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Stop your data going dark

We’re living in a world with more focus on cybersecurity than ever before. With the shift to widespread working from home, the pandemic has shone the spotlight on security awareness. This is true in our professional lives in order to prevent corporate information from falling into the wrong hands, but also impacts our personal lives. As consumers began to spend even more time online, businesses across every industry rushed to supplement traditional sales methods and customer interactions with digital equivalents.

This forced pivot to focus on digital has created countless new opportunities for cybercriminals to attack. With news of data breaches and information for sale on the dark web seeming like a daily occurrence, consumers have become desensitized to the risks posed by hackers – but this is largely due to a lack of awareness.

During a time where much of the world is spending more time online and the risk of cyberthreats is at an all-time high, it’s critical that consumers know what they’re up against. Our recent research has revealed that 40% of people don’t know what the dark web is, let alone how their data could be compromised. So what actually is the dark web and how do we make sure we know if our information ends up there?

The unknown side of the internet

The dark web consists of the parts of the internet which cannot be accessed through search engines like Google. Awareness stems from horror stories of data breaches resulting in thousands of stolen credentials being put up for sale, ranging from passwords to bank account numbers and medical records. This is alarming when 80% of data breaches are a result of weak passwords and we consider that 92% of Brits admit to password reuse despite being well aware of the consequences.

Most people don’t really understands the true extent of the dark web, with estimates that it ranges from 0.005% to 96% of the entire world wide web. That said, a recent study from the University of Surrey revealed that almost two-thirds (60%) of listings on the dark web had the potential to harm enterprises. While it’s not all used for illicit purposes, the presence of such diverse networks of criminal activity means consumers should protect their information with the caution it deserves.

Credit card numbers, counterfeit money and stolen subscription credentials are among the items you’ll find for sale on the dark web. In addition, you’ll also find services for hire, including distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, phishing scams and the harvesting of operational and financial data. Clearly, a successful breach could have severe financial repercussions for businesses and consumers alike, not to mention the accompanying reputational damage to any companies involved.

Has your information been exposed?

Our research from last year has already revealed that 1 in 4 people would be willing to pay to get their private information taken down from the dark web – and this number jumps to 50% for those who have experienced a hack. While only 13% have been able to confirm whether a company with which they’ve interacted has been involved in a breach, the reality is it’s much more likely than you’d think – since 2013, over 9.7 billion data records have been lost or stolen, and this number is only rising.

Most of us would have no way of knowing whether our information is up for sale online. However, solutions now exist which proactively check for email addresses, usernames and other exposed credentials against third-party databases, alerting users should any leaked information be found. 

Password managers are increasingly including this dark web monitoring functionality, indicating sites which have been breached along with links for users to change any exposed credentials. By keeping users informed if their digital identities are compromised, these tools help to improve security awareness and highlight the risks of poor password practices.

It starts with awareness

While detection is a fundamental part of the puzzle, keeping ahead of cybercriminals starts with awareness. The human element is often the weakest link in the security chain, with people failing to change default security settings or using the same password across different platforms in their professional and personal lives. But equally, not all employers have made it a priority to drive a culture of security awareness throughout their organisation.

Security is an ever-changing process rather than a one-time project, and people must work together to get their security practices into shape. Remote work will likely remain the norm for a large proportion of businesses, even as the world continues to reopen its doors. The associated security challenges won’t simply disappear, but will likely rise as the drive online continues. With so many exposed credentials available for sale on the dark web, we’d all do well to renew our focus on cybersecurity. Using unique, randomly generated passwords across different accounts, and investing in solutions with built-in privacy features are a good place to start.

[Source: This article was published in techradar.com By Barry McMahon - Uploaded by the Association Member: Dana W. Jimenez]

Categorized in Deep Web

 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

When Microsoft launched its Windows 10 operating system in 2015, it merged the local search functionality with the digital assistant Cortana and also Bing Search.

Cortana has since been revamped completely and cut from many parts of the operating system, but Bing Search is still integrated. Run a search for something, and you may get local and remote results. There has never been an option to switch the search engine.

Some users may like the feature, as it may speed up certain look-ups or operations; others dislike it, as the local input is submitted to Microsoft servers. Bing is also not the best of search engines outside of the United States, and especially for non-English speaking countries.

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Tip: if you rely on local results, check out this guide to manage search index locations in Windows 10. If you run into troubles, use Microsoft's Windows 10 Search Indexer Diagnostics app.

The remote functionality of Windows 10 Search's was the cause for several issues in the past. Users ran into CPU spikes in 2019, and saw a blank box only for some time in 2020.

Up to Windows 10 version 1909, administrators could set a Registry key, BingSearchEnabled, to turn off Bing Search functionality in Search. Microsoft removed the Registry key in Windows 10 version 2004. According to Windows Latest, a new option is now available to disable the Web Search functionality of the Windows Start Menu.

Disable Bing Search in Windows 10

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  1. Note that you need to have elevated rights to edit the Registry.
  2. Create a backup of the Registry just in case.
  3. Open the Start Menu, type regedit.exe, and load the Registry Editor result that is displayed to you.
  4. Go to the Registry key ComputerHKEY_CURRENT_USERSOFTWAREPoliciesMicrosoftWindows
  5. Check if a subkey Explorer exists.
    1. If the key exists, go to 6) below.
    2. If it does not exist, right-click on Windows, select New > Key, and name it Explorer.
  6. Right-click on Explorer and select New > Dword (32-bit) Value.
    1. Name it DisableSearchBoxSuggestions.
    2. Double-click on it and set its value to 1
  7. Restart Windows, sign-out and on again, or kill the Search process in the Task Manager to complete the process.

