Steganography – An Introduction to Cyber-Encrypted Messages

Steganographic methods are numerous. We see examples in spy movies and novels like invisible ink, microdots and plain cyphers. It seems only natural then that this covert means of sending messages would migrate into the cyber world of computers. Computer technology opened up a whole new avenue of hiding messages using the hidden code on…

Steganographic methods are numerous. We see examples in spy movies and novels like invisible ink, microdots and plain cyphers. It seems only natural then that this covert means of sending messages would migrate into the cyber world of computers.

Computer technology opened up a whole new avenue of hiding messages using the hidden code on a page. In fact using the electronic means of communication as most of us do, messages can be hidden within Web pages, images and online video and audio.

The term Steganography comes to us from the Greek-steganos (covered or protected) and graphei (writing). Cryptography (hidden-writing) is a term we are much more familiar with. But the two terms mean pretty much the same thing … and the terrorist element has learned how to use it.

USA Today reported a while back that (the late) Osama bin Laden and others “are hiding maps and photographs of terrorist targets and posting instructions for terrorist activities on sports chat rooms, pornographic bulletin boards and other websites, US and foreign officials say.”

This technique is a practice of embedding secret messages in other messages – in a way that prevents an observer from learning that anything unusual is taking place. Encryption, on the other hand, relies on ciphers or codes to scramble a message in plain view.

Forensic cyber specialists cite the advantage for the “dark side” employing steganographic techniques. It should be noted that encrypted messages in plain sight-even if they are indecipherable-attract attention. Thus, steganography protects both the encrypted message but also the people sending and receiving them.

Steganography now includes the concealment of information inside of computer files, but in digital steganography, such communications may include coding inside of a carrier, like a Word file, photographic file, and even software programs. Media files present the ideal platform for steganographic encoding mainly because of larger file sizes. As an example, a sender may start with an ordinary downloaded family photograph and manipulate the color of every so many pixels to correspond to a letter in the alphabet. This change is so subtle that someone not specifically trained to look for it is illegally to see it.

I recently saw a stunning example of encryption that began with an image of a line of treetops, but hidden within this photo was a shot of cat curled up on a colorful blanket. We must never underestimate the abilities of those hell-bent on destroying us. Chances are that the very cryptographers plying this trade were educated right here in some of our finest US universities.

Steganography is a really interesting subject and it is outside of the common cryptography and system administration that most of us deal with day after day. But it is also quite real; This is not just something that's played with in the lab or some off-the-wall subject of study in academia. This threat may, in fact, be all too real – there have been unconfirmed reports that the terrorist's behind the September 11 attacks used steganography as one of their means of communication.

Mozilla’s Roadmap for Firefox 13

Firefox 11 is the latest released version of the popular browser from Mozilla Foundation. This version offers two new syncing features. You can now sync Google chrome bookmarks, history and cookies with Firefox in addition to syncing add-ons / extensions between Firefox sessions on separate devices. Therefore, it is absolutely possible to leave your workplace…

Firefox 11 is the latest released version of the popular browser from Mozilla Foundation. This version offers two new syncing features. You can now sync Google chrome bookmarks, history and cookies with Firefox in addition to syncing add-ons / extensions between Firefox sessions on separate devices. Therefore, it is absolutely possible to leave your workplace and find all tabs open and waiting on your home PC, so you can seamlessly continue any incomplete work. If you are a Firefox user and have any concerns with browser performance, get in touch with a third-party Mozilla Firefox support service.

Post-Firefox 11 launch, Mozilla has now laid out a separate roadmap for 2012. We will look at certain key points presented in this roadmap.

Firefox stands out from its competitors in its extended customizability, which enables users to install third party add-ons, also called extensions, to enhance browser functionality. An outstanding issue has been the compatibility of installed add-ons with newer upgrades to Firefox, which was resolved in Firefox 10 and Firefox 11. other programs / extensions without user approval. Firefox immediately warns the user, should such an installation be prompted by the extension. Third party Mozilla help is also available for assistance with installing and customizing add-ons.

Mozilla also plans to enable silent updates in Firefox 13, which means, any updates to the browser would have performed 'silently', without any need for user intervention. Additionally, Firefox hotfix would download any new patches, without requiring a browser restart.

Websites are cashing in on increasing popularity of social and professional networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, enabling users to share their content on these sites. Firefox plans to follow suit, with a new feature to share links or updates directly from the browser.

