Posts Tagged ‘Personal privacy’

Twitter Logo1 Twitter to start spying on your apps (and how to turn it off)Twitter have unveiled their plans to start collecting information on the apps that users have upon their phones and tablet devices.

They reckon it would allow them to monitor and target Twitter users with specially tailored advertising. Sounds like spying and invading people’s privacy to us, but that’s the internet for you.

According to a post on Twitter’s help page, Twitter said it would target people who use its app on all mobile devices that run Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems.

It continues: “To help build a more personal Twitter experience for you, we are collecting and occasionally updating the list of apps installed on your mobile device so we can deliver tailored content that you might be interested in.”

The social network claim that they will only collect names of applications that users, um, use, rather than the contents and data from them, so the social media behemoth can help to build graph data to personalise each tweeter’s Twitter experience.

Twitter will automatically opt its users into the new data collection service, but if you’d like to turn it off, here’s how.

How to turn this feature off and remove my data from Twitter

If you use Twitter for Android:

Tap the overflow icon (the thing in the top right that looks like three dots)
Hit ‘Settings’
Tap the account you’d like to tinker with
Under ‘Other’, you can adjust the setting to ‘Tailor Twitter’ based on your apps

If you use Twitter for iOS:

From the Me tab, press the cog button
Hit ‘Settings’
Click on the account you’d like to edit
Under ‘Privacy’, you can adjust the setting to ‘Tailor Twitter’ based on your apps.

WhatsApp goes on lockdown!

November 19th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

whatsapp WhatsApp goes on lockdown!WhatsApp will now have encrypted messages from now, which is a boon for those who are concerned about personal privacy when chatting and sending photos of their junk to hook-ups. Of course, governments and spy-agencies won’t be at all happy about this, as they get jumpy and start shouting ‘TERRORISTS!’ as soon as anyone hides what they’re talking about.

WhatsApp said that this is the “largest deployment of end-to-end encryption ever.” What that means, in English, is that your messages are safe from people listening-in, unless of course, WhatsApp have a deal with someone where they’ll pass all that information on. Seeing as they’re owned by Facebook, you’d be daft to not indulge that in your thoughts.

Thus far, it’ll only work on Android and is limited to one-on-one text-only chats. So group chats and photos are not as locked down.

Whisper Systems – the company behind the software which is being used to encrypt your WhatsApp messages – have said: ”We have a ways to go until all mobile platforms are fully supported, but we are moving quickly towards a world where all WhatsApp users will get end-to-end encryption by default.”

It does look like chat-apps are all working toward utilising this kind of encryption, which is a headache for the NSA and GCHQ. In their eyes, the only people who should have encrypted messages are government officials and people like the FBI.

Hard cheese.

Facebook get blunt about privacy

November 14th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Facebook get blunt about privacyWe all know that Facebook have a troubling time of it when it comes to user-privacy. With that, they’ve decided to tell everyone about their terms in plain English. And the rub of it is that they’re selling you as a person to advertisers.

Also: pope confirms religious preference.

If you want to see Facebook’s new “privacy basics”, then they’ve set up a little thing online. It’s reasonably patronising, so if you want something that’s aimed at adults who can read, then check this.

So, in the ‘plain English’ version, Facebook say: “We want our advertising to be as relevant and interesting as the other information you find on our services. With this in mind, we use all of the information we have about you to show you relevant ads.”

That doesn’t sound to bad does it? If you read the same thing in the ‘adult version’, it sounds a bit more grim: “You give us permission to use your name, profile picture, content, and information in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us. This means, for example, that you permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information, without any compensation to you.”

Facebook want users to give them feedback on all this, which you can do here. That is providing, of course, you have any faith in Facebook actually listening to you. You’ve got until November 20th to get your feelings on Facebook’s privacy rules in.

Government snooping on your Facebook

November 5th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Government snooping on your FacebookGovernment requests for access to your Facebook data have gone up by 24% in the first six months of 2014.