Yoou can restore Web search functionality by deleting the Dword DisableSearchBoxSuggestions using the Registry Editor.

When you run a search now on Windows 10, you should get local results only. The quick search suggestions, e.g. to run a search for weather, are also no longer listed when you open the Start Menu on the system.

windows-10-disabled-bing-search.png

Disabling Bing Search in Windows 10 has several benefits: it is better for privacy, and it eliminates a cause for search issues on the system.

Now You: What is your take on the integration of web searches in Windows Search?

 [Source: This article was published in ghacks.net By Martin Brinkmann - Uploaded by the Association Member: Dorothy Allen]

Categorized in Search Engine

Tons of video search engines are out there to help you find the perfect video – or create your own. Here’s a list of the 10 best.

Video content is super popular today.

In fact, internet users spend an average of 6 hours and 48 minutes watching videos per week.

That’s a 59% increase since 2016!

What’s more, users spend on average 2.6x more time on pages with video than without.

So, why not spice up your blog with engaging, relevant videos?

The good news is there are tons of search engines you can use to find the perfect video to use in your blog or inspire you to create your own.

Here’s a list of the 10 best ones out there.

10 Video Search Engines You Should Use to Find Excellent Video Content

We all know about Google and YouTube, but have you ever heard of video search engines like Dailymotion and Metacafe?

These video search engines are gold when you learn to use them.

Read on below to find a mix of familiar and new video search engines.

1. Google

We can’t leave Google out, although everyone online knows about it. It’s just too big and popular to scratch from our list.

So, what’s special about Google videos?

You can search for practically any video on Google using the Videos search bar.

First, type in your keyword on Google.

google search

Then, click Videos.

google video

Voila! You get tons of videos based on the keyword you used. It’s that simple.

2. YouTube

YouTube is the second most-visited site in the world (next to Google).

And it’s no wonder, since over 500 hours of video are uploaded on YouTube per minute!

Here’s an example of a search on YouTube for “white strawberries.”

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If you’re feeling uninspired for your next video, head over to YouTube and type in a rare keyword.

Chances are, you’ll find a unique video on it.

3. Bing

If you’re like a ton of other people, you think of Bing as a search engine “living in the shadow of Google.”

But Bing isn’t inferior to Google, it’s just different.

For example, there’s its video platform.

Here are three amazing things you didn’t know about Bing videos:

  • They’re optimized for mobile usage.
  • They play directly from the website.
  • You can easily find paid video content.

Finding inspiring videos on Bing is super easy.

Simply type your keyword into the search engine and select Videos.

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4. Dailymotion

Dailymotion is a platform with millions of videos.

Right on its homepage, you can watch trending videos on the latest news, entertainment, music, and sports.

dailymotion.png

Looking for something specific?

Head over to the search bar on the right-hand corner and type in your keyword.

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You can even create a personal library with all your favorite videos on the platform.

5. DuckDuckGo

If privacy is important to you and you don’t like the idea of everything you do online being recorded, you should use DuckDuckGo.

DuckDuckGo does three things for you:

  • Blocks trackers.
  • Allows you to search privately.
  • Gives you secure connections.

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Using the search engine is super easy because of its simple interface.

If you’re looking for videos, simply type in your keyword into the search field and click Videos.

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Another fun thing you can do is run a search based on different countries.

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You’ll be thrilled to find out that selecting a different country gives you different video results!

For example, here are the top videos for the keyword “content marketing” in the U.S.

duckduckgo-video-search-usa.png

Now, select another country. Say, Argentina. This is what you get.

duckduckgo-video-search-argentina.png

6. Yahoo

Remember Yahoo?

Well, considering Yahoo’s search engine market share is under 2% market globally, you aren’t alone if you don’t.

However, just like other search engines, Yahoo makes it super easy to browse through tons of videos.

What’s interesting is that although Bing powers Yahoo’s search results, you won’t get the same video results if you enter the same keyword on both platforms.

Let’s take a look.

Here’s “marketing tips” on Yahoo.

yahoo-videos.png

And here’s “marketing tips” on Bing.

bing-video-search-marketing-tips.png

Since searching both Yahoo and Bing will give you different results, they’re each worth trying if you want to find some hidden gems.

7. Metacafe

Metacafe is the place to go to find fun, unusual videos.
metacafe.png

It offers a ton of categories to choose from including art animation, comedy, entertainment, how-to, fashion, and more.

You can also search for popular or trending videos using the search bar at the top of the page.

If you’re suffering from a creative block and you need inspiration, Metacafe is an excellent video search engine to visit.

8. Ask

Ask once used to be a popular competitor to search engines like Google and Yahoo.

Today, it’s known as a question and answer site.

But you can still search for videos on Ask.

Simply type your keyword in the search box and click Videos.

ask-.png

When you search for videos on Ask, you’ll get results straight from YouTube.

But again, you won’t get the same results as using the same keyword on YouTube.

9. Yandex

Yandex is the the Google of Russia.

It’s a massive search engine offering mail, maps, a browser, translation, images, and more.

Of course, Yandex also has a video search bar.
yandex-.png

10. Swisscows

Swisscows is a search engine that bills itself as “family-friendly.”

It also offers a unique promise to users: it doesn’t collect or store any user data.

Aside from music, images, and web content, Swisscows has a wide range of videos to choose from.

swisscows.png

How to Find Amazing Videos for Your Content

Yes, video is extremely popular today.

Internet users prefer watching video over reading long blocks of text.

In fact, 85% of U.S. internet users watch online video content each month.

But creating videos isn’t easy.

There are days when you simply lack inspiration and need a breath of fresh air to get your creative juices going.

