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The tracker-blocking company will soon launch a privacy-friendly desktop browser as well.

THE INTERNET RUNS on advertising, and that includes search engines. Google brought in $26 billion of search revenue in the most recent quarter alone. Yes, billion. As that business has grown, it’s reshaped what search looks like. Year after year, ads have gobbled up more space on its results pages, pushing organic results further out of view. Which is why using Ghostery’s new ad-free search engine and desktop browser, even in their pre-beta form, feels at once like a throwback to a simpler internet and a glimpse of a future where browsing that puts results ahead of revenue is once again possible.

If you’re familiar with Ghostery already, it’s likely through its incarnation as a popular open-source browser extension that blocks trackers and ads. It also maintains a mobile browser for Android and iOS, the former of which has been installed over a million times. Over 7 million people use Ghostery products; a single-digit percentage of them have paid for one of the company’s subscription services. Earlier this year, the company saw an opportunity to expand on its core mission of making digital privacy available to the masses.

“We’ve been building the extensions for a long time,” says Ghostery president Jeremy Tillman. “But at the end of the day you’re playing by somebody else’s rules. We thought that we could do a lot more if we played by our own rules.”

Sec ghostery search design draft255B1255D

That “somebody else” almost always means Google. The desktop browser and internet search races are not what one might call competitive. As of October, Google’s Chrome browser claimed 69 percent market share; its closest competition, Microsoft’s Edge and Mozilla’s Firefox, hovered at around 7.5 percent, according to NetMarketShare. From month to month, the numbers barely change. And that dominance pales in comparison to search, where analytics firm StatCounter says Google fields close to 93 percent of all queries.

Which is to say that building an alternative to Google these days can feel like a quixotic undertaking. German startup Cliqz, which acquired Ghostery in 2017, abandoned its efforts to build a privacy-first search engine from scratch in April. “In the long run, we have no chance against an overpowering opponent such as Google, which dominates the market in every aspect,” wrote Cliqz cofounder Jean-Paul Schmetz at the time. “We are deeply sorry to say goodbye to colleagues who have shown great commitment and passion in achieving our vision.”

A bleak outlook. But Ghostery has taken a different route. Rather than rolling out its own search engine or browser, it will instead layer its privacy technology atop Firefox and the Bing Web Search API. The beta should launch by mid-January at the latest; those interested in testing it out can sign up here. The ultimate goal isn’t to overthrow Google. It’s to reimagine what the internet demands of its users.

“Nobody delivers ad-free private search today,” says Tillman. “As a first step we thought that was pretty unique. If you’re like, I want privacy and also I just hate ads, Ghostery search is the only option out there for you.”

Nothing’s free in this life, and Ghostery is no different. Whereas Google's ad business subsidizes its free services like search and Chrome, Ghostery’s ad-free search requires a Ghostery Plus subscription, which costs $5 per month. The company is working on an ad-supported version that anyone can use for free, a model that would resemble the already popular privacy search engine DuckDuckGo, which places ads contextually rather than based on user behavior. (The business models run the gamut; the privacy-focused browser Brave blocks ads, but it has experimented with paying users who opt to view them.)

Sec ghostery search results design draft255B1255D

While they’re launching at the same time, Ghostery browser and search aren’t inextricable. The Ghostery browser doesn’t lock you into the company’s search engine; you can choose from six options to use as your default—yes, including Google. Likewise, Tillman says the next phase of growth will include promoting Ghostery search as an option in more established browsers.

Actually using the Ghostery browser and search engine in tandem, even at this early stage, is a refreshingly zippy if minimalist experience. That’s partly because of the foundation that Firefox and Bing provide. “We think that the core of the browser is really good,” says Tillman. “We take Firefox and then we strip it down.” That means no integrations like Pocket, which comes standard on Firefox proper. And privacy-friendly settings that might be optional on Mozilla’s browser are turned all the way up by default in Ghostery. (It also comes with a private browsing mode that goes to 11. “It’s much more aggressive,” says Tillman, “to the point where things get a little unusable.”)

Over the course of a few days of playing with the pre-beta as my daily driver, I found the Ghostery browser itself to be stable, with all the features you’d expect given its Firefox foundation. In addition to the stock privacy and anti-tracking features you can already find in the Ghostery extension, it takes advantage of Firefox features like Redirect Tracking Protection, which wipes away cookies and site data every 24 hours from sites you don't visit often. It also enables advanced features like dynamic first-party isolation and protection against tracker-cloaking technology by default. Basically, it makes it as hard as possible for ad companies to follow you around the web.

