O&O ShutUp, Little Snitch, Open Snitch

You know that software is tattling on you to the big corporations.  These tools watch and can be configured to watch, and block the connections that feed data back to companies without always getting your consent or knowledge.

O&O shut up monitors and blocks information that is sent to Microsoft from your Windows computer.  https://www.oo-software.com/en/shutup10   This is important: read for yourself:

  1. http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/bitwise/2015/08/windows_10_privacy_problems_here_s_how_bad_they_are_and_how_to_plug_them.html
  2. http://www.networkworld.com/article/2956574/microsoft-subnet/windows-10-privacy-spyware-settings-user-agreement.html
  3. https://www.reddit.com/r/Windows10/comments/3f69pi/does_windows_10_really_allow_microsoft_to_access/

Among the more fun things in the Windows agreement that you clicked through without reading, probably:

Finally, we will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to:

  1. comply with applicable law or respond to valid legal process, including from law enforcement or other government agencies;
  2. protect our customers, for example to prevent spam or attempts to defraud users of the services, or to help prevent the loss of life or serious injury of anyone;
  3. operate and maintain the security of our services, including to prevent or stop an attack on our computer systems or networks; or
  4. protect the rights or property of Microsoft, including enforcing the terms governing the use of the services – however, if we receive information indicating that someone is using our services to traffic in stolen intellectual or physical property of Microsoft, we will not inspect a customer’s private content ourselves, but we may refer the matter to law enforcement.

So having a free tool to block these (to a point), might be really useful in reclaiming your personal information and your usage, your searches, that sort of thing, for the future.

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For Mac and Linux users, there is the “Little Snitch”:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Snitch, and the open source version Open Snitch: https://opensnitch.io/ — they block connections from other computers to you, and in addition watch and block connections from your computer to any other systems.

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In general, we strike a devil’s bargain with every software package we install and use:  it is always advisable to keep your software updated so known vulnerabilities can be closed (the term is “patched”, as in patching the hole in your wall).  However, guess what, every time you update over the internet you are also giving up some important information, that you are using their software, from where, with what operating system, and what time of day you do your updates.  Hmmm.

 

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