cloud securityGUNTRACK security

Firearm Data In the Cloud, My Thoughts

The realities of the digital world

In today’s digital world, we’re faced with many security issues and data vulnerabilities.  Most likely you’ve experienced a computer virus at some point that made you feel extremely vulnerable.  In fact, you’ve probably heard about the 50 million personal Facebook accounts that were compromised recently. This means that users personal information like addresses, phone numbers, photos, and other information could have been stolen.

Should you be worried?

Given my experience in information technology and website development, I have seen firsthand the efforts that hackers make in attempts to steal or corrupt a person’s website, application, or other data source. In the last 20 years, I have personally managed, and web mastered several hundred websites and applications. What this means in more non technical terms, is I’m basically the guy holding all the keys to the online business and information. I have seen hackers install malicious scripts in everyday plug-ins that look normal from the outside,  but allow them to inject ads or other content into your site. I have seen hackers run automated programs that try multiple usernames and passwords, until they find one that works. On rare occasions, the radical hackers will post derogatory or inflammatory content on your homepage (which has never happened on my watch, however I have been hired to help in situations like this) so it never seems to amaze me what people do to steal, cheat, or cause corruption online.

My initial thoughts on technology, and using the cloud

Let’s face it, technology is not going anywhere. What’s really crazy is how fast it’s progressing. When I got my first computer it was a Commodore 64, with 64K of RAM memory. It’s insane to think my smart watch now has over 5,000 times the computing power that my first computer had. Right now, cloud technology and online security are improving just as fast. Today’s cloud server technology is amazingly secure and the data-center is like Fort Knox. You can’t even access the building, it’s locked down, and only the employees that “need” to maintain the facility or servers have access to the data-center, where the physical servers are located. Additionally, cloud access control and authorization is better, faster, and stronger then even six months ago. We are leveraging Google Cloud Platform and mobile application technology. YES, you heard right, GOOGLE! I know a lot of you think Google may be one of the bad guys when it comes to things of conservatism, privacy, or 2nd amendments rights, but let’s take a closer look at this perspective/ issue or perhaps NON issue. First, Google has one of the most secure and scalable platforms in the world. I think we have all heard about Gmail. Most of us started using Gmail because it worked. It’s fast, secure, and available.  I haven’t heard of many stories of Gmail being hacked or about users losing their data. Furthermore, there is continued efforts being made to constantly evolve cloud technologies and keeping up with the latest threat landscape. Although, we use several cloud data-centers, including all the top tier in the world, Google in my opinion is the safest bet with valuable and sensitive data being stored in the cloud. We have been using their corporate services for the past 15 years and I have to say I stand behind a company for the service it provides, and not the political views of a few of the employees.

NO ADS! NO Tracking or Profiling

As a customer, you have the right to privacy using our app, just like we do using Google cloud, this is clearly articulated in the terms of service we have with Google as a paying corporate customer. I decided early in the planning that I would NOT serve ads, not even in the FREE version of the application.  When you allow ads to be served up, you also allow the use of code that will manage and inject the ad into the app based on user information. There is also other information for reporting and tracking that is inserted when you agree to the terms of monetizing with advertisements. Since I have no ads being used in this application at all, there is NO profiling going on, and we are NOT using Google technology or servers free of charge. Therefore, we are entitled to the same privacy and rights that paying customers have to use the service while keeping the information in the database fully secure.

What’s really being stored in the Cloud?

The most identifiable information which I feel would be most sensitive are: email address, password, images, and serial numbers.  Most people have an email address that is used daily. If this address is currently tied into more personal information or sensitive information like your home address, you can simply use another email address when you sign up for GUNTRACK.

The GUNTRACK app leverages a unique sign in, user ID assignment and authentication process that is handled by a proven framework designed by Google Engineers for mobile and web platforms. No passwords are stored or viewable in the database.

Non identifiable references to your information

When you add a record into your GUNTRACK account, the record is given a string name of non identifiable characters. This allows you once you login and identify that you have access with your password, gain access to these records. If you don’t have the proper credentials you will not be able to see this data. IF, theoretically someone was able to gain access, there is nothing that has your name, location, or any other identifiable information about you.

No Location Tracking

No location, no address, no address or profile information is required. Ultimately, no identifiable location based information is stored in the database for your account. Our application leverages cloud storage, which is another service on the cloud that stores all the images for your firearms, and receipts. In order to upload or retrieve an image the server first checks that you are authorized to view those images. Only your account will be able to see images while accessing with your username and password. This system has been proven for several years and continues to be reliable, available, and secure.