Governments made 34,946 requests for data, Facebook said in its latest transparency report, which was up 24% from the second half of 2013.

The Government are allowed to see what you’ve been having a say about, should they fancy it, and can do something about it should they wish, and you’ll be none the wiser. Chances are they won’t because you’ve probably spent half your time using it to organise nights out or to flirt with someone who isn’t interested in you at all.

Facebook was also forced to restrict access to about 19% more content than it had before thanks to local laws, due to content having some form of untoward activity featured in it.

Someone with quite a bit of time on their hands, compiled the requests by country, and the U.S. was responsible for 15,433 of them – covering 23,667 users and/or accounts. Most of those requests were search warrants (7,676) and subpoenas (6,088) – of which 84% and 80% were granted, respectively.

A nameless drone from Facebook, clearly unaware of the irony, said “As we’ve said before, we scrutinize every government request we receive for legal sufficiency under our terms and the strict letter of the law, and push back hard when we find deficiencies or are served with overly broad requests.”

That’d be the company that makes you feel miserable for experiments and nearly forced drag queens to use their real names on the site. That’s how much they care.

So a handy tip here would be “don’t be a dick on Facebook”. If Facebook could follow the same advice, that would be lovely.

Snappening: Snapchat leak is real

October 13th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

snapchat 300x300 Snappening: Snapchat leak is realThe Snapchat nudes leak is a real thing, now dubbed ‘The Snappening’ after the iCloud leak was referred to as ‘The Fappening’.

Videos and images of around 200,000 people, which were stored on a third party website, have been put online. This time, it doesn’t just focus on celebrities.

It appears the third party site in question is Snapsaved.com, which allows users to grab a screenshot of the Snapchat images that usually expire after a few seconds.

Snapsaved appears to have saved not only the images, but also, the users’ login details so that, in the torrent that stores all the images, you can search for images under people’s usernames. This third party is not to be confused with Snapsave, which only stores images on the phone of the user.

4chan, as ever, were the ones to announce the 13 gigabytes of images, but one of the problems here is that much of the content could be from underage users, meaning that anyone who distributes the photos or hosts them, could be in legal trouble for hosting child porn or sexual images of minors.

In a statement, Snapchat said that: “We can confirm that Snapchat’s servers were never breached and were not the source of these leaks. Snapchatters were victimised by their use of third party apps to send and receive Snaps, a practice that we explicitly prohibit in our terms of use precisely because they compromise our users’ security.”

Snapchat hacked: Prepare the n00dz

October 10th, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

snapchat 300x300 Snapchat hacked: Prepare the n00dzAfter the huge celebrity leak of photos, dubbed ‘The Fappening’, looks like we’re due ‘The Snappening’ as rumours abound that hackers have got a load of Snapchat photos and plan release all the mucky, naked ones that match with usernames.

They’ll be available on October 12th on a torrent.

According to reports, the hackers have a 13GB library of snaps from a third-party app which allows users to save Snapchats without the sender knowing.

Snapchat know about the leak: “We can confirm that Snapchat’s servers were never breached and were not the source of these leaks. Snapchatters were victimized by their use of third-party apps to send and receive Snaps, a practice that we expressly prohibit in our Terms of Use precisely because they compromise our users’ security. We vigilantly monitor the App Store and Google Play for illegal third-party apps and have succeeded in getting many of these removed.”

Snapchat are deflecting blame away from themselves, but if they were really vigilant, they should’ve got third party apps removed from app stores or something.

What should worry people though is that a lot of young people use Snapchat, which means anyone looking at any potential leaks could basically be looking at compromising images of underage kids.

Google+ will stop forcing you to do things

September 22nd, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

google plus logo Google+ will stop forcing you to do thingsGood news Googlers – you no longer have to have a Google+ account tied in with your activities.

Google are said to have quietly snuffed out the service, which demands you tell it everything during the sign-up process, and then chains itself to your radiator* (*every move on the internet).

Now when you create a new Google account, there’s the option of signing up for a G+ account. And now, you can instead use the new “No thanks” button, and they’ll be on their way.

