[Source: This article was published in proprivacy.com By Douglas Crawford - Uploaded by the Association Member: Edna Thomas]

Using a private search engine such as StartPage or DuckDuckGo is becoming ever more important. These usually leverage the big search engines in order to return results, but proxy search requests so that Google or Yahoo or Microsoft do not know who did the search. In other words, these see only that the search query came from the privacy search engine.

These privacy search engines promise not to log your IP address or any searches you make. Does this sound good to you? Good. The next question, then, is which privacy search engine to use…

Best Private Search Engine

Here are the best private search engines that are anonymous and make a great Google alternative.

Keep reading this guide to learn more about each private search engine in-depth.

What Does Google Know About Me?

The problem with most search engines is that they spy on you. This is their business model – to learn as much about you as possible, to deliver highly targeted advertising directly to your browser window.

Google has even recently dropped its moratorium on combining what it learns by scanning your emails with what it learns about you through your searches. All the better to spy on you. Information typically collected and stored each time you make a search includes:

  • Your IP address
  • Date and time of query
  • Query search terms
  • Cookie ID – this cookie is deposited in your browser’s cookie folder, and uniquely identifies your computer. With it, a search engine provider can trace a search request back to your computer.

This information is usually transmitted to the requested web page, and to the owners of any third party advertising banners displayed on that page. As you surf the internet, advertisers build up a (potentially highly embarrassing) profile of you.

Of course, if Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!, etc., know lots about you, this information can be (and often is) handed over to the police and the NSA. So it's a good time to get a Google alternative.

Indeed, it was only recently that evidence emerged showing Yahoo works with hand in glove with the NSA to betray its users to the intelligence service. Naughty, naughty.

Screenshot 1

Google Transparency Report on the number of User Data Requests received, and the number (at least partially) acceded to

The filter bubble: what the internet is hiding from you

An added benefit of using a search engine that does not track you is that it avoids the “filter bubble” effect. Most search engines use your past search terms (and things you “Like” on social networks) to profile you.They can then return results they think will interest you. 

This can result in only receiving search returns that agree with your point of view, and this locks you into a “filter bubble,” where you do not get to see alternative viewpoints and opinions because they have been downgraded in your search results.

Not only does this deny you access to the rich texture and multiplicity of human input, but it can also be hazardous as it can confirm prejudices, and prevent you from seeing the “bigger picture”.

Startpage.com

Startpage2

PROS

  • No logs or tracking
  • Non-targeted ads
  • Can proxy webpages
  • Based in Netherlands
  • Google results

CONS

  • Runs servers in the US (but can you choose non-US servers)

Startpage.com and Ixquick are run by the same company. In the past, Startpage.com returned Google results, while Ixquick returned results from a number of other search engines, but not Google. The two services have now been combined, and both return identical Google results.

Although no longer actively supported, the old Ixquick metasearch engine is still available at Ixquick.eu. Interestingly, despite no longer being actively supported, Startpage.com has recently removed Yahoo results from the legacy search engine. This is in response to news that Yahoo has been helping the NSA spy on its users.

Search results

  • Suggestions are not offered as you type by default, but this can be enabled in settings.
  • Search returns are fast, but perhaps not as fast as those of DuckDuckGo (this is a purely subjective assessment).
  • Presentation of results is very clear.
  • Searches can be only filtered by Web, Images and Video categories. An advanced search option is available that allows you to specify a variety of search parameters, and you can filter results by time.
  • Ads are displayed above the search results. They are clearly marked as ads and are not mixed with the “pure” search results.
  • Video results display an image preview. YouTube cannot be played directly on the Startpage website for privacy reasons and will open in a new tab. 
  • Search results are pulled directly from Google and are therefore very good.

Startpage

Ads are discrete but clearly labeled

How it makes money

Much like DuckDuckGo, Startpage.com makes money from ads and affiliate links. 

These ads are untargeted, clearly marked, and not mixed in with the “real” search returns. They are somewhat more prominently displayed than with DuckDuckGo, however.

Privacy

  • Startpage is based in the Netherlands, which has strong privacy laws.
  • It runs servers collocated in the US. These are owned and controlled by Startpage, and I am assured that they are secure against government snooping. If this worries you, however…
  • It is possible to use non-US servers only (or non-EU servers).
  • Web pages returned from searches can be proxied (see below).
  • Startpage is the only privacy search engine that has been independently audited.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A+

Features

Startpage.com’s killer feature is that, rather than visiting a website directly, you can proxy the connection. If you select this option, then a proxy server run by Startpage.com sits between your computer and the website.

 This prevents the website from knowing your true IP address (much like a VPN), and from being able to use web tracking and fingerprinting technologies to identify and track you. It also blocks malicious scripts. 

The downside is that pages load more slowly since StartPage.com must retrieve the contents and re-display them. That said, the newly re-branded and redesigned "Anonymous View" is much faster than was previously the case. It also breaks websites much less because it allows JavaScript "while rewriting and 'redefining' JavaScript primitives to protect your privacy." 

