Posts Tagged ‘Personal privacy’

Facebook loses EU court battle

October 6th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Facebook loses EU court battleFacebook hit a snag in their EU privacy court case, and it looks like it has come to bite them on the arse. The EU Court of Justice has said that the transfer of European Facebook users’ data over to America could well be suspended.

The court ruled that the key agreement which allows US companies to transfer EU users’ data to the USA is invalid, because “that country does not afford an adequate level of protection.” Basically, the EU don’t think American data protection laws are up to much.

The thing that has been allowing the transfer of personal data is called the Safe Harbour agreement, but that is now under threat. Basically, it has been allowing US intelligence agencies to track Europeans, and it won’t only be Facebook that fall foul of this – a lot of tech companies enjoy the fruits of this particular agreement.

“American companies are going to have to restructure how they manage, store and use data in Europe and this take a lot of time and money,” says Mike Weston, CEO of data science consultancy Profusion.

Max Schrems launched the legal challenge regarding Safe Harbour after Edward Snowden dropped his revelations all over the place, about the US National Security Agency (NSA)’s Prism surveillance system, which basically allows spies to look at everyone’s personal data from all over the globe.

The ruling said: “The national security, public interest and law enforcement requirements of the United States prevail over the Safe Harbour scheme, so that United States undertakings are bound to disregard, without limitation, the protective rules laid down by that scheme where they conflict with such requirements.”

“The United States safe harbour scheme thus enables interference, by United States public authorities, with the fundamental rights of persons, and the Commission decision does not refer either to the existence, in the United States, of rules intended to limit any such interference or to the existence of effective legal protection against the interference.”

“The Court adds that legislation permitting the public authorities to have access on a generalised basis to the content of electronic communications must be regarded as compromising the essence of the fundamental right to respect for private life.”

Peeple: the app where you can review human beings

October 1st, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers
old man 300x196 Peeple: the app where you can review human beings

Judge this man

Do you like people you’ve potentially never met, judging you? Well, you could just get a Twitter account and say something (anything) about race, but that might not be enough for you. You might want a proper review, that stays on the internet for all to see.

Well, there’s a new app in the works called Peeple, which aims to be something like TripAdvisor, only for human beings.

You’ll get a 1 to 5-star rating in professional, personal and dating categories, so if you’ve angered anyone or have loads of sarcastic mates, you’ve had it. Your name will be dirt, and then you’ll spend your entire life exacting revenge on anyone your mind can summon.

Developers Julia Cordray and Nicole McCullough have been reviewed quite harshly themselves, thanks to the announcement of this app. Their profiles are going to be a trial by fire, clearly. Some people have pointed out that this app will give people the opportunity to harass others.

On Facebook, in relation to these accusations, the Peeple page says: ”Hey Visitors to our page: We hear you loud and clear. 1. You want the option to opt in or opt out. 2. You don’t want the ability for users to start your profiles even if you would only get positive reviews if they did (Our app does not allow negative reviews for unclaimed profiles).

3. People are genuinely good even though Yelp has over 47 million reviews and all the users are anonymous and in that 47 million reviews there are 79% positive reviews. (We are not anonymous as users of the Peeple app which should make our positivity even higher than Yelp)
4. You want this available on Android too (We are building it now)”

The app launches next month and offers no way to remove yourself once someone has started rating you, which is nice. And there’s no way of deleting your reviews either. This is not an opt-in service. Or an opt-out one for that matter. You’re stuck with it, basically. Until someone with a bit of money sues Peeple, you suspect.

You can be added to the app and reviewed by anyone who has your phone number, and when someone adds you, you’ll be notified via text, and that’s it. You’re doomed.

Facebook will NOT be charging a £5.99 subscription

September 30th, 2015 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

facebook mobile 300x200 Facebook will NOT be charging a £5.99 subscriptionAnother week, and another Facebook hoax doing the rounds. This time, there’s been a lot of chatter about Facebook charging £5.99 as a subscription to keep your profile private. Of course, everyone knows that the social network couldn’t give a monkeys about privacy.

The post that was going around Facebook said: ”Now it’s official! It has been published in the media. Facebook has just released the entry price: £5.99 to keep the subscription of your status to be set to “private”. If you paste this message on your page, it will be offered free (I said paste not share) if not tomorrow, all your posts can become public. Even the messages that have been deleted or the photos not allowed. After all, it does not cost anything for a simple copy and paste.”