My experience with search is a little harder to go on. The iteration I used didn’t have basic features like image, map, news, and video returns, and I ran into an error message whenever I tried to navigate to the second page of results. Tillman says that by the time the beta launches, Ghostery’s search product will include image and video categories, and will soon after add staples like shopping. Presumably whatever bug kept me stuck on page one will be squashed by then as well.

As for the results themselves, they were fine! A couple of years ago I used Bing extensively and exclusively, and found that while it had plenty of annoying ticks it actually served up decent results. If anything, by stripping away all of the frippery and bloat that makes Bing a slog, Ghostery offers a stirring defense of that engine's core capabilities. Eventually I missed being able to drill down to news results specifically, or being able to search for images at all—again, that’ll be there in the final build—but honestly there was something refreshing about searching for something on the internet and finding link after link after link about what you are looking for, instead of ads and knowledge panels and AMP carousels. So this is what it feels like when a search engine actually wants to send you to another site.

Eventually, Ghostery plans to integrate its ad-tracking tech even further, perhaps allowing you to filter out sites that have more than 20 trackers from results, or ranking pages based on privacy-friendly metrics.

Ghostery’s browser and search engine won’t be for everyone. Established browsers like Safari and, yes, Firefox already go a long way toward providing some of the the protections Ghostery promises. Even Chrome plans to phase out third-party cookies eventually. The Ghostery extension also continues to provide plenty of cover for dedicated Chrome users. But there’s a clear and present need for an internet that respects your privacy better than the current one does. A number of companies are trying to build that future, including DuckDuckGo and Brave and the Tor Project, among others. With its impending expansion, Ghostery has solidified its role as one of those architects.

[Source: This article was published in wired.com By Sam Whitney - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jasper Solander]

Categorized in Search Engine

Bestselling author and cybersecurity awareness specialist.

It's a digital world, and we all love the convenience. But can we honestly say we're being as safe as possible when exploring our favorite websites? Some of you may even be thinking that it's no big deal because you've been using the internet for years to perform data-sensitive tasks, like making purchases or processing digital banking transactions, and you've never had a problem.

But a cybercriminal's goal isn't necessarily to make obvious trouble for you. Rather, they seek to remain undetected for as long as possible, so they can steal as much sensitive data as they can for as long as they can. 

With that in mind, here are 12 tips to help protect yourself, your colleagues and your family while browsing the web.

Automate Processes

• Web browsing is considerably safer when you control pop-up windows. Configure your browser to either block or alert you to pop-ups.

• Turn on auto-updates for your browser, browser plugins and any software that runs in your browser. Doing this is an inexpensive way to add security to your web browsing experience.

• Use browser security add-ons. These applications provide safety ratings for websites and search engine results.

Use Discretion

• Always use a secured website for private information like passwords, email and credit cards. In the web address bar, "http" means a website isn't secured with secure sockets layer (SSL). Look for "https" in the web address, as well as the lock symbol — these are indications the website is secured with SSL.

• Avoid sensational sites. Don't visit sites dedicated to gossip about the latest sensational news stories or celebrities, as they are often riddled with malicious software, often referred to as malware. 

• Watch for search engine warnings. If the search engines show that a site might be malicious, don't go there.

• When something pops up on your screen that you find suspicious, always hit X in the top corner, instead of hitting the cancel or ignore function. The cancel or ignore button of suspicious pop-ups are often used to trick someone into downloading malicious software.

Follow Best Practices

• Cover the webcam on your computer or laptop when not in use. Hackers can turn your webcam on and watch you without your knowledge.

• Use bookmarking. For sites that you visit often, save the web address as a favorite or bookmark. This will lessen the chances of landing on a hacker's lookalike site.

• Don't browse while signed into accounts. Before signing into an account with private information, close all other browser windows and tabs.

• Don't store passwords in your browser or on websites. These places can make your passwords more vulnerable to being stolen.

• Remember, anything connected to the internet, even a smart home device like a refrigerator, can be hacked. Always approach connected devices with security in mind.

The internet is a wonderful source of information. As long as we are careful and follow the tips in this article, we can greatly assist in protecting ourselves, our colleagues and our loved ones.

 

[Source: This article was published in forbes.com By Danny Pehar - Uploaded by the Association Member: Logan Hochstetler]

Categorized in Internet Privacy

YouTube shares new details about how its recommendation algorithm

New information about how various factors influence YouTube’s video recommendation algorithm is revealed by members of the team responsible for working on it.