It doesn’t mean the end of the network, oh no, it’s suggested that they will continue to perservere with it, and improving aspects such as Google Hangouts.

But it sort of gives the idea that Google may not be arsed at foisting it on people willy nilly, and accept that it will never be the level that Twitter and Facebook enjoy.

However you can carry on ignoring it as usual, but it may hamper you leaving app reviews and uploading videos to YouTube and that.

A Google spokesperson said: “We updated the signup experience in early September. Users can now create a public profile during signup, or later, if and when they share public content for the first time (like a restaurant review, YouTube video or Google+ post).”

5 million Gmail adresses and passwords dumped online

September 11th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

gmail logo stylized 300x300 5 million Gmail adresses and passwords dumped onlineNearly 5 million Gmail addresses and plain text passwords was posted on a forum this week, which is a massive pain in the arse for someone – probably the person who has to answer questions at Google about security breaches and the like.

Someone called ‘tvskit’ posted the archive file on a Bitcoin security forum called btcsec.com, which you can imagine, is a riotous read and will keep you entertained for literally seconds. They reckon that over 60% of the credentials in the file are valid.

“We can’t confirm that it is indeed as much as 60%, but a great amount of the leaked data is legitimate,” said Peter Kruse, the chief technology officer of CSIS Security Group. “We believe the data doesn’t originate from Google directly. Instead it’s likely it comes from various sources that have been compromised.”

What that means is, Google haven’t been hacked, but rather, accounts on other sites where people have used their Gmail addresses as the user name have been obtained.

Google said: “The security of our users is of paramount importance to us. We have no evidence that our systems have been compromised, but whenever we become aware that an account has been compromised, we take steps to help our users secure their accounts.”

In conclusion, here’s the usual ‘you might want to change your password on sites where you’ve used your Gmail address as a user name’ advice.

How to keep your nudes safe from being hacked

September 1st, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

naked selfie How to keep your nudes safe from being hackedAs you’re no doubt aware, Jennifer Lawrence has had some naked selfies stolen from her, and according to the very reputable 4chan, they were swiped by someone hacking her iCloud account. If you haven’t seen the photos, then chances are we’ve lost you and you’re burrowing into a search engine now, looking for boobs.

How can you keep your cloud accounts safe? If you have an account with iCloud, Dropbox or Google+, you might find that they automatically upload and save your images.

First thing to do is to make sure your password doesn’t get stolen or is difficult to guess. That’s blindingly obvious, but worth mentioning. Change your passwords regularly and make sure they’re not words, but rather, a collection of letters, numbers and symbols.

It doesn’t matter how safe cloud accounts are made if your password is 123456 or ‘password’.

Another thing you can do is make sure that you switch off the automatic backup services. In all Apple devices, you can disable Photostream. If you turn it off, it’ll delete any automatically stored images from iCloud. You’ll have to delete any manually shared Photostreams yourself.

With Dropbox, your Android device can be set-up to upload every photo and video you take into the cloud. If that’s not your thing, go to ‘settings’ and turn the option off. You’ll also need to delete them from Dropbox manually.

On Android, G+ and Picasa, you can disable automatic photo backup in the Photos app on your device. You’ll need to go to ‘settings’ then Auto-Backup and then untick ‘Back up local folders’.

Of course, you’re not a celebrity so the chances of someone wanting to hack your account and share your photos are slim. However, if you’re feeling jumpy or just want to disable these functions, now you know how.

You’re still not reading this are you. You’re still looking at boobs.

Want to see where Google have tracked you?

August 18th, 2014 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Google Maps Want to see where Google have tracked you?You know that Google tracks your every movement don’t you? Unless you’ve tinkered with the location settings on your phone, they know where you’ve been going. Including that late night jog you went on… to a massage parlour.

Well, if you didn’t know, there’s a map online, where you can see to what level Google have been following you around.

Of course, many of you will look at your map and realise that you’ve got the life-radius of a beetle tied to a nail, walking around in ever decreasing circles.