Even though it is obviously complete tosh, that hasn’t stopped loads of people cutting and pasting the message onto their timelines.

We know this because, with minimal snooping, this hoax has been around since 2013. And of course, the notion that you’ll be protected from something by simply cutting and pasting some text is preposterous – since when did the internet work like that? And of course, Facebook would be in a world of trouble if they lifted the privacy protections just like that. More importantly, the social network wouldn’t want to alienate all those customers they have.

So how do you keep your page (relatively) private?

Well, first thing you do is to hit the little triangle in the top right of your Facebook page. There, you’ll see your Settings. If you’re on your phone, hit the three horizontal lines in the top right to get at your settings.

Once you’re in Account Settings, hit the ‘Privacy Settings’ tab. When you’re in there, you’ll be able to toggle all manner of things, the main one being ‘Who can see your future posts?’ You’ll want to hit ‘Friends’ if you only want people you know looking at your account. If you’re after more privacy, hit ‘Limit the audience for posts you’ve shared with friends of friends’ or ‘Public’, and click ‘Limit Past posts’.

If you want to check what your account looks like, use a pal’s Facebook account to see what they can see. You can also click on the three dots below your Cover photo, and click ‘View as’, which will show you how much or how little the public can see.

Anti-snooping phones – are they the future?

September 28th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

As people get more jumpy about their personal privacy, the more anti-snooping devices appear on the market. BlackBerry have said they’re going to release a privacy-concerned device.

One handset that has people talking is the Blackphone 2, from Silent Circle. They have revamped their phone, and it aims to help you manage your personal data by adding software to the standard-issue Android OS.

You will be able to fine-tune what each app, site visited and service does, and what information it gives out while you use them.

blackphone2 500x468 Anti snooping phones   are they the future?

This particular phone will cost you around £525, and will provoke puns based around ‘Paranoid Android’. What does it do you ask? Well, if you buy a Blackphone 2, you’ll be able to manage data sharing via the phone’s security centre, and you’ll be able to edit and mess around with each of your apps.

“At the moment it’s often about accepting everything or denying all the app permission requests,” said David Puron, head of engineering at Silent Circle. “We wanted it to be more fine-grained than that.”

“The industry is moving in the right direction and is incorporating the permission controls which is something we have done for 18 months,” he added. “It’s a good sign that these technologies are being progressively adopted.”

The phone lets you create separate virtual spaces, who you can set differing permissions for apps, depending on whether they’re being used personally, for work, or whether you’re letting your child play with your phone. It’ll enable encryption by default, and can be wiped remotely too. Sound like your kind of thing, or are you not arsed anymore and know that privacy is long dead and you might as well enjoy how Google link everything up, after poking around in your business?

Anyway, if you want the option of going off the map, it looks like there’s going to be a number of phones on the market to fulfil that need.


Facebook hit a snag in EU privacy case

September 24th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

facebook mobile 300x200 Facebook hit a snag in EU privacy caseFacebook have been quite cocky about the whole Spying In The EU thing, but that might be about to change.

The 15-year-old agreement which has allowed American tech companies and social media businesses to send personal data to the States could well be invalid, says a top lawyer. The very internet sounding Yves Bot, who is the European Court of Justice’s Advocate-General, reckons that countries should be able to suspend the transfer of data, if it turns out it is a violation of European rights.

Now, as it stands, this is only a recommendation to the court, but one thing worth noting is that these recommendations are very rarely overruled. This is a sticky situation for Facebook – one they’ll presumably throw loads of money at to go away.

This agreement to share data is known as “Safe Harbour”, and has been a thing since 2000. However, things have changed a lot since that time. If this agreement becomes void, there’s a lot of far reaching consequences for a lot of online businesses.

Max Schrems, who brought the case to court, says: ”Companies that participate in US mass surveillance and provide, for example, cloud services within the EU rely on data centres in the US may now have to invest in secure data centres within the European Union.”

“This could be a major issue for Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft or Yahoo. All of them operate data centres in Europe, but may need to fundamentally restructure their data storage architecture and maybe even their corporate structure.”

This is set to rumble on and on.

Promoted Stor

Apple confirm hack

September 22nd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

apple Apple confirm hackApple, who have been the bastions of cleanliness and righteousness (in their own minds) for such a long time, are having a ‘mare. An update has been making people’s iPhones crash (here’s how to fix it), Apple accounts have been stolen, and the camera borked (how to fix that, here).

