noun: skills in many areas. a little of this and that.

PSA Newsletter 14: Privacy, Security, Automation!

Cryptomator, A Fascinating PostMortem, Cold Storage Recommendations, and more...


Cryptomator is open source encryption software that's incredibly easy to use. With it, you can create encrypted folders that can be accessed with a password and stored on any cloud provider without having to give them the keys to decrypt your private data. There are clients for Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android (via several methods). [1]


Cloudfare's Wikipedia page starts with "Cloudflare, Inc. is an American company that provides content delivery network services, cloud cybersecurity, DDoS mitigation, and ICANN-accredited domain registration services."

I'd like to expand on that description with the following: Cloudflare is an American company that has written the best public security event postmortem I have ever read. Their description of an unfortunate intrusion event that thankfully did not progress very far read like a nerdy spy novel. To be clear: it takes real talent to write a document like this without alienating a large public audience and in my opinion, they did a great job. While I can't say I learned anything new, I can say that it made for very compelling reading and served as a reminder to always layer security protocols and practices, rather than rely on a single vendor or system. Highly recommended if you care about Information Security. [2]

Automation Autonomy

This month's "Newer Isn't Always Better" entry is an old storage method with a modern twist. Storage tech has come a long way in the last few decades. While Solid State (SSD) and M2.2 drives have gotten larger and faster compared to older magnetic spinning disk drives, they still share an unfortunate weakness: bit rot and data decay. It's generally accepted practice to start replacing hard drives once they hit the five year mark and that goes for SSD's as well. Some drives will degrade faster than others, but five years is a pretty good time to start thinking about replacing drives. That doesn't necessarily mean that an SSD or HDD will fail the moment it celebrates its fifth birthday, but rather that the drive should be assumed to no longer be as dependable as it was at time of purchase. I personally have had drives last ten years, but I was comfortable losing the data on those drives, as it was all stored elsewhere at the time. Which brings me neatly to the 3-2-1 Backup Rule:

  • Three copies of data, on
  • Two different types of media, with
  • One copy stored offsite (meaning outside the data center, building, region, etc.

Points two and three (or is that two and one?) can be fulfilled by utilizing optical storage like M-Disc Blu-Ray discs. They're estimated to last several hundred years (no, really), are resistant to light, temperature, humidity, and (no joke) EMP. As if that wasn't enough, when paired with an encryption tool like Cryptomator (mentioned above), you have a method to securely back up and archive data that can then be cheaply mailed to a safe location for storage, without any fear of it being intercepted and decoded in transit. Just create a vault on your computer, lock it, then burn the folder to an M-Disc using a BDXL-compatible burner. This incredible breakthrough in privacy, security, and autonomy is made possible by an often-overlooked and disregarded bit of tech: Optical drives. Use M.2 drives for speed, but when it comes to data archival just remember: Newer Isn't Always Better. [3]


Q: I hate repeating myself over and over to customer service on the phone! Is there an easier way to communicate?

A: Learn the NATO phonetic alphabet! It'll take you about an hour or less and once you know it, you can communicate with any operator in any far off land with a basic command of English and a less than stellar phone connection. It helps to know it for two very important reasons:

  1. You won't have to search your brain for a word that begins with the letter you're about to try to communicate, and
  2. You can save the time it takes to say "letter as in word" and just use the word.

Knowing this alphabet will make every time you have to tell a customer service rep a serial number, name, address, or any other spelled out piece of information that much easier and faster. As an added bonus, you get to sound like Jason Bourne. If you can't be bothered to learn the alphabet, just print out the handy table from the Wikipedia page and keep it near your computer, or save it to your phone for quick reference on the go. [4]


I hope it's obvious, but in case it's not, please understand the following:

  1. All opinions expressed are solely my own and do not reflect the views or opinions of my employer, my dog, or anyone else for that matter.
  2. If you buy something I suggest and it doesn't work, please reach out to the vendor for supoort first.

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