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Source: This article was Published techradar.com By Anthony Spadafora - Contributed by Member: Deborah Tannen

Anonymous View protects users' privacy with every web search

In an effort to further protect its users online, privacy search engine Startpage.com has launched a new “Anonymous View” feature.

The new feature protects users against tracking by serving as an anonymous buffer between websites and end users.

Most users are aware of Google Chrome and other browsers' 'incognito mode' which prevents your browsing history as well as cookies from being stored. However, incognito mode gives users a false sense of privacy since it does not actually protect users from websites that track, save and sell their web behaviour.

Anonymous View on the other hand, actually does. When a user clicks on an Anonymous View link, Startpage.com goes to the website, loads the page and displays it for them. Though instead of seeing the user, the webpage sees Startpage as the visitor while the user remains invisible.

Protecting users' privacy

A free Anonymous View link is available to the right of every search result on Startpage.com which makes it incredibly easy for users to visit websites while protecting their privacy.

The company's CEO Robert Beens provided further insight on this new feature in a statement, saying:

"With this innovation, we make it easier for consumers to keep personal data more private than ever before. Anonymous View is easy to use and unique for any search engine," said Startpage.com CEO Robert Beens. “Unlike the incognito mode in your browser, Anonymous View really protects you. It combines searching in privacy with viewing in privacy.

“We will continue to offer the world's best search results without the tracking and profiling,” Beens promised. “We are proud of our new features together with our new design and faster results. We will continue to develop new online tools that help people take back their privacy.”

  • Take your online privacy to the next level with our top picks for the best VPN

 

Published in Search Engine

Source: This article was Published in techradar.com Contributed by Member: Clara Johnson

Top tips to stay secure online and maintain your privacy

Staying safe online represents a significant challenge, and for families, this is even more difficult with younger internet users too often unaware of the dangers that can lurk on the web. Well, just like any sane parent would not let their child wander around Times Square on their own, neither should these same children be let loose on the internet to roam free.

It can be difficult to maintain privacy online, with more of our data flowing onto the internet, including family photos and finances, to name a couple of potentially sensitive areas. Many folks are seemingly facing challenges in this respect, as last year in the US, there were a staggering 16.7 million incidents of identity fraud, with a total of $16.8 billion (around £12.7 billion) stolen, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

While these are alarming statistics, there is plenty that can be done to keep you and your family from becoming victims. Here are six essential ways to maintain your privacy online.

1. Avoid public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi in airports, libraries, hotels and coffee shops is an attractive resource in terms of staying in touch when away from home. These are open Wi-Fi spots, and many stores have them available these days, but the problem is that they are not encrypted like your home router’s wireless connection.

When using these wireless hotspots, you should be very cautious, particularly in situations where sensitive data is transmitted, such as account credentials or financial details. This is because a process known as Wi-Fi sniffing can be carried out, and the unencrypted packets of data can be grabbed by anyone within wireless reach of the signal – this is a form of wireless eavesdropping if you will.

An additional danger is that malicious types can set up their own rogue Wi-Fi network masquerading as a legitimate free Wi-Fi spot, with the attacker being able to steal you and your family’s data.

In short, it is best to avoid using public Wi-Fi completely if possible, but potential workarounds including surfing with a VPN, or tethering to a smartphone, and encrypting the Wi-Fi signal so no unencrypted data gets transmitted. Also, don’t log into financial accounts while away from home.

2. No phishing here

Phishing scams are an attempt to extract sensitive information from an individual via a fraudulent email. Most folks know not to respond to the ‘Nigerian prince’ scam, requesting you to wire them money so you can subsequently inherit millions.

However, phishing scams are getting craftier, and now include authentic details, official logos, and originate from email addresses that seem legitimate at first glance as they include the company’s name in them.

Children using email should be warned never to respond to these emails. Also, banks and the IRS do not ask for your financial information via unsolicited emails. Good practice is for the emails in question to be forwarded to the fraud department of the respective organization which can be easily found via a web search – for Apple it is ‘This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.’ for example – and then delete the email.

Finally, if the message includes an attachment, don’t be curious and be sure to never open it, as this will inevitably infect your PC with malicious code, opening your system up to an attack.

3. VPN

VPN is an excellent tool to keep your privacy online. Rather than your data leaving the home network and going onto the internet all out in the open, instead it goes to a distant server via an encrypted tunnel that creates a high level of privacy.

This is especially useful, as mentioned above, to make using a public Wi-Fi connection more secure. This is also handy on your home connection to ensure privacy, and that includes avoiding any potential snooping from your Internet Service Provider. In the past, ISPs have been called out for tracking users and selling their data (as if they did not make enough money already).

To celebrate National Cyber Security Awareness Month, IPVanish is giving a 69% discount on two year plans throughout October 2018, making its top-tier protection effectively $3.74 (£2.83) per month.

4. Batten down the passwords

Strong security starts with a strong password. You should have a Wi-Fi password of at least 12 characters or longer, with a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, special characters, and numbers. Then apply this same principle to all of your online accounts, so they are safe from ‘brute force attacks’ that randomly try dictionary words.

While the above may sound obvious to more veteran users, research has found the most common passwords are ‘123456’ and ‘password’. Clearly too many folks are taking the lazy route, and the entire family needs to educated on this best practice for creating strong passwords to protect accounts. Another fundamental tip: never reuse the same passwords over different accounts.