Having only been implemented in 2016, we still have a rudimentary of how YouTube’s machine learning algorithm works.

We know video recommendations are influenced by factors such as clicks, watch time, likes/dislikes, comments, freshness, and upload frequency.

We do not know, for example, whether external traffic has any impact on video recommendations.

It’s also not known whether underperforming videos will affect the likelihood of future videos being recommended.

The impact of other potentially negative factors, such as inactive subscribers or too-frequent uploads, is not known either.

Those are the factors YouTube’s team discusses in a new Q&A video about the recommendation algorithm. Here is a summary of all questions and answers.

Underperforming Videos

If one of my videos under-performs, is that going to hurt my channel? Could a few poor videos pull down better videos in the future?

YouTube doesn’t make assessments about a channel as a whole based on the performance of a few videos.

YouTube only cares about how people are responding to a given video when deciding whether to recommend it to others.

The recommendation algorithm is always going to be “following the audience.”

If a video is attracting an audience then it will show up in users’ recommendations regardless of how the channel’s previous videos performed.

Channels shouldn’t be concerned about some kind of algorithmic demotion based on a dip in viewership.

It’s normal for the performance of videos to fluctuate in terms of views and other metrics. So YouTube is careful not to have all of its recommendations driven by those metrics.

Too Many Uploads Per Day

Is there a point at which the number of videos per day/week on each channel is so high that the algorithm is overwhelmed and videos slip through?

There is no limit to how many videos can be recommended to a given viewer from a channel in a single day.

Channels can upload as much as they want. How many views each video receives comes down to viewer preferences.

YouTube’s recommendation system will continue to recommend videos as long as viewers continue to watch them.

If a channel is uploading more videos than usual, and each video is getting progressively fewer views, that may be a sign the audience is getting burned out.

While there is no limit to how many videos YouTube will recommend from a channel in a single day, there is a limit to how many notifications will be sent out.

YouTube only allows 3 notifications per channel in a 24 hour period.

Inactive Subscribers

My channel has been around for quite a few years and I think I may have lots of inactive subscribers. Should I create a new channel and then re-upload the videos in order to appear more acceptable to the algorithm?

 

Inactive subscribers is not a factor impacting YouTube’s recommendation algorithm.

This goes back to the first question where YouTube says its algorithm follows the audience.

A channel with inactive subscribers can still get its next video shown in the recommendations section if it attracts an audience.

Creating a new channel and re-uploading the same videos will not help with getting those videos shown to more people.

YouTube remembers viewer preferences, so there’s little chance of reaching those inactive subscribers with a new channel.

Creators should only start a new channel if they decide to go in a different direction with their content.

External Traffic

How important is external traffic?

External traffic is definitely a factor that influences YouTube’s recommendation algorithm.

However, its influence only extends so far.

External traffic can help get a video shown in the recommendations section. But once it’s there it has to perform well with viewers.

Long term success of a video depends on how people respond after clicking on it in their recommendations.

I’m getting lots of traffic from external websites which is causing my click-through-rates and average view durations to drop, is this going to hurt my video’s performance?

YouTube says it’s not a problem if average view duration drops when a video receives a significant amount of external traffic.

Apparently it’s common for this to happen, and it has no impact on a video’s long-term success.

Again, YouTube’s algorithm cares more about viewers engage with a video after clicking on it in their recommendations.

The algorithm is not concerned with what viewers do after clicking on a video from an external website or app.

[Source: This article was published in searchenginejournal.com By Matt Southern- Uploaded by the Association Member: Jason bourne]

Categorized in Search Engine

Search Acumen, the property data insight and technology provider, has introduced its first artificial intelligence (AI) tools to speed up the legal due diligence involved in UK property transactions.

The tools have been developed to harness the advances in machine learning – a subfield of artificial intelligence that enables machines to learn from data and achieve more than they ever could with human programming. They come at a crucial time when conveyancers and commercial property lawyers are responding to a “mini boom” in the market with Government support helping to bolster demand.

While the market has spoken about the benefits of AI and machine learning, Search Acumen is one of the first to integrate this technology into the due diligence process. The tools mark a key milestone in the company’s overall vision of a more efficient and productive property market in the UK, with technology being a core driver in the UK economy’s ongoing recovery.