HTML 5, JavaScript and CSS3 are the latest standards for embedding rich graphic content within websites. Mozilla intends to offer increased support for these standards for viewing of graphic-rich websites.

With Microsoft's Windows 8 consumer preview now available to users and a commercial Windows 8 release in the pipeline, Mozilla has ambitious plans for a Windows 8-compatible Firefox version. The first step is a technology proof-of-concept to understand what would be possible to implement. This is also being planned in the 2012 Firefox roadmap.

Therefore, Firefox lovers have much to look forward to, in the browsers' future editions. If only Firefox would improve on memory usage and browser speed! To get the most out of your browser, contact Mozilla Firefox support service.

Cyberspace: Where Did the Term Come From and What Does It Mean?

Rarely does a day go by that we don’t come across the preface “Cyber.” We hear it in conversation, on TV and radio. We see it in print. Regardless of the source, we mostly tend to think of the term as having some relation to computers and the Internet.

Rarely does a day go by that we don’t come across the preface “Cyber.” We hear it in conversation, on TV and radio. We see it in print. Regardless of the source, we mostly tend to think of the term as having some relation to computers and the Internet.

What Can a Computer Security Investigator Do for Your Business?

A computer security investigator is an essential specialist for today's networked business. In a situation where all businesses, even the tiniest, use computing equipment and the Internet, the IT security investigator has a great deal to offer. He or she will be qualified in information security, and will tend to specialize in one or two…

A computer security investigator is an essential specialist for today's networked business. In a situation where all businesses, even the tiniest, use computing equipment and the Internet, the IT security investigator has a great deal to offer. He or she will be qualified in information security, and will tend to specialize in one or two sub-fields.

There are two general types of situation where a computer security investigator may be needed by a business.

  • Firstly, the IT security expert may be asked to investigate the firm's information security status, and make recommendations for improvement. This task is not necessarily linked to any particular security incident, and may simply form part of the relevant compliance requirements. This type of expert will be knowledgeable about official information security standards, and corporate governance regulations, and will also be experienced in performing audits of computer and information systems.
  • Secondly, the computer security investigator may be called in after an organization has suffered an information security incident. In this case, after investigating the incident the IT security specialist may be called upon to advise on improving information security in general so as to avoid further such incidents. This kind of expert will be knowledgeable about relevant legislation and recent legal cases, and will also be able to advise on the forensic aspects of the situation.

The two situations require quite different skill-sets in the security expert. The first case requires a specialist who is qualified in the areas of audit and corporate governance as regards information security, and possibly also a track record in the actual management of computer security. The second case requires an expert who is qualified in the areas of computer-related legislation and possibly digital forensics, with experience of incident management as related to computer crime. It would be a mistake for a hiring manager to attempt to have one kind of specialist do the job of the other type, since the two sub-fields can be very technical and require very different qualifications.

A computer security investigator will probably be brought in as a consultant for a reliably brief period, and for a well-defined project. This is because few companies are large enough to support a permanent staff of IT security specialists. This makes it all the more important for a firm to take time in choosing the right person as their information security investigator, since the success of the whole project will depend on this decision. But if the right choice is made, then many businesses will find that their computer security investigator provides them with an essential service that simply can not be dispensed with.

Learning To Speak Computer Language

Most businesses today need to take advantage of technology in order to maintain a certain level of success. If you own a business that uses computers, it is important for you to make sure that everyone that is within your business is up-to-date on the latest information about those computers. This is true when it…

Most businesses today need to take advantage of technology in order to maintain a certain level of success. If you own a business that uses computers, it is important for you to make sure that everyone that is within your business is up-to-date on the latest information about those computers. This is true when it comes to operating the computer properly as well as being able to surf the Internet safely without having to worry about viruses and spyware being problematic. It also is important for you to understand how to speak computer language, as that is becoming an art form that is very frequently overlooked within the business community.

The first thing that you should understand about computers are some of the basic terms that are used in order to talk about the computer properly. Rather than thinking you are dealing with a lot of technobabble, it's important for you to understand the basic terms so that you can speak to someone about your computers intelligently. One of the reasons why it may be necessary for you to do so is if you are having a problem with the computer and need any type of repair done. It may also be necessary for you to speak a computer language properly during any type of IT recruitment, as you would want to ensure that you are getting individuals onto your IT team that understood computers very well.

