In the past two decades we have seen a steady increase in the adoption of various technologies that fit into what can be described as a digital lifestyle. Sharing data, experiences and our most intimate thoughts has become second nature to most people connected to the Internet. And as market trends shift so did the approach that companies and governments have in regards to each individual’s digital footprint. The uncharted wild west that used to be the internet of yesteryear has become a battleground where everyone is fighting over who knows the user better.
Why is this important?
Privacy is mostly an overseen concept; and what defines today’s technological landscape is public apathy towards it. People do not fear to share their data. People trust their software providers. People have nothing to hide. And in an ideal world, this should be the case.
Unfortunately, having a look at the top 10 largest data breaches, one can see that even globally trusted software providers can be subject to cyber attacks. In 2016, three hundred million names, locations, email adresses, passwords and more have been published for sale on the Darknet. Ground-breaking leaks such as Snowden’s and Vault7 suggest that governmental institutions breach the trust of both citizens and companies, by dedicating research and development to the goal of gaining control of our digital lives.
It’s not that you’ve got nothing to hide; it’s that losing your data means losing your identity and digital footprint, and we need to educate people intro valuing their data and protecting it as they would any other personal property.
And how should we fight this?
The answer proposed by the European Committee is the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). GDPR states that all companies which collect or process data from EU residents need to follow a set of privacy guidelines. The data collector must get explicit consent from users, pseudonymise collected data, restrict decision making on a purely algorithmic basis, manage data breaches following strict procedures, and restrict sharing data with third parties and outside the jurisdiction where the data was collected.
This is a huge breakthrough for privacy awareness. Even if regulation doesn’t solve the inherent problem, it shows that there is a problem and proposes a way to solve it.
We believe that each of us are responsible for our digital privacy first, and we aim to make that second nature.
And why _Windows_?
Certainly not because it’s our favourite operating system.
Nevertheless, it has 80% of the PC operating system market share – millions of people use Windows every day and trust their data with it. And it incessantly collects data in order to provide ever-improving features. And because there is no tool that can implement high-level abstract security policies on a Windows system, we have created one.
SnowWall is a networking tool designed to provide insights and control into the networking activity on a Windows-based system. SnowWall interacts with the operating system, intercepts every inbound and outbound connection, provides information on the connection’s state, lifetime, owning process, and most importantly, remote end point, such as geolocation and ownership information, and display it to the user in as visualisations: maps, graphs, diagrams.
Since it’s carefully designed to be user-friendly, SnowWall can be used by anyone to block unwanted connections with high-level policies, such as blocking by country or by owner, instead of going through the seven steps it takes to create a Firewall rule in Windows.
SnowWall uses low-level networking APIs to sniff the inbound and outbound connections currently active on your system, and for each of them gathers ownership and geolocation information. As soon as this information is available, it checks them against your security policy and commands the Windows Firewall to block where necessary. SnowWall’s most powerful feature is allowing you control over the communication of your own operating system.
We are constantly researching and developing new ways to improve SnowWall. Currently, we are working on turning SnowWall into a packet-filter, able to intercept and stop the connections without needing to rely on the Windows Firewall. At the same time, we are implementing a geolocation library in SnowWall, which will allow any SnowWall user to participate in a distributed, privacy-prerving geolocation network.
THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING ...