Items tagged with Privacy

Data security and user privacy are hot topics following the high profile Cambridge Analytica scandal that resulted in Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress. However, Facebook is not the only major company facing scrutiny by our elected officials. Apple and Google have both received letters from members of the US House of Representatives with questions about each company's mobile phone privacy and location data policies. The letters follow a couple of recent and concerning privacy incidents that came to light. In May, it was reported that Apple had begun cracking down on apps that... Read more...
Are you concerned about who might be reading your emails? You should be, especially if you allow third-party app developers to access your Gmail account, as many of them request. A recent report highlighted the extent of which third-party app developers can access private information, prompting Google to respond with what amounts to a soothing message saying, 'There, there, everything will be okay'. Google is not necessarily wrong, either, provided you are tech savvy enough to understand the risks associated with giving a third-party app certain permissions, and know how to take control of your... Read more...
Privacy advocates are celebrating a Supreme Court ruling that bans law enforcement from tracking a user's cellphone location without first obtaining a warranty. In a majority 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court found that allowing police officers to access a cellphones location data without a warrant violated the Fourth Amendment, and that it is precisely the type of surveillance that the Constitution protects against. Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority decision, likened warrantless cellphone tracking to wearing an electronic ankle bracelet, such as those worn by criminals on house... Read more...
Instagram is no longer testing a feature that alerted users when someone else would take a screenshot of their story. The feature had been in place for several months and would plop a starry icon next to the username of anyone who snapped a screenshot, thereby letting the user know that someone saved a potentially embarrassing post. With the test concluded, users are free to grab screenies all they want without Instagram ratting them out. This is either a good thing or potentially bad thing, depending on your perspective. For users who like to save photos that others take, Instagram's alert system... Read more...
When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently testified before Congress, one of the common criticisms by multiple elected officials is that the social network has a history of screwing up in various ways, and then later apologizing and promising to do better. That's also what happened with the Cambridge Analytica scandal that prompted the testimony. Now just weeks later, Facebook is apologizing once again, this time for a bug that changed the default settings for millions of users, causing them to publicly share posts that they may have thought were private. "We recently found a bug that automatically... Read more...
The intricacies of Facebook's full data collection and sharing policies are not really known outside of the social network, but it is safe to assume that your information changes hands. Facebook does not hide this tidbit, even if the full scope is not known. What is known, however, is that Facebook has data sharing deals with four Chinese companies, perhaps more, including Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo, and TCL. These are not small firms by any means. Huawei is the world's third biggest smartphone player, while Lenovo often jostles with Hewlett-Packard for the top spot in computer shipments and market share.... Read more...
A woman from Portland, Oregon has claimed that her Amazon Echo recorded part of her conversation and sent it to a random person on her contact list. The woman claims that she learned about the issue when a person who worked for her husband contacted her at her home after receiving the message and told her that she was “hacked.” Amazon has confirmed that this issue happened and issued the statement, “Amazon takes privacy very seriously,” an Amazon representative told Fox. “We investigated what happened and determined this was an extremely rare occurrence. We are taking... Read more...
Google is at the center of another privacy lawsuit, this latest one filed in the UK on behalf of around 4.4 million iPhone owners who may have had their browsing data improperly collected. Should Google lose the legal battle, it could be on the hook for 3.2 billion pounds, or roughly $4.29 billion, the company revealed in a court filing. Google denies the allegation and doesn't believe the issue even belongs in a London court. The crux of the lawsuit is the use of tracking cookies of Apple's Safari browser. It's similar to what led Google to pay the United Stated Federal Trade Commission (FTC)... Read more...
New Spectre flaws have been revealed by the former head of Intel's advanced thread team, Yuriy Bulygin. This is a man who knows what he's doing, so his opinions and findings are not to be treated as fly-by-night like some others. Through his new security agency, Eclypsium (a neat name, it must be said), Bulygin posts of a new application of speculative execution attacks which hinge on Spectre variant 1 (bounds check bypass), although it's believed that the same exploit would work with variant 2 (branch target injection), as well. Ultimately, Bulygin's exploit leverages the bounds check bypass element... Read more...
Facebook has another small crisis on its hands, and users are panicking all over social media. Over the past 24 hours, Android users have been receiving prompts from the Facebook app requesting superuser privileges.  For those that might not be familiar with Android's permissions system, superuser access would basically grant the Facebook app full or "root" access to your phone. And that's not all; the app is requesting superuser access "forever" -- yikes. Needless to say, the scores of users that received the prompt immediately took to their favorite place to vent their frustrations:... Read more...
Sometimes it feels like security and privacy are myths in this day and age of data leaks, hacking, and everything else. The latest example comes from a LocationSmart, a relatively obscure (to the public) location-as-a-service outfit has been leaking real-time location information of cell phone users on all of the major wireless networks in the United States, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. LocationSmart offers a free demo in which anyone can see the approximate location of their own mobile phone simply by entering in their name, email address, and phone number into a form on... Read more...
When testifying before Congress, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was upfront about the fact that Cambridge Analytica was probably not the only company to abuse the social network's policies and improperly obtain data about its users. An investigation would likely yield more incidents, and that's what we are seeing now. Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has suspended in the neighborhood of 200 apps that had access to a large amount of user data. That's not likely the final number, either. Those 200 app suspensions are the result of just the first stage of Facebook's... Read more...
If you use Facebook Messenger, hate malware, and always click on links you're sent without a second thought, then you're going to want to exercise more caution moving forward. A new strain of malware has been making the rounds since March, and depending on how you view things, the effect of "Nigelthorn" is somewhat smashing! This latest malware is named after the Nigel Thornberry character in the popular The Wild Thornberrys cartoon, and while it might seem like an odd choice, it was done because the malware works by exploiting the 'Nigelify' browser extension that changes pictures into an image... Read more...
Technology companies that collect any sort of data are scrambling to be sure that they are being as careful in the wake of Facebook's Cambridge Analytica privacy problems. The latest tech firm to take a hard look at user privacy is Apple, with reports that it is cracking down on apps that share location data with third-party companies. Apple has begun removing the apps in question from the App Store if it finds that data is being shared and notifying the developers of the app that they have violated two different listing guidelines (sections are 5.1.1 and 5.1.2 of the App Store Review Guidelines).... Read more...
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