You’ll have to log in with your Google account, but once you do, you’ll see a 2D map with a record of where you’ve been for the last month. Whether you think this is a cause for concern is your business, but looking at the map of your recent history might make you feel a bit weird in a Minority Report kinda way.

Have a look at the map of your whereabouts here.

google plus logo Google are scanning emails... but catching child abusersGoogle have been relatively open about how they scan everyone’s emails – it is so they can tailor adverts to customers and make loads of money. However, not everyone is happy about that, especially with all that NSA business.

However, reports say that a Google tip-off from the contents of a Gmail account ended up in the arrest of a child abuser from Texas. Police say Google told the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) about the content in an email sent by John Henry Skillern, who is a registered sex offender.

“He was trying to get around getting caught, he was trying to keep it inside his email,” said Detective David Nettles. “I can’t see that information, I can’t see that photo, but Google can.”

So what’s going on?

Pictures are hashed which creates a unique code for an image. The hash is compared with a database of known child abuse images and, if they match, details are passed to the NCMEC (or, if you’re in Britain, the Internet Watch Foundation, who Google actually give funding to). Then, a trained expert looks at the case and decides whether or not to pass it on to the police.

AOL also employ a similar system and they caught someone sharing illegal images last year.

The moral quandary is that, while the capture of child abusers is absolutely good and noble, Google and others are sifting through everyone’s correspondence and repacking it for advertisers. With Google’s buying of Nest, some people even think that they’ll be able to spy on you via your thermostat (a bit like the Piers Brosnan robot house in The Simpsons).

So what’s the trade off? If you’re not doing anything wrong, should people be scanning your emails? Do you not mind because child abusers can be caught? Is this case being crowed about in a bid to try and distract users from something a bit dodgy going on? Or do we just accept it because this is how the internet works?

Facebook launched their Messenger service not too long ago, in a bid to muscle in on the market that WhatsApp have enjoyed so much. If you have the FB app on your phone, you were pretty much forced to download the Messenger app because Zuckerberg wouldn’t let you read your inbox without it.

Most people weren’t too fussed – it is just another app right?

Well, if you look in the terms and conditions, as spotted by IA there’s some very dodgy looking stuff in there. Not surprising that Facebook are being shady, but it makes for grim reading.

facebook messenger 500x476 Facebook Messenger recording your calls without permission?

As you can see, the t&cs say that having Messenger on your phone allows Facebook to read your phone call log, read data about who you’re contacting and when, and most worryingly, allows Facebook to take pictures and videos without your consent and record audio of your calls.

Of course, there’s still going to be people who aren’t bothered about this because they think their lives are too humdrum to warrant recording, but this is worrying. It isn’t the only app that asks for permissions such as this.

Naturally, you can uninstall the app if this makes you jumpy, or at least toggle the security settings. This seems to be the permissions for the Android version of the app, with the iPhone version being slightly different.

Facebook. Looks like they’re at it again.

david cameron government Hello, emergency laws to monitor your phones and internet useEmergency laws are being brought in next week which will force phone and internet companies to hold records of customers’ calls, texts and visits to websites.

Sounds dodgy doesn’t it? How can a government do something like that? Well, Cameron & Co. have wheeled out the usual excuse of terrorism. See, if the government can snoop on everyone, that’ll stop someone from listening to God and blowing themselves up.

Obviously.

According to Cameron, these fast-tracked measures are absolutely necessary to defend our national security against the threat from Iraq and Syria. If we don’t, the consequences are “grave.” This move is a response to a ruling by the European Court of Justice which struck down regulations that allowed communications companies from storing data for police use for a year. Downing Street reckons that we’re all doomed if phone and internet companies start deleting these records.

“It is the first duty of government to protect our national security and to act quickly when that security is compromised,” David Cameron said. “As events in Iraq and Syria demonstrate, now is not the time to be scaling back on our ability to keep our people safe. The ability to access information about communications and intercept the communications of dangerous individuals is essential to fight the threat from criminals and terrorists targeting the UK. No government introduces fast track legislation lightly. But the consequences of not acting are grave.”