5. Take two

While stronger passwords are vital to keeping accounts secure, another important point is that you shouldn’t rely on them completely. A complex password may afford protection from a brute force attack, but it can still be obtained if, for example, a hacker breaks into the online database of passwords. This has become such a regular occurrence these days that there are even websites entirely devoted to letting users enter their credentials to check if their account is known to have been hacked.

Rather than relying totally on one password, there is an alternative and better approach known as ‘two-factor authentication’ (abbreviated to 2FA). The idea is that two pieces of information are better than one, and to log into the account, you need something that you know – namely the password, which should still be a strong one as per the recommendations above – and also something that you have.

The something that you have – and presumably the hacker won’t – is most commonly a mobile phone, which can be employed for 2FA in several ways. The service you are logging into might text you a special code which you then enter as well as the password. However, this particular method can be vulnerable to being defeated via SIM card cloning (although that’s not exactly common).

The more secure, and therefore preferred option, is an authenticator app, which is installed on the smartphone, and performs the function of a security token, as it provides a number code that is only valid for a brief minute or less.

Another option for 2FA is a physical security key, the so-called USB 2FA.

In short, you should make sure that 2FA is enabled on all accounts that support it, and if you have a choice, use the authenticator app method. Teach the rest of the family how to use 2FA, as well.

6. Look before you leap

 
No discussion of online privacy would be complete without mentioning those pesky app permissions that pop up when installing a new application. While folks tend to just want to get their app working, they really should make sure that what the app is asking to access makes sense.

For example, it would follow for a reputable photo editing app to need access to your library of images, or else it wouldn’t be of any use. However, when you download that free calculator app, you might start to wonder why such an app would need access to your microphone, GPS or your contacts, as the intended use of the application should not involve any of those smartphone functions.

For those who aren’t careful, going along with such excessive permissions might be a serious threat to privacy, and could lead to you being tracked or eavesdropped upon. Does that seem paranoid? Well, there are already examples of smartphone apps using the device’s microphone to track TV viewing habits.

Published in Internet Privacy

Source: This article was Published pymnts.com - Contributed by Member: Anna K. Sasaki

Think of online privacy as a race.

With consumers increasingly focused on how their data and web personas are used by eCommerce and other digital organizations, regulators and lawmakers are moving to get ahead of that political and cultural wave. Payments, commerce, and tech companies, meanwhile, are trying to stay a step ahead of regulators and lawmakers, and tweak or refashion their brands and reputations so they can boast about privacy protections and reduce the risk of losing profit as customers rethink their loyalties.

DuckDuckGo, the no-tracking search engine with a name that reflects a childhood play activity, intends to make the most of the ongoing privacy backlash from consumers. It has raised $10 million in fresh capital — only the second funding round for the 10-year-old, Pennsylvania-based operation —  and has plans to better promote itself to a global audience, while also offering other privacy-protection technology.

It seems foolish to even fantasize about the search engine ever catching up with Google. However, in a new PYMNTS interview, DuckDuckGo Founder Gabriel Weinberg said that, in the coming year, it could end up accounting for a double-digit chunk of search activity.

Optimistic View

His optimism stemmed in large part from the search’s engine growth: Use is up at least 50 percent over the last couple of years, with more than 5.8 billion direct search queries in total so far in 2018, compared with nearly 6 billion for all of 2017. The site’s daily direct traffic averages about 26.2 million. The United States stands as the largest source of DuckDuckGo traffic, followed by such countries as France, Germany, and Canada.

Of course, Google has numbers that dwarf that: about 3.5 billion searches per day. Though DuckDuckGo does not engage in tracking the behavior and habits of consumers online, it does make its money via ad offerings based on the keywords entered by users when searching for something — just as Google does. A consumer on either search engine might type in “car insurance,” for instance, resulting in relevant ads being served up, which in turn can result in revenue for that search engine.

The difference is that DuckDuckGo stops there — it does not sell search data to third parties for advertising (which, of course, cuts out a lucrative source of revenue). The search engine does not store users’ search histories, either.

That limit stands as a big part of the search engine’s appeal in these privacy-sensitive times, according to Weinberg. The search engine, its results compiled from more than 400 sources and its own web crawler, earns revenue from serving ads via the YahooBing network and affiliate relationships with such eCommerce operators as Amazon and eBay. For each user who buys a product that originates with certain DuckDuckGo searches, the site earns a commission on that transaction.

“We are definitely small,” he said, acknowledging the obvious. However, the company turns a profit and has yet to do any major marketing. So far, DuckDuckGo has benefited from word of mouth, essays, blog postings and question-and-answer content published and distributed on Quora and social media sites, he said.

New Funding

The new capital, from OMERS Ventures, a Canadian pension fund, will enable DuckDuckGo to beef up its marketing, among other areas. “We’re not sure what kind of marketing yet,” Weinberg said. “We’re running different kinds of experiments to figure out what works the best.”

DuckDuckGo last raised capital in 2011 — $3 million in seed funding. Since then, the digital landscape has significantly changed, which attracted OMERS. “Issues of privacy and security in the digital world have become increasingly topical and controversial,” the firm said in explaining its investment. “In 2018, these concerns have risen to the forefront of public consciousness. Users are becoming more aware of their personal data and are increasingly concerned with protecting it.”