When this happens, make sure to visit the top video search engines on the web.

[Source: This article was published in searchenginejournal.com By Julia McCoy - Uploaded by the Association Member: Issac Avila]

Categorized in Search Engine

Tech workers are building the future. With that power comes a responsibility to build a future that is more free, just, and more prosperous than the present. Many tech workers are taking that responsibility seriously.

For example, since 2018, employees at GoogleFacebook, and Amazon have publicly protested their companies' behavior on ethical grounds.

It’s essential that we understand what’s at stake when it comes to who we work for and what we build. Below are five areas within technology that represent forks in the road. Each of them holds tremendous possibility. Some are helping to usher in a better future. But all of them have the potential to hasten dystopia. Here's a brief summary of each of these areas and why they matter.

Mass surveillance

In a nutshell: Private companies including social media sites and cellular phone service providers are collecting vast troves of detailed, real-time location and communication metadata and selling it to and sharing it with law enforcement, immigration enforcement, and the intelligence community without informing users.

What may be at stake: Surveillance by immigration enforcement is literally a matter of life and death. Law enforcement’s use of surveillance technology to identify and track protestors and journalists threatens First Amendment rights. Amazon Ring and other surveillance tools can present risks that police could escalate responses to protestors to the point at which violence can result.

Where to learn more: The Intercept and 20 Minutes into the Future are starting points for sources of surveillance reporting. Be sure to follow these five leaders on tethics (tech ethics); one listee, Eva Gaperin, updates an excellent Twitter feed that provides constant updates on surveillance. And be sure to check out our this post on the pros and cons of employee surveillance.

Be aware of deepfakes

In a nutshell: In April, State Farm debuted a widely discussed TV commercial that appeared to show an ESPN analyst making shockingly accurate predictions about the year 2020 in 1998. It was a deepfake - a disturbing trend that is occurring within media worldwide.

Deepfakes are media representations of people saying and doing things they didn’t actually say or do. To make a deepfake, someone records a photo, audio clip, or video of someone and then swaps out his or her likeness for another person's.

What may be at stake: Detecting deepfakes is one of the most important challenges ahead of us. Examples of deepfakes in include a video in which Belgium’s Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès links COVID-19 to climate change. In one particularly frightening example, rumors that a video of the president of a small African country was a deepfake helped instigate a failed coup. On the other hand, brands are using deepfakes for marketing and advertising to positive effect. Other positive uses include creating “voice skins” for gamers who want realistic-sounding voices that aren’t their own.

Where to learn more about these tech challenges: This synopsis by MIT and this CSO intro both do a good strong job covering how deepfakes are made and the risks they impose. The Brookings Institution offers a good summary of the potential political and social dangers of deepfakes. Further, this guide, in addition to additional work on Forbes, are good primers on how advanced deepfake technology is - along with its potential to become even more sophisticated. Finally, the videos embedded in this CNN analysis can help those interested in this challenge can get up to speed.

Stay vigilant on disinformation

In a nutshell: A play on the word “misinformation,” disinformation is a type of propaganda meant to mislead or misdirect a rival. For example, a 2019 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report confirmed that Russian-backed online disinformation campaigns exploited systemic racism to support Donald Trump’s candidacy in the 2016 election.

What may be at stake: When disinformation from Chinese and Russian-backed groups is distributed online, it can have real-world consequences. Between 2015 and 2017 Russian operatives posing as Americans successfully organized in-person rallies and demonstrations using Facebook. In one instance, Muslim civil rights activists counter-protested anti-Muslim Texas secessionists in Houston who waved Confederate flags and held “White Lives Matter” banners. Russian disinformation operatives organized both rallies. Experts predict more Russian-backed disinformation in the run-up to the 2020 elections.

Where to learn more: Dan Harvey’s “20 Minutes into the Future” is among the leading newsletters on this topic, and his most recent edition is a quick read on the recent developments in Russian disinformation. In it, he recommends this analysis of Internet Research Agency (IRA) campaigns put together by Oxford University. The Axios Codebook newsletter is also insightful, and its June edition on Russian disinformation disinformation is an especially compelling resource. For a thorough-but-readable long read, I recommend DiResta’s The Digital Maginot Line. For a more academic analysis, check out Stanford University’s Internet Observatory.

Be wary of addictive user experience

In a nutshell: Product managers, designers, tech marketers and start-up founders are all trying to build tools that users can’t put down. The benefits of addictive technology is obvious for the builders. But what is the long-term impact on users?

What may be at stake: Habit-forming tech products aren’t bad in and of themselves. But not all habits turn out to be healthy. Multiple studies have linked social media use with anxiety and depression, although the causal relationship isn’t clear. After the fintech company Robinhood made it free, easy, and fast to trade individual stocks, some users developed an unhealthy relationship with trading. One 20-year-old user committed suicide after seeing his $730,000 negative balance.

Arguably, no app is more addictive than TikTok. As a Chinese company, TikTok owner, ByteDance, is required to pass user data to the Chinese government. And going back to the disinformation section, TikTok has little incentive to resist pressure to display content that gives China an advantage over the US. In 2019 Senator Josh Hawley introduced ham-fisted legislation aimed at combating any addictive user experiences.

Where to learn more: This Scientific American piece is a good overview of the research on social media’s impact on mental health. The Margins newsletter is a good source of information on the pros and cons of technology and its Robinhood edition is a worthwhile read. Ben Thompson’s Stratechery newsletter is nuts-and-bolts, but delves into useful analysis of the ethical implications of technology.

