It seems that every day we see stories of companies that have been hacked and frequently millions of passwords, credit card numbers or other key pieces of information make their way out of the computers where they are stored.

It’s clear that the more information we have outside of our homes and on computers that are connected to the Internet, we run the risk of the information getting into the hands of people we don’t want to have it.

We also try to create secure connections between our applications so that prying eyes can’t see our communications.

I can’t say I believe this is working very well. Recent postings by WikiLeaks indicates tour intelligence services may have ways to read encrypted information we believed to be unreadable.

And our government isn’t the only group who has the interest and means to read things we don’t intend them to read.

For my communications, I take the perspective that everything I create digitally is probably readable by someone I don’t want to read it.

When it comes to things I may generally write, it helps me ensure I stay factual and true. This is a good thing.

When it comes to items such as passwords, account numbers and bank information, I try to use things like two-factor authentication to ensure that even if someone has my password, they can’t log in unless they enter a code sent to my mobile phone.

Luckily, the companies that are the biggest targets for these sorts of breaches have very sharp people working to secure their systems and our laws and their policies provide instant relief for things like unauthorized bank withdrawals.

Still, situations like identity theft, where someone pretends to be someone they’re not can be problematic for those affected. Even if someone who has been affected by identity theft loses no money, the time to repair the damage can be daunting and take years to correct.

So how can you protect yourself?

In most cases, try to keep your computers and mobile phones up to the most recent standards. Because this field is changing rapidly, staying current is a very good defense.

When companies offer features such as two-factor authentication, use them.

If you are concerned about communications being private, consider whether it should be sent digitally or perhaps in person. While this is not always possible, it is fair to assume that if your recipient can read something, so can someone else.

Privacy and security are legitimate concerns in today’s world. They have been for generations. We now have more and different ways to communicate and, therefore, need to be cognizant of the risks the new technologies bring.

Stay vigilant, stay honest and stay safe. A little care can go a long way to protecting you.

Mark Mathias is a 35+ year information technology executive, a resident of Westport, Connecticut. His columns can be read on the Internet at blog.mathias.org. He can be contacted at livingwith.

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Author : Mark Mathias

Source : http://www.newcanaannewsonline.com/news/article/Living-With-Technology-How-good-is-online-11009880.php 

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Folks online are worrying about a free genealogy site that lets users search for someone by name then provides the year the individual was born, possible relatives and associates and the person's addresses, past and present.

The personal information available on the FamilyTreeNow.com site is taken from free public databases and can be readily found on other search sites, in various forms, many of which charge for the information.

But an alarm was raised after a woman tweeted about it, friends and others shared the post and it went viral, prompting dozens of news stories. FamilyTreeNow.com has not responded to a request for an interview for this story.

Privacy and information experts say that how people manage access to their digitized data will continue to be a challenge because that information never goes away.

"Once information is digitized and posted anywhere on the web, it has virtually become perpetual and eternal," said University of Utah professor Randy Dryer, an expert in media, privacy and information law. "Even if it's removed shortly after it was posted, it's probably either cached on search engines or part of a backup that's maintained or else someone downloaded it. Once something's on the internet, there's permanency to it."

It's also likely impossible to restore privacy that U.S. law never protected.

"Privacy protection in the U.S., in general, is pretty weak," said Brigham Young University law professor Clark Asay, who teaches and writes about information privacy.

"Once information is public, people take it and use it how they like," he said, acknowledging it's a "little more unnerving when information is presented in consolidated form."

'The new oil'

Most people don't understand how much information is being collected. Dryer said personal information is gathered into massive databases regularly "and to a far more pervasive extent than most people realize, either voluntarily or involuntarily." 

Individuals readily provide information to Google, Facebook and other social networks. The sites' privacy policies — which most people opt into without actually reading — explain how they'll use the data. Some will sell it, sometimes in an individually not-identifiable form; some use it to target their advertising at specific consumers. Dryer said he's amazed at the sheer amount of information people provide in online surveys or when they register to win a free iPad.