Now, they have confirmed that malicious code has found its way into a number of official apps that are being sold in the App Store.

In a statement, Apple said that they’d found and removed apps that included a malicious program called Xcode Ghost, which is a fake version of Apple’s software development program Xcode. This thing hides malware in legit apps, and Apple said: “We are working with the developers to make sure they’re using the proper version of Xcode to rebuild their apps.”

One of the popular apps that were affected was WeChat, where bad versions of it appeared and were available globally. WeChat themselves, said that the issue affected an older version of their program, so if you’ve been keeping it up-to-date, you should be fine. The company say that, thus far, they’ve not found anyone who has had their personal information swiped.

So, another public black eye for Apple, as they’ve been letting so many apps with nasty code through their normally watertight development stage. They need to sort it out, quickly.

Facebook accused of spying, again

September 22nd, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

spy spying 300x300 Facebook accused of spying, againFacebook are constantly being accused of spying on people, and lawyers who are representing the Belgian data protection authority are saying that the social network has been acting like the American National Security Agency, snooping around on European users without authority.

We’ve previously reported about the action being taken by Belgium, and in court, the opening arguments, Frederic Debussere who is representing the Belgian privacy commission (BPC), referred to whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations.

“When it became known that the NSA was spying on people all around the world, everybody was upset. This actor [Facebook] is doing the very same thing, albeit in a different way,” he said.

Facebook have denied any of the BPC’s claims, which include users being tracked after they’ve logged out and, indeed, people who are non-users being tracked by the company’s cookies also. As such, BPC is threatening Facebook with a fine of €250,000 per day.

A Facebook spokesperson said: “We will show the court how this technology protects people from spam, malware, and other attacks, that our practices are consistent with EU law and with those of the most popular Belgian websites.” Of course, one thing the BPC might try and do, is sue everyone else who has the same methods as Facebook.

Paul Lefebvre, who represented Facebook, said: “How could Facebook be subject to Belgian law if the management of data gathering is being done by Facebook Ireland and its 900 employees in that country?”

Of course, this is a big case with the whole of Europe watching. Should the Belgians win their case, then other countries will pile in too. Over in Holland, they’ve started to get suspicious of the social network over privacy concerns.

Government aiming to ban WhatsApp and iMessage again

September 18th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

david cameron government Government aiming to ban WhatsApp and iMessage againWhile the government are trying to stop people from undertaking Freedom of Information requests, so we can’t look at their correspondence and dodgy deals, funnily enough, they’re not so concerned about privacy when it comes to the public’s messages.

MI5 boss Andrew Parker is asking the government to get new powers to monitor communications, which means that encrypted messaging services like WhatsApp and iMessage could be banned.

Of course, they’re blaming terrorists again, and Parker has said internet companies have a “responsibility” to share information about their users, and that the use of strong encryption in apps should be illegal.

This backs David Cameron’s views on the matter, where he said that he doesn’t want to “allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read”. Maybe, like the government’s FOI idea, we should all charge the authorities £600-a-pop if they want to look in our messages. Sound fair?

Parker reckons that encryption is “creating a situation where law enforcement agencies and security agencies can no longer obtain under proper legal warrant the contents of communications between people they have reason to believe are terrorists”.

“They are using secure apps and internet communication to try to broadcast their message and incite and direct terrorism amongst people who live here who are prepared to listen to their message.” He added that it “is in nobody’s interests that terrorists should be able to plot and communicate out of the reach of any authorities with proper legal power”.

Just imagine, if we can’t have encrypted messages, what baddies might be able to do, if they can hack into everyone’s messages too! Of course, Apple and Facebook (who own iMessage and WhatsApp respectively) are keen to commit to their users privacy (apart from all the times they use your details to make cash and the like).

Anyway, keep an eye out for the Home Secretary bringing back the Snooper’s Charter, as your privacy isn’t too much of a concern to the current government.

Lloyds customers have personal details stolen

September 11th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Lloyds Banking Group 001 300x180 Lloyds customers have personal details stolenThousands of Lloyds Bank customers have had their personal details nicked, after a data box was swiped.

The theft happened in July, and the police are looking into it. The customers that are affected are those with a Premier Account. As this type of account comes with home insurance bundled in, there’s a lot of details to be had, including names, addresses, account numbers and sort codes.

The box was stolen from a Royal Sun Alliance data room, who were providing the home insurance, and customers who opened accounts between 2006 and 2012, and who made a claim on their policy, are those affected.