Racist AI can reflect our own biases

In a nutshell: Artificial intelligence (AI) is only as good as the data it’s on which it’s based. Since humans still, by and large, exhibit racial biases it makes sense that the data we produce and use to train our AI is also going to contain racist ideas and language. The fact that Black and Latino Americans are severely underrepresented in positions of leadership at influential technology companies exacerbates the problem. Tech workers are only 3.1 percent are Black nationwide. Silicon Valley companies lag on diversity, as only 3 percent their total workforce is Black. Finally, only 1 percent of tech entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are Black.

What may be at stake: After Nextdoor moderators found themselves in hot water for deleting Black Lives Matter content, the company said it would use AI to identify racism on the platform. But racist algorithms are causing harm to Black Americans. Police departments are using facial recognition software they know misidentifies up to 97 percent of Black suspects, leading to false arrests.

The kind of modeling used in predictive policing is also inaccurate, according to researchers. And judges are using algorithms to assist with setting pre-trial bail that assign Black Americans a higher risk of recidivism based on their race. Amazon scrapped its internal recruitment AI once it came to light that it was biased against women. On the other hand, one study showed that a machine learning algorithm led to better hires and lower turnover while increasing diversity among Minneapolis schoolteachers.

Where to learn more: The Partnership on AI, a nonprofit coalition committed to the responsible use of AI, is a great resource to learn more about the challenges within this space. This discussion on algorithms and a November 2019 assessment on the pitfalls of AI are both good valuable as they are short, readable intros to on the topic. Race after Technology is a concise, readable, quotable tome on what author Michelle Alexander calls the New Jim Crow.

[Source: This article was published in triplepundit.com By Matt Martin - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jay Harris]

Categorized in Internet Ethics

Everywhere you look, it seems some company is either spying on their users or failing to protect their users' data. Protecting yourself might seem like a hopeless task, but these top privacy apps can really make a difference.

It's easy to feel that personal privacy is a dead issue. Once you go online, your every action is exposed, either through data lost in a breach or misuse by advertisers and online merchants. But don't give up hope. You don't have to go totally off-grid to retain or regain control of your privacy. Smart people around the world have come up with a variety of programs to attack the problem from different directions—creating apps that range from VPNs to email providers that don't spy on you or share your data. You may have to lay out a little cash, but the alternative is using free services that pay themselves by monetizing your private data.

The Email Nightmare, Part 1

Like the internet itself, email was invented by optimists and academics who never dreamed that anyone would misuse it. Read someone else's mail? How rude! Fill up inboxes with unwanted junk mail? They had no idea what was coming.

One type of privacy app aims to protect the content of your email conversations from snooping and tampering. Preveil, Private-Mail, ProtonMail, and StartMail let you lock down your communications using a technique called public-key cryptography. All but Preveil use a protocol called PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) to generate a pair of keys, one public, one private. To send me a secure message, you encrypt it with my public key, and I decrypt it with my private key. Simple!  

Using Preveil is even simpler, though. A high-tech system involving what they call wrapped keys means you never deal with a key, public or private. It does also mean you can't connect with users of other PGP-based services, but few consumers know how to set that up.

This public key technology also lets me send you a message that's digitally signed, guaranteeing it came from me, with no tampering. I simply encrypt the message with my private key. The fact that you can decrypt it using my public key means it's totally legit. ProtonMail and StartMail automate the key exchange process with other users of the same service, while Private-Mail requires that you perform the exchange yourself. With any of these, you can exchange secure messages with anybody who provides a public key.

Of course, not everyone has embraced public key cryptography for their email. With StartMail and ProtonMail, you can send encrypted messages to non-users, though you don't get the same level of open-source security. The service encrypts the message using a simple password, and you transmit the password via some avenue other than email, perhaps a secure messaging app.

Virtru offers email encryption for free, but only if you use Gmail, and only in Chrome. Like Preveil, it handles key management internally, though it doesn't use public-key cryptography. You send an encrypted message and the recipient clicks a button to read it, without either of you entering a password.

The Email Nightmare, Part 2

With the contents of your email conversations encrypted, no hacker can sniff out just what you're saying. However, your email address itself is exposed any time you send a message, buy a product online, or sign up for any kind of internet-based service. That might not sound problematic, but your email address is typically your user ID for many sites. A hacker who finds your email and guesses your weak password now owns the account. And, of course, having your email address floating promiscuously around the web just invites spam.

But how can you communicate without giving a merchant or service your email? The solution lies in a simple technology called a Disposable Email Address, or DEA. The DEA service provides and manages these addresses, ensuring that mail sent to them lands in your inbox, and that your replies seem to come from the DEA. If you're done dealing with a particular merchant, or if one of your DEAs starts receiving spam, you just destroy it.

Burner Mail, Abine Blur, and ManyMe are among the services offering DEA management. ManyMe is unusual in a couple of ways. First, it's free, which is uncommon. Second, unlike most such services it doesn't make you register a new FlyBy email (as it calls them) before using it. Say someone at a cocktail party asks for your email. You can make up a FlyBy address on the spot, without giving your actual email away.

Abine Blur takes the concept of masking your actual identity online to the next level. Besides masking your email address, it offers masked credit card numbers, different for each transaction. You load the masked card with exactly the amount of the transaction, so a sleazy merchant can't overcharge you or use the card again. It even lets you chat on the phone without giving your actual number.

It's worth noting that Private-Mail and StartMail also offer a modicum of DEA management. StartMail lets you manage up to 10 permanent DEAs, and an unlimited number of DEAs set to expire within two weeks or less. Private-Mail offers five alternate email identities, without full DEA management.