I must say that this is a terrific feature and one that can significantly improve your privacy. Given its downside, however, you probably won’t want to use it all the time.

My thoughts

With its new re-design, StartPage.com matches DuckDuckGo in terms of prettiness and user-friendliness.

But thanks to being based in the Netherlands and having nothing to do with Yahoo, it should be more resistant to NSA spying than its US-based rival (if you specify non-US servers!). And the ability to proxy web pages is an absolute doozy.

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo

PROS

  • No logs or tracking
  • Looks great
  • Discrete non-targeted ads
  • Bangs
  • Contextual filters

CONS

  • US company
  • Uses Amazon servers
  • Yahoo results

DuckDuckGo is “The Search Engine that Vows Not to Track You”. Gabriel Weinberg, the CEO and founder of DuckDuckGo, has stated that “if the FBI comes to us, we have nothing to tie back to you.”

It is a US-based company and is the most popular and high-profile of the privacy search engines. Searches are primarily sourced via Yahoo, with whom DuckDuckGo has a strong relationship.

This is very worrying given recent revelations about its ties to the NSA, but DuckDuckGo continues to promise that it does not collect or share personal information.

Search results

  • DuckDuckGo offers search suggestions as you type in a query.
  • Search returns are speedy.
  • This includes image and video search returns.
  • Presentation of results is very clear.
  • Search filter categories include Web, Images, Videos, Products, Meanings, Definition, and News. Displayed filters are adaptive, and DDG will initially show results under the filter category that it feels is most appropriate to the search terms. Depending on the filter selected, DuckDuckGo may display image, video or Wikipedia previews at either the top of the search page or in a box to the right of the results.
  • Ads may also be displayed to the right of search results. Paid ads are clearly marked as such, are discreet, and are never mixed in with the “pure” search returns.
  • Image results, however, can only be filtered by size (Small, Medium. Large).
  • Video results display a thumbnail preview. YouTube videos can be played directly from DDG the website, but a warning alerts you to the fact that these will be tracked by YouTube/Google.
  • Results can also be filtered by country and date (Anytime, Past Day, Past Week or Past Month).
  • Subjectively, I find the quality of DuckDuckGo’s search returns to be very good. I have seen complaints, however, by others who do not find them as good as those from Google. This is one reason why “bangs” are so useful (see below).

DuckDuckGo1

Here we can see both the contextual filter in actual (auto-direct to Products) and DDG's discrete ads

How it makes money

DuchDuckGo displays adsalongside its search results. These are sourced from Yahoo as part of the Yahoo-Microsoft search alliance. By default, when advertisers sign up for a Bing Ads account, their ads automatically enter rotation into all of Bing’s distribution channels, including DuckDuckGo 

Importantly, however, these ads are untargeted (they are displayed based on your search terms). And as already noted, they are clearly marked and are shown separately from the “pure” search returns.

DuckDuckGo is part of the affiliate programs of Amazon and eBay. When you visit those sites through DuckDuckGo and subsequently make a purchase, it receives a small commission. No personally identifiable information is given out in this way, however, and this does not influence search result rankings.

Privacy

DuckDuckGo states that does not collect or share personal information.

  • An affiliate code may be added to some eCommerce sites (e.g., Amazon & eBay), but this does not include any personally identifiable information.
  • Being based in the US means that DuckDuckGo is subject to government pressure and laws such as FISA and the Patriot Act. This means that the US government could mandate that DuckDuckGo start logging its users’ activities. And prevent the company from alerting users to this fact via a Gag order.
  • DuckDuckGo uses Amazon servers. Again, this is a US company, subject to pressure from the US government.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A+

Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo, has contacted me regarding this article. Please see the Update at the bottom of this page for his answers to some criticisms expressed here.

Features

In addition to its rather nifty contextual filters, the most striking feature of DuckDuckGo is “bangs”. 

These allow you to search other websites quickly and easily. For example, typing !guk before a search query will return Google UK search results, and typing !a will search the Amazon store for you.

Note that bangs take you to the website in question. The searches are not proxied, so you lose an element of privacy if you bang Google directly. Fortunately, there is a solution. You can combine bangs with Startpage.com (see review above) by typing !s or !sp, and because Startpage.com uses Google, you can have the best of both worlds.

My thoughts

DuckDuckGo offers good looking and easy-to-use interface, although some may prefer Google to the primarily Yahoo-based search results.

Bangs are a killer feature, however, and one that goes a long way towards compensating for this issue. Just remember that if you want to query Google and protect your privacy, it makes sense to bang into StartPage.com with the !s or !sp for Google search results in privacy instead of going to Google directly.

It is little surprise, then, that DuckDuckGo is so popular. But the fact that it is a US company should sound a note of caution.

SearX

SearX

PROS

  • Can be self-hosted
  • Choose which search engines to leverage
  • Can proxy webpages
  • No ads

CONS

  • Public instances could be logged

Less well-known, but fast gaining traction with the security community is SearX. Not only is SearX fully open source, but it is easy to set up and to run your own instance of it.

