Items tagged with Privacy

When Apple introduced privacy labels, it seemed to be a solid way to provide transparency for users to know what data is collected on their devices. This system relies on honesty from the app developers, but some developers crossed their fingers behind their back when they agreed to the privacy labels it seems. New research has shown that some apps had outright false or misleading labels that they present to users. Recently, Washington Post tech columnist Geoffrey Fowler downloaded an app called “Satisfying Slime Generator,” which, as of writing, has a privacy label that states “developer does not collect any data from this app.” It seems that is not the case, though,... Read more...
In this episode of Misbehaving Bots, automated Telegram miscreants have been found selling private Facebook user data in an unscrupulous forum, for $20 a pop (or even less). Maybe this is why the bots gobbled up all the latest generation CPUs, graphics cards, and game consoles—it's not cryptocurrency mining, but hawking Facebook data! Not really, of course. Those are two completely separate scenarios, they just happen to both involve bots. And of course there are humans pulling the strings of these automated tools, so no offense meant to our future robot overlords, if any of them in the making are reading this. But anyway, let's talk about the latest privacy screw-up involving Facebook.... Read more...
Cookies of the edible kind are delicious and comforting, whereas cookies of the technological kind can save, store, and track data in web browsers across browsing sessions. Companies can use them for good or bad things depending on the implementation from a website, like Twitter, Facebook, or others. When it comes to advertising on the internet, some cookies get to hitch a ride on other websites and then get placed on your computer, which leads to privacy concerns. Therefore, Google is ending support for third-party cookies and replacing the technology with the “Federated Learning of Cohorts” (FLoC). In 2019, Google announced the “Privacy Sandbox,” hoping to find better... Read more...
Facebook does not exactly have a squeaky clean record when it comes user privacy (remember the Cambridge Analytica scandal?), so naturally an ambiguous update to its WhatsApp privacy policy concerned many people. Millions of them, actually, who have decided to leave WhatsApp behind and seek out alternative services for their secure instant messaging needs. Let's back up a moment, for context on the current mass exodus. Earlier this month, Facebook tweaked the privacy policy for WhatsApp, which suggested that effective February 8, the app would automatically send some data to Facebook. In essence, WhatsApp users would effectively be forced to share certain data with Facebook. This caught the attention... Read more...
As time goes on, people are becoming more aware of their privacy and data security regarding the products they use. We saw this with the outpouring of concern over WhatsApp’s privacy policies, causing confusion. People do not typically think about their search engine, though, but that is changing as well. DuckDuckGo is a search engine that touts privacy and security for its users, and the company’s search query numbers show that people are taking notice. DuckDuckGo (DDG) was founded in 2008 with the principle that companies should not make money from private information being sold without consent. DuckDuckGo operates by not collecting information while making money from ads sold in... Read more...
The crazy train that is WhatsApp right now does not look like it will be stopping any time soon. After the privacy policy fiasco, which is still developing, other issues have popped up simultaneously. It appears that Google is indexing a WhatsApp subdomain that can share users’ phone numbers. Furthermore, there are also other issues with WhatsApp that scammers can use to social engineer people, as we are just now learning. This is an absolute nightmare for privacy and security again, and should concern every WhatsApp user at present. Last year, WhatsApp had chat invite links indexed on Google, meaning they were searchable by anyone who knew what to look for. The search techniques could... Read more...
WhatsApp has been embroiled in a flurry of confusion since a change in the company's privacy policy sparked the ire of many. People such as Elon Musk suggested that users switch to rival Signal as it does not collect nearly as much data, and that call to action sparked millions to download Signal. All this chaos did not fall on deaf ears, though, as WhatsApp is pushing back its changes and trying to clean up the mess it made. Today, WhatsApp penned a blog post in an attempt to make amends and try to clear the air after what happened earlier this week. The explained that it "heard from so many people how much confusion there is around our recent update," and it lays the blame on "a lot of misinformation... Read more...