Throw the Trackers Off the Scent

As they say, if you're not paying, then you are the product. You can surf the internet endlessly without paying a fee to visit specific sites, but those sites still work hard to monetize your visits. Advertising trackers plant cookies on your system, taking note when a tracker from an ad on a different website encounters that same cookie. Through this and other tracking methods, they form a profile of your online activity, a profile that others are willing to pay for.

Some years ago, the Internet's Powers That Be, recognizing that many users prefer not to be tracked, ginned up a simple Do Not Track message to be sent by the browser. This DNT system never became a standard, but all the top browsers adopted it anyway. It had no effect, because websites were and are free to ignore the header.

In place of the ineffectual DNT header, many security companies started devising active systems to identify and block ad trackers and other trackers. You'll find this feature as a bonus in many security suites and some privacy-specific products. Abine Blur, Ghostery Midnight, and ShieldApps Cyber Privacy Suite offer active DNT. Unlike most such implementations, Midnight deters tracker requests in any internet-aware application.

The trackers, in turn, invented a different technique for identifying individuals across different websites, relying on the ridiculous amount of information supplied to each site by your browser. This ranges from your IP address and browser version down to minutiae like the fonts installed on your system. There's so much information that trackers can create a fingerprint that's almost sure to identify you, and only you.

So, what can you do? Make a liar out of your browser, that's what. TrackOff mixes up the data sent from your browser so it's different for each website. Cyber Privacy Suite also scrambles your fingerprint. Important info still reaches the site, but not in a consistent way that could be fingerprinted. Steganos Privacy Suite once included a component to foil fingerprinting, but the latest edition has dropped that feature, along with its active Do Not Track component.

Using a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, disguises your IP address but leaves plenty of data unchanged for the fingerprinters. Even so, keeping your internet traffic encrypted and having your IP address hidden are valuable ways to protect your privacy. In addition to their other privacy components, Ghostery Midnight and Cyber Privacy Suite include VPN protection.

Passwords Protect Privacy

Passwords are terrible, but we don't yet have a universal replacement. For security, you must use a different non-guessable strong password for every secure site. The only way anybody can accomplish that feat is by relying on a password manager. Unless you use a different strong password for every website, a data breach on one site could expose dozens of your other accounts.

In a perfect world, you already have an effective password manager in place, and you've taken the opportunity to fix any weak or duplicate passwords. On the chance you aren't already equipped, some privacy products have taken to including password management as a bonus feature. Abine Blur, for one, offers a complete, if basic, password manager. It even rates your passwords, giving extra credit for those logins that also use a masked email address.

You can get Steganos Password Manager as a separate program or as part of Steganos Privacy Suite. Either way, it's not a standout. You're probably better off with a top-notch free password manager. Cyber Privacy Suite seeks passwords stored insecurely in your browsers and moves them to encrypted storage, but doesn't do any password management beyond that protective step.

Icloak Stik is a tiny, bootable USB device that provides you with an entire private operating system; more about that below. Within that private OS, it offers the One Ring password manager built into the Tor Browser. That's important, because your existing password manager won't work in the Icloak environment.

Many Other Modes

Just as your private data can be exposed in many ways, software companies find a variety of ways to protect it. One unusual service comes from Abine DeleteMe. Rather than create disposable email addresses, this service attempts to clean up your existing email and other personal data. It searches dozens of websites that legally aggregate public information. Wherever it finds you, it sends an opt-out request to remove your data. This process can't be fully automated, so DeleteMe is relatively expensive.

Icloak Stik takes privacy to an extreme. You plug this tiny USB device into any PC, Mac, or Linux box and reboot. The Linux-based operating system that comes up resides entirely on the USB device. If you don't need to copy any files to the device, you can pocket it after booting up. And you can hide your IP address by going online with the Tor Browser. Once you shut down the host device, all traces of your session vanish.

If a malefactor steals your laptop or otherwise gains access to your PC, your private data could still be safe, provided you've encrypted it. We've covered numerous products solely devoted to encrypting files, folders, or whole drives. Some privacy products broaden their protection by including encryption. Steganos Privacy Suite, for example, includes the Steganos Safe encryption tool, also available as a standalone product.

Private-Mail goes beyond the usual features of encrypted email by giving you an online area to store encrypted files. You can encrypt files using PGP or using a simple password, and you can even share your encrypted files with others.

With Preveil, storing essential files in your encrypted cloud is a snap. You just treat that cloud like any other folder. Sharing with other Preveil users is also easy. 

Virtru doesn't offer cloud storage, but it gives you unusual control over your messages and attachments. You can set messages to expire, disable secure forwarding, and add a watermark to some kinds of attachments. You can also convert attachments into a protected form that only the recipient can view, just like a Virtru message.

Protect the Protectors

When you set up an encrypted email system or a disposable email address manager, your account password is a potential weakness. If you use an easily-guessed password, or if a stranger shoulder-surfs your login, you could lose control of your privacy protection. That's where two-factor authentication comes in.

The concept is simple. With two-factor authentication, logging requires at least two of the following: something you know (such as a password); something you have (such as an authentication app); or something you are (such as a fingerprint). Quite a few of the privacy tools examined here offer a two-factor option, specifically Abine Blur, Burner Mail, Private-Mail, StartMail, and Steganos Privacy Suite.

All these products rely on Google Authenticator or another Time-based One-Time Password generator. To get started, you use your authenticator mobile app to snap a QR code provided by the privacy program. Enter the code generated by the app and you're done. Now, your password alone doesn't grant access to the privacy program. A password thief won't be able to enter the code from your authenticator app, and hence won't get in.

