Internet Traffic Shaping in Canada

A recent survey by the Canadian Press Harris-Decima poll on the internet traffic management in Canada suggests one in five surveyed supports the idea as long as all users are treated fairly.

From the Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) point of view, they are doing the right thing by reducing clogs during peak-use-time due to peer-to-peer file sharing services. However, I believe that type of service comes with a cost to regular subscribers. In order to execute such monitoring service, ISP will need to know activities of each and every subscriber which breaching their privacy. The Privacy Commissioner of Canada should be involved in the discussions that Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) are currently having ensuring the privacy of Canadians.

With regards to the Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey, I am curious if the survey ever educated the respondents with the details especially about the ramifications to the regular ISP subscriber if the ISP is allowed to shape internet traffic. According to the report by the Canadian Press, 54 per cent of the respondents did not know whether the traffic management affects them personally.

Couple this with two recent bills – the Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act and the Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act – just introduced before the House of Commons that will allow police to collect information about Canadian Internet users without a warrant and to activate tracking devices in their mobile devices and cars; wouldn’t it be a free pass to the privacy of every Canadian internet user?

Vacation Time Phishing Time

Its vacation in North America; so is the case in many other parts of the world. Some are travelling while others take short breaks from work to enjoy the summer treats. In travel, we may be forced to use public internet kiosk or WIFI.

During this time, school goers are spending more time on the internet, movies and TV during this time. It’s that time of the year when we have more visitors at home and may end up using our computers.

So what’s the problem? Well, Fortinet – a threat management vendor issued a report stating that June 2009 marks the highest rate of phishing attack to date. Isn’t that obvious considering this time of the year and the economic conditions? Those who are out of work may adopt jobs for the phishers and spammers; while others are looking for the best deals on the internet.

Most of the Trojans are hosted on gaming sites that many visit more often during this time of the year. Get a personal firewall and anti virus software for computers used for such purpose. Your ISP may provide you these softwares for free. Ensure that they are up to date with signatures. Some browsers have the capability to subscribe to blacklists, which when subscribed blocks access to such websites.

You may get flaky deals by email phishing for your personal information. In this economic downturn, people are desperate to take on any good deals available on the internet – good target for phishers and spammers. Some emails are designed in such a way they are authentic coming from your bank requesting you to update your information. How did strangers get your email in the first place? Remember your honorable posts on the internet with your powerful email address at the end. Turn on your email spam guards to avoid such phishing attacks.

When you are travelling, try to avoid public kiosks and WIFI – they could be hosting such malicious software and could be part of a large botnet. Do not access your financial accounts from such places. If possible always keep a small netbook for such use in travel.

At home, try to have a separate secure computer that you can use for accessing financial accounts. Or it could be the other way around – keep a separate computer for your entertainment and gaming access which will not be used for accessing financial accounts. Not many are fortunate to have multiple computers at home. So, as I mentioned earlier, try to have anti virus and anti malware software with a personal firewall on your computer.

It’s reported 22 percent of the reported activity comes from south of my border – the US; while there is significant proportion of attacks originating from Singapore, Japan and China.

I think the trend is expected to grow until this economic condition gets better.

Paranoid on Facebook

It’s an application that helps me get together with my pals online. Once a college group is now spread all over the globe. I have a dude in China too! Not many Malayalees end up in China. Once in a while I check their profile to see how they are doing. What I find is really interesting.

There are people who update their status with up to the minute details. I have seen status updates such as “In washroom. Not now.” There are birth dates, phone numbers, home addresses, email addresses, and wall conversation that reveals your emotions and whereabouts completely – all available to the public. Some are even in the race to collect as much friends as possible.

Facebook is a good tool for thieves waiting for you to leave your home. When you update your status as “heading to town for dinner”, they will be heading to your home.

Some are very candid in showing their birth date, that they don’t realize their Social Security Numbers could be deduced from it and their demographics. This is possible according to a research published by “The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” on July 7, 2009 and that’s all needed for an identity theft – name, date of birth and social security number (in Canada its social insurance number).

What about phone numbers and email addresses? Isn’t that a good deal for spammers and telemarketers? I would recommend facebook users to restrict information within the circle of your friends you trust. For some good practices on facebook, here is a good read – http://www.sophos.com/security/best-practice/facebook.html . Try to update your status that happened in the past such as “enjoyed the great dinner at the Haveli”.

So much for now hoping these thoughts will be published in my facebook notes soon.