Surveillance and Irony

The CBS News posted a brief article on the challenges that the government is having on tracking the trail left by Edward Snowden.  The problem they are having is related to missing access log files, the NSA just can’t quite figure out to what extend that they were compromised.  Operating systems and network engineers will put in several safeguards to track what occurred during an event or security breach.  In this case Snowden covered his tracks quite well by deleting or removing those safeguards that provide an audit trail.  I have read articles calling Snowden a fool, lucky, and simply just not that smart.  I have to argue the opposite, the NSA doesn’t know what information was stolen, he was able to get the information out of the country, and still remains at large.  I do have to say that with so much energy watching everyone’s digital footprint there is some irony to the surveillance, the NSA doesn’t have a clue on what Snowden accessed.

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A Letter to Obama – Well Said

The following blog post is a must share: “Letter to President Obama on Surveillance and Freedom”. The letter comes from a strong supporter of Obama and therefor the views outlined in this post are not politically motivated. However, this letter does articulate the feelings and thoughts of many security professionals that I interact with, and I would like to assume the thoughts of general Americans. As a strong Patriot I was first appalled at the “Whistle Blowing” actions of Edward Snowden. At first notice Snowden was an obvious world class traitor ready to face capital punishment. Followed by the cowardly act of running from the United States and seeking refuge in country that doesn’t even share Snowden  supposed values. With all that said, I now stand quite perched on a fence that I do not like being on.

As a security professional I understand the importance of national security, surveillance, secrecy, and protecting our country. However, the blanket surveillance of all Americans concerns me in a way that brings a chill down to my bones. In Ben’s blog post he compares the actions of nation wide surveillance to that of getting a full body MRI scan on a perfectly healthy individual. Ben states that if a hypochondriac were to receive a full body MRI scan that revealed a potential problem that the person would become obsessed. If later it was discovered that the scan was actually wrong, having a false positive, the mindset of the hypochondriac could never be changed. At this point the damage was done, and more damage was caused due to the “preventative” actions of the full body scan. Any doctor will tell you that it is not necessary to conduct a full body scan unless there is a probable cause or reason.  The reason: problems with false positives.

Looking back at the actions of Snowden I still feel strongly about protecting our country, at this point in time I still cannot consider him a “whistleblower”.  However, the view from perch that I am sitting on has become extremely uncomfortable.

Cloud networking concept: Cloud With Padlock on digital backgrou

Big Brother Is Watching: Privacy Concerns of the Future

[C]omical and entertaining, yet very revealing.  Laws are changing all around the world, and the U.S. has been trying to do the same. The open debate between regulation and Internet freedom has been coming to a head.  What would be best for our safety, regulation that could protect us yet stifle communication?  Or freedom that encourages the sharing of ideas but could lead to potential chaos?

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Cloud networking concept: Cloud With Padlock on digital backgrou

Zuckerberg At Microsoft?

[M]ark Zuckerberg spoke on Saturday at Standford University about the famous Facebook startup that he formed into a publicly traded company.  Knowing that none of the founders had any startup experience they simply focused on the essentials.  Zuckerberg never intended to drop out of college as many of his peers predicted.  However, when his hobby took off as one of the fastest growing social media website he had no choice but to follow his passion.  One of the biggest pieces of advice by Zuckerberg:  “Take your time, bake the product”.

Many people find Zuckerberg as the entrepreneur they always dreamed they were, as I do myself.  I often find myself day dreaming of what could have happened if I didn’t listen to the restrictions that I placed on myself.  Seeing the success of hobby into a business I have learned that often our biggest hurdle in live is overcoming ourselves.

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Take A Vacation

[I] recently received a copy of the 21 Great Ways to Manage Your Time and Double Your Productivity by Brian Tracy and have been applying many of the principles discussed throughout the CD.  The importance of creating lists, setting priorities, and delegation is essential to our future success.  These key attributes must be mastered in order to create long-term value in our lives.  With that being said Mr. Tracy makes a profound statement that the number one reason that we all want to be successful is to have more time to spend with family and friends.  We are all designed to have relationships, and this is what drives us to succeed.  However, in order to be successful we all must have balance between our work and

Many of us have an aversion to scheduling and taking our vacation time.  Just last year I had to use all my vacation time the very last week of my eligibility.  I didn’t schedule time away, attend any special events, or even visit friends or family.  I simply used the time to create more work for myself around the home.  According to Information Week more than half of workers do not use their vacation time in the United States.  Surprisingly enough the United States actually leads the world in missed vacation time!!  I know it may seem impossible to shut down the laptop, turn off the smart phone, and even miss a few sales reports.  However, we must all realize that taking care of our physical, mental, and emotional well-being is important to sustaining our careers.professional lives.  I sometimes find it very difficult to make a conscious decision to ensure that my personal life receives the same amount of attention as my professional.  I would strongly recommend that anyone who finds themselves in the same situation to TAKE A VACATION IMMEDIATELY.

The great website workawesome.com says that if the average person works an average of 10 to 12 hour workdays, 5 days a week, for over two months straight your body actually starts to shut down.  Eventually your work will catch up to you and your productivity will decrease.  Here are some key signs that you may need a vacation or a few days to decompress:

  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Memory loss
  • Eye strain
  • Dark circles under eyes

Over long periods of time and prolonged stress these symptoms can actually lead to long term health issues that can include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Sustained insomnia
  • Hair loss
  • Depression

It is important to take a good amount of time away from the stresses of life and give ourselves a break.  This will allow us to return to our lives recharged and better equipped to handle our daily challenges.  The key benefits of taking a vacation can easily outweigh the costs to our heath.  Here are a few things to keep in mind the next time you decide to skip your next vacation:

  • Vacations Prevent Burnout:  Employees who take regular time to relax are less likely to feel overworked and become more creative and productive.
  • Vacations Keep Us Healthy:  Keeping stress levels down will help reduce our blood pressure, prevent weight gain, and allow us to relax and sleep better.
  • Vacations Help Our Relationships:  By taking time off and spending time enjoying life with the ones you love can build stronger bonds with your spouse, children, family members, and friends.  The Arizona Department of Health and Human Services found that families who took vacations together were more satisfied with their marriages.
  • Vacations Can Help With Your Career:  By taking time away from work we reduce our stress levels, we become more productive, and we enjoy the time that we spend at work.  The psychological benefits of time away from work directly results in better performance.

The bottom line is that we tend to fool ourselves into believing that we do not need to take time off, that it will be better for our careers, and we can get more done.  When the real fact is that we need to recognize that we can actually increase our productivity by scheduling time away from work, we therefore become a much better asset to our organization.