Preveil also provides a degree of two-factor authentication by the very nature of its encryption. Connecting to your encrypted mail is easy and automatic provided that you have access both to the email account and to a trusted device. An evildoer who cracks your email account still won't gain access to your encrypted mail and files. And if you lose a trusted device, you can cancel your trust.

As for Virtru, it doesn't require a password and doesn't offer two-factor authentication. You prove your identity by logging into your Gmail account. That being the case, you'd do well to protect that Gmail account using two-factor authentication.

These aren't the only programs for protecting your privacy, and this isn't an exhaustive list of privacy-cloaking techniques. However, all these programs do their best to keep you safe from advertisers, spies, and creeps online.

Abine Blur

39.00 Per Year at Abine, Inc.
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Your subscription to Abine Blur Premium brings a veritable smorgasbord of privacy-enhancing features and services. Its masked emails feature automates the process of using a different disposable email address for every transaction. If one of those masked emails starts getting spam, you can just delete it, and you know which merchant sold you out.

What's the use in masking your email when you're giving the merchant something even more sensitive—your credit card number? Blur masks card numbers, too, and each masked card only has enough value to pay the particular transaction. No shady merchant can charge you extra, or fake another transaction on your card.

You can have all the masked emails you want, but masked cards require a small payment, because Abine expends resources processing the payment. Masked phone numbers are still more limited; you get just one. But when you use that masked phone number, you can be sure your contact won't benefit by selling it to robocallers or text spammers.

It's a small step from tracking your disposable email addresses to tracking your logins for all those websites. Blur includes a complete, if basic, password manager. Most password managers praise you for using a different password at each website; Blur gives you extra credit if you also use a masked email address for each.

Blur securely syncs your password and payment data across all your PCs, Macs, and mobile devices. Its browser extensions offer full access to program features and include an active Do Not Track component that foils advertisers and other trackers. On top of all that, Blur spells out how it handles your data in clear, simple detail. It's a cornucopia of privacy protection.

Abine Blur Premium Review

PreVeil

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Preveil lets you exchange encrypted email without having to switch to a special, new email account. You just keep using your existing email with Gmail, Outlook, Apple Mail, or the Mail apps built into Android and iOS. Using it with another email client requires a little work, but it's possible. You don't have to memorize or exchange passwords. The combination of access to your email account and use of a trusted device authenticates you.

With almost any encryption system, losing your master key or password means you lose access to your files. Some even make you accept a disclaimer to that effect. Preveil offers an unusual system from the deep reaches of crypto technology. Called Shamir's Secret Sharing, it lets you set up a pool of fellow Preveil users who can help you regain a lost key. They don't get any access to your key, but several of them working together can rebuild it for you.

Preveil brings top-tier enterprise-grade encryption technology to the consumer, yet presents it in a user-friendly way. This free solution is our Editors' Choice for email encryption.

PreVeil Review

ProtonMail

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You use ProtonMail the same way you'd use any web-based email service. The difference is that email conversations with other ProtonMail users are automatically protected using public key encryption. The same is true for any correspondent whose public key you've imported. You can also send encrypted mail to outsiders using a simpler form of encryption.

If you don't need more than 150 messages per day and 500MB of storage for email, you can use ProtonMail for free. Even a paid subscription isn't expensive, at $5 per month or $48 per year. The paid edition gets you 1,000 messages per day, along with the ability to create up to four protected email addresses, full tech support, and 5GB of email storage. This is a simple, solid email encryption solution.

ProtonMail Review

TrackOFF Basic

TrackOFF Basic

Advertisers really care what you do online. The better they can profile you, the more they can target ads. A nice juicy personal profile is also a commodity they can sell. With the proliferation of active Do Not Track systems, some trackers have switched to a technique called browser fingerprinting. And TrackOFF Basic stands square in their way, ensuring that your browser does its job without painting a target on your back.

Every time you visit a website, your browser sends a ton of information. It has to send your IP address, to receive the requested pages. But it also sends the browser version, OS details, even the fonts installed on your PC. Nominally, this information helps the website fine-tune your browsing experience. But there's so much data spewing from the browser that trackers can easily create a unique fingerprint, and thereby recognize you when you visit a different site.

TrackOFF doesn't suppress the info coming from your browser, as that could cause problems with some sites. It just mixes things up a little, presenting a slightly different fingerprint to each website. It does cost $34.95 per year, but that's fine for some tracking-sensitive souls.

TrackOFF Basic Review

Virtru Email Protection for Gmail

Virtru

Visit Site at Virtru
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Like Preveil, Virtru is a consumer product that takes advantage of technology developed for the corporate world. Also like Preveil, it's free, and doesn't require that you change your email address. However, it only works with Gmail accounts, and only if you access them using Chrome.

Corporations can set up in-house handling of encryption keys. With the consumer edition, Virtru takes on that role. You never enter a password or share a key. By logging in to your Gmail account, you get full access to your encrypted email. If that seems unsafe in any way, consider enabling two-factor authentication for Gmail itself.

Virtru offers unusual control over your encrypted email messages. You can set them to expire after a fixed time, and change that time (or revoke access) even after sending the message. You can control the recipient's ability to forward secure messages. And you can watermark certain attachment types, to prove they came from you.

Yes, only those who access their Gmail on Chrome can make use of this tool. But the pools of Gmail users and of Chrome users are large enough to guaranteed quite a few potential users.

Virtru Email Protection for Gmail Review

Abine DeleteMe

129.00 20% Discount on any DeleteMe subscription with code PCMAG at DeleteMe
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Some DEA services require you to create a new, pristine email account to receive the mail from your disposable addresses, while others feed directly into your existing inbox. The latter approach is more convenient, but it comes with a problem. Your email address, along with other personal information, is already scattered across the interwebs. Completely wiping that information from the web is impossible, but Abine DeleteMe does everything that is possible to minimize your exposure.