DuckDuckGo aims to go beyond online searches in further building its pro-privacy brand. It recently launched what OMERS called “a mobile browser and desktop browser extension to their product mix; these products include built-in tracker blocking and smarter encryption.”

Facebook Example

Recent data and consumer trends support that path, Weinberg told PYMNTS. Like others in the space focusing on privacy (or worried about the consumer backlash), he used Facebook as an example.

For those who’ve enjoyed the luxury of a news-light summer away from digital leashes, the story goes like this: The social media platform needs to maintain — or even win back — the trust of consumers who were either shaken by the Cambridge Analytica data sharing scandal or are just increasingly wary of sharing too much information online with a massive corporation. In fact, Pew Research recently reported that 42 percent of Facebook users have taken a break from the platform during the past year, while 54 percent of those 18 and older have adjusted their privacy settings during that time frame. Additionally, 26 percent of U.S. adult consumers said they deleted the Facebook app from their smartphone.

“Awareness is really high,” Weinberg said about online privacy, adding that the company’s own surveys echo findings that a good chunk of consumers are having second thoughts about how their data is used by digital service providers. “People are trying to figure out how to protect themselves online.”

Figuring out answers is taking on an almost existential flavor in digital payments and commerce (which is to say, most of Western daily life). A recent discussion between PYMNTS’ Karen Webster and Sunil Madhu, founder of identity verification and fraud prevention services provider Socure, dug deep into those questions and featured a debate about how much Facebook really has to worry about and analysis of what makes a solid digital ID.

The consumer focus on privacy, and the ongoing backlash — demonstrated in part by Europe’s GDPR and other laws — is no flash in the pan, Weinberg said. This moment of privacy protection effort represents, perhaps, the best opportunity for DuckDuckGo — one that could propel it to capture 5 percent to 10 percent of searches, he said.

Historians will have to figure out and define the various phases of internet development and digital economy growth, and trying to anticipate what they will say is a fun game, but often ends up as a reckless intellectual endeavor. That said, the last few years — don’t forget the Edward Snowden NSA revelations, because Weinberg and other students of online privacy sure don’t — are shaping up as a turning point in how online consumers view privacy.

That will, no doubt, provide an opportunity for a host of businesses — not just DuckDuckGo.

Published in Search Engine

Source: This article was Published searchengineland.com By Barry Schwartz - Contributed by Member: Rebecca Jenkins

Remember the early days of "not provided"? Well, Google Search Console has begun removing some query data for "privacy" reasons.

Google has quietly posted that they are now removing query data from the Google Search Console reports that they identify as “anonymous queries.” Google said, “an anonymous query is a query submitted only a few users.” Google added that they “omit these queries from results to protect user privacy.”

Google said the amount of queries removed depend on the site, Google said: “some sites will have very few unique queries; other sites will have a large proportion of anonymous queries.”

Google wrote on the page:

Chart totals no longer include anonymous* (rare) queries when you apply a query filter. Previously, the chart totals included all anonymous queries when a “Queries not containing:” filter was applied. Because of this, you might see a drop in clicks and impressions when adding a filter that excludes specific queries. We believe that omitting anonymous queries from all query-filtered results is more consistent.

Back in 2011, Google removed query data from their reports when they began moving Google search results to HTTPS. When Google made this move, it was about protecting user’s privacy to disallow people from sniffing Google’s searches. But Google told webmasters that they will be able to get all this data securely in Google Search Console. Now, with this change, Google is now also removing some query data from Google Search Console as well.

Published in Search Engine

 Source: This article was Published ifsecglobal.com By John Mason - Contributed by Member: Grace Irwin

Google voice search makes finding what you need even easier.

Just say “OK Google,” tell your phone or tablet what you want to find, and you’ll get results. Or use the microphone icon in your browser.

There’s even an official Chrome extension that combines voice search with Google Docs dictation, so you can type a document without touching a keyboard.

It’s really cool technology, but like most convenient tech, there are some tradeoffs.

In this case, the biggest trade-off is privacy. Voice search comes with some “features” that you might not be aware of, and privacy enthusiasts find those features a bit worrying. (Fortunately, you can mitigate them with a few clicks if you know where to look; we’ll get to that in a moment.)

First, let’s talk about how Google voice search is changing human-computer interaction.

Google Voice Search: The future of search

For years, Google has been making it easier to find the information you want on the internet. Extremely refined algorithms, sophisticated tracking and scoring, and integration with a variety of other services all remove barriers to getting great search results.

Voice search is an extension of that. If you can’t – or just don’t want to – type your query, all you need to do is speak it and Google will take a look. You can use it to search other search engines (like DuckDuckGo, which is much more privacy-focused), Wikipedia, YouTube, Wolfram Alpha, and a wide variety of other sites.

Google Assistant, a more powerful companion to simple voice search, will help you find photos, send text messages, keep your shopping list, and even order products.

It’s clear that Google is betting heavily on voice technology, and that it’s working. A 2018 survey by Stone Temple found that 16% of people prefer to use voice search over any other method.

And 60% used voice search at least some of the time. Users also took advantage of voice tech for sending texts, making calls, getting directions, and setting reminders.

