Online security

As I begin to add content to the site, I wanted to take a moment to chat about online security.

One of the major concerns for those of us who are trying to organize visual effects workers is: what if we get caught? Legally, employers can’t do anything to an employee who is participating in an organizing drive. However, in practice, we all know that employers can certainly make life difficult for those people who choose to stand together and organize. I will cite Wal-Mart as an example.

Let’s make sure and keep our online communication safe from prying eyes. Some things to remember:

  1. If you use your workstation, and your facility runs Linux or Mac, you should assume that every command line action is logged.
  2. Without administrator privileges you can’t install any privacy software, nor can you check to see what is being kept track of.
  3. Instant messenger conversations are logged in many facilities, Sony among them.
  4. Every web site you visit and how much data you transfer is logged.

Creepy, right? Here are some precautionary steps you can take:

  1. Avoid AOL Instant Messenger. AIM traffic is rarely encrypted, so if you say anything over IM, you can safely assume that someone has the ability to read it. This goes without saying, but avoid corporate IM services at all costs. For chat, use Google Talk inside of a web browser, and be sure that you are logged into instead of
  2. Avoid company email. Again, these mails are unencrypted and easy to monitor and track. Use web-based mail, such as Hotmail or Gmail, and be sure that you are using the https protocol so that everything is encrypted.
  3. Try to practice secure browsing ( https ) whenever possible. I have enabled a security certificate for this site, but it will cause a browser to display a warning since it is self-signed.
  4. If you are really concerned about your web traffic being logged, there are several options. The first, and my favorite, is to use a TOR-enabled browser. For more info, check out the TOR Project. This, generally speaking, requires administrative access, so if you bring a laptop or tablet to work, this is your best option. If you are using your workstation, you may have to use a proxy server. Peacefire maintains a list of these, which are free, but have a ton of ads.

Good luck out there, and remember to stay safe!


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