The issue has been known for a long time. In 2014, Jacob Morgan, a futurist, keynote speaker and author of “The Future of Work," wrote in a column for Forbes that "most of (us) use Facebook, have iPhones, use Twitter, search on Google, and use the hundreds of other tools and platforms that companies have so graciously given us access to. We subscribe to newsletters, buy things online, take quizzes, allow our apps to access third-party websites, enter contests, and register for conferences. Simply loading a web page of any kind tracks some kind of information about you.”

Data that's directly provided allows those who collect it to infer other information, such as political affiliation, Dryer said. And collecting two piles of information that have something in common, like an email address, creates a fuller picture of the individual.

"There's no such thing as free in the online world," he said. "There's no fee to open a Facebook account, but Facebook probably has more information about individuals than any other entity, including the government." He warned that unless folks log out each time they leave the site, it tracks movement elsewhere on the web. "It knows what websites you visited, how long you were there and if you made purchases, not to mention what you like and dislike based on the things you click on while on Facebook."

Advertisers love that kind of information. "Say someone is putting together upscale vacations," Dryer said. "They can go to Facebook and get an ad targeted to everyone with a college education who is older than 15, has no children and earns over $200,000 a year.

"Personal data is the new oil. It has value and people are giving it away all the time, sometimes knowingly and perhaps not."

Risk and reward

Before the internet, people "enjoyed a certain amount of practical anonymity," according to Asay. Someone would have to make more effort to get information because it was not all in one place.

Still, Asay notes, "there are plenty of arguments that privacy concerns are exaggerated. Everyone says they're concerned about privacy, but if you give them 20 cents, they tell you whatever you want. … All the information allows us to do some amazing things." His list of amazing includes creating products that better meet consumer needs and that directly target the right buyer, too.

It's a mixed bag. Data available online makes it easier to find an old friend, but it may also make stalking more simple, as critics claim. And the right data could be a tool for identity theft, among other things. Folks bent on that crime can even employ the kind of online quiz that individuals love. It's important to watch the kind of question being asked. Often, they're remarkably similar to typical security questions.

Already there

FamilyTreeNow isn't particularly special in terms of finding information. I spent 20 minutes looking up names of co-workers on various sites to get a sense of how FamilyTreeNow.com compares to others that mine and then share public information.

FamilyTreeNow couldn't figure out who my husband was but did show that two colleagues use their middle names instead of their first names. As for possible relatives — for them and for me — it batted about 75 percent, similar to lists on other sites including the online white pages, 411.com and Spokeo.

Most of the other sites I noodled names on offer a deeper dive into personal information, including phone numbers, emails and criminal background checks for a fee. The genealogy site only provided a current address, correctly some of the time.

Crafting a careful Google search turned up similar information. When I looked up a friend's husband, I hit a virtual motherlode of data by following a Google search link to another data site I'd never heard of. It provided his current address, exact birthday, marital status, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus names, a list of 10 neighbors and their addresses, as well as names, ages and addresses of several relatives. Although more information was reportedly available for a fee, I didn't have to invest a penny to get all that.

Hard to escape the past

The U.S. government has tried to control use of some types of personal information. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act governs the sharing of health information, among other things, and includes patient privacy protections. The Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule is overseen by the Federal Trade Commission with an aim to protect online privacy of children under age 13. It's why kids younger than 13 are not supposed to have a Facebook account, for instance, although the behemoth online media site has no mechanism to verify age.

It's a far cry from protections created in the European Union, which has more rules governing data. "The EU views data as a commodity and says that the individual owns that commodity," Dryer said.

In the EU, unless one provides "affirmative dissent" — yes, please do keep this information — companies and databases cannot collect and use certain data. It applies to all segments of EU society and industry, said Dryer.

Europe also codified a "right to forget." America has not. Some U.S. media outlets are re-examining how to handle their story databases since the advent of search engines that pull up information quickly.

Dryer and Asay point to instances where U.S. newspapers, for example, have been asked to take down old stories. Say a former drug user who was the subject of a story has since cleaned up his life, but whenever a prospective employer searches for the person online, the old story comes up. Asay said news organizations are frequently asked to remove such stories — a controversial request.