Google stores every voice command that you’ve ever given your device

Why do so many prefer voice-enabled apps? Mostly because it saves time. Over 60% said that they use voice because it’s fast. But the fact that it’s accurate, doesn’t require typing, and results in an audio answer were mentioned, too.

The past few years have seen increased usage of voice search and other voice-enabled technologies, and it’s unlikely to slow down any time soon. Google is leading the way in making it easier for users to interact with their devices using their voice.

But this convenience has a cost that many people aren’t aware of: privacy.

Why privacy advocates are wary of Google Voice Search

Most people using Google’s voice products without much thought. They say “OK Google,” or hold down the home button on their device, and start talking. When they’re done with the search, they forget about it.

But Google doesn’t.

It stores every voice command that you’ve ever given your device, plus a few seconds of audio before you gave the command. Which means that Google is always listening through your phone. They might not be saving everything you say near the device, but they’re always listening.

And much of it is saved. In fact, you can see how much. Head to myactivity.google.com and you’ll see the data that Google has stored. If you’ve used voice search recently, you should be able to find a record of it and even listen to the stored audio.

It’s a little unnerving, hearing the things you said to your phone played back to you from your computer

It’s a little unnerving, hearing the things you said to your phone played back to you from your computer, and knowing that it’s coming from Google’s servers.

And, of course, we all know what Google does with your information that’s stored on its servers: analyzes it and uses it to serve you ads. That, combined with the fact that your phone is always listening and ready to record audio, has privacy enthusiasts worried.

What you can do to protect your privacy from Google Voice Search

The most obvious thing you can do to mitigate the privacy concerns of using Google voice search is to simply not use it. If you turn Google Assistant off, it won’t be listening, and it won’t be recording anything.

To turn it off, open Google Assistant, then tap the blue icon in the upper-right corner. Hit the three dots in the upper-right corner of the resulting screen and select Settings. Tap the name of your device, and move the slider for Google Assistant to the off position.

Of course, that means you won’t be able to use the full power voice search. And that’s inconvenient. But if you’re concerned about privacy, it might be worth it.

Especially because Google’s voice search capabilities may not work very well when you’re using a VPN. And using a high-quality, secure VPN is one of the most important things you can do to keep your mobile data safe.

If you want to keep using voice search, you can tell Google to stop recording and storing what you say. You can do this by going to myactivity.google.com, selecting Activity Controls from the sidebar menu, and scrolling down to Voice & Audio Activity. Click the slider to pause it.

This will prevent the storage of your voice searches and activity. That means Google won’t be using it to target ads . . . but it also means that it won’t be as good at recognizing your voice, have as much data for learning speech recognition, or learn things that might help it solve your problems.

But it’s a step in the right direction for privacy.

Weigh the options

Unfortunately, keeping your data secure means not getting as many benefits from Google’s voice-recognition technologies as you might otherwise. So you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of privacy versus the convenience of Google voice search and similar services.

In an age when privacy is increasingly threatened, it’s easy to assume that all of your data will end up in Google’s hands anyway. But if you put up a bit of a fight, you just might be able to maintain a bit of control over your data.

Published in How to

Source: This article was Published cbsnews.com - Contributed by Member: Bridget Miller

Even if "Location History" is off on your phone, Google often still stores your precise location.

Here are some things you can do to delete those markers and keep your location as private as possible. But there's no panacea because simply connecting to the internet on any device flags an IP address, a numeric designation that can be geographically mapped. Smartphones also connect to cell towers, so your carrier knows your general location at all times.

To prevent further tracking

For any device:

Fire up your browser and go to myactivity.google.com . Sign into Google if you haven't already. On the upper left drop-down menu, go to "Activity Controls." Turn off both "Web & App Activity" and "Location History." That should prevent precise location markers from being stored to your Google account.

Google will warn you that some of its services won't work as well with these settings off. In particular, neither the Google Assistant, a digital concierge, nor the Google Home smart speaker will be particularly useful.

On iOS:

If you use Google Maps, adjust your location setting to "While Using" the app; this will prevent the app from accessing your location when it's not active. Go to Settings - Privacy - Location Services and from there select Google Maps to make the adjustment.

In the Safari web browser, consider using a search engine other than Google. Under Settings - Safari - Search Engine, you can find other options like Bing or DuckDuckGo. You can turn location off while browsing by going to Settings - Privacy - Location Services - Safari Websites, and turn this to "Never." (This still won't prevent advertisers from knowing your rough location based on IP address on any website.)

You can also turn Location Services off to the device almost completely from Settings - Privacy - Location Services. Both Google Maps and Apple Maps will still work, but they won't know where you are on the map and won't be able to give you directions. Emergency responders will still be able to find you if the need arises.

On Android:

Under the main settings icon click on "Security & location." Scroll down to the "Privacy" heading. Tap "Location." You can toggle it off for the entire device.

Use "App-level permissions" to turn off access to various apps. Unlike the iPhone, there is no setting for "While Using." You cannot turn off Google Play services, which supplies your location to other apps if you leave that service on.

Sign in as a "guest" on your Android device by swiping down from the top and tapping the downward-facing caret, then again on the torso icon. Be aware of which services you sign in on, like Chrome.

You can also change search engines even in Chrome.

To delete past location tracking

For any device:

On the page myactivity.google.com , look for any entry that has a location pin icon beside the word "details." Clicking on that pops up a window that includes a link that sometimes says "From your current location." Clicking on it will open Google Maps, which will display where you were at the time.

