use a major crisis.
Government steps in to solve the problem and takes more control.
Eventually the government controls everything and people are happy.
This is the fairly tale of mass psychosis (see video below) that is used to bring about The Great Reset. Now here is where I believe these two videos and phones come together. If you have followed me thus far then you are doing well. I’m keeping this brief but I hope you can see where I am going through the use of these vidoes and making some logical connections. The way that the government is determining if these actions are having the intended affect is through monitoring our phones. Really think about this.
In my professional career I have built many websites. The way that we determine the effectiveness of the website and digital marketing is through website monitoring. Often Google Analytics is used for monitoring and it will tell us how many people came to the website, how long they stayed, what pages they visited, whether they made a purchase, and so on. With this data we can then determine if the investment is providing a return. In order to determine whether these investments are paying off they are using our phones to influence and monitor.
One last take away from these videos. Individually they are single pieces of information. However, when I put them together I see the following:
Convince the public that something is a human right that wasn’t previously (health care or housing).
Create a crisis around that human right.
Use propaganda to convince the public of the human right during the crisis to create an emotional tie.
Monitor the result of campaign through big tech such as social media, phones, and other technology.
Rinse and repeat until The Great Reset has been completed.
I could be totally off base here. Only God knows the true course of events and, if you read the end of the book, we all know how this will end. Hopefully, this will provide some information to help us make sense of this crazy time. I pray that we are like the men of Issachar, “who understood the times and knew what Israel (or whatever country you are in) should do.”
How do you know when your camera or microphone are active? Many phones will show an LED indicator when the camera or microphone are active. Call me paranoid but I don’t trust that the camera or microphone couldn’t be activated without notification. If you see a person with tape covering the camera of their phone then they might be a fellow security minded patriot.
Instead of putting tape on your phone there is another solution. I use an application called Vigilante to monitor and notify me if the camera, microphone, or location tracking is turned on. Now I can have some peace of mind knowing that if an application tries to activate one of these features I will know. If you still don’t feel comfortable without the tape then keep rockin’ it. Although, I would suggest some different color tape to make it look interesting.
You can find Vigilante on the F-Droid app. If you are unfamiliar with F-Droid it is the Open Source equivalent of the Google Play Store. F-Droid is installed on all Patriot Phones to provide an interface for finding and installing applications. Direct link to Vigilante on F-Droid.
Once the application is installed then it will start working. You don’t need to do anything special with the configuration unless you want to play around. Try opening your camera after installation; if you see a notification on your screen then you know it is working correctly. Just like any security solution this is just part of the total package. When combined with a secure operating system and other security apps it creates a solution that is more than the sum of their parts.
Text messages also referred to as SMS/MMS messages are sent unsecured across the phone companies network. These messages are not encrypted and stored by the phone company for future use. For example, a lawyer can request a copy of text messages from a specific phone(s) if it relates to a lawsuit. I have always assumed that the US government could have access to these texts as well if related to a case. In the back of my mind, I always assumed that this access could be expanded for other uses by the government.
This recent article shows that there are those in government that want to use this data and access it for their own purposes. It’s concerning that so few people are talking about privacy and government overreach. It’s also concerning that so few people are willing to take small steps to protect their data. Recently, I wrote an article on Signal. When both parties are using this app their text messages are encrypted from one phone to the other phone (end to end encryption). It’s a simple solution to protecting text messages that we all should use. If you would like more information on Signal, check out my article on it.
It is common for applications to be personalize for a given user. When you open up a music app you want to see songs and artists that reflect your preferences. When new music is available you want to have it suggested so that you can enjoy new music. However, monitoring a users emotional state based on their voice patterns seems like an invasion of privacy. Any information gathered on users, such as this, is considered meta data and can be used for many different purposes. The inclusion of this new feature brings up four very common threat assessment questions.
First, how is it getting the information, and is there a notification when active? Only commonly used apps such as “Phone” should access the mic. If any other app accesses the mic or camera there should be some explicit notification given. Some users may appreciate the intelligence and personalization of this new Spotify innovation. However, many others find this feature an unwanted invasion of privacy.
Second, how is the meta data used? Obviously, Spotify intends on using this meta data to personalize the music selection on its app in order to enhance its service. As an enhancement and innovation this should drive more users to their platform so that they can generate more revenue through subscriptions and advertising. This information can be used in other ways as well such as targeted advertising when spoken keywords are identified. There are many other ways that this meta data can be used. If you intend on using Spotify be diligent to read their terms regarding service and continue to monitor any changes. It isn’t always stated the intended use and the terms can be amended later to incorporate further infringement.
Third, where is the meta data stored? The data can be stored on the device, outside of the device, or both. Spotify is a streaming music service that is constantly communicating via the internet to Spotify servers to send and receive data. It is reasonable to assume that some of this meta data will be stored remotely. If it is stored remotely then there is a clear concern for data privacy and ownership. Recently, GDPR was enacted in the EU which gives clear legal information on the rights of users concerning their data. In the US, we do not have this type of data protection so our best option is to be diligent to protect our data.