"Even newspapers are thinking about the permanency of the internet — and an argument that one should not rewrite history," said Dryer, who noted that when he handled libel cases, "it used to be the only thing they wanted other than money was an apology. Now, more than money, they want the allegedly false story removed from online."

The story doesn't have to be wrong. People want unflattering portrayals to disappear, too. But even if a news organization complied, it doesn't mean the story won't surface, courtesy of previously mentioned data-saving efforts like caches.

That's led to the creation of another industry, Dryer said. People who call themselves "reputation managers" will try to get negative material online removed, or generate positive content so that the negative publicity is repressed. Sometimes it's a matter of creating enough good buzz that when the person's name comes up in an online search, any negative publicity is relegated to the third or fourth page of the search results. With short attention spans, most Americans don't scroll that far.

Source : http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865671757/Why-its-likely-impossible-to-restore-online-privacy.html

Categorized in Internet Privacy

The internet is much more than just the publicly available, Google-able web services most online users frequent – and that’s good for free expression. Companies frequently create private networks to enable employees to use secure corporate servers, for example. And free software allows individuals to create what are called “peer-to-peer” networks, connecting directly from one machine to another.

Unable to be indexed by current search engines, and therefore less visible to the general public, subnetworks like these are often called “darknets,” or collective as the singular “darknet.” These networks typically use software, such as Tor, that anonymizes the machines connecting to them, and encrypts the data traveling through their connections.

Some of what’s on the darknet is alarming. A 2015 story from Fox News reads:

“Perusing the darknet offers a jarring jaunt through jaw-dropping depravity: Galleries of child pornography, videos of humans having sex with animals, offers for sale of illegal drugs, weapons, stolen credit card numbers and fake identifications for sale. Even human organs reportedly from Chinese execution victims are up for sale on the darknet.”

But that’s not the whole story – nor the whole content and context of the darknet. Portraying the darknet as primarily, or even solely, for criminals ignores the societal forces that push people toward these anonymous networks. Our research into the content and activity of one major darknet, called Freenet, indicates that darknets should be understood not as a crime-ridden “Wild West,” but rather as “wilderness,” spaces that by design are meant to remain unsullied by the civilizing institutions – law enforcement, governments and corporations – that have come to dominate the internet.

There is definitely illegal activity on the darknet, as there is on the open internet. However, many of the people using the darknet have a diverse range of motives and activities, linked by a common desire to reclaim what they see as major benefits of technology: privacy and free speech.

Describing Freenet

Our research explored Freenet, an anonymous peer-to-peer network accessed via a freely downloadable application. In this type of network, there are no centralized servers storing information or transferring data. Rather, each computer that joins the network takes on some of the tasks of sharing information.

When a user installs Freenet, her computer establishes a connection to a small group of existing Freenet users. Each of these is connected in turn to other Freenet users’ computers. Through these connections, the entire contents of the network are available to any user. This design allows Freenet to be decentralized, anonymous and resistant to surveillance and censorship.

Freenet’s software requires users to donate a portion of their local hard drive space to store Freenet material. That information is automatically encrypted, so the computer’s owner does not know what files are stored or the contents of those files. Files shared on the network are stored on numerous computers, ensuring they will be accessible even if some people turn off their machines.

Joining the network

As researchers, we played the role of a novice Freenet user. The network allows many different types of interaction, including social networking sites and even the ability to build direct relationships with other users. But our goal was to understand what the network had to offer to a new user just beginning to explore the system.

There are several Freenet sites that have used web crawlers to index the network, offering a sort of directory of what is available. We visited one of these sites to download their list. From the 4,286 total sites in the index we chose, we selected a random sample of 427 sites to visit and study more closely. The sites with these indexes are a part of the Freenet network, and therefore can be accessed only by users who have downloaded the software. Standard search engines cannot be used to find sites on Freenet.

An introductory page on Freenet. Roderick Graham and Brian Pitman, CC BY-ND

Finding a ‘hacker ethic’

What we found indicated that Freenet is dominated by what scholars call a “hacker ethic.” This term encompasses a group of progressive and libertarian beliefs often espoused by hackers, which are primarily concerned with these ideals:

  • Access to information should be free;
  • Technology can, and should, improve people’s lives;
  • Bureaucracy and authority are not to be trusted;
  • A resistance to conventional and mainstream lifestyles

Some of that may be because using darknet technology often requires additional technical understanding. In addition, people with technical skills may be more likely to want to find, use and even create services that have technological protections against surveillance.