It may also be necessary for you to take some type of computer based training so that you can properly inform your employees as to how they should be using the computers on a daily basis. If you have ever heard the saying that something is only as strong as the weakest link, that is especially true when it comes to a computer network. If someone that is working for your company is acting recklessly online, it is likely that problems are going to occur that will cost you both time and money. By educating your employees properly about the use of the computer, especially when it comes to using it online, you will save yourself quite a bit of frustration.

Along with learning about computers and the technical terms that are necessary to speak about computers intelligently, it is also important to make sure that you are updating your equipment regularly. Of course, it is not going to be necessary for you to keep up with the absolute latest in technology, as that is continuing changing. What is necessary, however, is for you to ensure that all of the software that is running on your computers is regularly updated. If any type of a patch is given for a software that you are using, be certain that you install it as soon as possible. The same is also true for any updates for antivirus or anti-spyware programs that may be operating on your computers. By updating those programs regularly, you will help ensure that you are keeping your computers as safe as possible from all the latest threats that may be in the world.

Private and Public Digital Evidence and Forensic Investigation

This article discusses the specific sub-field of digital forensics and the types of crimes that would need digital forensics for an investigation. Digital Forensics This sub-field of forensics examines data and information from computer storage media so that it may be used as evidence in a court of law or to answer a specific legal…

This article discusses the specific sub-field of digital forensics and the types of crimes that would need digital forensics for an investigation.

Digital Forensics

This sub-field of forensics examines data and information from computer storage media so that it may be used as evidence in a court of law or to answer a specific legal question as it may need.

For example in private investigations, digital forensics investigator may use digital forensics at the request of a private attorney for a defending in a public case. And evidence may be collected to prove that an employee is using company resources for personal private business use such as selling goods online or visiting the site that is against the company rules and regulation about Information technology. In this case, the employee may be subject to diplomatic action by the company, more personal liability, and possibly criminal liability.

More so, evidence that proves an employee has violated an employment agreement. For example, evidence may be collected that proves an employee accessed records or other information without authorization. It may also give that one employee has harassed another employee or maybe stolen company information.

While public investigations require digital forensics only when a crime has been committed and computers can be used in crimes in one of the following ways, such as, Crimes associated with the pervalence of computers ie copyright violations, crimes in which computer is the instrument of the crime or crime in which computer are incidental to another crime such as using it to store illegal records and crimes in which the computer is the target such as crimes that involve stealing information from a computer or denial of service crimes.

Digital Evidence Collection

The collection of digital evidence may have several predominant roles in collection. These roles may include:

  • Physical Technology Collection : Investigators will collect the physical media. Physical media is any technology that stores data or information. Eg hard disks, PDAs, flash and other electronic devices.
  • Physical Media Analysis : Investigators will analyze the physical evidence for finger prints or other evidence found on the surfaces of the physical technology. This role requires a deep understanding of the technology and may be able to aid the roles of digital evidence collection and digital evidence analysis even when the physical device is strictly damaged.
  • Digital Evidence Collection : Investigators will collect the digital data from the physical device. Here, the evidence is the full set of files, folders, and bits stored on the physical media.
  • Digital Evidence Analysis : Investigators will analyze the data collected. Analysis of digital evidence may show hidden information.

Digital Evidence

Digital evidence is both the full set of bits, bytes, and blocks retrieved from the technology. It is also any subset of that full set such as e-mail, log files, text documents, spreadsheets, and other files.

Digital evidence has several unique challenges and questions that must be addressed. The highest challenge is found in modern computers which are implanted as multi-user systems with potentially hundreds of users. Since evidence must conclusively show facts in an investigation, it becomes critical to clear up ambiguities of who owns the data, how the data came to be on the system, and who or what resulted the data.

Another concern is the legal issues surrounding the collection of evidence from privately owned devices such as cell phones in private investigations as well the expectation of privacy for employees using company provided resources. While no clear answers have emerged, many businesses specify the proper use of their assets and need employees to waive any such rights to privacy on company assets as part of their employment contract.

Furthermore, this issue has recently become more complicated with the sunset of free publicly available encryption technologies. This specific question is whether or not a user retains an expectation of privacy by using encryption on company assets. Clearly, the company has the right to the encrypted version of the data; but does the company have the right to mandate the employee offer an unencrypted version? Subsequently, can a person be ordered by a court of law to give a password to law enforcement to decrypt the digital evidence?