Fourth, is the meta data used for any other purpose. Once a company has your data it is not uncommon for them to share or sell the meta data to other companies and governments. The meta data is used to manipulate people, which can occur in many different ways the most common is through targeted advertising. However, there are many other users for your data. If Spotify does incorporate this feature in the future there should be clear indication of exactly how this data will be used.
If it isn’t clear from our website thus far, Patriots have a duty to protect their freedoms. As such we must be informed of violations and take the appropriate steps to protect and fight. One of the best things you can do when big tech companies, like Spotify, infringe on our rights is stop using them. There are other alternatives out there, such as Deezer, that can provide streaming music service.
One of the most prolific applications used today is Facebook. Although it is often looked down upon by younger generations it has continued to hold fast to its market share. There aren’t many people you can find that don’t have a Facebook account and use it daily. Facebook is a big part of people’s lives today, which is why it is important to evaluate security concerns. There are four many security reasons that this article will cover.
Facebook Tracks You
Facebooks tracks everything you do on its platforms. These platforms include Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram as well as website tracking. In fact, Facebook tracks you even if you don’t have an account (https://www.newsweek.com/facebook-tracking-you-even-if-you-dont-have-account-888699). The amount of data that Facebook collects on people is scary. Once they have this information it can be used in a number of ways; most notably for sale to other companies and governments.
IT WON’T COME as much of a surprise that Facebook tracks you on its platform—that’s why it can resurface your birthday photos from five years ago—but you might not yet realize the scope and the depth of its tracking all across the internet. Facebook’s tentacles stretch out across other websites and services, into the various apps you’re using on your phone, and to the places you physically visit in the real world—especially if you decide to check in on Facebook while you’re there.
What kind of information does Facebook track (https://joindeleteme.com/blog/does-facebook-sell-your-data/). Here are some of the many ways:
When you log in and from where (including your IP address)
How long you spend scrolling
People, accounts, pages, groups, and hashtags you connect with
Places you check in to
Pages you follow
How you use Facebook’s camera
Metadata of content you share (like the location of a photo)
Contact information (if uploaded from a device)
Who you talk to on Messenger and for how long
Items you buy through Facebook
Information other people share about you
Facebook Speads Misinformation and Fails to Acknowledge Bias
There are many articles online that talk about the use of Facebook to spread misinformation. It isn’t that Facebook the company is spreading misinformation purposefully. Actually, they are working hard to try and stop the spread of misinformation. However, their platform is being used for this activity and there isn’t a clear way to stop it.
In the wake of mainstream media shifting increasingly to the left, those on the right have looked for new platforms to get and share information. Social media was the logical choice as it became the logical alternative. This started happening a number of years ago during the rise of the intellectual dark web and has continued to progress. Facebook was built to be a social platform and has grown as a result of its success in this area. However, it is not built to distribute news. As such it has yet to develop a method to prevent the spread of misinformation by its users (https://www.unite.ai/how-facebooks-ai-spreads-misinformation-and-threatens-democracy/). To make matters worse, companies and governments have also used Facebook to spread misinformation (https://principia-scientific.com/facebook-admits-it-promotes-state-sponsored-misinformation/).
As Facebook has tried to stop the spread of misinformation they have implemented a system to verify information shared. They use both automated tools and human fact checkers to validate information. However, as with anything written or validated by humans it is impaired by personal bias. Facebook has faced criticism from both sides for bias and has only increased in frequency since 2016 (https://gizmodo.com/former-facebook-workers-we-routinely-suppressed-conser-1775461006).
Unlike the Bible which transforms culture, Facebook is transformed by culture. The changing political landscape is only one of many factors that is shaping the future of Facebook. Regardless of political views it is clear that the spread of misinformation and clear bias is of great concern.
Facebook Lacks Suficient Data Privacy
In 2019 alone over 1 billion user records were leaked, which equals half of all of Facebook users.
Since 2013 Facebook, and its platforms, have been hacked at least nine times. The latest hack in April affected another 500 million accounts. What is even more surprising then the frequency and number of accounts affected is the lack of concern. People continue using Facebook without much regard to the data loss unless they are unable to access their account. Maybe this is the result of the nature of Facebook as it is intended for connection and sharing. Regardless, there is an increasing awakening to the need for data privacy and a users ownership over their data.
Facebook Shares User Data
Facebook claims that it doesn’t sell its users’ personal information. However, that doesn’t mean that your private data is 100% safe. According to Facebook’s Data Policy, the company may share information about you with third-party apps, advertisers, other partners (like vendors and service providers), and any companies that it owns.
Even though Facebook doesn’t sell your information they do share your information and sell targeted advertising. It’s a subtle distinction between selling data and sharing data/selling targeted advertising as either is used to accomplish the same goal; manipulating people. By using Facebook you are agreeing to their use of your data in this fashion.