There is an official public SearX instance, or you can use one of many volunteer-run public instances. But what SearX is really about is running your own instance. This makes SearX the only metasearch engine where you can be 100 percent sure that no logs are kept!

Search results

  • By default, SearX leverages results from a large number of search engines.

Search results

In Preferences, users can change which search engines are used

  • Search suggestions are not offered
  • Searches can be filtered by the following categories: General, Files, Images, IT, Map (using OpenStreetMap), Music, News, Science, Social Media, and Videos. They can also be filtered by time.
  • There are no ads.
  • Wikipedia entries are displayed to the right of search results.
  • There are no additional filters for Images, although a preview is displayed when they are clicked on.
  • Video results display a thumbnail preview. Clicking on a video takes you to the website it is hosted on (for example YouTube or Vimeo).
  • Search results can be downloaded as a .csv, .json., or rss file.
  • As with Startpage, search results can be viewed proxied. This will “break” many websites, but does allow for a very high level of privacy.
  • Search results are as good as the engine’s selected. The official instance uses Google, Bing, Wikipedia, and a host of other first-rate engines by default, so the results are excellent.

Search results 2

The are no ads, search suggestions are listed to the right, and as with Startpage, you can proxy webpages

How it makes money

SearX is an open source project run by volunteers. On the official instance, there is no on-site advertising and no affiliate marketing.

Because it is open source, individual operators of public SearX instances are free to introduce their own finance models. But I have yet to find a single instance that is not 100 percent ad and affiliate-free.

Privacy

  • There is no way to know if a public SearX instance operator is logging your searches. And this includes the official instance.
  • That being said, there is no way to guarantee that DDG, Startpage, or any other “private” search engines are not logging your searches either…
  • If you are serious about privacy, therefore, you should set up your own SearX instance. In fact, setting up your own SearX instance on a server that only you directly control is the only way currently available to guarantee that your searches are not logged.
  • This makes self-hosted SearX instances by far the most secure search engines available. Documentation for installing your own SearX instance is available here.
  • For the casual user, public SearX instances are unlikely to log your searches and are much less likely to be monitored by the likes of the NSA than the other services mentioned here.
  • Just remember, though, that there is no way to be sure of this.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report for searx.me (the official instance): A. Note that each SearX instance (public or private) is different in this respect.

Features

As with Startpage, the ability to proxy websitesis a killer feature if you can live with it breaking many websites that you visit. 

 

My thoughts

For serious tech-savvy privacy-heads, a self-hosted SearX instance is the way to go. Simply put, nothing else is in the same league when it comes to knowing for certain that your searches are not logged.

More casual users may also be surprised at how well the software works on public instances. My personal feelings are that these are much less likely to log your searches or be spied on by the US and other governments than DuckDuckGo, Startpage or Disconnect. But this is purely speculation.

Disconnect Search

PROS

  • No logs or tracking
  • No ads
  • Choice of search engines

CONS

  • US company (so beware the NSA)
  • Uses Amazon servers (so beware the NSA)

Before writing a Disconnect review, we knew the US-based company had made a name for itself with some excellent open source privacy-oriented browser extensions. One of these is the open-source Disconnect Search add-on for Firefox and Chrome (a non-open source Android app is also available).

This browser add-on is still the primary way to use Disconnect Search, although a JavaScript web app is available. This mimics the browser extension, and allow you to perform web searches from the Disconnect Search web page.

Disconnect also markets a Premium VPN and online security app, with Disconnect Search functionality built-in. Please see my Disconnect review for more details on this.

Search results

  • Searches are usually made from the browser add-on.
  • You can select which of three search engines to query: Bing, Yahoo or DuckDuckGo (default).
  • Unlike the other privacy metasearch engines discussing this article, Disconnect does not display search returns on its own website. Results are simply routed through Disconnect’s servers to hide their origin and are then opened in the selected search engine’s webpage.
  • Incognito mode searches are supported.

The browser extension

The browser extension

How it makes money

Disconnect markets a Premium product, but the Disconnect Search browser extension is free. It hides your IP when doing searchesbut then sends you directly to the selected search engine. 

This means that Disconnect performs no advertising or affiliate marketing of its own when doing a search.

Privacy

  • Disconnect is a US company and is therefore not a good choice for the more NSA-phobic out there.
  • The browser extension is open source, but search requests can still be logged by Disconnect, as they are made through its servers.
  • Disconnect hosts its service on Amazon servers.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A (this is for the Disconnect.me website).

My thoughts

The Disconnect Search browser extension provides a quick and easy way to hide your true identity while doing searches using your favorite search engine. The fact that Disconnect is US-based, however, is a major issue. 

Honorary mention: Peekier

Peekier is a new no-logs search engine. There is not enough information about this service currently available for me to give it a proper assessment. It is worth mentioning, however, because of the attractive and innovative way that it displays search results.

search

In a field were where, if we are honest, most search engines look pretty similar, it is great to see a different approach. I, therefore, think it worth flagging up Peekier and keeping an eye on the service to see how it develops.