One may be tempted to argument that no digital bit has ever been seen, so plain sight is not possible and not an issue. This issue of privacy raises the question of “plain sight” while collecting evidence from digital sources. Others may argument that a permit to collect any digital evidence stored on a disk or computer device is enough to collect any and all evidence from a computer for any crime.

The plain sight doctrine is best interpreted conservatively so that any seizure of evidence of one crime revealed during the search for evidence for another crime should be then justified by a permission.

The Challenge of Parallel Computing Pertaining to Algorithms, Programming, and Applications

1. Introduction How can we reach the peak performance of a machine? The challenge of creating an algorithm that can be implemented on a parallel machine utilizing its architecture in such a way that produces a faster clock-time is the very question that drives parallel computing. Despite the advancement and complexity of modern computer architecture,…

1. Introduction

How can we reach the peak performance of a machine? The challenge of creating an algorithm that can be implemented on a parallel machine utilizing its architecture in such a way that produces a faster clock-time is the very question that drives parallel computing. Despite the advancement and complexity of modern computer architecture, it is still a finite machine and there are limitations that must be taken into consideration while implementing an algorithm. Such as, is the translated computer code operating at peak efficiency without exceeding memory limits? This does not mean the code should have the few amount of operations. In fact, using two different algorithms, the one with more operations may be more efficient if the operations are executed at the same time (running parallel), as opposed to the algorithm with fewer operations that execute in series.

So how can we utilize a parallel machine to execute an optimal number of operations within a given algorithm? There are many issues that must be addressed in order to answer this question such as task partitioning, the mapping of independent tasks on multiple processors or task scheduling, and assigning the simultaneous execution of tasks to one or more processors. Task synchronization, determining an order of execution so that information exchanged among tasks maintain the desired progress of iterations needed for the algorithm; must also be taken under consideration. Another issue to be aware of is implementing an algorithm that is dependent on the specifics of parallel computer architecture. In addition to providing limited applicability, this approach would render the algorithm obsolese once the architecture changes in one of the fastest changing fields through the world.

There are a lot of elements to consider when dealing with parallel optimization and it is necessary to know which model or models will help you achieve an optimal efficiency. Two important models are control parallelism, which pertains to the partition of instruction sets that are independent and executed concurrently, as well as data parallelism, relating to the simultaneous performance of instructions on many data elements by many processors. After reading this technical journal you should have a greater understanding of the principles behind control and data parallelism. In addition obtain a basic understanding of several techniques to execute an optimal number of operations concurrently utilizing a parallel machine; and posses a greater overall understanding on the issues, techniques, and applications of parallel computing.

2.1 Hazards and Conventions of Programming to Specific Parallel Architecture

When designing a parallel algorithm that utilizes the peak performance of a machine it is often achieved only through the implementation of an algorithm that exploits that specific architecture. However, by taking a more general approach, one can design an algorithm that is not dependent on a specific architecture, but still render a close to peak performance efficiency. This approach is greatly desired and should be used over an algorithm design that is dependent on a specific architecture. This will ensure the algorithm does not become obsolete once the architecture changes and will also improve applicability. There are so many diverse parallel architectures in existence and an algorithm should have sufficient flexibility to allow its implementation on a range of architectures without a great degree of difficulty.

2.2 Control and Data Parallelism

There are two models that help facilitate the implementation of parallel algorithms on a wide range of parallel architectures, control parallelism and data parallelism. Control parallelism partitions the instructions of a program into instruction sets that can be executed concurrently due to the fact that the sets are independent of each other. Pipelining is a popular type of control parallelism. Data parallelism simultanously implements instructions on many data elements using many processors by creating tasks from the partitioning of the problems data and then distributing them to multiple processors. Multiple tasks can be scheduled on the same processor for execution so the actual number of processors on the target machine is not critical. Data parallelism is generally favored over control parallelism because problems become greater complexity of the algorithm and the code remains unchanged, only the amount of data increases. Because of this, data parallelism allows more processors to be effectively utilized for large-scale problems.

2.3 Task Partitioning, Scheduling, and Synchronization

A parallel algorithm that requires a large number of operations to reach a solution can be more efficient than a sequential algorithm with fewer operations. So the question becomes in what ways do parallelism affect computations? There are specific issues that must be addressed when designing a proper algorithm for a parallel implementation and they are task partitioning, task scheduling, and task synchronization.

