A Taicanada IT editorial, Jan 2021. Dedicated to China pillaged blue chip Nortel Networks. 

Taicanada.com editorials are both political science and technical with opinions based on available facts

. Taicanada.com also publishes short fictional stories from years of experience in Asia primarily Taiwan but also Thailand, Korea, Japan and Vietnam. 


Your Online Security Amidst CCP Risks, by Norman Meyer

It is a time of invisible enemies, Covid 19, armed opponents of democracy and internet safety threats is another one of them. Armed opponents are everywhere, we see it U.S. politics , we see it in CCP military crackdowns in Hong Kong and we see it in armed militias with right wing views in America. The money growing in our Nasdaq investment bubbles and Asian property speculation and the rise of Bitcoin all have one thing in common. Blockchain technology, Smart TV's and all our handheld devices are all dependent on the Internet, as is our military defense. Our quality of life and our survival in many respects is inextricably linked to the internet. I'd wager that even those going "Off grid" still need to file taxes, call for emergency help or get a gun permit along with a list of another 20 or so essentials they can no longer do in person. You do not want to lose your network or have devices corrupted let alone have your data stolen. 

Many of us, particularly generations above the age of 40 in Canada have relied on large corporate secure networks as part of our employment.  From Citric client servers to Cisco bridges and other secure sever room hardware we could once rely on definitive secure IT accountability from our employers. Over time the responsibility for online security, much of it required to access essential services including banking, government services, essential everyday commodities and employment have migrated increasingly to evey individual. With self-employment and home office work growing exponentially through Covid 19 our online work and with it our vulnerabilities are outpacing our abilities to maintain secure devices and hundreds of online accounts. Large account hackings of private data from Yahoo, Equifax and lately even the US Defense department mean that your identity along with some measure of data is on foreign based servers, analyzing the data with Artificial Intelligence looking for vulnerabilities.  

 We each are all now responsible to understand fundamental IT security and follow secure Internet access protocols from our many devices daily in a complex landscape that is constantly inviting opportunities, deemed safe by those selling products and services. The temptations to forego basic online security on public, home and business networks is simply put, overwhelming. This editorial is an introductory article in a series to be offered by Taicanada.com that endorses established reliable IT security software, internationally recognized cyber security leaders as well as recognized IT technical resources sometimes referred to as online nerds and gurus.

Lets’ start with a focus on your hardware. The next article will expand into the online accounts side with some recommended secure interaction practices and privacy policies of those supposedly trusted suppliers. How many devices do you own and have connected to the internet either separately or on one home network? How much do you know about online security and the protection of your data either on your devices or on clouds? I think many of us, myself included make best practice decisions based on advice, online research, education and varying degrees of trust in accredited organizations. This first article is intended to lay a foundation in layman’s terms on basic terminology and security steps for

  1. Home Wifi networks
  2. Frequently used traditional GUI (Graphical User Interface) such as computers and smart phones
  3. Emerging IoT (Internet of Things) technologies including Smart TVs, smart systems often App based for home management, automobiles etc.

Home Wifi networks

Almost everybody receives their internet access from an ISP (Internet Service Provider) . In Canada this includes Bell, Telus, Shaw, Rogers and other less dominant companies as registered with the Canadian government through the CRTC. (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission). A Router is provided with this ISP service, configured for convenient immediate internet access when installed. It is the door both into the internet and also into your devices. How open this door swings to welcome intruders into your devices to look for vulnerabilities depends on the basic WIFI security that each person adds to their network. Many will leave the default Wifi SSID and even passwords according to the ISP provided settings. They will never take it upon themselves to manage their Wifi basic security by navigating with their internet browser to the router settings. Simply by entering the provided IP address URL from the ISP and changing the SSID, whether its broadcast and the WIFI password one has the capability to secure the door against network intruders.  Your control of this door into your network is improved if you also set an Administrator password and limit who you give Wifi network passwords to. All too often people simply grant access to their personal networks by sharing WIFI passwords and not changing the passwords regularly. There are also additional router security settings such as WPA2 protocols that support the latest encryption technologies which are useful to spend some time understanding, as there must be compatibility with devices that depend on the router for internet connectivity.  Don’t be intimidated by the Router settings dashboard, even just changing the SIDD, Wifi and admin passwords will be a major step forward.

Frequently used traditional GUI (Graphical User Interface) such as computers and smart phones

Depending on how many are in your family and how many devices you personally use, its easy to have multiple devices online simultaneously through your Wifi. Two basic protections offered here are a common device security software with VPN and connectivity habits that decrease pathways into essential private device data.