Privacy Search Engines Conclusion

Using any of these services engines will significantly improve your search privacy. Crucially, your searches will not be recorded to help build a profile that is used to sell you stuff. All the search engines I looked at in this article are easy to use and return good results.

Will these services protect your searches from government surveillance (and the NSA in particular)? In the case of US companies, it is safest to assume not. But unless you are doing something very illegal, this may not concern you (although it should).

Startpage is non-US based, has been independently audited, and allows you to access websites with a great deal of privacy thanks to its proxy feature. It is, therefore, a much better choice for privacy-heads than DuckDuckGo.

Public SearX instances are less likely to be monitored than other higher-profile search engines, but they may be. It is also likely that you will know nothing about their operators. Running your own SearX instance on hardware directly under your control, however, is an extremely secure and private solution. And is therefore only one that I can recommend to serious privacy fanatics.

The fact the SearX has a great interface and returns on-the-button results from all the major search engines is the icing on the cake.

 

Categorized in Search Engine

 

Darktrace, a U.K. cybersecurity firm that positions its software as the "human immune system" for networks, has raised $65 million in a funding round led by U.S. private equity giant KKR, the start-up said on Wednesday.Existing investor Summit Partners contributed while new investors TenEleven Ventures and SoftBank joined the round. The British start-up is also backed by Autonomy founder Mike Lynch's Invoke Capital and London-based venture capital firm Hoxton Ventures.

Darktrace's solution sits in the middle of an organization's computer network and can detect cyber-threats in real-time, allowing the company's security team or the software to take action to protect the system.

 

The start-up has been developing its machine learning capabilities – advanced algorithms that can adapt and learn. Darktrace says that its machine learning techniques are based on the "biological principles of the human immune system".

Hackers pose a huge threat to businesses with cyber-crime forecast to cost businesses over $2 trillion by 2019, according to Juniper Research. Some of the biggest organizations in the world have been victims of cyber-attacks and this has meant cybersecurity companies have gained traction.

Start-ups like Darktrace are attempting to challenge established players such as FireEye and Symantec. And as cyber-attacks get more sophisticated, machine learning solutions are becoming increasingly important.

A new threat identified by Darktrace is the ability for hackers to program machines to carry out attacks. In this way, machines are attacking machines, something that can be hard to stop as computers are able to adapt their own attack methods.

Ransomware is another attack that has been on the increase which involves hackers locking a person's files and then demanding something in return for unlocking them.To combat these threats, Darktrace released a product called Antigena, which the chief executive describes as "machine fighting machine tech". Antigena allows a business's network to battle back against invading threats.

"We have some early customers using Antigena, and what we have seen as the first use case is slowing down the attack, allowing humans to catch up. One example of that would be Ransomware. We could detect ransomware as soon as it hit the machine, slow it down and stop it getting to the back-up servers," Nicole Eagan, CEO of Darktrace, told CNBC in a phone interview on Wednesday.

The start-up was founded in 2013 and has already grown to 300 employees and claims to have over 1,000 customers on board. Darktrace said it has achieved over 600 percent revenue growth in the latest financial year.

Cybersecurity has been one of the hottest sectors in the start-up world for investment and Darktrace faces competition from a number of players. Last month for example, cybersecurity start-up LightCyber raised $20 million. LightCyber has a product which it calls a "behavioral attack detection" platform capable of fighting against threats that have got past traditional security controls.

Eagan said that the $65 million funding will help Darktrace expand further into the U.S. and Asia as well as into new markets such as Latin America, hiring employees, opening offices on the ground and improving its technology.

"We are going to continue to invest in R&D. The initial Darktrace product is fully developed with a lot of the focus on machine fighting machine and the new wave of artificial intelligence attacks, so we will continue to build out our machine fighting machine tech," Eagan told CNBC.

Source:  http://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/06/cybersecurity-start-up-darktrace-raises-64-million-backed-by-kkr.html

 

 

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Finally ready to get off the grid? It's not quite as simple as it should be, but here are a few easy-to-follow steps that will at the very least point you in the right direction.

If you're reading this, it's highly likely that your personal information is available to the public. And while you can never remove yourself completely from the internet, there are ways to minimize your online footprint. Here are five ways to do so.

Be warned however; removing your information from the internet as I've laid it out below, may adversely affect your ability to communicate with potential employers.

1. Delete or deactivate your shopping, social network, and Web service accounts

Think about which social networks you have profiles on. Aside from the big ones, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, do you still have public accounts on sites like Tumblr, Google+ or even MySpace? Which shopping sites have you registered on? Common ones might include information stored on Amazon, Gap.com, Macys.com and others.

To get rid of these accounts, go to your account settings and just look for an option to either deactivate, remove or close your account. Depending on the account, you may find it under Security or Privacy, or something similar.

If you're having trouble with a particular account, try searching online for "How to delete," followed by the name of the account you wish to delete. You should be able to find some instruction on how to delete that particular account.

If for some reason you can't delete an account, change the info in the account to something other than your actual info. Something fake or completely random.

new-screen-delete.png

 

Using a service like DeleteMe can make removing yourself from the internet less of a headache.

