privacy Archive

Edward Snowden Reveals Backdoors Planted by NSA Can be Leveraged by Outsiders

Whistleblower Edward Snowden is still captivating us with information that the NSA allegedly hides from us and one of the latest findings is what backdoors planted by the NSA can be leveraged by others. This information comes to us as Snowden uses a Beam telepresence robot at the TED Conference in Vancouver.

Snowden documents that were published back in September of 2013 uncover the “Bullrun” classified program, which is said to have a goal to break the encryption that is used to protect internet communications. Through such a program it is claimed that the NSA intentionally misleads corporate partners so they can safeguard the system but it is actually bad advice as it may degrade the quality of service.

In reality, as reports have recently said in regards to Snowden’s documents, backdoors are being built that not only the NSA can exploit, but others who have the proper resources and time can do also. This means those with the right tools could ultimately attack companies who are left vulnerable because of backdoors leveraged by the NSA.

“The NSA has traditionally worn two hats; it’s been in charge of offensive operations and defensive operations. Usually, it prioritizes defense over offense; American secrets are worth more,” Snowden explained.

Just the other week reports published by The Intercept showed that the NSA has processes that could enable them to plant malware on millions of systems around the world. With the use of backdoors leveraged by the NSA it could open up all sorts of outsiders to perform these malicious actions against companies potentially collecting private data that could allow cybercrooks to infiltrate online systems including banking systems.

The vast uncertainty and unknown realm of the NSA perpetuations almost everyday as Snowden documents are sifted through and other classified information is leaked.

Popularity: 5%

Mobile Device Privacy Debate Heats Up: Apple, Google Summoned to Senate Hearing

By now you have probably seen on the news or a media website reporting that the Apple iPhone can track your location potentially evading your privacy. Lately there has been a big uproar about privacy and the US Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission and others are now having a conversation about all of the hoopla involving iPhones and other mobile devices and their ability to track locations without the user knowing about it.

Senator Al Franken has summoned Apple and Google to participate in an upcoming hearing with the Judiciary Subcommittee to talk about privacy, mainly Mobile device privacy.

iphone-privacy

“Recent advances in mobile technology have allowed Americans to stay connected like never before and put an astonishing number of resources at our fingertips,” Franken said in a statement. “But the same technology that has given us smartphones, tablets, and cell phones has also allowed these devices to gather extremely sensitive information about users, including detailed records of their daily movements and location. This hearing is the first step in making certain that federal laws protecting consumers’ privacy-particularly when it comes to mobile devices-keep pace with advances in technology.”

Sure the media has attempted to make a mountain out of a mole hill in talking about how the iPhone purportedly records your location and it can be retrieved in some form or fashion. What Apple may be claiming is that data is only accessible by the iPhone user but we all know if there is a way hackers will find it.

So far, Google nor Apple have admitted to being summoned by Franken to go over these ‘Privacy issues’.

What do you think about iPhone and other mobile device privacy? Is it a major issue? Should they address it NOW instead of later when several lawsuits are smacking Apple in the face?

Popularity: 14%

Are Facebook’s New and Simplified Privacy Controls Enough?

facebook-privacy-changesMany of us would agree that Facebook’s privacy controls and settings were rather complex and in the end revealed too much private information to the world. Now with Facebook making a change Wednesday to simply and improve privacy controls it still leaves some users worried about their private data on Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO, admitted that the privacy settings were complex and as a result decided to make Facebook users happy by implementing a change that includes the following.

  • One simple control – One control that sets privacy up for all friends, everyone or friends of friends.
  • The one control applies to all content now.
  • The new control plays to all new features of Facebook going forward now.
  • Granular controls are still available for the users who liked them.
  • With a simple click you can ‘set’ your privacy settings.

Facebook as also changed the Basic Directory Information. All of the ‘connection’ settings have been removed as it confused many members. This means it will be less publicly available information and you will have real privacy controls. In addition, friends will still be able to find you.

Platform sharing has also changed with the latest privacy settings overhaul. There is now an option to fully opt out for platform and instant personalization.

Facebook as provided new details and examples of these changes along with a granular permissions model. You can research this information for yourself and I have to admit, some of it is less confusing than it use to be but be rest assured, some people will still find it difficult.

What it comes down to is users taking out the time to actually ‘change’ their settings now that they have been simplified. If no action is taken, then it means a user could still be telling something that they thought was private on Facebook.

Popularity: 6%

Quit Facebook Day: Naysayers or a Mass Exodus?

quit-facebook-day-just-say-noSo you may or may not have heard about the “Quit Facebook Day” website or idea that on May 31, 2010 that a large group of people have made a commitment to delete their Facebook account for either privacy issues or concern that Facebook will over-take the world.

Okay, so Facebook now has over 400 million users. Great. But that does not give them the “power” to conquer world domination. Maybe these people are right, their personal information is plastered all over the internet. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t the internet a public area and Facebook is basically a public forum? When did people get the notion that their information posted on a “public forum” would be private?

Facebook gives you several options and different ways to manage your information. Some may not be fair choices but never-the-less, they are so kind to provide “privacy” settings. Quitting Facebook for some is like quitting smoking. It will take almost an act of congress to quit the habit. For others, they are quite fed-up about how their information is shared over the internet.

The Quit Facebook Day website has only grown to just over 4000 followers who have made the choice to quit Facebook come May 31st. Wow, 4,000 people, I am sure that’s going to worry Mark Zuckerburg to death (sarcasm here if you have not noticed already). The question comes down to this. Can you really live without Facebook? Will your friends on Facebook understand your frustration?

Facebook wants your data and they want to share it. Facebook is not like Windows. You may not like Microsoft but you probably still use their software just about every day. Same thing with Facebook. Zuckerburg can be compared to Bill Gates, both goofy Harvard frat boys. Both now have a reputation for being a ruthless businessman even though I am still not sure how Facebook is really making any money.

So, on May 31st will you join the “Quit Facebook Day” group or will you be like me and update your Facebook status wishing everyone else a happy “Quit Facebook Day”?

Popularity: 7%

Facebooks Privacy Secrets and over 170 Settings to Confuse You

facebook-addiction-syringe-1Facebook has been confronted with several privacy concerns lately and a new chart has been released to clear up any confusion someone may have in regards to their personal information on Facebook. Everyone and their mother is addicted to Facebook but who really cares about privacy? I know I do.

In an effort to help clear privacy setting issues up… a new chart has been revealed with all of the Facebook Privacy settings all laid out. After looking at the provided charts posted on the NYTimes website, it has still left me a bit concerned and scratching my head. You see, there is about 50 settings that have over 170 configurable options for privacy settings on Facebook. With that many settings I think it would be almost impossible to assured that your settings have locked down every shred of personal or identifiable information on Facebook with this many privacy setting combinations. It is almost like configuring the space shuttle for launch… images private… GO, wall private… GO, personal info private… GO, and so on.

Facebook’s Privacy Statements have increased from 1,004 words in 2005 to about 5,830 words this year in 2010. Wonder what else they had to express that took up so many words? That’s longer than the United States Constitution!

Facebook Privacy Policy word-count chart - Click for full size

Facebook Privacy Policy word-count chart - Click for full size

Check out the Facebook Privacy settings charts below. See if you become just as confused as I did.

Facebook Privacy Settings Chart - Click for full size

Facebook Privacy Settings Chart - Click for full size

Are you confused yet?

Popularity: 17%