If you are interested in learning more about Facebook and how to delete your account properly check out the following video.
One of the most important elements of a useable device is its integration with a cloud environment for storage. iPhone and Android devices both have integration with their parent company that allows for remote storage, email, stored contacts, migration of data and apps, and many other things. However, the downside is that these companies then have all of your data. You are not in control of your data and therefore lack privacy. It’s eye opening to realize how beholden you are to these companies until you try and cut the cord. Can you see the endless sheeple moaning and crying about not having the latest features or apps that they didn’t know existing five minutes ago?
“Nextcloud puts your data at your fingertips, under your control. Store your documents, calendar, contacts and photos on a server at home, at one of our providers or in a data center you trust.”
NextCloud is a server application that allows you to store your data online and then access that data via a browser or phone application. You manage where the NextCloud server and data are located; either in your home, in a data center, or through a provider. At the time of this writing, we recommend using one of the many providers as it is FREE and simple to setup. One of these days we may offer NextCloud as a provider as well, let us know if this is a service you would like offered.
Setting up a free NextCloud account with a provider is simple. NextCloud.com has a “Simple sign up” page that lists a number of providers that offer free service. Enter your email address and select your preferred provider. Unless you want a provider in another country, it is recommended that you select a provider in your country.
Once you have entered your email address, agreed to the Terms of Service, and selected a provider your account will be setup. After the account is created you will be redirected to a new page to enter a password. Make sure to choose a secure password and verify your account. To verify your account open your email account and locate the email sent from the NextCloud provider. It will usually say something like, “Verify your cloudamo.com account” in the email header. Open the email message and click on the “Click here to verify your email address” button.
Now that you have the NextCloud account setup make sure to save your password somewhere safe. You will be redirected to your account. Feel free to look around. You can make changes to your account and data here as well as in the NextCloud app. You can download the NextCloud app via F-Droid. If you haven’t installed F-Droid yet check out the article on installing F-Droid.
One of the first things that I had to do once I setup my secure phone was figure out how to sync my contacts. Most of my contacts were stored in my Google Mail account. I wanted to find a similar solution where I could store my contacts on the cloud and sync them with my phone. Google and Android make this a simple task. Doing without Google and Android is more difficult but not impossible and there are some good options for accomplishing this. I’ll present my solution this isn’t the only solution.
I use DAVx⁵ and a NextCloud hosting company, called cloudamo.com, to accomplish storage and sync my contacts. DAVx⁵’s purpose is to synchronize your DAVx⁵ account on the Android device with your CalDAV/CardDAV server. The contact data is stored on cloudamo.com in the cloud and synced to my phone via DAVx⁵. On a side note, not only can you store your contacts in your cloudamo.com account but also photos, passwords, and other random information. I just keep finding more stuff to put there… It’s great!
Once I have contact data in CSV format then I imported the contacts into cloudamo.com. Here is a great video that goes through the details of how to import contacts into NextCloud.
Step 2: Import Contacts into NextCloud
Once the setup is completed then the contact on your phone will automatically sync with the cloudamo.com account. Any changes to either will pass through to contacts on both the phone and cloudamo.com. You can make contact additions or updates on either your phone or the cloudamo.com portal. I find it convenient to have access to my data on both my phone and the cloudamo.com portal.
Step 3: Verify Contact Sync
Try adding a new contact on your phone and see if it shows up on your NextCloud account. Login to https://cloudamo.com/login and go to Contacts. Wait for a few minutes to allow the new contact to sync then go to Contacts to search for the new contact.
Let me get on my soap box for a minute. I can’t understand why Google hasn’t addressed the issue with iMessage Tapbacks. What are iMessage Tapbacks? Here is a short explanation that once you’ve read will bring much clarity.
“Tapbacks were created, one assumes, to make texting more convenient. It’s true that they’re nearly effortless to employ: Simply press on a message until you’re presented with the Tapback options — a heart, a thumbs up, a thumbs down, a HAHA, a double exclamation point, and a question mark — and pick the one you want.” https://www.imore.com/how-use-emoji-and-tapbacks-imessage
As an Android use Tapbacks are extremely irritating especially when communicating in a group chat. iPhone users see a nice little emoji under the message. Android users see a duplicate message with some text in front such as, “Liked Johnny just graduated kindergarden”. As much as I celebrate Johnny’s graduation I hate getting 50 messages with “Liked Johnny just graduated kindergarden”.
What if I told you there is a magic application that will provide a solution for this to Android users and could provide additional protection for both Android and iPhone users. Signal is a messaging app that can take the place of the standard SMS/MMS app. It has a nice user interface, can handle the Tapback emojis and will provide additional security when both the sender and receiver have Signal. When both sender and receiver have Signal the messages go through the Signal network securely instead of sending the SMS/MMS unsecured.
Use the direct link to download and install the app from the Signal website; you’ll find the link further down the page under Danger Zone.