You can delete it from this popup by clicking on the navigation icon with the three stacked dots and then "Delete."

Some items will be grouped in unexpected places, such as topic names, google.com, Search, or Maps. You have to delete them item by item. You can wholesale delete all items in date ranges or by service but will end up taking out more than just location markers.

Published in How to

Source: This article was Published legalreader.com By - Contributed by Member: Barbara Larson

Can you imagine life without Google or spending more than a few seconds searching for any information? I bet you can’t because it’s a privilege that makes your life much easier and more comfortable. But there is a big problem with search engines – they damage privacy and it becomes an issue.

It’s almost impossible to protect personal data since everybody is collecting information these days. For instance, Facebook recently announced that it can track even non-users when they visit a site or app that uses their services.

In such circumstances, it is crucial to understand how search engines function and what they do with your personal data. This post will explain to you how things work in this field.

How Search Engines Collect Data

Search engines possess every user’s browsing history. It may not sound like much, but let’s see what it really means in case of the biggest player on the search engine market, Google.

This company collects all sorts of user-related data, but it can be divided into three basic sections:

  • Things you do. Google monitors every action you take online, including search queries, websites you visit, videos you watch, ads that you click on or tap, your location, device information, and IP address and cookie data.
  • Things that you create. This section consists of emails you send and receive on Gmail, contacts that you add, calendar events, and photos or videos that you upload. Besides that, it holds documents, sheets, and slides on Drive.
  • Things about you. These are essentially personal information such as your name, email address and password, date of birth, gender, telephone number, and location.

It’s a short list of data mining units, but it obviously consists of everything you’ve ever done online. Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last couple of decades, Google knows a lot about you and uses this information to provide you with tailored online experience.

Why Search Engines Accumulate Personal Information

The more you know about users, the easier you can approach them. Search engines know this very well and so they collect personal information to enhance their services. First of all, they do it to improve website ranking.

According to SEO specialists at aussiewritings.com, Google analyzes user behavior and learns how people react to online content, which helps this company to upgrade search engine algorithms. As the result, only the best and most popular websites can make it to the first page in search results.

Secondly, Google can serve you personalized ads because it knows what you do, feels, and like. It can put things into perspective and display the right advertisement at just about the right time. That way, Google drastically improves the effectiveness of digital advertising.

How Does It Jeopardize Privacy?

With so much information hovering around the Internet, it is reasonable to assume that security breaches will happen from time to time. Identity theft is one of the biggest concerns because it’s getting easier to find someone’s personal information online and use it to steal their money.

Most websites ask you to leave your name, email, and birthday. Although it seems like nothing more than useless basic information, hackers can easily exploit it to access your bank account or any other digital property for that matter.

At the same time, continuous data accumulation also means humans are being treated primarily as consumers. You can’t hide from search engines – they will always find you and serve you customized ads.

If you are a 30-year-old mother, they will offer you baby clothing. If you are a high school boy, they will suggest you buy video games. In each case, there is no way to hide from search engines and that’s something that scares us all.

Final Thoughts

Search engines damage privacy and it becomes an issue because there is no way to protect yourself completely. Google and other platforms use personal information to improve user experience and customize advertising, but it comes with a cost.

Published in Search Engine

Source: This article was Published productwatch.co By Kevin Meyer - Contributed by Member: David J. Redcliff

I don’t think I’m blowing your mind when I say most sites are trying to collect your data. If you don’t have to pay for the product, you are the product — it’s the reason Movie Pass doesn’t mind taking a loss if you see more than one movie a month, though who knows how long that experiment will last.

So, if you want to protect your privacy, you will have to put in some effort. Thankfully, there are services you can use to make your job easier. And we’ll show you both which ones are efficient, and how to use them.

uBlock Origin

The very first extension you should get when you get a new device is a good ad-blocker. Not many are better than uBlock Origin. Essentially, this service will filter the content you see in your browser. Also, unlike other ad-blockers, uBlock doesn’t slow your browser down.

Furthermore, using it is a breeze. All you need to do is install the extension and let it run. The default settings are such that the standard filters for ads, privacy, and malware are active. You just need to let the extension run.

In the meantime, if you want to change the settings, you can easily do so by clicking the shield icon next to your URL bar.

BitDefender

BitDefender is one of the biggest companies that offer device protection services. In fact, if you choose to use their products, you will be one of over 500 million users they have. They offer multiple tools that can protect your computer from harm. And, more importantly for this article, they also offer online privacy tools. For example, their BitDefender VPN tool is possibly the best VPN tool you can get.

The interface is rather simple, and once you start using the tool, you will see how easy it can be to protect yourself.

Unshorten.It

Short URLs were very popular when they first came out. After all, they are a lot tidier than the usual bunch of symbols you might get. However, not long after, they became one of the serious threats to your computer’s safety. Namely, even though the link says it is going to take you to a funny site, it might just take you to a site that will mug you instead.

Naturally, you might want to get a tool that will let you analyze the said short URLs. That is where unshorten. It comes into play. This service lets you see exactly what page you will visit if you follow the link. It will give you the description, the safety ratings, and even screenshots of web pages you might unwittingly visit.