Evert device connected to the internet has a unique IP address and a MAC identifier, often now referred to as the Wi-Fi address on your device, such as through your Iphone general settings “about” page.  Malicious intruders, hackers and state sponsored online threats target individual devices through their IP and Wi-Fi addresses, like knowing where you live, they can knock on your door. In CCP China, what is referred to as the five-cent army, millions of state sponsored minions hiding behind China’s secure firewalls use AI programs to continuously target IP and Wi-Fi addresses around the world. It is part of their overall Big Data multi year programs to collect individual identity data, filter it and leverage it as needed for State ambitions whether commercial or expansionist. China is not alone in these efforts; Russia is also a major threat as are domestic hackers. The major difference being the absolute power and insulation of the CCP party from any international accountability.  

There are major respected competitors such Norton, Kaspersky and Bit Defender offering device and network security software. The range of protections keeps expanding to now include phishing, malware, firewalls by IP exception and of course anti-virus protection. If these safety features are not automatically updating on a live basis then one would become vulnerable to the latest code threats and render such security useless. Taicanada.com endorses Bit Defender Total Security along with its premium VPN (Virtual Private Network). Given the continuous hostile efforts to disrupt your online lifeline I strongly recommend that you always use a VPN protected connection whether at home or on a public network. Not giving out your address is fundamental to prevent hostiles from knocking on your door to see who is home and how easy it is to get in.

The best security systems are actually deployed by the most notorious organizations, the pornography industry, gambling and the CCP organization. These organizations erect major firewalls and closely monitor every connection to their sites.  As an individual you can’t compete but one can take simple steps like using a VPN and having one of the best security software systems onboard your devices. Bit Defender Total security and VPN plans cover multiple devices so its not expensive to cover all devices in your family. Because security software is installed within root directories and changes device registry uninstalling other security software or previous versions avoids troublesome boot up conflicts, degradation or other problems preventing anti-virus total security software from performing as needed.

Emerging IoT (Internet of Things) technologies including Smart TVs, smart systems often App based for home management, automobiles etc.

Its on these relatively recent devices where we enter the wild west of multiple access doors into our network, devices and possibly our data and accounts. Most of these devices, amazing as they are, rely on smart phone Apps, which many believe can be trusted as they are either approved Apple or Android applications. Much of the IoT devices and software code is now written in China under the watchful eyes of the CCP organization whose population surveillance includes a global data base of identities and online activities. This is where the association of software and embedded hardware code becomes increasingly difficult to predict. Is your smart TV on your secure Wifi network accessing more than channels given its sophisticated embedded software live 24 hours a day even with its display power off. We know from reports that hackers can breach IoT devices to gain access to the network, where your secure devices are connected.

Analyzing and providing risk assessment on this ballooning industry is beyond the scope and capabilities of this editorial. I only offer suggestions as to how one can still use these amazing devices by keeping them separate from your secure network. Unfortunately, ISP’s don’t make that easy by offering dual band 2.5 Ghz and 5 Ghz routers in which you can separate channels. The alternative available today is the use of a Mifi available from your mobile carrier, which is your own SIM based Wifi station and typically offers dual band. The dual band allows one to separate your IoT device admin and its associated, often China based Apps, onto one network band and with one device connecting the IoT devices on a separate more open network band. This way, any embedded nefarious software on the Chinese made device is never connected to your secure network and has its own stand-alone internet controller.

 Summary

This editorial is by no means an exhaustive guide to online security and it does not include any risk analysis of ongoing 5G global transitioning. On 5G networks, Taicanada.com advocates Canadian control of domestic 5G infrastructure through an accountable government agency. Similar to the CRTC but more reliant on Canadian IT expertise from China pillaged Nortel and also Blackberry, wherein these companies under contract from such a Federal agency can ensure firewalls, encryption and ISP network security excludes influences and open doors to non-trusted international partner countries.

 The Clean Network alliance, whereby no China based hardware or software content is permitted is a good example of a secure oversight model upon which reliable engineering standards can be based. The subject of proprietary software like Microsoft and Apple versus Android Linux based operating systems seems to have evolved into compromise with China based products like Huawei firmly on the side of Android based apps and OS.

Globally the Android open code system continues to gain market share while even highly secure systems which are part of Blackberry still exist. The purpose of this editorial was not to side with either, only to offer some basic daily steps that one can take to start securing their online lifeline with hopes that this will also inspire readers not to be intimidated and seek additional information.

References

The Clean Network, Recent News and Resources

Bit Defender reviews.

Online technical resources.

Note 1: Suggest that users of online support check for any China ownership, influence and outsourcing. granting remote access for computer support should be done responsibly with backup and sensitive data removal.   

Note 2: Citing the nonpartisan economic think-tank Paulson Institute, the American Security Institute report underscores that "Chinese firms and investors own a controlling majority in nearly 2,400 U.S. companies. Always check for China ownership or influence.