DeleteMe scans websites for dozens of information aggregating websites. These sites legally collect public information and make it easy to find. They also legally must remove your info if you so request. DeleteMe automates the opt-out process as much as possible. However, automation isn't possible in some cases, so Abine retains a staff of human operators to handle those. Every six months, you get a report of what DeleteMe found, and what was removed.

Unlike automated opt-out algorithms, those human operators must be paid. That's why DeleteMe costs more than most privacy services, $129 per year. You can often find discounts, or deals to add a family member.

Read More...

[Source: This article was published in pcmag.com By Neil J. Rubenking - Uploaded by the Association Member: Issac Avila]

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.

a.jpeg

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

The variables that drive performance for LSA extend beyond the prominence, relevance and proximity factors we have built strategies for.

We are in the midst of a transformation in local advertising. Google has a new form of trusted answers that are revealed through a unique and compelling sponsored ad unit. The advertisers that participate in this new layer of trust are proudly displayed next to a green, check-mark badge. This designation is quickly becoming the symbol of trust for Google users. 

Google is so confident in the consumer value of these answers that they put them atop their precious search result pages. When speaking to local businesses, Google states that they can “earn customers trust with the badge.” It tells them that the badge will give its users, “more confidence to book your services.”

It is increasingly important for local business owners who are eligible, to obtain the Google badge of trust. But the real value of the badge is the access it provides to Local Services Ads (LSA). This is Google’s local trust pack. It is a cost-per-call advertising inventory unit that acts unlike anything we have ever encountered as marketers.

Badges are earned within two distinct programs – Google Guaranteed and Google Screened. The more mature Google Guaranteed, now covers most Home Service categories, including appliance repair, carpenter, carpet cleaner, electrician, house cleaning, interior designer, landscaper, lawn care provider, mover, pest control technician, pet care provider, pet groomer,  plumber, roofer, tree service provider, water damage, window cleaner, window service provider and flooring, foundations, countertop, HVAC, and siding pros. The green check-mark for Google  Guaranteed providers signifies that Google has verified the business and backs the services booked.

This year, Google solidified the growth intentions behind its newly minted trust layer, with the launch of Google Screened for Professional Services providers. This program is for lawyers, financial planners, real estate agents, photographers, event planners, and tax specialists.The Google Screened badge means that it has verified the providers’ background and backs their expertise.

Over a series of articles, I will address the Google Guaranteed and Screened programs and explore the specifics of each. We will learn what it means to optimize LSA and take advantage of the badge. Here we look at the past and present conditions that underscore Google’s revolutionary new trust layer. 

Part 1: The Past

To truly understand the local trust pack, it is important to start with Google My Business (GMB). Launched in 2014, GMB is the quintessential free marketing tool for local businesses. It enables them to manage their business presence across Google. It was positioned as the ‘businesses’ best friend and the place to keep business content fresh, post deals, share high-quality photos and videos and respond to customers. 

But, as Google knows all too well, leadership begets scrutiny and spam and in January 2016, the Google Local team found itself having to respond publicly to a NY Times Article entitled “Fake Online Locksmiths May Be Out to Pick Your Pocket, Too.” The article directly implicated Google Local results and the ease of how unsavory people game them to commit fraud. 

The public may have been talking about locksmiths now, but what about all the other “pros” that Google was sending into peoples’ homes? By 2016, Google was being held to account for the safety of its users’ post-search, in their own homes.

 

 

It is no coincidence that months prior to the Times article, Google announced that it was testing Home Service Ads in beta in the San Francisco area for, you guessed it… locksmiths, but also plumbers, cleaners, and handymen. 

Trust would be built on the back of what was called Advanced Verification standards that Google states:

 “In order to prevent fraudulent businesses from advertising on Google using false identities, Google Ads and Local Services advertisers in certain verticals will be required to complete Advanced Verification.” 

By this time, post-transactional activity was very fertile ground for Google. Its reviews and ratings features have historically relied on its consumers to qualify their experiences with local businesses. In fact, these post-transactional signals have become a foundation of local search ranking. 

Now, consumer reviews were no longer enough. The meaning of trust for Google’s local results was expanded to encapsulate the security and well-being of its searchers through the transactional environment itself. As the story unfolds, we begin to see that Google’s move to instill new signals of trust into its result sets, requires a momentous effort and an entirely different set of rules. 

Part 2: The Present

To qualify for the coveted Google Guaranteed or Screened badge, the service pros undergo personal background checks and provide corporate documentation, proof of insurance, certifications, licenses and other credentials, depending upon industry. This process can take weeks, even months, as Google depends upon third-parties throughout the application process. 

If this vetting process sounds familiar, then you are probably familiar with mature vertical search providers, like Home Advisor or even Thumbtack (a Google Ventures investment). The badge is so trust-oriented that if a consumer is unsatisfied with a service pro’s work, Google may refund the amount paid for the service – the “Guaranteed.” They cap lifetime coverage for claims at $2,000 USD.

It is exciting for a business owner to obtain the Google badge of trust. But it’s the access to LSA that gets the phone ringing. Most local search marketers unknowingly stand on the cusp of what will be their biggest challenge to date in working with Local Services Ads. These ads look and act differently than other search-based products or strategies. On the surface, the inventory is unpredictable and temperamental. Below the surface it is formulaic and strict.