Sometimes it is not what you say, or even how you say something. Rather, it is what you do not say that can speak the loudest, or be of the biggest concern. And so it goes with Facebook's recently updated privacy policy for WhatsApp, a cross platform messaging service that became massively popular because of its focus on privacy. Facebook seems to have shot itself in the foot, however, when last week it announced a revised policy that will effectively force users to accept Facebook data collection through the app. The policy goes into effect next month (February 8), and as you might imagine, not everyone is happy about the changes. Quite the opposite. This prompted Facebook to post a WhatsApp... Read more...
Earlier this week, WhatsApp unveiled a new privacy policy that effectively forced users to share data with Facebook. For an app that touted its user privacy and end-to-end encryption in the past, this recent development is none too kosher. It did not sit well with many users and prominent ones, like Elon Musk, who quickly and directly suggested on Twitter to switch to Signal. After Facebook bought out WhatsApp, there were concerns that the app would head down the wrong path as far as data privacy goes. It appears now that those concerns were on the mark, as Facebook will now be collecting data from the app starting on February 8th. If you do not want data collected, you do not have an option... Read more...
WhatsApp was once hailed as an excellent and secure method for contacting people. However, Facebook bought out WhatsApp, and since then, it has dealt with several privacy and security lapses. Now, Facebook is tightening the noose around WhatsApp by forcing users to accept Facebook data collection through the app. Starting on February 8th, users joining WhatsApp will automatically be sending data to Facebook due to the terms and privacy policy changes going into effect. Current users will likely soon see a notification in-app, which will give them the option of accepting these terms or deleting their account. You can see what this notification looks like below. If you follow the link to the... Read more...
Do you own and operate a drone, or plan to? If so, be aware that the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is introducing some key rule changes for "Unmanned Aircraft" (UA), otherwise known as drones. They include being able to fly over people and at night under certain conditions, and having to broadcast your location at all times when using your drone. There are obvious privacy implications for both rule changes. And they come at a time when the FAA says drones have emerged as the fastest-growing segment in all of transportation, noting that there are now over 1.7 million drone registrations, and over 200,000 FAA-certified remote pilots. Indeed, drone usage... Read more...
The battle over privacy online rages between key platform holders who strive to protect their users from monopolistic megacorps that earn their money turning personal data into cash. In this particular case, the platform owner is Apple, a megacorp of its own whose recent App Store policy changes on iOS and macOS force app developers to disclose how user data is utilized. The opposition here is Facebook, which has made its fortunes on the backs of the users who willingly post all the intimate details of their lives on the free service.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has taken its stance, and unsurprisingly, it's backing Facebook's user base, and by extension, Apple's position on... Read more...
Advertisers and companies like Facebook that thrive on the targeted ads model are a little miffed at Apple right now, because an upcoming privacy policy could hamper their bottom line. Facebook in particular claims one of its targeted ad models could see up to a 50 percent hit in revenue when the new policy goes into effect. Cue the tiny violin. Companies have time to adjust, though not a lot time. Beginning sometime in 2021, Apple will start booting apps from the App Store that track users without receiving permission to do so. And not by way of burying permission in the fine print, presumably. Instead, this move effectively forces many app makers to change their targeted ad strategy. How so?... Read more...
Domain Name Service (DNS) servers partially make up the internet's backbone as we know it. They allow anyone to plug a URL in and go to a website, as otherwise, we would have to know the IP address for every website. These servers also handle IP addresses from people trying to get to websites, which could be a privacy concern. To quell the concerns, CloudFlare plans to implement a new DNS standard called Oblivious DNS over HTTPS (oDoH) to ensure privacy through a “technical guarantee.” When DNS first launched and with implementations that remain today, data is sent in plaintext over the internet to resolve a website with DNS servers. Thus, the Internet Engineering Task Force standardized... Read more...
The data collection business is a problem that affects anyone who uses a smartphone. Previously, we have seen data purchased that can track users to their doorstep, which is quite concerning in and of itself. Now, it is rumored that government agencies have been buying similar data in place of getting warrants through the proper channels. Both the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General and ALCU are investigating these claims to validate and prosecute if true. Over the past several months, a team of U.S. Senators headed by Ron Wyden (D-Ore) have been investigating claims that federal agencies have been tracking American citizens without warrants. Among the team was former Presidential... Read more...