Our reading of hacking literature suggests to us that the philosophical and ideological beliefs driving darknet users are not well-known. But without this context, what we observed on Freenet would be hard to make sense of.

There were Freenet sites for sharing music, e-books and video. Many sites were focused around personal self-expression, like regular internet blogs. Others were dedicated to promoting a particular ideology. For example, socialist and libertarian content was common. Still other sites shared information from whistle-blowers or government documents, including a copy of the Wikileaks website’s data, complete with its “Afghan War Diary” of classified documents about the United States military invasion of Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

With the hacker ethic as a guide, we can understand that most of this content is from individuals who have a deep mistrust of authority, reject gross materialism and conformity, and wish to live their digital lives free of surveillance.

What about crime?

There is criminal activity on Freenet. About a quarter of the sites we observed either delivered or linked to child pornography. This is alarming, but must be seen in the proper context. Legal and ethical limits on researchers make it very hard to measure the magnitude of pornographic activity online, and specifically child pornography.

Once we came upon a site that purported to have child pornography, we left the site immediately without investigating further. For example, we did not seek to determine whether there was just one image or an entire library or marketplace selling pornographic content. This was a good idea from the perspectives of both law and ethics, but did not allow us to gather any real data about how much pornography was actually present.

Other research suggests that the presence of child pornography is not a darknet or Freenet problem, but an internet problem. Work from the the Association for Sites Advocating Child Protection points to pervasive sharing of child pornography well beyond just Freenet or even the wider set of darknets. Evaluating the darknet should not stop just at the presence of illegal material, but should extend to its full content and context.

A pie chart shows the share of Freenet sites devoted to particular types of content. Roderick Graham and Brian Pitman, CC BY-ND

With this new information, we can look more accurately at the darknet. It contains many distinct spaces catering to a wide range of activities, from meritorious to abhorrent. In this sense, the darknet is no more dangerous than the rest of the internet. And darknet services do provide anonymity, privacy, freedom of expression and security, even in the face of a growing surveillance state.

The Conversation

The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

Source : http://siouxcityjournal.com/opinion/columnists/far-beyond-crime-ridden-depravity-darknets-are-key-strongholds-of/article_03394871-e577-510a-82b2-e23102e327d5.html

Categorized in Deep Web

Google’s Director of Strategy and Operations for Asia Pacific, Spaniard Bárbara Navarro is a high achiever and as demanding of herself as she is of others – overly so, she would say. She’s also a born leader and passionate about tackling new challenges.

Born in Madrid 42 years ago to a senior energy executive, she graduated in law at the Spanish capital’s Comillas University, studied an executive MBA at the prestigious IESE Business School and started working for Google in 2007. She is the mother of three girls aged three, six and 11 and lives in Hong Kong, from where she promotes the digital explosion in Asia – a vast region with a population of over four billion.

Politicians who are not up on technology are scared of tech companies with the power to engineer change

Both a marathon runner and a meditation buff, Bárbara recognizes the dilemma inherent in either operating under the censorship of the Chinese government or ignoring the massive Chinese market. But the Asian consumer is already setting the pace of digital innovation, she says, and it won’t be long before the big Chinese tech companies take the inevitable leap towards globalization.

Question. Google is much more than a search engine as became obvious from the political-diplomatic dispute that unraveled over its supposed omission of the label ‘Palestine’ on Google Maps. What is Google’s diplomatic strategy in regions riven by conflict?

Answer: Google’s strategy is to remain as neutral as possible. Our mission is to make information universally accessible and to make freedom of speech a principle that is respected, but it’s not always possible to avoid conflict.

Q. You describe yourself as both self-taught and a natural leader. How do those characteristics make your job easier?

A. They allow me to face challenges and not be afraid of making mistakes. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, including big ones, but the key is to take responsibility for them, correct them and learn from them. At times, I’ve managed my team badly, without knowing how to recognize their strengths and motivate them properly. I am very demanding of myself and, perhaps because of that, I have at times been overly demanding of others.