“I want to be very clear that we are not introducing new powers or capabilities – that is not for this Parliament. This is about restoring two vital measures ensuring that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies maintain the right tools to keep us all safe.”

Nick Clegg, a man hired to wander around Whitehall to say ‘does anything need doing? No? Okay. Fancy a pint after? You’re busy? Never mind then’, said these emergency laws “will not be used as an excuse for more powers, or for a ‘snooper’s charter’.”

“Liberty and security must go hand in hand. We can’t enjoy our freedom if we’re unable to keep ourselves safe.”

Tom Watson, meanwhile, isn’t impressed and said on the radio this morning that this is a “stitch up” that denies MPs the chance to be able to scrutinise the legislation: ”This is a secret deal between party leaders. There hasn’t been a bill published, we find out this morning when Parliament is on a one-line whip and MPs are in their constituencies that next week they will railroad through emergency legislation.”

“If you are an MP, you probably shouldn’t bother turning up for work next week because what you think doesn’t really matter. They are ramping up the rhetoric on it but no one in civic society has a chance to form a view on this or lobby their MP or talk to them about it. I understand that Labour’s shadow cabinet is seeing it this morning. They’ve not had a chance to think about it yet.”

Cue: If you’re not doing anything wrong, it doesn’t matter arguments.

facebook mobile 300x200 Regulator probes into Facebook for emotion experimentFacebook – yes, it is still going – have been playing with people’s emotions which is very sinister, even though the company themselves are playing it down by shrugging and goofily saying it didn’t really work and, pschaw! don’t you worry about it!

However, people are worried about it and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is going to investigate. They want to know whether or not Facebook Inc broke data protection laws when they allowed researchers to do a psychological experiment on users of the social network.

Now, Facebook are taking it a little more seriously.

“It’s clear that people were upset by this study and we take responsibility for it. We want to do better in the future and are improving our process based on this feedback. The study was done with appropriate protections for people’s information and we are happy to answer any questions regulators may have,” a Facebook spokesman said.

Here’s the kicker though.

The ICO can levy fines for up to £500,000. Facebook have that kind of money down the back of their sofa, so they’ll probably say sorry, pay the fine and then conduct some more experiments because they’re bored.

Meanwhile, fans of Edward Snowden will be weighing up whether to run around, wailing hysterically about how the baddies are coming to get us or to tweet “Oh, you don’t say?!” sarcastically to their 103 followers.

What has this whole debacle taught us? That everyone, regardless of viewpoint, is annoying.

Vodafone blabs on government spies

June 6th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

spy vs spy tofu prv 2 Vodafone blabs on government spiesVodafone who, in the past, have been big brown-nosers to whichever government asks them for a favour (see their part in the riots in Egypt for more) have started blabbing.

They have revealed that governments around the world are using secret wires to listen-in on phone conversations over their networks.

In the 29 countries where Vodafone operate, governments are using wires connected directly (and permanently) to its network so they can spy on people in real-time, while also tracking the location of individuals. Basically, what Vodafone have said, is that some countries don’t have to make an interception request to spy on people.

This news was revealed ahead of Vodafone publishing a Law Enforcement Disclosure Report.

In a number of countries where Vodafone do their business, the law says that mobile operators have to install direct-access wires and if they don’t, the law are allowed to install them.

It seems that this wouldn’t be legal in the UK (as spies need warrants), however, the law does “allow indiscriminate collection of information on an unidentified number of targets”.

The marvellously named Stephen Deadman from Vodafone said: “We need to debate how we are balancing the needs of law enforcement with the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens. The ideal is we get a much more informed debate going, and we do all of that without putting our colleagues in danger.”

Vodafone are blowing the whistle on all this because they want to see an end to direct-access wires.

Uncharacteristically nice from Vodafone, right? Maybe they’re hoping all this will make everyone forget about their taxes that made everyone so angry?