2. Remove yourself from data collection sites

There are companies out there that collect your information. They're called data brokers and they have names like Spokeo, Crunchbase, PeopleFinder, as well as plenty of others. They collect data from everything you do online and then sell that data to interested parties, mostly in order more specifically advertise to you and sell you more stuff.

Now you could search for yourself on these sites and then deal with each site individually to get your name removed. Problem is, the procedure for opting out from each site is different and sometimes involves sending faxes and filling out actual physical paperwork. Physical. Paperwork. What year is this, again?
Anyway, an easier way to do it is to use a service like DeleteMe at Abine.com. For about $130 for a one-year membership, the service will jump through all those monotonous hoops for you. It'll even check back every few months to make sure your name hasn't been re-added to these sites.

3. Remove your info directly from websites

First, check with your phone company or cell provider to make sure you aren't listed online and have them remove your name if you are.

If you want to remove an old forum post or an old embarrassing blog you wrote back in the day, you'll have to contact the webmaster of those sites individually. You can either look at the About us or Contacts section of the site to find the right person to contact or go to www.whois.com and search for the domain name you wish to contact. There you should find information on who exactly to contact.

Unfortunately, private website operators are under no obligation to remove your posts. So, when contacting these sites be polite and clearly state why you want the post removed. Hopefully they'll actually follow through and remove them.

If they don't, tip number four is a less effective, but still viable, option.
4. Delete search engine results that return information about youSearch engine results includes sites like Bing, Yahoo and Google. In fact Google has a URL removal tool that can help you delete specific URLs.

Google's URL removal tool is handy for erasing evidence of past mistakes from the internet.

For example, if someone has posted sensitive information such as a Social Security number or a bank account number and the webmaster of the site where it was posted won't remove it, you can at least contact the search engine companies to have it removed from search results, making it harder to find.

5. And finally, the last step you'll want to take is to remove your email accountsDepending on the type of email account you have, the amount of steps this will take will vary.
You'll have to sign into your account and then find the option to delete or close the account. Some accounts will stay open for a certain amount of time, so if you want to reactivate them you can.

An email address is necessary to complete the previous steps, so make sure this one is your last.

One last thing...Remember to be patient when going through this process. Don't expect it to be completed in one day. And you may also have to accept that there some things you won't be able permanently delete from the internet.

Source: http://www.cnet.com/how-to/remove-delete-yourself-from-the-internet/

If you're reading this, it's highly likely that your personal information is available to the public. And while you can never remove yourself completely from the internet, there are ways to minimize your online footprint. Here are five ways to do so.

Be warned however; removing your information from the internet as I've laid it out below, may adversely affect your ability to communicate with potential employers.

1. Delete or deactivate your shopping, social network, and Web service accounts

Think about which social networks you have profiles on. Aside from the big ones, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, do you still have public accounts on sites like Tumblr, Google+ or even MySpace? Which shopping sites have you registered on? Common ones might include information stored on Amazon, Gap.comMacys.com and others.

To get rid of these accounts, go to your account settings and just look for an option to either deactivate, remove or close your account. Depending on the account, you may find it under Security or Privacy, or something similar.

If you're having trouble with a particular account, try searching online for "How to delete," followed by the name of the account you wish to delete. You should be able to find some instruction on how to delete that particular account.

If for some reason you can't delete an account, change the info in the account to something other than your actual info. Something fake or completely random.

new-screen-delete.png

Using a service like DeleteMe can make removing yourself from the internet less of a headache.

Screenshot by Eric Franklin/CNET

2. Remove yourself from data collection sites

There are companies out there that collect your information. They're called data brokers and they have names like Spokeo, Crunchbase, PeopleFinder, as well as plenty of others. They collect data from everything you do online and then sell that data to interested parties, mostly in order more specifically advertise to you and sell you more stuff.

Now you could search for yourself on these sites and then deal with each site individually to get your name removed. Problem is, the procedure for opting out from each site is different and sometimes involves sending faxes and filling out actual physical paperwork. Physical. Paperwork. What year is this, again?

Anyway, an easier way to do it is to use a service like DeleteMe at Abine.com. For about $130 for a one-year membership, the service will jump through all those monotonous hoops for you. It'll even check back every few months to make sure your name hasn't been re-added to these sites.

3. Remove your info directly from websites

First, check with your phone company or cell provider to make sure you aren't listed online and have them remove your name if you are.

If you want to remove an old forum post or an old embarrassing blog you wrote back in the day, you'll have to contact the webmaster of those sites individually. You can either look at the About us or Contacts section of the site to find the right person to contact or go to www.whois.com and search for the domain name you wish to contact. There you should find information on who exactly to contact.

Unfortunately, private website operators are under no obligation to remove your posts. So, when contacting these sites be polite and clearly state why you want the post removed. Hopefully they'll actually follow through and remove them.

If they don't, tip number four is a less effective, but still viable, option.

4. Delete search engine results that return information about you

Search engine results includes sites like Bing, Yahoo and Google. In fact Google has a URL removal tool that can help you delete specific URLs.

screen-shot-2016-06-28-at-11-34-49-am.png

Google's URL removal tool is handy for erasing evidence of past mistakes from the internet.