Q. Your life seems to have followed an unbroken course. You were born into a wealthy family and you were a good student with clear ideas. You graduated from prestigious universities, set your goals and worked on you skills until landing an important role.

A. That’s a simplification but it’s fairly accurate, although I have to say that there were a few setbacks on the way because I haven’t always been a good student and because I have had to invest a lot of energy, effort and determination to get where I am today.

Q. What childhood memory first comes to mind?

A. When I was six or seven years old, my family moved to America and I refused to learn English. But I needed to communicate with my new friends so I decided to teach them Spanish. Also, adventures with my three brothers. We formed a band without a lot of success [laughs]. And I still haven’t forgotten when they ganged up on me and chucked me out of the bedroom. It still hurts!

Q. You must have done something to make them behave like that. Maybe you tried to give them English classes…

A. Not at all. They were just that way inclined [laughs]. I think part of my personality was shaped right there. But I get on really well with them.

Q. How does a young mother with three children manage to become a senior executive at Google? How did you manage to break through the glass ceiling?

A. Through making personal and family sacrifices. My husband and children are pillars of energy and affection. We try to make sure the time we have together is quality time, although we don’t always achieve that ideal level!

I don’t mind admitting moving to Google Asia has been much harder than I thought it would be," says Bárbara Navarro.

Q. Between work and family, is there any time left over for you?

A. I do make time for myself. I run, I meditate and I go out with my friends. I need that to keep balanced and sort out my ideas. Sport is part of my life because if I feel good physically, I’m better mentally too. Running is hard, but I’m very stubborn and it’s very satisfying to have pushed yourself to the limit. There’s also the moment of glory when you cross the finishing line.

Q. Why are so many senior executives addicted to running?

A. Because effort, pleasure and the ability to endure are all linked. There’s a clear correlation between the challenge of running and the challenge of work. In both cases, you have to push yourself mentally and test the limits of your capabilities. Over long distances, 80% is down to your mind and 20% is your body.

Q. So running has become a training ground for work?

A. You could see it like that, but effort, discipline and sacrifice also help me to juggle my career with family life and personal affairs. Life is like a marathon.

Q. Has the leap from Google Europe to Google Asia been a culture shock?

A. I don’t mind admitting that it has been much harder for me than I thought it would be – I have had a tough time. I underestimated what the change would entail. I have had to reinvent myself a little, unlearn some things and learn others.

Q. What have you had to unlearn?

A. “The idea that things and people can’t be so different in other parts of the world. In Asia, a ‘yes’ and ‘no’ don’t necessarily mean the same as they do here in Spain. For example, instead of directly rejecting an idea or project, you find that its development gets put on hold or meetings to move it forward get delayed. For a long time I was under the impression that I was not making myself understood.”

The average Asian is a very sophisticated, permanently connected consumer who is setting the pace.


Q. How do you manage in meetings with senior officials in countries such as Saudi Arabia where women’s rights are not respected?

A. It’s a country that came under my remit, but I have not been there in a professional capacity, nor in others where women have to wear the veil. In hierarchical situations where women aren’t considered equal to men, meetings can be a real challenge.

Q. Have you ever felt discriminated against because of your sex?

A. Not as a general rule. Although there are noticeable differences in the treatment of women from one country to another, the established hierarchy is what dictates relationships in the workplace to the point where having executive power renders being a man or a woman irrelevant.

Q. What strengths can Google draw on when it comes to working within dictatorships?

A. The support of its users and a technology that is trying to change the world for the better. Our products try to be useful and build platforms for expressing opinion. That’s our view.

Q. Who is scared of Google?

A. Politicians who are not digital natives or don’t know about the use and potential of transforming technologies are scared not only of Google but of all tech companies with the power to engineer change.

Q. Is there any reason to fear new technology?

A. We should learn to use it and know what impact it can have on our lives. We seek to develop the best products, taking into account that consumers are demanding and the sector is extremely competitive.

