Every day we hear about how much better and easier our lives are becoming because of the technology that has permeated every aspect of our lives. We have a cloud to store anything of any size and can retrieve it instantly from around the world. Our phones are better computers than what NASA had during the space launch. We can pay anyone at anytime from anywhere using any number of sources and payment providers. We can get a message from our toaster when breakfast is ready. But at what cost? Privacy – as we once knew it – is dead, and has been so for a long time. We just didn’t know it.
The 2018 BSidesDE artwork reflects the state of privacy that we deal with each day. On the left we have PRIVACY and the BILL OF RIGHTS, which when dealing with the online world, are almost dead as we know them. Our family, those we know and trust – electronically at least – are SSH, GNUPGP, TOR, and VPN. These are all connected, symbolically on the logo, by a wireless network. Also on that network, watching everything carefully, are some innocent looking but very dangerous fish, the kind with five eyes. These represent the FIVE EYES of surveillance – comprising of the countries of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and of course the United States. The astute observer will notice the SNEAKER on each of the fish, which is from the 1992 hit movie SNEAKERS – now celebrating its 25th anniversary – taken from the early group of ‘hackers’ testing internal security at a major US company. SNEAKERS the movie had many colorful characters such as LIZ, MOTHER, BISHOP, CREASE, CARL, WHISTLER and COZ who are memorialized on the stones. Stones? This is an aquarium of sorts, as with all this surveillance we live in what amounts to a glass house. In that house, we have TOO MANY SECRETS, which was what the movie wanted to end, which ushered in the DEATH OF PRIVACY since the FIVE EYES want to see and know everything we, represented by the ROBOT, are doing online and in our homes. Shocking, but the wireless home router and public WiFi networks, represented by the wireless icons, have become their tools and our problem. See the little plant in the center of it all? It is a carnivorous plant called the VENUS FLY TRAP, living on the wireless network. In real life cyberspace, this is the name of the implant given to an exploited wireless router, indicating external compromise and full control.
Remember, write down those nice long passwords, clear your cache often, and don’t resolve all those pesky IP addresses you don’t recognize. After all, what is a little death of privacy between you and you friends with FIVE EYES.