HTTPS Everywhere

Do you want to have Internet privacy, but you are not ready to go as far as using Tor? Well, in that case, it seems like HTTPS is the right extension for you. This Chrome, Firefox, and Opera extension will let you encrypt your communications on almost all major websites. Thankfully, a lot of websites already support encryption over HTTPS. But, they tend to make it difficult to use properly. On the other hand, using HTTPS Everywhere is easy and intuitive. Overall, it is a great way to make your surfing a lot safer.

No Coin

Another danger of using unknown websites lies in the fact that many of them will use your resources to mine cryptocurrencies. In essence, these websites will hack your device and use its processing power for themselves.

Now, you might think it’s not that bad. You are only on the website for a couple of minutes at a time. But, the issue doesn’t stop there. Namely, once they do hack your device, they can keep using it for a long time after you visit their website. Thankfully, you can use No Coin to stop the websites from doing this to you. With this service, you should see noticeable improvements in your computer’s performance.

Punycode Alert

Punycode Alert is an extension that will give you a notification if you venture onto a phishing website that uses Unicode to trick you. For those who don’t know what phishing is, in layman’s terms, it is a practice of stealing someone’s information by setting up an imitation of a successful website.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for phishing websites to trick people out of thousands of dollars. The reason these traps are incredibly effective is that their URLs look exactly like you would expect them to. So, you might very well follow a URL that reads as “apple.com” and ends up on a completely different website. We definitely recommend using Punycode Alert to protect yourself from such websites.

LastPass

Coming up with good passwords is not easy. You might think that your birthday is as good a password as any, but that couldn’t be further away from the truth. Fact is, a lot of people use passwords that are too weak to protect their data. And the reason for that is simple – they don’t want to bother with remembering complex passwords.

That is where LastPass comes in. This tool will let you store all of your passwords and use them without having to type them out. In essence, this password manager will let you use unbeatable passwords without having to worry about forgetting them.

ProtonVPN

Using VPN services is of utmost importance if you want your data to remain safe. And ProtonVPN is one of the best providers you can find. The company behind this service created ProtonVPN to give protection to activists and journalists around the world. And, not only that, but it will also let you avoid Internet censorship and visit websites that are trying to lock you and other people from your country out.

1.1.1.1

If you don’t feel like you want to go to extremes to protect your data, but you still don’t want your DNS resolver to sell your data to advertisers, you might want to consider using 1.1.1.1. This service, in essence, is a public DNS resolver that respects your privacy and offers you a fast way to browse the web.

DuckDuckGo

The first thought that might pop into your mind when you want to search for something online is probably: “I’ll just Google it.” However, you should be aware by now that Google is not only guilty of storing your data, but it also doesn’t offer the same results to everyone. In fact, it is almost impossible to find unbiased results by using Google. However, DuckDuckGo will help you protect your privacy and give you objective search results. And, you don’t have to do a lot to make this change. Simply switch to DuckDuckGo as your primary search engine, and you are good to go.

 

Published in Internet Privacy

Source: This article was published forbes.com By John F. Wasik - Contributed by Member: Corey Parker

Some people collect baseball cards or ceramic figurines. I collect scams, which come in all varieties.

These days, I don't have to go far to see how thieves all over the world are operating. I just go to my spam folder. The most obvious scams are sitting there.

All online scams have one thing in common: They want to tap your greed to get at the personal information they can steal. These "phishing" ruses are happening 24/7.

Here are a few gems I discovered:

-- "Bank of America" email. It would be wonderful if Bank of America owed me money. But since I've never had an account there, that would be the first time.

Here's how the email, with the subject "Message from Bank of America," read:

"Be informed that we have verified your payment file as directed to us and your name is next on the list of our outstanding fund beneficiaries to receive their payment.

Be advised that because of too many funds beneficiaries, you are entitled to receive the sum of $14.5M,(Fourteen Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars only), as to enable us to pay other eligible beneficiaries.

To facilitate with the process of this transaction, please kindly re-confirm the following information below:

  1. Your Full Name:
  2. Your Full Address:
  3. Your Contact Telephone and Fax No:
  4. Your Profession, Age, and Marital Status:
  5. Any Valid Form of Your Identification/Driver's License:
  6. Bank Name:
  7. Bank Address:
  8. Account Name:
  9. Account Number:
  10. Swift Code:
  11. Routing Number:"

Wow, all I have to do is send them all of my personal and financial information and they will send me $14.5 million. What a deal! By the way, Bank of America has nothing to do with this message, as if you haven't already surmised. 

This is a fairly typical banking scam. They will ask for information so that they can access anything from your credit cards to your checking account. Never reply to these emails.

-- American Embassy Note. It would be really neat if the U.S. government owed me money as well. Boy, I'd sure like to get some of my hard-earned tax dollars back -- just for being a good citizen.

Here's a novel approach that pairs the U.S. Embassy with an African Bank, no less (note the bad syntax):

"American Embassy in conjunction with the United Bank For African, has come to agreement to send your funds in consignment worth about $7.5 Million USD without any further delay and they have done as instructed by the United Nation, as matter of fact your funds has already arrived in one of the airports in your country but the diplomat signaled us that she lost your contact address as result of security inspection and screening in the airport."

How kind of the United (sic) Nation to get involved. But they could use a proofreader if they want people to fall for this swindle.