Q. How do you respond to the charge by the European authorities that Google abuses its dominant position in the market?

"We have had long discussions about operating under censorship this because freedom of expression is in our DNA." GIANFRANCO TRIPODO 

A. The charge is being investigated but there are other countries, such as Canada, that have decided Google doesn’t have a monopoly. Perhaps what’s missing is a proper grasp of the technology market where some authorities are concerned. In Europe, we need to learn to relax regulations so they don’t strangle innovation.

Q. What about the charges that Google has been dodging taxes?

A. We act in accordance with the tax laws in each of the countries in which we operate, but if politicians don’t think that’s enough, they only have to change the laws and we will abide by them. I think entities such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development would be perfect forums for establishing regulations. Everybody would be happier with an easier and more transparent system.

Q. On my phone, Google Maps knows where I’m going to be and when, given that Booking.com sends me the confirmation of a reservation by Gmail. Is keeping that information ethical in your opinion?

A. As soon as we download an application and accept the terms of use, we are authorizing this information to be stored. Data is fundamental to innovation and the development of new products. But managing our privacy is up to us.

Q. The internet is a jungle in which anyone can use lies to attack the reputation of another and then give the attack more prominence and increase damage by employing certain techniques. After the US elections, Google announced it was implementing measures against websites that were putting out misleading or false information. Are you also planning measures to defend the reputation of victims of libel?

A. Any user can ask Google to de-index a URL – the address of a web page, video or image on internet – but they need to justify their request. Google then evaluates whether to carry it out or not. Users can also ask us for the removal of content from other platforms such as Blogger, YouTube and Google+ but they should know that just because Google has de-indexed it, it won’t necessarily disappear from Internet. We advise users to go the source of the information and ask for its removal. If this happens, Google will no longer index it.

Q. So you have to wait for libelers and slanderers to voluntarily remove their slander? It’s as if you leave your rights to honor and privacy at the door when you enter the virtual universe of Internet.

A. There’s a form for de-indexing requests you can consult “How to remove content from Google” and follow the steps.

Q. So Google doesn’t consider itself responsible for the protection of those rights?

A. We are a search engine that collects information that already exists on Internet. We don’t create it.

Q. What do you think about the effect Google has had on journalism? Do you think the PageRank algorithm as it is currently designed is sufficiently respectful of the press when it ranks sites according to the number of hits and links rather than the quality of the content?

A. Google has had commercial and innovation agreements with the press for years. We have launched a project to train editorial offices in the use of technology and to collaborate with the industry in the creation of innovative products. We have a budget of €150 million to finance journalistic innovation projects.

Life is like a marathon. The effort, the discipline and the sacrifices help me to juggle my career with family life

Q. Is Asia overtaking Silicon Valley in digital innovation?

A. The cellphone connectivity that allows access to content and purchases on this side of the world – where more than 50% of its population lives – is greater than in the US and Europe. Countries such as India have ambitious entrepreneurial and digital programs. China has tech companies that are right up there and a market of more than 700 million people connected to the internet. The big change will come when these big companies go global and that’s around the corner. They will be able to tap into a billion more users from India and Indonesia, making Asia the key player in digital innovation. The average Asian is a very sophisticated, permanently connected consumer who is setting the pace. The selfie was born here.

Q. Government censorship is at work in many countries, posing the dilemma of whether to operate under these conditions or abandon these markets. Is it better to stay and offer at least some platform for freedom of expression than to withdraw?

A. We have had long discussions about this because freedom of expression is in our DNA. We believe that our presence provides people with opportunities and we fight against the removal of content that we believe falls within the framework of freedom of expression. Getting the balance right is not always easy.

Q. Google withdrew from China when it was announced that the Chinese government was investigating Google users. It doesn’t look as though the Chinese authorities have agreed to stop censoring content or keeping an eye on users, or limiting the field of Google Play. Are there negotiations in progress with a view to Google returning to China?

A. I’m sorry but I can’t talk about that right now. What I can say is that we run the risk of creating a bigger gulf between that part of humanity which can connect freely and people who are subject to all kinds of limitations. And that has consequences.


Source : http://elpais.com/elpais/2017/01/09/inenglish/1483961206_806036.html

Categorized in Internet Privacy
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