No peekingPrivacy means no peeking

The principles of privacy are fairly well capsulized in a familiar phrase we've all known since childhood: It's none of your business.

How much money do I have in the bank? None of your business. What do I look like naked? None of your business. What are my credit card account numbers? None of your business. What are your online logins and passwords? None of your business.

But here's where theory, philosophy and reality separate.

For various reasons, people snoop and pry and try to learn such things.

First principle of privacy: don't let anybody see anything

That's almost the only principal of privacy, though it manifests in many ways.

Dress forms with numbersVisually, the greatest vulnerability to  privacy is through windows, so think about ways that you could look through them to view what you don't want to be seen. Don't think in terms of blinds and shutter; think instead in terms of breaking up the visual path. Trees and shrubbery may be helpful. But also think in terms of where you would place yourself in order to see through the window and make that place unavailable by putting something immovable there.

Privacy-300x225Electronically, break up the view with firewalls, passwords, anti-malware and like measures. And that's as true for devices as it is for occupants. On the Internet of Hackable Things (our salute to veteran journalist David English for that phrase), a hacker on the other side of the planet can tell a crony in your neighborhood when to come calling by tracking electronic door locks, electronic thermostats and so on. It's even easier if you have a Cloud-connected camera inside the house.

shreded_paperCasually, because most people never think about it, a local bad guy can go through your trash to find bills, statements or other documents that spill the beans on your account info at any number of institutions. Learn to love your shredder. Anything with account information, anything that purports to be an offer of a credit account and most financial records need to stay out of the wastebasket unless they've been shredded. Learn to dread what's in what you don't shred.

privacy-2_largeFor important records, get a safe and use it. Also, get a scanner and make digital versions of key documents that are stored only in a safe place, whether that's a well-protected network drive or a simple USB drive that you unplug and store in the safe.

Make sure you can see who's looking

If there's a second principle of privacy, it's to be able to see anybody who's trying to see you.

This is an area where privacy and security interests may overlap.

Ball cameraLighting is a key factor in discouraging all nature of bad guys because it denies them the cover of darkness; lighting that automatically turns on in response to their presence adds even more caution to the recipe; the cherry on top is a barking dog - or an auto-launch video drone.

A bad guy who can see surveillance cameras may or may not be discouraged; our strategy with those is to only make some cameras visible while covering the same view with multiple, sometimes better-hidden cameras. Choose cameras that can see in all lighting conditions, with infrared lighting to see in the dark and that trigger when they detect something of significance within their view (and configure them to automatically record when that happens).

Don't get crazy. Anybody who succeeds in seeing us naked deserves the punishment of that accomplishment. Anybody who wants to set up a parabolic mike to hear what's going on will be hearing mostly cable shows about abnormally-sized people and clothing or cooking choices, or maybe spoilers for the procedural crime dramas their DVR is recording while they try to snoop on us.  These specifics may be different for you and may hold a higher priority, but every flavor of privacy comes down to this:

Be unseen and stay unseen.

Ubiquiti EdgeRouter PROThe Ubiquiti Edge Router Pro, shown here, is a critical element in privacy. It can make two WAN (Wide Area Network, a way to say the outside Internet) connections at once - to both a cable modem and a fiber service modem, for example - to keep internet access available even when one or the other is down, but that's not its privacy contribution. It can create 6 separate internal networks - called intranets (note the A in the middle) that we can configure. One of our configuration options is to select which WAN ports each intranet can use; for two of those intranets (the one with our surveillance system and the one with our control system), the only port we let them see is NTP, the network time port. Since they are otherwise cut off from the outside internet, hackers can't get in. The usual vulnerability of Cloud connections isn't in play.



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