Screenshot by Eric Franklin/CNET

For example, if someone has posted sensitive information such as a Social Security number or a bank account number and the webmaster of the site where it was posted won't remove it, you can at least contact the search engine companies to have it removed from search results, making it harder to find.

5. And finally, the last step you'll want to take is to remove your email accounts

Depending on the type of email account you have, the amount of steps this will take will vary.

You'll have to sign into your account and then find the option to delete or close the account. Some accounts will stay open for a certain amount of time, so if you want to reactivate them you can.

An email address is necessary to complete the previous steps, so make sure this one is your last.

One last thing...

Remember to be patient when going through this process. Don't expect it to be completed in one day. And you may also have to accept that there some things you won't be able permanently delete from the internet.

Editors' note: This article was originally published in December 2014. It has been updated with only a few minor tweaks.

Categorized in Internet Privacy

China’s powerful internet censorship body has further tightened its grip on online news reports by warning all news or social network websites against publishing news without proper verification, state media reports.

The instruction, issued by the Cyberspace Administration of China, came only a few days after Xu Lin, formerly the deputy head of the organisation, replaced his boss, Lu Wei, as the top gatekeeper of Chinese internet affairs.

Xu is regarded as one of President Xi Jinping’s key supporters.
The cyberspace watchdog said online media could not report any news taken from social media websites without approval.

“All websites should bear the key responsibility to further streamline the course of reporting and publishing of news, and set up a sound internal monitoring mechanism among all mobile news portals [and the social media chat websites] Weibo or WeChat,” Xinhua reported the directive as saying.

“It is forbidden to use hearsay to create news or use conjecture and imagination to distort the facts,” it said.

The central internet censorship organ ordered its regional subordinates to fully fulfil their duties on the basis of content management, strengthen supervision and inspection, and severely punish fake news or news that deviated from the facts.

“No website is allowed to report public news without specifying the sources, or report news that quotes untrue origins,” the circular warned, adding that the fabrication of news or distortion of the facts were also strictly prohibited.

The report said that a number of popular news portals, including Sina.com, Ifeng.com, Caijing.com.cn, Qq.com and 163.com, had been punished and given warnings for fabricating news before distributing it, the report said, without giving any details about the penalty.

The Chinese government already exercises widespread controls over the internet and has sought to codify that policy in law.

Officials say internet restrictions, including the blocking of popular foreign websites such as Google and Facebook, are needed to ensure security in the face of rising threats, such as terrorism, and also to stop the spread of damaging rumours.

Source:  http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/1985118/all-news-stories-must-be-verified-chinas-internet

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Another day, another hack. At least, that's how it's starting to feel.

People are getting hacked or becoming otherwise compromised in their digital lives at an alarmaing rate, and it seems as though that's not going to slow down any time soon.

Just earlier this month, it was revealed that hackers had gained access to millions of Twitter accounts, and not by hacking into Twitter itself. No, instead they simply gathered passwords from previous hacks and matched them with usernames.

With hackers on the rampage, there are plenty of things to keep in mind - things that will help you protect yourself and your online data, and ensure that you retain full control over your personal information.

How hackers are getting your information

Often when we think of the word "hacking", we imagine pages and pages of code, hours spent cracking away on a computer, and finding a way to get around having to use passwords. In reality, however, hackers can simply write a program that will look through information to find what they need to log in to a user's account. That's without having to spend hours at the computer combing through code.

"Hackers will most often parse existing breach data for emails, usernames, and passwords, and then attempt to reuse those credentials on popular websites," Alexander Heid, Chief Risk Officer at SecurityScorecard, a security monitoring service, tells TechRadar. "To achieve this, hackers will make use of 'checker' scripts. These are scripts which are designed to test batches of username:password combinations on specific websites to identify valid accounts. These scripts exist for every imaginable service, and are constantly updated and circulate within the hacker underground."

So, what does that mean? When you create a new account somewhere, you likely reuse at least some information for its creation. Even if you're not using the same username or password, information like answers to security questions or other details can all help hackers gain access to your account.

Hacker Source Flickr credit -650-80

Of course, some hackers are a little more hands on. That's where malware comes in. Malware is basically a type of software designed specifically to infect your computer, often in an attempt to steal your personal information.

A prominent form of malware is a keylogger, which basically tracks everything you type and then sends that information back to the hacker who wrote the malware code. That makes it way too easy for hackers to gain access to your accounts; all they have to do is wait until you log on to something and they'll be able to do the same.

There's one more method that hackers often use to get username and password information - phishing emails. These are essentially emails designed to look like they're from a company like Apple or Amazon, and trick you into willingly giving over your information.

Often times, there's a link in these emails that will take you to an official-looking website where you're supposed to log in to an account. Only, the website isn't official, it just looks like it is. Log in, and you're basically handing your information over to whoever sent the email.

How can you stay safe?

Now that you know how hackers are acquiring personal information, it's sure to be a little easier to protect yourself. The first thing to talk about is passwords.