The LSA algorithm, which drives the cost-per-call market, has significant advertiser dependencies. A click on the ad unit itself resolves to a new type of Google landing page called the LSA profile. The rules governing the trust layer display are predicated on a very shallow “job category” to “job type” to a keyword-based ontology. The LSA algorithm is rooted in GMB and local rank principles. But, what makes LSA so unique is its use of methods such as hours of operations, answer rate, conversation quality, booked transactions, archived calls, customer reviews, and other advertiser feedback loops to calculate ad serving rules. Google may represent its trustworthiness for a business by a badge, but it represents trust for an advertiser through ad serving. 

For five years, Local Services Ads have been slowly, but consistently launching atop Google search results for local queries in key home services categories. The pace of the roll-out is now speeding up as the once obscure and mysterious program is coming out of the dark and into the light for users and advertisers alike. In 2020, as Guaranteed results became much more prevalent across home pro queries, Google made profound news by quietly announcing Google Screened for Professional Services categories.

The reality is that despite all the potential, many local businesses simply won’t qualify for the Guaranteed or Screened programs. Even if they do, many do not have the basic faculty to interact with the advanced functioning of the call-based advertising inventory. In the months and years ahead, many marketers and advertisers will grow very frustrated, give up, wait and watch. 

This is not a test. That started for Google in 2015. A monetized trust layer, unlike anything we have seen in local advertising, has form and function on Google search results. The variables that drive the performance for LSA extend well beyond the prominence, relevance, and proximity factors that we as local marketers have built strategies and careers around.  A new era has arrived in local search. 

In the articles to follow, we will unpack Google Guaranteed and Screened, including the approval processes, the LSA algorithm, the cost-per-call pricing model, and the LSA/GMB Profiles. 

Stay tuned…

[Source: This article was published in searchengineland.com By Justin Sanger - Uploaded by the Association Member: Carol R. Venuti] 

Categorized in Search Engine

Popular search engines and browsers do a great job at finding and browsing content on the web, but can do a better job at protecting your privacy while doing so.

With your data being the digital currency of our times, websites, advertisers, browsers, and search engines track your behavior on the web to deliver tailored advertising, improve their algorithms, or improve their services.

In this guide, we list the best search engines and browsers to protect your privacy while using the web.

Privacy-focused search engines

Below are the best privacy-focused search engines that do not track your searchers or display advertisements based on your cookies or interests.

DuckDuckGo

The first privacy-focused search engine, and probably the most recognizable, we spotlight is DuckDuckGo.

Founded in 2008, DuckDuckGo is popular among users who are concerned about privacy online, and the privacy-friendly search engine recently said it had seen 2 billion total searches.

DDG

With DuckDuckGo, you can search for your questions and websites online anonymously.

DuckDuckGo does not compile entire profiles of user's search habits and behavior, and it also does not collect personal information.

DuckDuckGo is offered as a search engine option in all popular browsers.

In 2017, Brave added DuckDuckGo as a default search engine option when you use the browser on mobile or desktop. In Brave browser, your search results are powered by DuckDuckGo when you enter the private tabs (incognito).

Last year, Google also added DuckDuckGo to their list of search engines on Android and platforms. With iOS 14, Apple is now also allowing users to use DuckDuckGo as their preferred search engine.

Startpage

Unlike DuckDuckGo, Startpage is not crawling the internet to generate unique results, but instead, it allows users to obtain Google Search results while protecting their data.

Startpage started as a sister company of Ixquick, which was founded in 1998. In 2016, both websites were merged and Startpage owners received a significant investment from Privacy One Group last year.

This search engine also generates its income from advertising, but these ads are anonymously generated solely based on the search term you entered. Your information is not stored online or shared with other companies, such as Google.

StartPage

Startpage also comes with one interesting feature called "Annonymous View" that allows you to view links anonymously.

When you use this feature, Startpage renders the website in its container and the website won't be able to track you because it will see Startpage as the visitor.

Ecosia

The next search engine in our list is Ecosia.

Unlike any other search engines, Ecosia is a CO2-neutral search engine and it uses the revenue generated to plant trees. Ecosia's search results are provided by Bing and enhanced by the company's own algorithms.

Ecosia

Ecosia was first launched on 7 December 2009 and the company has donated most of its profits to plant trees across the world.

Ecosia says they're a privacy-friendly search engine and your searches are encrypted, which means the data is not stored permanently and sold to third-party advertisers.

List of privacy-friendly browsers:

Web browser developers have taken existing browser platforms such as Chrome and Firefox, and modified them to include more privacy-focuses features that protect your data while browsing the web.

Brave Browser

Brave is one of the fastest browser that is solely focused on privacy with features like private browsing, data saver, ad-free experience, bookmarks sync, tracking protections, HTTPs everywhere, and more.

Brave

Memory usage by Brave is far below Google Chrome and the browser is also available for both mobile and desktop.

You can download Brave from here.

Tor Browser

The Tor Browser is another browser that aims to protect your data, including your IP address, as you browse the web.

When browsing the web with Tor, your connections to web sites will be anonymous as your request will be routed through other computers and your real IP address is not shared. 

In addition, Tor bundles comes with the NoScript and HTTPS Everywhere extensions preinstalled, and clears your HTTP cookies on exit, to further protect your privacy.

Tor

firefox focus

Firefox Focus also comes with built-in ad blocker to improve your experience and block all trackers, including those operated by Google and Facebook.

You can download Tor browser from here.

Firefox Focus

Firefox Focus is also a great option if you use Android or iOS.

According to Mozilla, Firefox Focus blocks a wide range of online trackers, erases your history, passwords, cookies, and comes with a user-friendly interface.

 [Source: This article was published in bleepingcomputer.com By Mayank Parmar - Uploaded by the Association Member: Logan Hochstetler]

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

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