As with any new recruit, the machine learning tools have undergone rigorous training and are now being used to progress transactions of property portfolios by interrogating and cleansing address data submitted by legal firms. The address cleansing tool reduces hours or even days of administrative time spent error-checking and correcting property addresses and creates a more accurate and efficient due diligence process. Lawyers can then spend more time analysing the data and consulting with clients on any potential risks to progress transactions more efficiently.

Incorrect address data can be a major issue, in particular for complex transactions with hundreds or thousands of addresses, as an isolated error can hold back the entire process until it is resolved. In just a few seconds, the machine learning tool reconstructs address data – cross-referencing it against over 30 million official UK addresses – to produce a consistently accurate result. This can then be matched against external records from HM Land Registry, Local Authorities and other important data sources. As with all machine learning, the tool is continually being fed data, trained and updated.

Search Acumen’s introduction of machine learning is already helping law firms and their clients avoid delays and respond more efficiently to the latest surge in demand. The address cleansing tool is now available to all users of Search Acumen’s Portfolio Cloud service – the first technology platform underpinned by AI which allows law firms to create and manage search requirements for entire property portfolios in a single interface.

Search Acumen has simultaneously deployed machine learning to bolster its Customer Support team in delivering the best possible service to its commercial and residential clients at a particularly busy time.

The tool cuts the current processing time of search requests down significantly by categorising emails and attachments and forwarding data to the correct location. The technology is capable of filtering and combining the contents of unlimited emails and attachments received from Local Authorities and other external sources in one place in seconds. It is being constantly fed information so that in future, it can manage the Customer Service’s mailbox without intervention and at great speed without error, freeing up the Customer Support team to focus on delivering the best service to clients.

Andrew Lloyd, Managing Director at Search Acumen said: “We are at a tipping point in the property industry and now is the moment for us all to come together and support the shift towards digital once and for all. We have seen several innovations arise to facilitate property transactions under Covid-19 and collaboration will be key in harnessing these, giving consumers and businesses a faster, simpler and more reliable service.

“We have long been advocates of AI, machine learning and other transformative technologies to streamline and accelerate vital legal real estate processes. While there has been a lot of talk and hype around AI, very few are walking the walk and putting words into actions for the benefit of conveyancers and commercial real estate lawyers. The development of our first machine learning tools is an industry first, which shows how applying technology in daily workflows can radically improve tasks that are often frustrating, frequently mundane and absolutely essential to get right without delay.

“We are already seeing significant cost and time saving benefits for our clients. Rather than replacing jobs, the introduction of AI and machine learning to property transactions enables lawyers and support staff to get back to their role as expert consultants and provide first-class service to their clients.

“This is the first stage in our transition to becoming a business with AI and machine learning at its core.  Having also been part of the world’s first blockchain trial for property transactions, we are committed to equipping real estate lawyers with the tools and techniques to embrace the digital age and make the due diligence process fit-for-purpose for the 21st Century.”

 

[Source: This article was published in showhouse.co.uk By Isla MacFarlane - Uploaded by the Association Member: Dorothy Allen]

Categorized in Search Techniques

Google has been trying to make the search results that people could end up using far more organized for a long time now, and part of this has involved creating headers. This header can help search results into different categories sorted into a wide range of tabs including overview and history, and this can help user get the specific type of information that they might actually have been looking for at that current point in time.

This might also help make these headers seem a bit more prominent rather than just being components of a search card that is shown to you after you have made a particular kind of search all in all. Each header does have a distinct aspect to it when it comes to the specific type of information that it would end up using which means that separating them into unique bubbles might just make it easier for people to realize what these categories are for in the first place. Google is trying to increase engagement in some way, shape or form, and while some may argue that the search engine might be better off pursuing other options other would acknowledge that this is a reasonably effective way to go about things.

[Source: This article was published in digitalinformationworld.com By Zia Muhammad - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jason bourne]

Categorized in Search Engine

Google has admitted to regulators in other jurisdictions that the average share that accrues to the company from ad revenues is roughly 30 percent

A little after the US Department of Justice issued an antitrust action against Search Engine Google's alleged monopolistic behaviour in the web search, there are indications that its advertising practices might also be looked at closely. This would have deep implications in India.

According to a LiveMint report, about 65 to 70 percent of India's digital ad market is controlled by two companies - Google and Facebook.

Google has admitted to regulators in other jurisdictions that the average share that accrues to the company from ad revenues is roughly 30 percent, this is about the percentage that the search engine was to charge as a Play Store fee that found several startups protesting the move.