Make passwords a priority

As mentioned, hackers are often able to use previous data breaches to find passwords, then find accounts on other sites and use the same username:password combination to get in. That should be far too easy for hackers to get into an account, but, in reality, people continue to use the same password, or the same few passwords, for their entire digital lives.

The solution? Come up with a new password for every account you have. Yes, it's a pain, but the fact is that creating unique and secure passwords for each of your accounts is an important step in remaining secure online. Not only that, but it could help save you time in the long run; if one of your accounts is hacked, having unique passwords prevents you from having to change the password for all of your accounts.

Source: http://www.inc.com/john-boitnott/how-entrepreneurs-can-ride-the-internet-of-things-to-success.html

Categorized in Internet Privacy

With its colossal acquisition of LinkedIn this morning, Microsoft gets an immediate, powerful asset for its software sales pitch: A social dataset of 400 million-plus users.

That should fray nerves at Google, and raise pressure on it to respond with an acquisition of its own, one aimed at expanding its reach with business customers. It had already informally sounded out some mid-market business-focused cloud apps for acquisition earlier this year.

Over the past year, the search giant has directed considerable attention and resources to building out a sizable enterprise operation, an attempt to diversify its business (an ads one). One of the two pillars of the operation, apps for businesses, competes head-on with Microsoft.

And now Microsoft has a pool of valuable data — based on personal and professional information — that Google, despite its expensive past efforts, does not.

Google will have to answer — particularly since one product Microsoft said LinkedIn will assist with is Cortana, its artificial intelligence-powered personal assistant. AI is a linchpin feature that Google is using with its enterprise software sales pitch. Google's AI is widely considered best in the industry; but with LinkedIn's data, Microsoft could have a critical edge in its offering that trumps Google.

With its colossal acquisition of LinkedIn this morning, Microsoft gets an immediate, powerful asset for its software sales pitch: A social dataset of 400 million-plus users.

That should fray nerves at Google, and raise pressure on it to respond with an acquisition of its own, one aimed at expanding its reach with business customers. It had already informally sounded out some mid-market business-focused cloud apps for acquisition earlier this year.

Over the past year, the search giant has directed considerable attention and resources to building out a sizable enterprise operation, an attempt to diversify its business (an ads one). One of the two pillars of the operation, apps for businesses, competes head-on with Microsoft.

And now Microsoft has a pool of valuable data — based on personal and professional information — that Google, despite its expensive past efforts, does not.

Google will have to answer — particularly since one product Microsoft said LinkedIn will assist with is Cortana, its artificial intelligence-powered personal assistant. AI is a linchpin feature that Google is using with its enterprise software sales pitch. Google's AI is widely considered best in the industry; but with LinkedIn's data, Microsoft could have a critical edge in its offering that trumps Google.

If it wants to catch up, Google's not short on the cash. Nor is it short on will. Diane Greene, its enterprise SVP, who wields considerable power in the company, has an edict to grow her unit, even through acquisition, as Recode reported earlier.

Should Greene and Google go on a spree, here are some potential big targets:

Slack: The fast-growing workplace messaging app boasts three million users every day, and about a third of them use it from accounts paid for by their employers. While generally known as a popular tool at young tech and media companies, it's on track to launch an enterprise version that delivers the scale necessary for use in larger companies sometime this year. It's also working on enhancing the service with AI features that would give the Slack application the brains to anticipate a user's day-to-day business needs, boosting its appeal in an area Google already considers a priority.

And valued at less than $4 billion as of its most recent funding round, Slack is affordable. One important complication: Slack runs entirely on Amazon Web Services. Migrating it to Google's cloud service would be a big job.

Box: The cloud storage, sharing and collaboration platform was the darling of Silicon Valley ahead of its IPO last year. It's a different company today, with a fully imagined long-term strategy to help specific industries build custom applications and to act as the central cog connecting numerous existing business apps including Microsoft's Office, Salesforce.com, and, by the way, Google Apps. Its customers include household names like the Campbell Soup company, industrial giant GE and The Gap, and 10,000-seat deals with large customers are not uncommon.

Box's low share price, down 52 percent since its debut on the New York Stock Exchange, also creates an opportunity.

Dropbox: What Dropbox lacks in a fully articulated vision for doing business with large companies, it makes up for with the scale of its numbers: More than half a billion people use Dropbox, plus 150,000 businesses. Its bread-and-butter business is file storage, sharing and syncing across multiple devices. And it works.

It recently moved its data off of Amazon's cloud and onto one of its own making. Privately held, its mutual fund investors have in recent months written down the value of their shares, suggesting it's worth about $10 billion. That may make it too big a bite even for Google, though parent company Alphabet has just over $75 billion in combined cash on hand.

Source:  http://www.cnbc.com/2016/06/14/microsofts-big-linkedin-purchase-puts-the-pressure-on-google-to-respond.html

Categorized in Internet Privacy

My earliest Google search—the earliest one Google remembers, at least—was for "tetanus shot." My most recent was for "Tracy Morgan." In between, there are 52,493 searches, and Google remembers them all.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. I know Google knows essentially everything there is to know about me—and you probably do, too. With its algorithms and analytics tools, it probably knows more about me than I know about myself (statistically, I most frequently search Google at 10 AM on Tuesdays in March). But presented in its totality, it's still a bit creepy to look at a history of every single Google search you've ever done.

