Tag Archives: Privacy

Shhh! It’s a Secret!



Shhh!The past few weeks have seen most of the tech industry line up against law enforcement and intelligence agencies over the matter of encryption and privacy. I particularly liked Google’s recent conversion to privacy as it wasn’t that long ago that Eric Schmidt, Google CEO, said that, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

Moving on, there’s been a great deal of emphasis on the privacy aspect, but few have noted that encryption is mainly about secrecy, and that privacy and secrecy are not the same thing. If you do think that privacy and secrecy are the same thing, consider this, “It’s no secret that you go to the restroom, but it’s something you do in private.” I can’t claim credit for this – Bruce Schneier was discussing this over ten years ago and I thoroughly recommend you read some of his recent posts on the matters too.

You might also like to think of it this way; a private home v. secret hide-out. The former is in plain sight but restricted to the owner and his guests, whereas the latter is hidden and known only to a select few.

With a better understanding of the difference between privacy and security, a more reasoned debate can take place, which needs to be agnostic of the technology, to decide the rights of the individuals and the responsibilities of law enforcement.

Ask yourself some questions, “Should what person X does (on their phone) be private?” and “Should what person X does (on their phone) be secret?”. Remember, person X might be you, your family, your friends, your colleagues; person X might be suspects, criminals, murderers, terrorists, paedophiles; person X might be freedom fighters, democracy activitists, oppressed women, abused spouses, LGBT members. You get the picture, person X might be someone you approve of, or they might be someone you don’t like.

The easy answer is to say that person X should have privacy but not secrecy. Does this guard against wholesale monitoring of communication by intelligence agencies? Snowden has shown that this happened and I think most people would see this as an overreach of their authority with no legal oversight. But once person X has come to the attention of the authorities, does that strip away any right to privacy? What level of suspicion is needed, what evidence is required, what is the process of law? None of these have easy answers.

Undoubtedly this is a complex affair with hyperbole, thin-end-of-wedge-ism, and freedom protestors in dictatorships by the bucket load. For certain, we need to move this away from the technology and into human, societal and legal rights. Nothing is black and white, but this is about the future and the world we want to live in. Personally, I firmly believe in privacy, but I’m not so sure about secrecy. I use encryption on my phone as reassurance that should I lose my phone, important data won’t be misused by the finder. Generally I feel that wrong-doers, alleged or otherwise, shouldn’t have secrets, but I’m always concerned about the abuse of power. As always, “Who watches the watchers?”

(The other curious thing to consider is regarding dead people. Generally, they don’t have the same legal rights as living people. What would this mean?)


eBlocker Pro Protects Online Privacy at CES



eblockerGuarding your privacy online can be a real challenge. There are so many systems out there designed to track your every mouse click, it’s impossible to try and keep track of them all. And while you can give yourself a baseline level of protection by adjusting some browser settings, that may not be enough to keep you truly guarded. Many different companies have come up with tools to help users maintain their online privacy and eBlocker is the latest to enter this field.

At CES 2016, the company has announced its eBlocker Pro device. Unlike many other privacy protection systems that rely on software solutions, eBlocker Pro is a piece of hardware that easily connects to a home network. From there, eBlocker Pro protects all of the devices connected to the network by cloaking their IP addresses, and blocks all ads and trackers, allowing you to truly surf the web anonymously. eBlocker Pro also has a customizable service for shared devices called eBlocker Family. This allows administrators (i.e. parents) to whitelist or block certain websites, based on who’s using a device. eBlocker Family is especially designed for situations where family members are sharing a device like a tablet or a desktop computer.

eBlocker can be found during CES 2016 in the Sands G/Eureka Park building, booth #80432.


Public Outcry Over New Spotify Terms of Service



Spotify logoSpotify, the Sweden-based media streaming service, received some negative press earlier this week because of some recent changes to its terms of service. Initially, it looked like the company was getting a bit too grabby with users’ personal information. The ToS was updated by adding this language:

With your permission, we may collect information stored on your mobile device, such as contacts, photos, or media files. Local law may require that you seek the consent of your contacts to provide their personal information to Spotify, which may use that information for the purposes specified in this Privacy Policy.

The new terms were first brought to the general public thru a Twitter post by former Minecraft developer Notch. This led to a response from Spotify CEO Daniel Ek. From there, Spotify went into damage control mode, starting with a blog post that’s supposed to clarify the situation.

And while these new terms do look a bit overreaching, the key part to remember is that Spotify won’t be doing anything with your information without your consent. Still, the company could’ve done a better job of clarifying exactly what it’s planning to do with your photos, contacts, and other information.

Considering so much recent news in the tech world has revolved around hacks, leaks, and privacy breaches, all companies doing business online need to be super transparent about these kinds of things going forward if they want to maintain (and grow) their customer bases.