“Almost every ad that appears on every free app (on the Android ecosystem) has to essentially pass via Google," said Anupam Manur, who studies platform economics at Takshashila Institution, a think tank.

“Google has a near-monopoly on apps that run on Android," Manur said to the paper.

Reports hint that DoJ investigators have been in talks with third-party ad marketers in the US at least since the beginning of this year. The UK and Australia are also looking at Google’s dominance in digital advertising.

As ads become the central driver for the internet economy, the search engine has also seen this reflected in their revenues as it remains the main source of Google's profitability.

From ads, Google has reported $116.3 billion in advertising revenue (85 percent of overall sales) last year, the report said.

According to Smriti Parsheera, a tech policy researcher with the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), it is clear that Google is a dominant player in both (web) search and search advertising.

"This is an issue that has already been decided by a case before the Competition Commission of India, in which Google was fined (in 2018)," said Parasheera, adding that the question is whether it is using this dominance in anti-competitive ways.

[Source: This article was published in moneycontrol.com - Uploaded by the Association Member: Anthony Frank]

Categorized in Search Engine

 These days everyone is spending more time online. Whether working from home or spending nearly every working hour in front of a computer screen, the internet has become an indispensable part of our social and professional lives.

Hackers, scammers, and cybercriminals lurk everywhere. They are the dark web denizens, who spy, pose, steal identities through a variety of tech-savvy and old fashioned flim-flam subterfuge, and endanger everyone’s online safety.

So, staying safe online is a three-pronged approach: 1) threat awareness, 2) shoring up defenses, and 3) staying off the threat radar by using a VPN from this page https://surfshark.com/servers/uk

Threat Awareness

Today’s online threats range from simple social engineering—email phishing, etc.-- to sophisticated backdoor attacks—Zero-day attacks, bots, Trojans, etc. In the leapfrog battle between cyber criminals and the professional defenders who provide online security that users need, the average user can become part of that defense.

Shoring up you online defenses

Here are 10 steps you can take to stay safe online:

1. Beware of browser-based social engineering

In browser social engineering, the victim clicks on a legitimate appearing web link. The link triggers a download through vulnerabilities in browser plug-in weaknesses inherent in programs like Java and Flash.

So, surfing the web can be hazardous to your privacy and security. Malicious websites can contain so-called drive-by downloads requiring absolutely no interaction other than visiting the infected page. The page will contain an exploit kit, which is prewritten code designed to search for software vulnerabilities and inject malware into the victim's computer.

2. Only visit HTTPS secured websites

Look for the little padlock icon in the top left corner next to the URL on the web browser address line. It signifies that the connection between the user and the website is encrypted. While it does not guarantee absolute safety, the HTTPS is the best option to maximize online privacy.

The best advice is to limit browsing as much as possible on unsecured sites, and never do online transactions on those unsecured pages.

3. Always log out of websites after use.

Log out of social media accounts, email clients, and online banking accounts when finished. Closing the browser window without logging off keeps the user signed in until the connection times out, which provides a window of opportunity to a potential hacker.

4. Keep social media accounts private

A public Instagram account allows anyone with an internet connection and knowledge of the user’s handle to find that user for online stalking. Loading a Facebook account with detailed personal information with stories, photos, and information on friends and families is the bait that phishing scammers and spam ad targeters rely on to invade the user’s privacy.

5. Don’t become a socially engineered “phish.”

Social Engineering is an especially popular way to deliver malware. It relies on human curiosity and emotions and tries to trick the user into downloading intrusive malware or visiting a compromised website that hosts drive-by attacks.

 

A socially engineered email message, for example, can contain scare tactics like "Your bank account has been compromised! Please change your password immediately" Clicking on the email link takes the user to a fake sign-in page. The user is tricked into entering authentic user and password information.

There are variations on the phishing theme, which include:

  • Spear phishing based on the hacker's knowledge of the victim or organization. The attacks are focused on knowledge gained about the victim from public or social media. They have an air of authenticity because fraud perpetrators customize their attack emails with the person's name, position, organization, and other information.
  • Whaling, which is a type of spear phishing that targets CEOs (i.e., “big fish”). The top official compromises login credentials, which begins phase 2 of the scam. In phase 2 the attacker impersonates the boss and uses the CEO’s email to authorize fraudulent financial transactions, for example.
  • Pharming, which is the targeting of an authentic web site and changing its IP address to redirect users to a malicious website. This can occur even if the victim enters the authentic alphabetical name of the website.