“We recognise this should never have happened and apologise to all customers who have been impacted,” said a spokesperson for RSA. Royal Sun Alliance said that they’re going to give those affected £20 each, to fully refund two years cover. You’d think they’d chuck a bit more in for an added apology, but there you go.

Thus far, it is thought that no accounts have been compromised, but investigations continue to make sure.

Lloyds said that they have got in touch with those who have been hit by this theft, but if you have further questions or you feel like you should have been contacted, but haven’t, you can call the freephone number 0800 316 8090.

There’s further advice available on the RSA website.

It is advised that you get Cifas protection too. You can do that at the Cifas website, or write to them at: Cifas Protective Registration, 6th Floor, Lynton House, 7-12 Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9LT. Or you can email them at, or call them on 0330 100 0180.

iphone porn Smut app gets dirty pictures of you and then holds them to ransomQuick! Stick some Blu-Tac on your front facing cameras! There’s a new ransomware porn app on Android named ‘Adult Player’, and it is taking photos of its victims while you’re ‘on the job’. The app then uploads the images on a screen, and then hits you with a ransom message.

That’s not very nice is it?

The security firm Zscaler rumbled the app, which is masquerading as a video player for dirty films. When you start watching some knacky films, it starts to silently take photos of you. If you’re messing with your uglies at the time, this could be described as a ‘compromising situation’. Then, the app demands $500 (which is over £300 in sterling).

The screen which shows the ransom is designed so it’ll stick around, even if you reboot your device. It won’t allow you to use your device and will keep the screen active with annoying, and distressing messages.

“During the course of our daily malware hunt, we came across a new mobile ransomware variant which leverages pornography to lure victims into downloading and installing it,” said the firm.

So, to be on the safe side, you should only download apps from the official Google Play store and other trusted app sites. If you’re still worried, you can look at the ‘Unknown Sources’ option under the ‘Security’ settings of your device. Failing that, you could film the most embarrassing sex tape ever, send it to every single person you know and work with, and you’ll be free from all future blackmail and ransom.

Might be best to avoid downloading dodgy apps for the time being though. is latest dating site to be hacked

September 4th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

match is latest dating site to be hackedIf being single isn’t tough enough, all the baddies on the internet are going after their dating profiles. AshleyMadison was the big profile hack, complete with leaks, and now, has been compromised as well.

A security alert was issued by an outfit called Malwarebytes, and they noted that the dating site was hacked and has spilled data all over the place. A hackers version of a money shot, if you like.

Malwarebytes said the site has fallen victim to malvertising, which looks to swindle the lonely out of their hard earned money. It is thought that there’s 5.5 million users at risk from this attack, which happens to be based on the Bedep trojan for those of you who know about this sort of thing. In plain English, it means that ne’er-do-wells can get at a load of private info and start trying to cadge money from you.

“The cost per thousand impressions for the booby trapped ad was only 36c, which is nothing compared to how much infected computers can bring in terms of revenues. For instance, CryptoWall demands $500 per victim,” said Jerome Segura, senior security researcher at Malwarebytes.

“We alerted and the related advertisers, but the malvertising campaign is still ongoing via other routes.”

A spokesperson for told The Inquirer: “We take the security of our members very seriously indeed. We are currently investigating this alleged issue.”

Baby monitors are vulnerable to hacks

September 3rd, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

BabyonPhone 300x164 Baby monitors are vulnerable to hacksIf you’re a gadget fiend and have a baby monitor that can connect to the internet, then you better listen up. Of course, if you have a normal baby monitor or just rely on your ears, then feel free to tut at new technology (like you needed permission).

These monitors that connect to the internet, so you can listen to your child when you’re away from home, are vulnerable to hacks according to security firm Rapid 7.

Their study shows that at least nine internet-connected baby monitors are vulnerable to these attacks, which means that ne’er-do-wells would be able to monitor your house. Some models have unencrypted web apps, so hackers can even get in and access their cameras.

Others will let hackers add people to the list of viewers, which means anyone could be hawking your home.

You can read Rapid7′s report here, which gives you everything you need to know about all this, including a list of all the products that they have tested and the corresponding vulnerabilities.

This is clearly one of the big problem facing the myriad of gadgets that are going to be part of the ‘internet of things’.

Travelodge customer finds camera spying on her

September 3rd, 2015 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

travelodge 300x300 Travelodge customer finds camera spying on herTravelodge’s logo is someone sleeping – we all knew that. However, it is obvious that they’re being peeped on through a monitor when you look closer, which is unfortunate considering that a guest found that someone had hidden a camera in her shower.

