Archive for the ‘Social media’ Category

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recently released a plug-in for Chrome and Firefox called Privacy Badger 1.0. A plug-in is a software module, which adds functionality, that can be loaded into a browser. What the Badger plug-in does is block trackers from spying on the web pages you visit.

Why should you care? Because Big Data companies track everything you do online, and what do they do with that data? One thing they do is analyze data to predict consumer behavior. Here are a couple of articles that explain some of the issues: “The Murky World of Third-Party Tracking” is a short overview, while the EFF has a three-part article called “How Online Tracking Companies Know Most of What You Do Online (and What Social Networks Are Doing to Help Them)” that while several years old, is very detailed.

The FTC has gotten involved as well. Here is a link to one of their papers called “Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion?

I loaded the Badger plug-in as soon as it came out, and I am amazed at the number of trackers it blocks (it does allow a few)! One CNN.com page I visited had over a hundred trackers blocked and a Huffington Post page had almost as many. I also run other plug-ins in Firefox (Ghostery, NoScript, AdBlock Plus, Lightbeam).

The Badger icon in the upper right-hand corner tells you how many are blocked.

The best thing about Badger is that it is very easy to use, unlike NoScript.

Give it a try, and let me know what you think.

This article about how you give up your privacy from CNN is eye-opening, http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/13/living/buzzfeed-data-mining/index.html?iid=article_sidebar

I tried the link listed in the article http://youarewhatyoulike.com/. I thought their specific findings were interesting although not all that accurate.

Data Mining Is Scary

How does shopping affect my privacy?

I like the products that Target carries and the stores are usually clean and well-stocked. You can even sometimes find a clerk to help you when you need one. But I am seriously creeped out by the amount of data they carry on each person who shops there. A couple of weeks ago, I bought some items at Target and the clerk was very aggressive about getting me to sign up for their “REDcard.” The REDcard is a Target-branded debit card that allows you to save an extra 5% on your purchases from their stores. I declined, saying  I wanted to find out more information before I signed up and I was also in a hurry, but the clerk kept pushing, which only reinforced my decision not to sign up. My husband was surprised at my decision because I like to save money. But I value my privacy and I also don’t like feeling I’m being railroaded into a hasty decision that I might regret later.

When I got home, I immediately started researching the Target REDcard. I am not the only person to find their data-mining tactics offensive. If you’re interested, you can read this NY Times article on how organizations data mine an individual’s shopping habits http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/shopping-habits.html?_r=5&ref=business&pagewanted=all&

Credit.com also wrote a series of articles on the Target REDcard:

What’s the bottom line?

  1. Read those pesky agreements that you receive when you sign up for any kind of debit/credit card. If you don’t like the terms, don’t accept the card.
  2. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has some great articles on protecting your privacy. I highly recommend “4 Simple Changes to Stop Online Tracking.”
  3. You can remove tracking cookies specific to a website by following these directions http://www.ehow.com/how_6367641_remove-amazon-tracking-cookies.html or you can decide not to accept any third-party cookies.
  4. Install browser tools such as Ghostery or AdBlockPlus, and enable Do Not Track.
  5. Here’s an article on how to opt out of Facebook’s ads http://gizmodo.com/5989550/how-to-opt-out-of-facebooks-new-targeted-ads

NSA peepers

Posted: June 9, 2013 by IntentionalPrivacy in Cell phone, Privacy, Social media
Tags: , , , , ,

Coming on the heels of the Verizon snooping story last week is a remarkable article by The Washington Post that alleges the NSA collects data, codenamed “PRISM,” from “Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/us-intelligence-mining-data-from-nine-us-internet-companies-in-broad-secret-program/2013/06/06/3a0c0da8-cebf-11e2-8845-d970ccb04497_story.html Make sure you watch the video also.

Then there’s the AP surveillance case, which you can read about here.

One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies, Sneakers, is where Cosmo saysThere’s a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it’s not about who’s got the most bullets. It’s about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think… it’s all about the information!”

Yes, I believe that’s true.

Business Insider wrote another article here about a statement issued by US Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., which declares PRISM is used lawfully to gather foreign intelligence.

What can you do about snooping?