6. Install the latest antivirus software and antispyware technology.

 

Commercial grade antivirus software is the first line of defense against hidden malware. State-of-the-art antivirus software performs on-demand malware scans, and immediately scans a file or website when the user opens or enters it. Also, reputable antivirus software will block malicious web links, provide basic phishing protection and perform periodic system vulnerability scans.

7. Use the computer operating system’s built-in protection.

Both Windows 10 and MacOSX have file encryption and automatic firewall features. Some features are installed by default; others must be activated. Encrypting the computer’s hard drive will protect everything stored on a computer. If a laptop is lost or stolen, the files cannot be read. Also, a firewall is an essential connection protector and monitors all traffic entering the network.

 

8. Avoid public Wi-Fi networks, the major source of Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attacks.

During an MITM attack a hacker gets between or eavesdrops on two parties. Each party believes they are talking only to each other. So, the MITM attacker could take over a conversation and trick the victim into disclosing personal identification or security credentials.

MITM attackers employ a variety of strategies which allow them to:

  • detect and access unsecured networks
  • send victims to fake websites through spoofing a DNS address
  • hijack session cookies which have unsecured login information to help them steal a victim’s email account.
  • detect online activity through “sniffing” software and quickly launch a MITM attack
  • employ a cleverly spoofed web application to fool the user into disclosing login credentials.

 

The best protection against MITM attacks is to never connect to a public Wi-Fi server. However using a VPN will protect the user’s privacy when using a public Wi-Fi is the only option.

9. Use strong passwords.

Passwords are the padlocks that can slow or even defeat unauthorized entry to online accounts. As a general rule, the longer a password is, the harder it is to crack. Longer passwords are more resistant to brute-force password cracking. That is where hackers use software to guess every possible combination of letters and numbers to hack a user's password.

While complexity--a variety of characters--in passwords might seem to provide more security than simple but longer ones, the opposite is true. Take the seemingly complex password "kqwbc932," for example. A brute-force attack would be able to crack it in about 11 minutes. However, a simple pass phrase like "i own 2 CATS and 1 dog" would be secure virtually forever.

The best password advice, then, is to compose an easy to remember, but unusual sentence. Use the first letters of the words in the sentence with punctuation as the password. For example, "My dad's favorite program in 1970 was “All in the Family" would become "Mydadsfpw1970wAitF."

Also, when available, use both a traditional password accompanied by some other follow-up authentication that an intruder cannot access or use. This could be anything from receiving a secure smartphone or email text with a single-use additional access code, or by answering a personal question.

As an additional safeguard, use a ridiculous answer to a personal authentication question. Example: "Q: What is the name of the city in which you were married? A: Lower Slobovia."

Then there are some common sense password hygiene practices, which include:

  • Never write the password and tape it in plain sight or other obvious places, like beneath the computer keyboard.
  • Use a different password for access to every site and every device.
  • Use the browser password manager or password management software to store multiple passwords. Password management software can generate random, impossible-to-hack passwords for quick and convenient access.

10. Back up everything.

No one is completely immune from downloading a virus or falling for a clever ransomware ruse. Hackers exploit weak points, and those weak points are usually people, who want to be helpful and cooperative. So, when the breach occurs, the best insurance for restoring everything to normal and quickly is a reliable system backup.

The backup can either be offsite or local. The key is to isolate the backup method and storage from the main system, because malware will frequently look for backup devices and go after them as well.

Use a VPN as the third element of online security

A virtual private network directs all internet connectivity through a secure and encrypted tunnel. Internet service providers and other snoopers wanting to detect the user’s online activity see only meaningless, encrypted garble when VPN is in use.

Benefits of the VPNs encrypted connection include:

Masking of the user’s IP address and login location

Defeating man-in-the-middle attacks (see Step 8 above) on public Wi-Fi locations

Accessing blocked content and net censorship in certain countries through logging into remote VPN servers

Summary and Takeaways

Staying safe online requires a knowledge of the threat, employing the proper defenses, and using the encrypted browsing of a VPN. Today’s threats involve social engineering and traps online through poisoned websites.

Shoring up online defense means safe browsing using only HTTPS secured websites, logging off sites when finished, and keeping media accounts private. Also, be aware of the types of phishing traps that rely on inside information as well as social engineering that relies on a person’s natural desire to cooperate and be helpful.

Then there are measures that can protect the user’s equipment from online hazards. Install the best anti-virus software and use the computer operating system’s built-in safeguards.

