I Ramped Up My Internet Security, and You Should Too

first_imgBy Julia Angwin, ProPublicaSome people make dieting resolutions in the New Year. I make security and privacy resolutions, because those are the things that keep me up at night. After all, as a journalist, it’s important for me to give my sources assurances that I will keep their communications confidential. And in today’s world, that is an ever-more-difficult task.Everyone — journalists or not — faces an increasing array of attacks on our security and privacy. Even if you’re not the U.S.’s intelligence chief, whose email was recently hacked, it’s smart to up your game. So this year, I thought I’d share my resolutions.1. Software updatesIt’s not sexy, but at the top of my list is updating my software to the latest versions. Nothing else matters – not fancy encryption or strong passwords – if you’re using software that contains gaping holes that any criminal or spy can penetrate.And I hate to break it to you, but all your software is as holey as Swiss cheese. The software updates you receive are just patches for the holes that have been discovered so far. More holes will be discovered later. What’s more, updates are basically red alerts to hackers, pointing them to the holes.So I’ve just updated my phone and computer operating systems, as well as all my Web browsers, software and phone apps.2. Ditching old, buggy softwareNext up is ditching old, unused or poorly maintained software. Using software is a commitment. If you don’t update it, you are wearing a “hack me” sign on your forehead. So if there are programs or apps that you don’t use, delete them.This year, I decided to ditch my instant messaging client Adium. I was using it to enable encrypted chats. But like many cash-strapped open source projects, it is rarely updated and has been linked to many security vulnerabilities.Instead, I switched to Tor Messenger, an encrypted messaging program that is run by the Tor Project, a nonprofit that makes the anonymous Web browser that I already use. By the sad standards of underfunded open source security tools, Tor is relatively well-financed and so I have some hope that its tools will continue to be updated.Tor Messenger links up with my existing Gmail and Jabber chat accounts, and is encrypted and anonymous by default.For even more privacy, I also signed up for Ricochet, an encrypted chat program that runs on the so-called Dark Web. One downside: You can only chat with other Ricochet users. So far, I have all of two buddies on it. [INSERT SAD EMOJI HERE!]3. Upgrading my passwordsPasswords are, of course, the definition of unsexy. But you gotta have ‘em, and they should be long and unique (no re-using between websites). I use a password manager, 1Password, to generate most of my passwords.But for my most important accounts, such as email and my bank, I use a method called Diceware to generate passwords that are about 30 characters long and made up of dictionary words that I can remember. (Thank you Chase for allowing 30-character long passwords — not all banks do, strangely.)If your passwords are long and unique, you don’t need to change them every few months, as most companies incorrectly force employees to do. But I’d been using the same Diceware passwords for a few years now — and I figured it was time to create new ones.4. Upgrading my encryption keyAfter getting all the basics out of the way, I finally got to the fun stuff: Secret coded messages! Who doesn’t love encryption? Modern crypto scrambles your communications so well that FBI Director James Comey has spent the past year complaining that it’s too hard to crack.Most of my encrypted communications take place on Signal, an easy to use phone app. But for email, I use Gnu Privacy Guard, a much older and more complex program.I’ve long been haunted by the fact that when I set up GPG four years ago, I didn’t create my encryption key in the most secure way. This year, I decided to finally fix it. To set up my keys correctly, I had to find a computer that never touches the Internet and follow the instructions in this helpful guide: “Creating the Perfect GPG Key Pair.”My new key seemed all pristine and shiny. And my old key – which I am now revoking – was like an old sweater that I was tossing. It had served me well, but it was time to go.In fact, closet cleaning is probably the best analogy for my New Year’s security project. At the end, I felt cleaner and lighter — the same way I do when I toss out old clothes. And perhaps that feeling was its greatest benefit. I may not be able to foil all the hackers and spies across theInternet. But I can sleep better at night knowing I have tried my best.ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter. Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York last_img read more