Controlling where your data goes is vital in online safety and security. Unwanted data leakage and breaches are the bane of an online person’s existence, and Google is looking to make the privacy more manageable. In the next few weeks, Google will be rolling out toggle controls for Gmail's smart features and personalization. Smart features, such as smart compose, smart reply, or reminders in Google Assistant for things are part of the incredibly useful toolkit Google provides. Being able to toggle them on and off is not new either, but it used to be more complicated. Following user privacy and user data control trends, Google is now making the choices and toggles easier to understand and... Read more...
One of the most popular features of apps like Snapchat is messages that disappear after a set period of time. Whether you are sending lewd messages or sensitive information, self-destructing messages can protect against images and information leaking out. Recently, WhatsApp released information about "Disappearing Messages"; its own take on self-destructing messages. This functionality has some odd caveats but could be helpful for people using the Facebook-owned messaging service. Disappearing Messages would work how you would generally expect once the feature is enabled. When a chat with a group or an individual has the feature turned on, messages will automatically disappear after a certain... Read more...
Most smart device users are accustomed to needing to activate their smart assistant through a “wake” word. How would users feel if this inconvenience could be eliminated? Google is reportedly working on allowing users to merely approach their Nest Hub to activate the device. The feature is codenamed “Blue Steel” and appears under “Dogfood Features” in the Nest Hub Max settings. It is unclear how exactly Blue Steel functions, but some have argued that it takes advantage of the Google Nest Hub’s ultrasound sensing technology. This technology uses ultrasonic pulses to sense activity. Others theorize that Blue Steel is utilizing the Nest Hub’s camera... Read more...
When you are arrested for an alleged crime, police are supposed to issue a Miranda warning (often referred to as Miranda rights), letting suspects know they have the right to remain silent and anything they say can be used against them in a court of law. Well, guess what? Your search history can damning as well, and Google finds itself in another privacy controversy after assisting law enforcement with the identifies of people who searched for a specific keyword phrase. Let's back up a moment. Two months ago, police issued warrants for and ultimately arrested three associates of singer and accused sex offender R. Kelly, for "crimes relating to their efforts to harass, intimidate, threaten, or... Read more...
When it comes to troublesome data breaches, this one is pretty significant, and it comes from a surprising company. The company in question is Microsoft, which left one of its backend servers that runs the Bing mobile app wide open. As a result, over 6.5TB of log files were leaked into the internet that contained a treasure trove of user search data. Inexplicably, Microsoft staffers left the Elasticsearch server online without any kind of password protection from September 10th through September 16th. This lapse in security by Microsoft was discovered by Ata Hakcil, who is a white hat hacker from the WizCase online security team. The data that was exposed comes primarily from Microsoft's... Read more...
Private threat analysis and mitigation company, HYAS, is buying user data from phone apps to try to track hackers. A major side-effect of this, though, is that regular users are possibly being ensnared and HYAS claims they can track people to their “doorstep.” The collection of user data has long been a problem for everyone. Only recently was TikTok discovered collecting user data, which put their parent company, Bytedance, under scrutiny. By and large, the data collected is anonymous. However, when it is not collected anonymously, it can be used to track specific people accurately. HYAS, the threat intelligence company, is now offering tools to track people for threat intelligence... Read more...
In 2013, Edward Snowden released information on the U.S. Government regarding the mass surveillance and aggregation of data in America. Now, a U.S. Appellate Court has deemed the mass surveillance unconstitutional and thus illegal. As Reuters reported, “the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said the warrantless telephone dragnet that secretly collected millions of Americans’ telephone records violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and may well have been unconstitutional.” This is a win for both Snowden and people and groups against government surveillance. After fleeing persecution and ending up in Russia, Snowden is still following the situation. Yesterday,... Read more...
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