Avoid unprotected public Wi-Fi networks and use strong password strategies. Finally, remember to back up everything, and do it off site or isolated from the main system.

[Source: This article was published in greenocktelegraph.co.uk  - Uploaded by the Association Member: Joshua Simon]

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Bing is rolling out several updates to improve key search features including autosuggest, people also ask, and intelligent answers.

Bing is improving several key search features with updates designed to provide users with a wider range of results.

Now, when users search using Bing, they can expect to see:

  • Better autosuggest predictions
  • More ‘people also ask’ recommendations
  • Intelligent answers in more regions
  • Semantic highlighting in search snippets

Each of these updates are made possible due to advancements Microsoft has made in the areas of Natural Language Representation and Natural Language Generation.

Here’s how these updates will enhance the Bing search experience going forward.

Better Autosuggest Predictions

A new technology called Next Phrase Prediction is being integrated into Bing’s autosuggest feature.

 

What that means for users is Bing can now provide full phrase suggestions in real time for long queries.

Previously, Bing’s approach to handling autosuggestions for longer queries was limited to completing the current word being typed by the user.

Now, Bing can generate phrase suggestions for long queries before a user starts typing the next word.

Here are some examples of suggestions that Bing wouldn’t have been able to show previously.

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In addition, since phrase suggestions are being generated in real-time, autosuggest results are no longer limited to previously entered queries.

As a result of this update, coverage of autosuggest completions increases considerably, which improves the overall search experience.

More Questions in ‘People Also Ask’

Bing can now generate question-answer pairs in the People Also Ask (PAA) block for queries that haven’t been entered before.

“We use a high-quality generative model on billions of documents to generate question-answer pairs that are present within those documents.

Later, when the same documents appear on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP), we use the previously generated question-answer pairs to help populate the PAA block, in addition to existing similar questions that have previously been asked.”

This update allows for greater exploration of search results by asking more questions instead of just browsing documents.

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Expanding Intelligent Answers

Bing is expanding intelligent answers to 100 languages and 200+ regions, which covers almost every area Bing is available in.

Previously, Bing’s intelligent answers were only available in 13 markets.

Bing’s intelligent answers are similar Google’s quick answers. The key difference is Bing’s intelligent answers are only displayed when the same answer is backed up by multiple trusted sources.

Google’s quick answers, on the other hand, are pulled from a single source.

Semantic Highlighting in Search Snippets

Bing is improving search snippets in all markets with a feature called semantic highlighting.

This feature allows Bing to highlight words in snippets beyond simple keyword matching.

Semantic highlighting is designed to help users find information faster without having to read through the entire snippet.

Previously, Bing’s ability to highlight snippets was limited to matching the exact keywords a user typed in the query.

“Highlighting the answer in a caption is similar to Stanford’s Machine Reading Comprehension test in which Microsoft was the first to reach human parity on the benchmark.

With Universal Semantic Highlighting, we can identify and highlight answers within captions, and do it not just for English but for all languages.”

Here is an example for the query “what temperature is a fever for coronavirus.”

ac.png

Notice how Bing doesn’t highlight the words used in the query.

Rather, Bing highlights the answer the user is looking for (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

Expect updates similar to these in the future as Microsoft continues to make advancements in natural language processing.

[Source: This article was published in searchenginejournal.com By Matt Southern - Uploaded by the Association Member: Daniel K. Henry]

Categorized in Search Engine

Ever Google search for your own name? Even if you haven’t, there’s a good chance that a friend, family member or potential employer will at some point. And when they do, do you know everything that they’ll find?

Google is chock full of personal information you may not always want public. Whether it’s gathered by the search engine itself or scummy people-search websites, you have a right to know what kind of data other people can access when they look up your name. Tap or click here to see how to remove yourself from people search sites.

What others see about you online can mean the difference in landing a job or spending more time looking for one. If you want to take control of your reputation online, here’s why you need to start searching for yourself before others beat you to it.

Use exact phrases to find more than mentions

To get started with searching yourself on Google, it’s important to know how to search for exact phrases. This means telling Google you want to look up the words you typed exactly as you typed them — with no splitting terms or looking up one word while ignoring others.

To do this, simply search for your name (or any term) in quotation marks. As an example, look up “Kim Komando” and include quotation marks. Now, Google won’t show results for Kim Kardashian along with Komando.com.

Using exact phrases will weed out results for other people with similar names to yours. If you have a more common name, you may have to go through several pages before finding yourself.