​The company has now made it possible for you to export that history and download it from its servers. In one ZIP file, you can have a ​timestamped history of every random bit of trivia or thought you've ever had; of every restaurant you've ever cared to Yelp; of the times you looked up whether that movie you wanted to see was actually any good.

 

It has a record of the times you've looked up hangover cures and searched weird symptoms to perform a self diagnosis. It knows that you looked up the address to the hospital to visit a loved one and it knows that you didn't know the address to the funeral home a week later. And it knows every time you didn't turn on Incognito mode to search for porn.

Again, this is not necessarily surprising, but it is striking. We know Google uses its connected products and the information it has on you to help target ads and to personalize your experience, which makes using Google feel seamless. Maybe you’re fine with that—lots of people are willing to trade privacy for convenience, or for something that costs them no money. But what if you’re not?

​It’s possible to change your settings so that Google doesn’t link your search history to your account. That’s a start, but Google still logs searches according to IP addresses, which can still be potentially tied back to you. You can also consider using a company like Duck Duck Go, which runs a “search engine that doesn’t track you.”

Google’s not the only one who uses your search history, of course. The record it has can be and often is ​subpoenaed by the government or by law enforcement.

In the first half of last year (more recent data is not yet available), the US requested user information, including search history, from Google 12,539 times. Google complied in 84 percent of cases. There are concerns that the NSA can tap the data as well. Google says that “only you can see your history,” but how true is that, really?

Source:  http://motherboard.vice.com/read/reminder-google-remembers-everything-youve-ever-searched-for 

Categorized in Search Engine

Under Europe's "Right to be Forgotten" law, citizens there can petition Internet search providers such as Google to remove search results linked to personal information that is negative or defamatory. In many cases, these links lead to information about accusations of criminal activity or financial difficulties, which may be "delisted" if the information is erroneous or no longer relevant. 

But "gone" doesn't always mean "forgotten," according to a new study by researchers at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering, NYU Shanghai, and the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil.

"The Right to Be Forgotten has been largely working and is responding to legitimate privacy concerns of many Europeans," said New York University Professor Keith Ross. "Our research shows, however, that a third-party, such as a transparency activist or a private investigator, can discover many delisted links and determine the names of the people who requested the delistings." Ross, the Leonard J. Shustek Professor of Computer Science at NYU Tandon and dean of engineering and computer science at NYU Shanghai, led the research team, which included Professor of Computer Science Virgilio Almeida and doctoral students Evandro Cunha and Gabriel Magno, all of the Federal University of Minas Gerais, and Minhui Xue, a doctoral student at NYU Shanghai.

They focused only on requests to delist content from mass media sites such as online newspapers and broadcast outlets. Although the law requires search engines to delist search links, it does not require newspaper articles and other source material to be removed from the Internet.

A hacker faces a fairly low bar if he or she knows a particular URL has been delisted. Of 283 delisted URLs used in the study, the authors successfully determined the names of the requesters in 103 cases.

But the authors also demonstrated that a hacker can prevail even when the URL is unknown, by downloading media articles about topics most commonly associated with delisting, including sexual assault and financial misconduct; extracting the names from the articles; then sending multiple queries to a European Google search site to see if the articles were delisted.

The researchers estimate that a third party could potentially determine 30 to 40 percent of the delisted mass-media URLs, along with the names of the people who made the delisting requests. Such hackers do exist and have published the names of people who requested delisting, thereby opening them to even more public scrutiny - the so-called "Streisand effect," a phenomenon, named for the reclusive star, whereby an attempt to hide a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely.

Their results show that the law has fundamental technical flaws that could compromise its effectiveness in the future.

Demographic analysis revealed that the majority of requesters were men, ages 20-40, and most were ordinary citizens, not celebrities. In accordance with the law, Google delisted links for persons who were wrongfully charged, acquitted, or who finished serving their sentences, among other privacy issues.

The researchers believe that defenses to these privacy attacks are limited. One possible defense would be for Google to never display the delisted URL in its search results. (Currently, Jane Doe's delisted robbery article would not show up when her name is used in a search, but would do so if the name of the bank were searched, for example.) This defense is not only a strong form of censorship, but can also be partially circumvented, they said.

A French data protection authority recently ordered Google to delist links from all of its properties including Google.com, in addition to its search engines with European suffixes. Google has so far refused, and the dispute is likely to end up in European courts. "Even if this law is extended throughout all of the Google search properties, the potential for such attacks will be unchanged and they will continue to be effective," said Almeida of the Federal University of Minas Gerais.

The researchers noted that they will never publicly share the names discovered in association with their analysis. They informed Google of the research results. 

Source:  http://phys.org/news/2016-06-weak-europe-forgotten-privacy-law.html 

Categorized in Internet Privacy

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