  • Don’t use Facebook, Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, Skype, YouTube, etc.
  • Maintain your super secret data on an encrypted computer running something like SELinux using TEMPEST technologies that never connects to the Internet. Never!
  • Don’t use a cell phone to make important calls and don’t carry a cell phone with you. In fact, don’t make important calls from land lines either.
  • Have your super secret conversations in person in a windowless room that you’ve swept for bugs.
  • You ought to be shredding your discarded paperwork anyway!

I mean, I could go on … but is any of this practical? Not really (except for the shredding).

The ACLU says:

In 2012, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) wrote, “When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they are going to be stunned and they are going to be angry.”

Am I surprised about the WP expose article? No. The sad thing? Do I feel safer because of this snooping? No, not really. Yes, I understand that there have to be tradeoffs between privacy and security.

I ran across this new app called “Wickr,” available from the iTunes store. I haven’t tested it yet, but it sounds amazing. It is supposed to be available for Android soon. Best of all, the basic version is FREE.

What does Wickr do? It’s an app that sends encrypted communications—photos, video, texts, email—to people you trust. Then, at a predetermined time, that communication will self destruct. It uses Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), Elliptic Curve Diffie-Hellman (ECDH), and Transport Layer Security (TLS) algorithms for encryption, which Wickr talks about here https://www.mywickr.com/en/downloads/RSA_Security_Announcement.pdf

Caveat: Don’t lose your password! You lose access to your account. Also, make sure that you read the “Frequently Asked Support Questions” before you install the app, so that you understand how it works.

More stories about Wickr:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-57462189-83/wickr-an-iphone-encryption-app-a-3-year-old-can-use/

http://www.npr.org/2012/12/04/166464858/online-privacy-fix

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/27/an-app-that-encrypts-shreds-hashes-and-salts/

Twitter recently added a new security feature that allows you to have your phone send a security code that you use as your passcode when you log in. While it’s true that using more than one type of account verification can make your account safer, does Twitter’s new two-factor authentication really make your account safer? Maybe not. Watch Josh Alexander explain it in this YouTube video and decide for yourself: Personally, I agree with Josh Alexander that Twitter’s SMS-based two-factor as presented in the video doesn’t go far enough to protect your information.

What makes a safer log-in? Well, believe it or not, when your bank makes you enter your user name on one screen [hopefully using HTTPS; there should be a lock somewhere on the page] and then the next screen has a picture that you chose and/or asks a challenge question or might even save information about your computer like the IP address. If the picture is wrong or you expected challenge questions that didn’t appear, don’t log in! If you log in from a different computer, you may get one or more challenge questions that you must answer before you’re authorized to enter your account. Adding SMS onto one or more of these authentication methods might make your log-in safer.

Yes, it’s painful, but it’s safer.

Why is what the bank does safer than what Twitter’s doing?

Because if you’re not really at the bank’s site, the hackers won’t  know which picture you chose or the correct challenge questions to ask you. Hackers can’t (yet) make a bank website using your picture or the correct challenge questions, so it won’t be your account log-in.

What else makes online banking safer? According to this article http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/upgrade-your-life/banking-online-not-hacked-182159934.html, use WPA2 on your home wireless router, make sure your computer is virus free (OS patched, use an up-to-date antivirus program), and don’t use public Wi-Fi nor public computers. Another tip: Don’t choose challenge questions that anyone could easily find out about you, such as your mother’s maiden name. Under some circumstances, you can use your phone for online banking. Make sure you use a password screen lock on your phone. They also recommended that you have a remote wipe program installed on the phone; if your phone is lost or stolen you can remotely delete all the data off your phone. (Yes, remote wipe actually works. I tried it and bricked my iPhone, but the Apple Geniuses came through like champs!)

Facebook Like button snafu

Posted: October 24, 2012 by IntentionalPrivacy in Social media
Tags: , , ,

According to http://thenextweb.com/facebook/2012/10/04/facebook-confirms-it-is-scanning-your-private-messages-for-links-so-it-can-increase-like-counters/, if you send a message to someone and include a link to a website, Facebook will interpret that as a Like for that website, even though you might not like the website at all.

Privacy violations

Posted: October 24, 2012 by IntentionalPrivacy in Social media
Tags:

Be careful what you post on social media! This story in the Wall Street Journal shows how your privacy can be violated on Facebook, even if your privacy settings are properly set. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444165804578008740578200224.html#articleTabs_comments%3D%26articleTabs%3Darticle