2.3.1 Task Partitioning

Task partitioning deals with the problem of partitioning operations or data into independent tasks to be mapped on multiple processors. Operations of an algorithm are partitioned into sets that are independent from each other and proceed to overlap in the duration of their execution. The problem data are divided into blocks without interdependencies and are there before capable to process multiple blocks in parallel. A Task is the name given to the partitions of operations or blocks of independent data. Task partitioning becomes easier to solve in algorithms designed with independent operations or algorithms that maintain small subsets of the problem data at each step. Therefore, by addressing the problem of task partitioning through the design of suitable algorithms the algorithm designer can assist the applications programmer by helping to eliminate a serious problem in parallel programming.

2.3.2 Task Scheduling

Task scheduling addresses the issue of determining how to assign tasks to one or more processors for simultaneous execution. This problem can not be left to the programmer alone due to the large variety of architectures; the algorithm designer must design an algorithm that can be structured to utilize the number of available processors on a variety of different architectures. However, a satisfactory solution can be obtained in the scheduling of tasks to processors for a variety of architectures if the underwriting theoretical algorithm is flexible. Therefore, so long as the operations of the algorithm can be structured to have as many independent tasks as the number of available processors the programmer should be able to resolve any scheduling problem.

2.3.3 Task Synchronization

Task synchronization is the question of determining an order for the execution of tasks and the instances in which information must be carried out tasks to ensure the correct progress of iterations according to the algorithm through its execution. This may appear to be a problem that is strictly solved by the programmer's implementation, however, an algorithm design which convergence is guaranteed that ensures the requirements for synchronization are not excessive is likely to be more efficient when implemented in a parallel architecture.

2.4 Work-Depth Models

A work-depth model takes the focus away from any particular machine and draws its focus to the algorithm by examining the total number of operations performed by that algorithm and the dependencies among those operations. The work W of the algorithm is the total number of performed operations; depth D is the longest chain of dependencies through its operations. The ratio P = W / D is called the parallelism of the algorithm. The advantage of using a work-depth model is the lack of machine-dependent details as used in other models that only serve to complicate the design and analysis of algorithms. The figure below shows a circuit for adding 16 numbers. All arcs or edges are directed towards the bottom, input arcs are at the top, each + node adds the values ​​of each incoming arc and places the result on its outgoing arc. The sum of all inputs is returned on the single output at the bottom.

Computers, What to Know When Purchasing a New Machine!

When considering a computer / laptop, do you know what you need to know prior to your purchase? Here are some ideas to consider … If the computer is going to be used for games or movies as a priority, then a screen and video card are the important things to consider. In this case…

When considering a computer / laptop, do you know what you need to know prior to your purchase? Here are some ideas to consider …

If the computer is going to be used for games or movies as a priority, then a screen and video card are the important things to consider. In this case a desktop computer would probably be best as it is easier to upgrade your video card and your video output device. Also, with games and movies the hard disk needs to be very large if you save any of the input. With a desktop you can always add more hard drives with ease.

If the computer is going to be used for creating spreadsheets, Word documents, or video presentations then either type of system would do. The only real consideration here would be the ease of typing the input. The keyboard on a desktop is easier to type on for most people. However, if you desire the laptop for portability or space requirements, you can always plug in a desktop keyboard (wired or wireless).

This now brings up the idea of ​​portability. A desktop, normally, stays where it is installed. A laptop is made for travel. You can do your work at hot spots (ie McDonald's, coffee shops, book stores, etc.) or just in different rooms of your home; you are not tied down other than staying within the range of your wireless LAN when at home. This makes it much easier to sit on the porch enjoying the nice weather, going to the kitchen for a snack, or catching up on you “important” television shows while still creating documents.

Software packages are a main concern when buying a new computer. The first consideration is that if the software you are currently using is not on CDs or DVDs in your possession, you will probably have to buy them again. As a rule, software can not be copied from one computer to another. It must be installed on each computer using it.

The second consideration is compatibility. Even if you do have the software on hand, some computers will not run older software. With the changes in computers happening every two or three years, software and hardware must be verified to run with the new system. Some systems are now running 32 bit and / or 64 bit operating systems. This can be important because some software is honed in to one or the other of these. Currently, there is very little software out there that runs 64 bit or dual processors. This is a big advertising game to sell computers; however, tomorrow …?