-- Your Order Has Arrived/Shipping Status. These emails will appear to come from Amazon or some other e-commerce transaction.

They aren't really banking scams, but they will ask you to click a link and ask for personal information. You will pay dearly if you do.

How to avoid a phishing scam? Just don't open any email with an offer to send you money or one pretending to be from a bank, which will mostly send you paper notices.

And never send personal or financial information to an email address, even if you think you know who it is.

It's that simple and it will save you a lot of aggravation — and money.

Published in Internet Privacy

 Source: This article was published nytimes.com By GABRIEL J.X. DANCE, NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, and MICHAEL LaFORGIA - Contributed by Member: Linda Manly

As Facebook sought to become the world’s dominant social media service, it struck agreements allowing phone and other device makers access to vast amounts of its users’ personal information.

Facebook has reached data-sharing partnerships with at least 60 device makers — including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung — over the last decade, starting before Facebook apps were widely available on smartphones, company officials said. The deals allowed Facebook to expand its reach and let device makers offer customers popular features of the social network, such as messaging, “like” buttons and address books.

But the partnerships, whose scope has not previously been reported, raise concerns about the company’s privacy protections and compliance with a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission. Facebook allowed the device companies access to the data of users’ friends without their explicit consent, even after declaring that it would no longer share such information with outsiders. Some device makers could retrieve personal information even from users’ friends who believed they had barred any sharing, The New York Times found.

[Here’s what we know about Facebook’s partnerships with device makers.]

Most of the partnerships remain in effect, though Facebook began winding them down in April. The company came under intensifying scrutiny by lawmakers and regulators after news reports in March that a political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, misused the private information of tens of millions of Facebook users.

In the furor that followed, Facebook’s leaders said that the kind of access exploited by Cambridge in 2014 was cut off by the next year, when Facebook prohibited developers from collecting information from users’ friends. But the company officials did not disclose that Facebook had exempted the makers of cellphones, tablets and other hardware from such restrictions.

“You might think that Facebook or the device manufacturer is trustworthy,” said Serge Egelman, a privacy researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies the security of mobile apps. “But the problem is that as more and more data is collected on the device — and if it can be accessed by apps on the device — it creates serious privacy and security risks.”

In interviews, Facebook officials defended the data sharing as consistent with its privacy policies, the F.T.C. agreement and pledges to users. They said its partnerships were governed by contracts that strictly limited use of the data, including any stored on partners’ servers. The officials added that they knew of no cases where the information had been misused.

The company views its device partners as extensions of Facebook, serving its more than two billion users, the officials said.

“These partnerships work very differently from the way in which app developers use our platform,” said Ime Archibong, a Facebook vice president. Unlike developers that provide games and services to Facebook users, the device partners can use Facebook data only to provide versions of “the Facebook experience,” the officials said.

Some device partners can retrieve Facebook users’ relationship status, religion, political leaning and upcoming events, among other data. Tests by The Times showed that the partners requested and received data in the same way other third parties did.

Facebook’s view that the device makers are not outsiders lets the partners go even further, The Times found: They can obtain data about a user’s Facebook friends, even those who have denied Facebook permission to share information with any third parties.

In interviews, several former Facebook software engineers and security experts said they were surprised at the ability to override sharing restrictions.

“It’s like having door locks installed, only to find out that the locksmith also gave keys to all of his friends so they can come in and rifle through your stuff without having to ask you for permission,” said Ashkan Soltani, a research and privacy consultant who formerly served as the F.T.C.’s chief technologist.

How One Phone Gains Access to Hundreds of Thousands of Facebook Accounts

After connecting to Facebook, the BlackBerry Hub app was able to retrieve detailed data on 556 of Mr. LaForgia's friends, including relationship status, religious and political leanings and events they planned to attend. Facebook has said that it cut off third parties' access to this type of information in 2015, but that it does not consider BlackBerry a third party in this case.

The Hub app was also able to access information — including unique identifiers — on 294,258 friends of Mr. LaForgia's friends.

By Rich Harris and Gabriel J.X. Dance

Details of Facebook’s partnerships have emerged amid a reckoning in Silicon Valley over the volume of personal information collected on the internet and monetized by the tech industry. The pervasive collection of data, while largely unregulated in the United States, has come under growing criticism from elected officials at home and overseas and provoked concern among consumers about how freely their information is shared.

In a tense appearance before Congress in March, Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, emphasized what he said was a company priority for Facebook users.“Every piece of content that you share on Facebook you own,” he testified. ”You have complete control over who sees it and how you share it.”

But the device partnerships provoked discussion even within Facebook as early as 2012, according to Sandy Parakilas, who at the time led third-party advertising and privacy compliance for Facebook’s platform.

“This was flagged internally as a privacy issue,” said Mr. Parakilas, who left Facebook that year and has recently emerged as a harsh critic of the company. “It is shocking that this practice may still continue six years later, and it appears to contradict Facebook’s testimony to Congress that all friend permissions were disabled.”

The partnerships were briefly mentioned in documents submitted to German lawmakers investigating the social media giant’s privacy practices and released by Facebook in mid-May. But Facebook provided the lawmakers with the name of only one partner — BlackBerry, maker of the once-ubiquitous mobile device — and little information about how the agreements worked.

