Cybersecurity in Canada

Fear Mongering isn't getting people to be more secure online

Canada Goose Is Not Secure

It’s been a while since I last posted an article. Hope you are doing well with everything 2020 keeps punching us in the face with. I, for one, miss my students in the classroom engaging with me, miss my kids being at school with their friends and classmates, miss just being able to go shopping without the new process of masks, gloves, rubbing alcohol sprays, and brand new Hepa filters all over my house. Oh and this asteroid is heading for us– nothing surprises me anymore.

I felt compelled to make a blog post after I realized posting on Linkedin was simply not enough space. Have a read of this article.

Canadians need to be educated on Cybersecurity, but cannot be taught with fear mongering.

Canadians need to be educated on Cybersecurity, but cannot be taught with fear-mongering.

It’s a tricky thing. I know it’s important to use simple language so everyone (non-tech) can understand. But some technical aspects cannot be put into simple terms. You have to educate people on these technical terms and the seriousness of being cyber-secure. This might start at school where children are taught about cybersecurity, passwords, and being safe online. My children are doing online schooling right now amidst the pandemic, so we had a conversation (age-appropriate of course) about the fundamentals of being safe online, how the email works, what it all means, passwords, and being camera and microphone safe. You can click here to see my article and print out the PDF on how to talk to your kids about cybersecurity here.

Beyond that, high school and college/university students also need to learn about being secure online. Their responsibilities of being on the internet and social media and that you are not really anonymous unless you take serious precautions to ensure you are. Right now, everyone is online, even little children which means a lot of data is being passed around and that’s why we need people to understand the different products, especially the free ones they are using.

Remember, nothing is ever free- you are paying for it with your privacy.

Then, we have the older gen- like me from GenX. I’m in tech so I understand cybersecurity elements of what I do. But my wife who isn’t in tech thought Facebook was safe, Google is safe, and that her sending pictures of our children over Whatsapp is safe. They are not. It’s all going into massive data centers where the information of you is set up, everything is analyzed for corporations to then sell that data to other corporations- which could be pharmaceutical companies, ad companies, military, government bodies, etc, etc.

The Fear-Mongering Begins

So this is where it might get scary. I know the article states we can’t use fear-mongering and we shouldn’t, but there need to be explanations on WHY they should be concerned and take it more seriously. When I’ve talked to other parents who belong to a Class Whatsapp group about the data being collected here and we should exercise caution, the parents were in disbelief and were upset that such things were happening. But they didn’t change their habits and continued to post normally.

They enjoyed the praise and pride they felt when posting something good about themselves or their kids. Which is normal, to share is in our nature. To want to get others’ approval, or seek advice, or get encouragement or laughs is all very second nature to us. But social media platforms are banking on OUR NATURE to make them money. Beyond profits, to sell our most intimate details. Our faces, our children’s faces, and information they did not consent to give out.

Artificial Intelligence, facial recognition, biometric data needs to be explained, and laws/regulations on corporations need to be implemented in order to protect citizens from harmful practices that might give up this extremely personal data.

For example, if you have ever done a 23&me or other Gene tests to find out what you are, might not have seen the fine print where it states this information will be shared with the government, military, and pharmaceutical companies. Most people who have done this test, especially Influencers on social media, did not know about this and did not specify this to their audience.

Youtuve and Social Media Influencers encourage audience to use unsafe Genetic testing services like 23andMe

Youtube and Social Media Influencers encourage the audience to use unsafe Genetic testing services like 23andMe

The Laws Need To Change On All Social Media

TikTok isn’t collecting data for China and you’re programmed to think that because you are being normalized to ‘fear the Chinese’ – it’s systematically making you have racist views. In fact, Facebook, the companies they own, and Google are probably the most invasive. Using facial recognition data to map your face and analyze the psychology of you, so that they can better sell things to you, or influence you. That doesn’t seem to scare people enough to make them switch to DuckDuckGo or to use decentralized platforms instead of Telegram. To scare people into cybersecurity isn’t going to work, just like the article stated. Fear “mongering” isn’t going to work, even though these are scary things.

People need to be educated on why their data is valuable and that if these companies want to make money from it, they should be paying you- then you might see some people being outraged enough.

Instead, because we are used to it, we continue to use ‘free’ platforms to do our daily lives all the while giving our most important information away up for free.

There could be laws that make it CLEAR when you sign up that you understand that your DATA, what kind of data is going to be used, how it will be used, who it will be sold to, and for what purpose. This way, the person can make an educated decision. Without knowing, how will someone know if what they are doing is okay with them?

We also might need a not ‘Free’ option on platforms where you opt to pay a monthly fee- that should be an option for every social media platform especially. We can make the argument that ‘poor people’ will not have access. Well, that’s just like anything though. We need libraries and government programs so that these things are available to everyone without having to sacrifice privacy. Because right now, everyone’s privacy is at stake.

Regulations might need to take place on what is collected from these platforms. Facebook, for example, uses facial recognition tech to watch you on your webcam to see what your emotions are to certain things you read. Even after you left Facebook it still watches what other sites you visited. Beyond that, it also makes mini-profiles on friends and family that don’t even have Facebook and never consented to any of these terms, but simply being on your contacts list and sharing pictures with them was enough.  These practices are incredibly invasive and we need to stop these practices.

Passwords & Security

The person using 0000 or 1234 as your password, I’m talking to you. WHY? Why are you doing this? Is it because you want to get sabotaged that badly? Make sentences- long, using capitals, numbers, and maybe even romanizations of other languages. But make it complicated and make it hard. Make it so annoying that they move away from you to the next guy who’s password is STEVE.

Securing yourself is also making sure you understand that biometrics for passwords can be used. We all heard all about iPhone owners can be forced to give their thumbprint or cloud data without any court order or consent. Protesters being tracked even after demonstrations to their home and being arrested.  You could easily go to a party, get drunk, and have a random person or friend gain access to your phone by swiping your phone or showing your face. It’s not 100%, but nothing ever is. So that’s why you need to understand the tech, how it works, to better protect yourself.

No need to get a formal education in Cybersecurity, but taking a few lessons on youtube or classes on online safety can help. It would also benefit you to read through these articles and go through your settings and opt-out of anything you can for data collection.

For now, my advice is to understand that free isn’t free, to be careful what you are sharing online, or even in private with emails and group messages on Facebook and Whatsapp, and to make sure that you never post anything too personal if you are not comfortable with someone on the other end seeing it, selling it and profiling you with it.



Areeb Soo Yasir

Business and technology have always gone hand in hand for me, and now I've built nearly 20 years of expertise. A few notable achievements: -> Tier III-Designed & deployed multiple mission critical datacenter environments in Canada, US, Hong Kong, Singapore & China. -> Software Engineering: Created a Linux OS from scratch, including a custom kernel to maintain millions of dollars in client infrastructure, deploy and report as needed. Created the “Windows Geeks” and “Password Pros” Windows Password Reset software recommended by Microsoft. -> Business Negotiations: Conducted intensive negotiations with branches of the Peoples Republic of China and the various state-run Telecom operations including China Telecom and China Unicom for access to their trillion dollar backbone infrastructure. We were the first western company to have such network access where other IT companies such as Vodafone and Google failed. -> Cloud Infrastructure Creation: Created the first proprietary “Clustered Cloud Architecture” that rivals competing Google, IBM, Microsoft & Alibaba alternatives. I'd love to chat #IT or #Linux or even #Business, so don't hesitate to connect. Cheers!

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