MacKeeper Provides Human Tech Support For Your Mac At CES



mackeeper logo

Even though Macs are well-known for their security, it’s still important to keep tabs on your Mac’s security. With excellent anti-virus protection and built-in tech support capabilities, MacKeeper is the perfect Mac security and support solution.

Jamie and Nick talked to Jeremiah Fowler from MacKeeper about his product. MacKeeper is an application with a wide range of features to protect and enhance your Mac. You can connect with a real technician to troubleshoot and solve computer issues, manage and protect your Mac’s data against viruses and security breaches, clean up your system, and much more.

MacKeeper’s support staff are certified IT professionals, so you can rest assured that you’ll get expert assistance every time. MacKeeper runs quietly in the background of your system, so you won’t experience annoying lags in speed or performance. And with pricing as low as $7 per month, you won’t have to break the bank to get user-friendly all-in-one tech support for your Mac.

For more information, visit MacKeeper’s website.

Interview by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly and Nick DiMeo of F5 Live.

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support my CES 2017 Sponsor:
30% off on New GoDaddy Orders cjcgnc30
$.99 for a New or Transferred .com cjcgnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain. Promo Code: cjcgnc1hs
$1.00 / mo Managed WordPress Hosting with free Domain. Promo Code: cjcgncwp1
Proximity Beacons for Android Course.



SmartSafe Brings Data Security To Your Wrist At CES



Ionosys Smart Safe

Our personal data is valuable. With the endless stream of hacks and security breaches flooding the news these days, protecting our private information is more important than ever.

Scott spoke with Stephane Blondeau of Ionosys about the Ionosys SmartSafe. SmartSafe is a wristband that securely stores your passwords, account numbers, and other personal data right on your wrist. The wristband uses a combination of encryption and your personal biometrics to ensure that only you as the owner have access. And with NFC capability, SmartSafe can connect to your other devices, including doors.

SmartSafe will be available in September or October. Price is still to be finalized.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support my CES 2017 Sponsor:
30% off on New GoDaddy Orders cjcgnc30
$.99 for a New or Transferred .com cjcgnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain. Promo Code: cjcgnc1hs
$1.00 / mo Managed WordPress Hosting with free Domain. Promo Code: cjcgncwp1
Proximity Beacons for Android Course.



Facebook Changes Privacy Options for Teens



FacebookParents who have a teenager that uses Facebook may want to take a minute or two and familiarize themselves with a new privacy change. Facebook announced that it is going to allow teens more options when it comes to privacy. This affects Facebook users who are between the ages of 13 and 17.

Previously, when a teenager joined Facebook, his or her posts were automatically set to allow “Friends of Friends” to see that post. The teen had the option to change individual posts to “Friends” only.

As of October 16, 2013, when people age 13 through 17 sign up for an account on Facebook, their first post will automatically be set to be seen by “Friends” only. All future posts made by that teen will be available to “Friends” only (unless the teen chooses to change that option).

In other words, this change allows teens to make a decision about whether or not to post something with the setting of “Friends”, or “Friends of Friends” or “Public”. Teens will also get extra reminders that pop up if they choose to make a post “Public”. The reminder will say:

Did you know that public posts can be seen by anyone, not just people you know? You and any friends you tag could end up getting friend request messages from people you don’t know personally.

If the teen reads that, and makes the decision to go ahead and make that post “Public”, another reminder will pop up. It points out, again, that sharing with “Public” means that anyone (not just people you know) may see your post.

It seems to me that this change might make teens more aware of who, exactly, can see what they post on Facebook. I cannot help but wonder if this might help prevent some of the online bullying that goes on. A teenager who has concerns about being bullied could make all of his or her posts set to “Friends” only. That teen could also remove people from his or her “Friends” list that are problematic.

On the other hand, this change also would allow teens to share all of their posts as “Public”. Parents may want to have a discussion with their teenagers who use Facebook and make sure their teen fully understands that “Public” really does mean everyone can see what was posted.


Google + is Adding Shared Endorsements



GoogleGoogle has changed its Terms of Service in a way that some people are not going to like. As of November 11, 2013, your Google Profile name and photo may appear in Shared Endorsements. In short, this means that your name and image may be placed into advertisements (without notifying you before it happens).

This reminds me a lot of the Sponsored Stories that appear on Facebook. I cannot think of a more obvious way for a social media company to proclaim that it sees users as living, breathing, advertisements.

Neither Facebook’s Sponsored Stories, nor the Shared Endorsements from Google +, will result in paying the people that are includes in ads. One difference is that the Google + Shared Endorsements are not limited to Google +. Your Google Profile name and photo could also pop up in the Google Play music store.

You have a couple of options if you want to avoid becoming part of an ad on Google +. The most obvious way to do this would be to quit using Google +. Not everyone is going to want to immediately go with the “nuclear option” though.