The third consideration is cost. Software needed for a new system usually costs as much or more than the desktop / laptop purchase. Again this depends on what you are going to use the system for.

As previously mentioned above, there is hardware that will not run on the newer computer systems. Sometimes the problem is the operating system of the computer not being able to talk to the hardware device. Sometimes it is because the drivers (the translators for device to computer communication) for the device has not or will not be created.

If your new purchase is to create photo output or high quality presentation output, as opposed to general documents, then you may want to consider putting your money into a printer of high quality and much less into the computer itself.

The quantity of hardware could also be an issue. Most laptops have 2 or 4 USB ports to plug in hardware. If you need more you can get a USB hub with additional ports; However, there are still some hardware devices that will not work through a USB hub and needs the direct connection to the laptop USB port. A desktop can have 4 to 8 USB ports to plug into. Again a USB hub can be used for more ports or a card can be installed within the desktop for additional ports. If this is a strong consideration, then you will probably need a high end system to push all the power needed for each device.

Security is always an issue in this day and age. The word virus gives a lot of people a case of anxiety. There are several ways to solve this problem and enjoy your computer. The first is to get a good anti-virus and anti-spyware program. There are a lot of free ones out there – some are very good. There are a lot of others that charge (usually yearly) – some are very good. This is a case of either read about them fro sources you trust or rely on other people that you can trust. There will always be someone who will like each one or they would not all be on the market. And do not be fooled; If you have a cable (Comcast, FIOS, Cox, etc.) connection, you are ALWAYS on the Internet whenever the computer is turned on. You do not have to initiate your email, Internet, or any other application to be hacked.

Another way to secure yourself from viruses, spyware, malware, root kits, and ID theft is to make sure that you use a LAN or network that you can trust and that has security inside it. Of course, the only way not to be “hit by this bus” is to stay off of computers. But even this is not a good alternative as your bank account, your credit card, and other out-of-home shopping situations are almost all computerized and susceptible to being hacked.

A back up power supply and a back up for your computer files are also steps in the right direction for security. A back up power supply will help stop a computer from being stuck by a power surge. A power surge has all the capability of entering the unit and destroying the insides including wiping the hard drive. The correct power supply has the ability to turn off your computer when there is an outage also. A back up for your computer files is good when your computer bites the dust or gets decimated by a virus. With a good back up procedure your data will always be safe even if your computer is not.

Now that we have answered most of what you want your computer for, what specifications (insides) are needed for this computer? Do you need a DVD drive that has the capability to write or create CDs or DVDs or just one that can read CDs (for installations) or DVDs (for movies)? How fast should the computer be? How much memory do you need? What size video output do you want? What about your network speed?

These can be very involved questions without any real clear-cut answers. Without getting too deep into these questions, a new computer made within the last year would be more than enough for most people. Reviews on the Internet from reliable sources could also be a big help.

The final thought is whatever you decide to purchase, I recommend that you be happy with what you have to pay for your system and do not look at computer sales or ads for the next six months – because you will probably find something newer, bigger , faster, or on sale to make you rethink your purchase. Do not.

If you want to use my experiences, then feel free to go to my website and contact me with any thoughts or questions. I am not the “know it all geek” and will never proclaim myself the “number one guru” but I have had my hands on and in computers since 1967 and have clients and experiences to support my convictions.

What about refurbished systems?

A refurbished system is usually a very good system. But if you want a warranty you may want to stick with new if you do not know anything about computers or do not have a handy IT professional friend.

What Price? Safety Over Privacy: A Slippery Slope

How much privacy are we willing to give up our safety against possible terrorist attacks? Do we have a choice or has this line already been crossed? Have we become a “Big Brother” society? Already much of our information has been available online to anyone interested in knowing where we live, our age, real estate…

How much privacy are we willing to give up our safety against possible terrorist attacks?

Do we have a choice or has this line already been crossed? Have we become a “Big Brother” society?

Already much of our information has been available online to anyone interested in knowing where we live, our age, real estate information and other personal data.

But way beyond this easy access for the average Web surfer, the US government had been using the Stored Communications Act (SCA) of 1986 of that allowed government agencies to read our private e-mails without a search warrant.

E-mails in transit were protected, but once they reached a third party Internet Service Providers (ISP), like Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail and were stored, they were no longer protected under the Fourth Amendment.