If you aren’t finding anything or your name is very common, use your name plus modifiers like the city or state you live in, the names of your school(s), the name of the company you work for or other details. Make note of anything that you don’t feel comfortable with others finding and either write down the web addresses or bookmark them.

A picture says a thousand words

After you’ve saved the websites you want to go over, switch over to Google’s Image Search and scan through any pictures of you. It’s much easier to look through hundreds of images quickly versus hundreds of links, and you might be surprised at the images and websites you find.

If you find an image that concerns you, you can run a reverse image search to see where it’s hosted. To do this, follow these steps:

  • Open Google Image Search and click the Camera icon in the search bar
  • Paste a link to the image or upload the image you want to search for.
  • Your results will be shown as a combination of images and relevant websites. If an exact match is found, it will populate at the top of your results.

If the image has no text on it or any identifying information, don’t worry. Your image can turn up even if it only has your face.

Where you are and where you’ve been

Next, you’ll want to run a search for your past and current email addresses and phone numbers. This helps you see which sites have access to this personal data and will also show you what others can find if they look this information up.

 

If you’ve ever signed up for a discussion board or forum with your personal email address, your post history could easily show up if someone Googles you. The same can be said for social media pages and blogs. Find and make note of any posts or content that you’d prefer to make private.

Finally, run a search for your social media account usernames. Try to remember any usernames you may have used online and look those up. For example, if you search for the username “kimkomando,” you’ll turn up Kim’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram accounts.

If you can’t remember, try searching for your name (as an exact phrase in quotation marks) plus the social network you want to look up. This might reveal accounts that you forgot about or that are less private than you think. If your real name is visible anywhere, it probably falls into this category.

Keep track going forward

If you want to stay on top of information that pops up about you on social media (or the rest of the web), you can set up a free Google Alert for your name. It’s an easy way to keep tabs on your online reputation.

Here’s how to set up a Google Alert for your name:

  • Visit Google.com/alerts and type what you want Google to alert you about in the search bar.
  • Click Show options to change settings for frequency, sources, language and region. You can also specify how many results you want and where you want them delivered.
  • Click Create Alert to start receiving alerts on yourself or other search topics you’re interested in.

Bonus: What does Google know about me?

And last but not least, let’s take a moment to address data that Google itself keeps on you. By default, Google records every search you enter, your location (if you use Google Maps), video-watching history and searches from YouTube, and much more.

Anyone who knows your Google Account email and digs deep enough can learn plenty about your online activities. If you haven’t visited your Google Account and privacy settings in a while, now’s the time to do it.

Now that you’ve searched for yourself and taken note of content that people can see if they look you up, it’s time to take things a step further and actually remove any data that you don’t want public. Want to know how? Just follow along for part two of our guide to Google-searching yourself.

[Source: This article was published in komando.com By KOMANDO STAFF - Uploaded by the Association Member: David J. Redcliff]

Categorized in Search Engine

Bug causes search UI to display random Bing results

We’ve known for a while that integrating the web search in the default Windows 10 search experience isn’t necessarily the best way to go, but here’s more evidence in this regard if you still needed it.

Some users are now seeing random web results in the search box whenever they search for a specific keyword. By the looks of things, the displayed Bing results have nothing to do with the keyword that was provided in the search box.

Several Windows 10 users have confirmed in this reddit thread that the bug happens on their devices too, and some say that a simple reboot of the computer fixes the whole thing.

In one case, simply searching for “S” in the Windows 10 search UI indeed provides a link to the Settings app, but the web search returns results that have nothing to with such a term. One of the results is a Wikipedia link for the “W” keyword.

Just disable Bing results

At this point, it’s not exactly clear what’s happening, but if a system reboot doesn’t bring things to normal, you can just disable Bing results from the Windows 10 search experience completely.

To do this, just launch the Registry Editor and look for the following path:

Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer

Just create a new DWORD (if it’s not there already) that is called DisableSearchBoxSuggestions and then set its value to 1. Reboot your computer and the web search results should no longer be offered in the Windows 10 search experience.

The aforementioned bug seems to be happening on all Windows 10 versions, including the May 2020 Update whose rollout is still under way. There’s a chance that the bug is caused by a server problem, as the recent cumulative updates are unlikely to be the ones to blame for the whole thing.

 

[Source: This article was published in news.softpedia.com By Bogdan Popa - Uploaded by the Association Member: Dorothy Allen]

Categorized in Internet Search
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