That’s right - a lady found that there was a camera hidden in her shower, which was connected to the caretaker’s cupboard.

Harmony Hachey said she found the device hidden away in an air vent at the Oxford Wheatley Travelodge. The staff at the hotel traced it back to the caretaker’s cupboard and apologised hastily, switched rooms and gave her a full refund.

A spokesperson for Travelodge said the hotel is working with local police about the incident.

“We can confirm that on Friday 28th August 2015 a customer at our Oxford Wheatley hotel made us aware of the presence of what appeared to be a camera in their room,” they said. “The privacy of our customers is a matter of the highest importance to us and the hotel team investigated immediately. While the camera appeared to be inoperative, we have reported this matter to the police and we are now supporting them fully with their ongoing investigations.”

Harmony posted on Facebook: “It’s obvious that the camera was put there for one reason and one reason ONLY, even when the regional manager tried to tell me it was being used for maintenance!” She posted photos of the offending item too, which you can see below.

11990469 10153559700352748 4671471008181137728 n Travelodge customer finds camera spying on her

WHSmith leaking customers’ personal info

September 2nd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

whsmith WHSmith leaking customers personal infoWHSmith is annoying enough at the best of times, so the latest news about them is surely set to grind everyone’s gears even further. The retailer seems to be leaking personal contact information to anyone using their contact forms.

Talking to the Huffington Post, WHSmith said the leak happened due to a “bug” in the system.

“It is a bug not a data breach. We believe that this has impacted fewer than 40 customers who left a message on the ‘Contact Us’ page where this bug was identified, that has resulted in some customers receiving e mails this morning that have been misdirected in error.”

“I-subscribe have immediately taken down their ‘Contact Us’ online form which contains the identified bug, while this is resolved. I-subscribe are contacting the customers concerned to apologise for this administrative processing error. We can confirm that this issue has not impacted or compromised any customer passwords or payment details and we apologise to the customers concerned.”

On Twitter, LynnCSchreiber said: “Anyone else getting dozens of emails via @WHSmith contact form ? Including phone numbers”, where she included a photo of the cock-up.

CN4e3YYXAAEv6DL WHSmith leaking customers personal info

Did Ashley Madison talk about hacking a rival?

August 25th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

sex with glass Did Ashley Madison talk about hacking a rival?There’s a world of difference between saying “I could if I wanted to” and “I can and will”. That’s the terminology being slung around with Ashley Madison.

After the hack and leak of the affair-prompting dating site, there’s been another dump of information from The Impact Group. This time, internal emails were included, and it looks like Ashley Madison discussed hacking a competitor.

According to the leak, emails show that in 2012, AM’s chief technology officer Raja Bhatia, emailed chief executive Noel Biderman after looking at the security of the new dating section magazine – a publication that looks at sex and relationships and all that. There, Bhatia found some security flaws.

“They did a very lousy job building their platform. I got their entire user base,” said Bhatia. “Also, I can turn any non-paying user into a paying user, vice versa, compose messages between users, check unread stats, etc.” Included was a link to a Github archive, with a sample of the database.

However, Ashley Madison say that these messages are being taken out of context. They say that this discovery was part of “due diligence” which was undertaken in the run-up to a proposed partnership between the two. Six months after this conversation, Bhatia emailed Biderman to see if he should “tell them of their security hole”, to which Biderman didn’t reply.

In a statement, AM’s parent company Avid Life Media said the emails were “taken out of context” and that the interpretation that Bhatia had hacked Nerve was “incorrect and unfortunate”. It continued: “Nerve was exploring strategic partnerships in May of 2012 and reached out to Noel to determine Avid Life Media’s interest in the property. At the time Noel did not act on that opportunity.”

“In September PTC Advisors, representing Nerve, contacted Noel and provided a more detailed brief on the opportunity. This communique was followed by a number of conversations. Subsequently Noel contacted Raja Bhatia and asked for his assistance in conducting technical due diligence on the opportunity. This activity, while clumsily conducted, uncovered certain technology shortcomings which Noel attempted to understand and confirm.”

“At no point was there an effort made to hack, steal or use’s proprietary data.”

While this is all well and good, Ashley Madison have been incredibly slow and unforthcoming about this whole affair (pardon the pun). It certainly seems that this mess isn’t going away any time soon.