To combat MLB’s sudden blister epidemic, Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill has an idea

first_imgMIAMI >> Evidence is mounting to suggest that the baseballs used by major league teams are changing.Anyone can count the number of home runs, which occurred at a record-high rate in the first half of the season. Some have tested the composition of baseballs; reports on TheRinger.com and FiveThirtyEight.com noted that, while the balls they analyzed fell within MLB’s manufacturing specifications, the range of specifications was broad enough to partially explain a surge in batted-ball distance.Pitchers, meanwhile, can simply look at their fingers.Dodgers left-hander Rich Hill and right-hander Brandon McCarthy have been treated for blisters recently. Hill said his issues began last season; McCarthy said his began this year. Hill made two trips to the 10-day disabled list in April because of a blister on his left middle finger. Blisters haven’t sent McCarthy to the DL, but he said he notices them after every start. If the league doesn’t implement tighter manufacturing specifications, what’s a pitcher to do?Hill has ideas.At one point this season — less than a month into his three-year, $48 million contract — Hill was searching for a “medical miracle” to combat blisters. He never found one.Hill did the boring thing instead: He went on the disabled list and started his season over. He allowed a callous to form on the pad of his middle finger, a slow but reliable physiological remedy that he didn’t make time for in 2016.Pitching in minor league rehab games — in which major league pitchers are allowed to throw major league baseballs — Hill simply got used to the new baseball.“One of the answers I’ve been able to come up with to combat the blister is to throw more with the baseball,” he said. “You condition your hand or your fingers to the baseball and the seams. Now it’s, like, almost irrelevant.”This took time, of course. Hill spent a month on the disabled list. The pitching-rich Dodgers could get away with it: they used seven different starters in April, skipping everyone other than Clayton Kershaw at least once, and still entered May with a 14-12 record. Many pitchers and teams don’t have the same luxury, particularly at this stage of the season.Why not, as Hill wondered, simply change the rules?“Get a TUE (a therapeutic-use exemption) for your finger to wear a band-aid,” he said. “A therapeutic use exemption to put superglue on your fingers, so it doesn’t — some substance so you’re not getting blisters? I think if certain players are able to take certain things because they lack it in the body, I think other players could be looked at to have a TUE for their finger, for a blister.”The problem with this idea is twofold. Therapeutic-use exemptions are issued only to players seeking to use a substance prohibited by the Joint Drug Agreement between MLB and the MLB Players’ Association. The JDA covers some topical substances — not just ingestible or injectable ones — but applying one to a pitcher’s hand in-game violates a different rule.That rule, Rule 6.02(c)(7) of the official MLB rulebook, patently bans pitchers from having a foreign substance on either hand while on the mound: “In no case,” the rule reads, “may the pitcher be allowed to pitch with such attachment to his hand, finger or wrist.”MLB’s rules aren’t collectively bargained. They can be changed only with the endorsement of the Playing Rules Committee that meets annually in December. Then, if a rule change has enough support, the committee would make its recommendation for potential ownership approval in January. Ownership approval is required for any rule change.That wouldn’t help a pitcher trying to come back from a blister this year. Besides, McCarthy said, applying for a TUE and getting it approved is a tedious process.“I don’t think we’re waiting for it to get to MLB,” he said. “Guys are going to try and solve that as quick as they can.”For his part, Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a recent radio interview that he’s open to the idea of tighter manufacturing specifications for the baseballs.“We’re going to look hard at the specifications,” Manfred told MLB Network’s Christopher Russo. “Maybe the specifications need to be different. These are hand-made products. There’s always been some variation in the baseball, and we want to make sure we don’t have too much.” Both pitchers have questions about the composition of the baseballs. Could the blisters be caused by a change in the seam height? Seam width? The tightness of the leather cover?“It does raise questions about what is going on, what is behind it,” Hill said. “It’s something that has to be looked at. When you have multiple pitchers talking about baseballs, there’s got to be something going on.”“The seams, to me, feel humongous,” McCarthy said. “They feel like high school or college balls. They’re just so high. I never noticed them in the past.”It isn’t just Hill and McCarthy. Veteran Giants pitcher Johnny Cueto openly endorsed the juiced-baseball theory after a recurrence of blisters Friday night. Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman criticized MLB for ignoring the issue after he was treated for a blister earlier this month.The list of pitchers known to have blister problems this year has grown so fast, it’s replaced the torn UCL as baseball’s trendiest injury: Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez, Oakland’s Jharel Cotton, Arizona’s Taijuan Walker, Miami’s Justin Nicolino, Boston’s David Price and the New York Mets’ Noah Syndergaard have all been stricken this year.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more