Another way to try and avoid becoming an ad is to go into the Google Account Settings and opt-out. Look for a box that has already been checked for you. Next to that box, it says: Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads. Uncheck that box! Don’t forget to click “save”.

There is another difference between Facebook’s Sponsored Stories and the Shared Endorsements from Google. Facebook automatically assumes that parents of users who are under the age of 18 have given Facebook permission to use their child’s name and photos in ads.

There is a note at the bottom of the Shared Endorsements information in the Google Account Settings. It reads: If you are under 18, you may see shared endorsements from others but your own name and profile will not be paired with endorsements in ads and certain other contexts.


Your Facebook Page Can Appear in Search Results



FacebookFacebook has made yet another change that will affect how private your Facebook page is. A new change will allow anyone who uses Facebook to find your page simply by typing your name into the Facebook search bar. Now is a good time to manually change the privacy settings on your posts.

Michael Richter, Chief Privacy Officer for Facebook posted more information about this privacy change on the Facebook Newsroom blog. Facebook will be removing an old setting that had the clunky name of “Who can look up your Timeline by name?” very soon. The decision to remove it was announced a year ago, but the removal did not happen until now.

He had a few suggestions about how to control what people see on your Facebook page. You are able to change the privacy setting of each, individual, post. Change the setting to Friends instead of Friends of Friends or Public. This can be done for old posts and new ones.

You can use your Activity Log to review what you have already shared. This allows you to easily find things that you would like to delete. Somewhere in there is the option to untag photos and to change the privacy settings of past photos.

The other suggestion is somewhat out of your control. You can ask your Facebook Friends to delete or remove things that are on their pages that you are involved in. Hopefully, your Friends will decide to respect your request.

It is also possible to go into “Privacy Settings and Tools” and limit who can see what is already on your Facebook page. Look for the setting called “Limit the audience for posts you’ve shared with friends of friends or public”. Michael Richter says this will allow you to limit all of those posts to only Friends “with one click”.

For a while, Facebook will put up a notice that reminds users that “sharing with public” means that anyone can see the post you are about to make. There is one exception. According to CNET, your Timeline will not be visible to the people whom you have blocked on Facebook.


Facebook Admits 6 Million Users Affected by Bug



FacebookFacebook made an announcement on the Facebook Security page that a bug has affected approximately 6 million Facebook users. This bug allowed user’s email and/or phone number to be accessed by people who “either had some contact information about that person or some connection to them”. From the Facebook post:

We’ve concluded that approximately 6 million Facebook users had email addresses or telephone numbers shared. There were other email addresses or telephone numbers included in the downloads, but they were not connected to any Facebook users or even names of individuals. For almost all of the email addresses or telephone numbers impacted, each individual email address or telephone number was only included in a download once or twice. This means, in almost all cases, an email address or telephone number was only exposed to one person. Additionally, no other types of personal information or financial information were included and only people on Facebook – not developers or advertisers – have access to the DYI tool.

The “DYI” tool is the “Download Your Information” tool. The short answer about what happened is that people were using it to download an archive of their own Facebook account. When they did this, “they may have been provided with additional email address or telephone numbers for their contacts or people with whom they have some connection”.

Facebook says it confirmed the bug, then immediately disabled the DYI tool. They turned it back on after fixing the bug. According to Reuters, the data leaks from this bug began in 2012 and were a “year long data breach”.


EFF’s Annual Report: Which Company is Protect Your Information from the Government



EFF In the United States we are supposed to have certain rights under the 4th amendment of the U.S. Constitution:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

However in today’s world most of us don’t write letters and our “papers and effects” are online. They are on the social media sites we are members of and the websites we visit. So if the FBI comes knocking at the door of the ISP you use, your favorite search company or social media sites you visit and request they hand over your information to them. Will the company simply hand over the information or do they request a warrant.  Another words which company has your back and which company does not.   That is what the (EFF) Electronic Freedom Foundation investigated. This is the third year they have publish this report.   They took a look at 18 tech companies and looked into their terms of service, privacy policies, advocacy, and courtroom track records, to see how they stack up. They looked at the following 6 criteria

  • Requires a warrant for content
  • Tell users about government data request
  • Publishes transparency reports
  • Publishes law enforcement guidelines
  • Fights for users privacy rights in court
  • Fights for users privacy rights in Congress

 

Out of the 18 companies they investigated only two companies received all six stars, Twitter and Sonic.net. Two companies MySpace and Verizon received zero stars. A full chart is available at the EFF website along with a PDF explaining what they looked for and how they evaluated it. According to the EFF they have notice some progress over the three years they have been doing the report, more companies are now letting individual know when a government entity is requesting information about them. It is nice to see that some companies are doing their part to protect our information from the government. Hopefully next year more companies will have more stars