Value vs Risk

It’s Insurance for Insurance

Okay, so we covered some negative issues with security so to be fair, let’s discuss the value of having this information in the cloud. I was curious how my insurance company would cover me in the event I actually needed to file a claim of losing my firearms. I found an article on their website, one of the first requirements mentioned is to keep a copy of the original receipt, serial number and images of the firearms. God forbid something like a natural disaster, tornado, flooding, or fire happens and you lose everything. Until GUNTRACK, I kept an old handgun case, filled with every receipt. Most times this case was stashed in my safe or in a closet. However, in the back of my mind, I always felt a little uncomfortable with this solution, knowing these receipts are all I really have to prove ownership over my valuable firearms.  In addition, most newer cash registers are now using thermal paper for their receipts.  Recently, I had one highly reputable firearm dealers tell me to take a photo of the receipt as they warned me that over time it will fade on the newer thermal paper!

Fastest way to prove ownership

This may sound crazy, but I just read a story in a firearms forum that really provides another MAJOR reason to use GUNTRACK.  A firearms owner had a disgruntled ex roommate that had copied down the serial numbers, makes and models and reported them stolen. Months later, two of the handguns were seized by a pawn shop and the gun owner was arrested and booked for attempting to sell stolen firearms.  While later it was all cleared up, it would have saved a great deal of time had the owner been able to prove ownership of the firearms on the spot, which is exactly what GUNTRACK will enable you to do by having all the information, images, SN, tax stamps, copy of the original receipts and all accessible from your mobile device or a computer.

Unlawful use of GUNTRACK will not be tolerated

If you’re planning on using our system for illegal firearms, DON’T USE OUR SYSTEM! We stand behind our LEGAL right to bear and own firearms, legally purchased or registered. If you’re doing something shady, best keep off the internet all together or stop and get your records legit.

2nd Amendment rights will not be infringed upon

First of all, to be clear, I’m NOT suggesting our application or database is NOT secure or that I would allow it to be compromised in any way. However, coming from a guy who is a supporter of the 2nd Amendment, I wonder why someone feels they would have to hide?  Every now and then, I get someone who is aggressively worried about the “Government” finding them or using this database to help confiscate their firearms. While I understand desiring privacy, because I too feel the same way, I don’t understand how you expect to hide if you’re a law abiding citizen that’s exercising their 2nd Amendment right to own firearms. If you buy a firearm, everything about you is recorded and goes into a federal database in a required form by the ATF, Form E 4473.  You have probably filled out more than one! In any case, if you’re worried about the cloud or data in the cloud, you’re probably already in it….and maybe even on a less secured server, with even more personal information – like your home address – just sayin. Especially, if you are a CCW or concealed weapons permit holder!

Computer vs your Mobile GUNTRACK account in the cloud

Yes, I have made the comment before, “More Secure than Your Home Computer.” If you have firearm images on your computer, or you have emailed firearm images from your computer, posted your firearms on social media, or other websites and forums, you most likely have this information stored on your computer. Your computer – connected to the internet – is only protected by a router or cable modem. While internet technologies and devices have continued to get better, these protections are FAR LESS secure than industry, or enterprise firewalls and routers and the various levels and layers of data center security in the cloud. Watch this video below to learn more about how your data is physically secured in the cloud.

Final thoughts

I started using my first computer in the early 80’s in grade school. Growing up, I had several different types of computer systems including some of the early Apple Macintoshes, Apple 2e, 2c, Power Macs, Mac clones, Tandy, and the early Commodore 64, 128 – one of my first systems.  I have seen over the past 30 years how computers have changed the way we currently live and socialize.  In fact, I have spent the last 25 years working with larger companies, startups, building websites, brands, and internet applications for all types of businesses and clients.  (Having been part of using the internet since its inception and being part of inventing internet technology surrounding this type of work, I think the bigger picture is not so much that this information is in the cloud, because for the many reasons I stated above, a lot of this information is already there, what it really comes down to is you trusting the organization and myself to do the right thing.) If you’re considering using the GUNTRACK app, I’d like you to know, I will be doing EVERYTHING in my power and ability to ensure that OUR information is safe, secure, and available. I think the vast majority of my fellow Conservatives, Patriots, and 2A Supporters, realize that we  have to continue to grow in these areas of controlling our data, technology, and internet networks. We need to to be more progressive and band together to insure our liberties and rights are always secured, and that also includes technology, online and in the cloud.

Len Morales Jr | Founder

Author Len Morales Jr | Founder

More posts by Len Morales Jr | Founder

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