The submission followed testimony by Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president for global public policy, during a closed-door German parliamentary hearing in April. Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker, one of the lawmakers who questioned Mr. Kaplan, said in an interview that she believed the data partnerships disclosed by Facebook violated users’ privacy rights.

“What we have been trying to determine is whether Facebook has knowingly handed over user data elsewhere without explicit consent,” Ms. Winkelmeier-Becker said. “I would never have imagined that this might even be happening secretly via deals with device makers. BlackBerry users seem to have been turned into data dealers, unknowingly and unwillingly.”

In interviews with The Times, Facebook identified other partners: Apple and Samsung, the world’s two biggest smartphone makers, and Amazon, which sells tablets.

An Apple spokesman said the company relied on private access to Facebook data for features that enabled users to post photos to the social network without opening the Facebook app, among other things. Apple said its phones no longer had such access to Facebook as of last September.

Samsung declined to respond to questions about whether it had any data-sharing partnerships with Facebook. Amazon also declined to respond to questions.

Usher Lieberman, a BlackBerry spokesman, said in a statement that the company used Facebook data only to give its own customers access to their Facebook networks and messages. Mr. Lieberman said that the company “did not collect or mine the Facebook data of our customers,” adding that “BlackBerry has always been in the business of protecting, not monetizing, customer data.”

Microsoft entered a partnership with Facebook in 2008 that allowed Microsoft-powered devices to do things like add contacts and friends and receive notifications, according to a spokesman. He added that the data was stored locally on the phone and was not synced to Microsoft’s servers.

Facebook acknowledged that some partners did store users’ data — including friends’ data — on their own servers. A Facebook official said that regardless of where the data was kept, it was governed by strict agreements between the companies.

“I am dumbfounded by the attitude that anybody in Facebook’s corporate office would think allowing third parties access to data would be a good idea,” said Henning Schulzrinne, a computer science professor at Columbia University who specializes in network security and mobile systems.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed how loosely Facebook had policed the bustling ecosystem of developers building apps on its platform. They ranged from well-known players like Zynga, the maker of the FarmVille game, to smaller ones, like a Cambridge contractor who used a quiz taken by about 300,000 Facebook users to gain access to the profiles of as many as 87 million of their friends.

Those developers relied on Facebook’s public data channels, known as application programming interfaces, or APIs. But starting in 2007, the company also established private data channels for device manufacturers.

At the time, mobile phones were less powerful, and relatively few of them could run stand-alone Facebook apps like those now common on smartphones. The company continued to build new private APIs for device makers through 2014, spreading user data through tens of millions of mobile devices, game consoles, televisions and other systems outside Facebook’s direct control.

Facebook began moving to wind down the partnerships in April, after assessing its privacy and data practices in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Mr. Archibong said the company had concluded that the partnerships were no longer needed to serve Facebook users. About 22 of them have been shut down.

The broad access Facebook provided to device makers raises questions about its compliance with a 2011 consent decree with the F.T.C.

The decree barred Facebook from overriding users’ privacy settings without first getting explicit consent. That agreement stemmed from an investigation that found Facebook had allowed app developers and other third parties to collect personal details about users’ friends, even when those friends had asked that their information remain private.

After the Cambridge Analytica revelations, the F.T.C. began an investigation into whether Facebook’s continued sharing of data after 2011 violated the decree, potentially exposing the company to fines.

Facebook officials said the private data channels did not violate the decree because the company viewed its hardware partners as “service providers,” akin to a cloud computing service paid to store Facebook data or a company contracted to process credit card transactions. According to the consent decree, Facebook does not need to seek additional permission to share friend data with service providers.

“These contracts and partnerships are entirely consistent with Facebook’s F.T.C. consent decree,” Mr. Archibong, the Facebook official, said.

But Jessica Rich, a former F.T.C. official who helped lead the commission’s earlier Facebook investigation, disagreed with that assessment.

“Under Facebook’s interpretation, the exception swallows the rule,” said Ms. Rich, now with the Consumers Union. “They could argue that any sharing of data with third parties is part of the Facebook experience. And this is not at all how the public interpreted their 2014 announcement that they would limit third-party app access to friend data.”

To test one partner’s access to Facebook’s private data channels, The Times used a reporter’s Facebook account — with about 550 friends — and a 2013 BlackBerry device, monitoring what data the device requested and received. (More recent BlackBerry devices, which run Google’s Android operating system, do not use the same private channels, BlackBerry officials said.)

Immediately after the reporter connected the device to his Facebook account, it requested some of his profile data, including user ID, name, picture, “about” information, location, email, and cell phone number. The device then retrieved the reporter’s private messages and the responses to them, along with the name and user ID of each person with whom he was communicating.

The data flowed to a BlackBerry app known as the Hub, which was designed to let BlackBerry users view all of their messages and social media accounts in one place.

The Hub also requested — and received — data that Facebook’s policy appears to prohibit. Since 2015, Facebook has said that apps can request only the names of friends using the same app. But the BlackBerry app had access to all of the reporter’s Facebook friends and, for most of them, returned information such as user ID, birthday, work and education history and whether they were currently online.

The BlackBerry device was also able to retrieve identifying information for nearly 295,000 Facebook users. Most of them were second-degree Facebook friends of the reporter, or friends of friends.

In all, Facebook empowers BlackBerry devices to access more than 50 types of information about users and their friends, The Times found.

Published in Social
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