The outrage created years ago under the Bush administration of warrantless wiretaps was renewed with the civil liberties and Internet rights advocates.

The good news is that June 18, 2012, the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals declared the SCA unconstitutional. It ruled that stored e-mails are secure from government eavesdropping. Because of the ruling, the government has to get a warrant to read the stored e-mails of someone they are exploring.

Not just e-mails have been freely available to the government without a warrant. Cell phone tracking data is also available to a police investigation.

The American Civil Liberties Union advocacy group conducted a yearlong investigation into law enforcement use of cell phone tracking data.

MSNBC reporter, Bob Sullivan, author and writer on technology crime and consumer fraud, reported that using the Freedom of Information Act, the ACLU found many local police departments around the country routinely pay mobile phone network operators a small fee to get detailed records of historic cell phone location information.

Sullivan said this data tells cops not just where a suspect might have been at a given moment, but also create the possibility of retracing someone's whereabouts for months. In many cases, law enforcement can obtain this information without applying for a search warrant.

Most of them, Sullivan reported, subpoenas are issued instead, which require law enforcement to meet a lower legal standard.

Digging deeper into the use of our personal information being culled by public agencies, James Bamford, in a Wired Magazine article, revealed a top-secret construction project in Utah, named the Utah Data Center that is being built for the National Security Agency (NSA) ).

The purpose of this massive center is to intercept, decipher, analyze and store huge amounts of communications taken from satellites and cable communications.

The source of this information will come from private emails, cell phone calls, Google searches and personal data paths.

Frankly, I have long ago given up the idea that my life is private. In terms of being a writer who does research online, I must confess I'm a hypocrite when it comes to finding information about people online. I conduct all kinds of online research for a living including finding people.

The difference is I do not have access to much more than a location and birth date. This data is like using the old yellow pages.

I ask the question again: Is giving up our privacy the price we pay for staying safe from terrorist attacks. Does it help?

We may never know what tactic made the difference or missed the mark.

Basics About Cloud Computing

In a general term, cloud computing can be defined as anything that aims to deliver hosted service over the internet. It can also be termed as, a way to use a virtual computer exactly with the same personalized experience irrespective of global position. In general, cloud services are divided into three basic categories: IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service),…

In a general term, cloud computing can be defined as anything that aims to deliver hosted service over the internet. It can also be termed as, a way to use a virtual computer exactly with the same personalized experience irrespective of global position. In general, cloud services are divided into three basic categories: IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service), PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) and SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). The cloud symbol inspired the name “Cloud Computing” which stands to represent the internet in flowcharts and diagrams.

Three distinct characteristics of a cloud service have differentiated cloud from traditional hosting services. Cloud computing service is elastic, and it is sold on demand. A user can have this service according to his requirement. To satisfy the demand users can have it by the minute or the hour. To use this service consumers only require a PC with internet connection, and this service is fully managed by the provider. The cloud services getting accelerated interests due to significant innovations in distributed computing and virtualization. Fairly speaking, high speed internet connection as well as the weak economy has also a great part to accelerate interests.

IaaS ensures virtual server instance API to start, stop, configure and access to virtual storage and servers. Amazon Web Services could have been a great example of IaaS. It is also termed as utility computing. In case of the enterprise, a company is allowed to use as he requires, and they have to pay accordingly. You can also say that it is a pay-for-what-use model, which looks like the way water, fuel and electricity are consumed.

In the cloud system, PaaS can be defined as a set of product development tools and software which are hosted on the infrastructure of providers. Here, developers use internet connection to create applications on the provider's platform. The providers of PaaS system can use website portals, APIs and installed gateway software on the consumer's PC. GoogleApps and Force.com are two examples of the PaaS cloud computing system.

In case of SaaS cloud computing system, the vendor interfaces with the users through a front-end portal and supplies both hardware infrastructure and software. SaaS holds a broad web-market, and here service can be anything from database processing to inventory control and Web-based email.

A cloud service can be categorized as public and private services. A Public cloud supplies hosted services to anyone on the internet, but a private cloud supplies hosted services to a limited number of customers. As an example: Amazon Web Services is the largest public cloud provider of recent time. If a service provider uses the resources of public cloud to make their private cloud, then the service is called as virtual private cloud. Cloud computing service aims to provide IT services and computing resources to customers, and it does not matter whether it is private or public.