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Source: This article was Published searchengineland.com By Barry Schwartz - Contributed by Member: Rebecca Jenkins

Remember the early days of "not provided"? Well, Google Search Console has begun removing some query data for "privacy" reasons.

Google has quietly posted that they are now removing query data from the Google Search Console reports that they identify as “anonymous queries.” Google said, “an anonymous query is a query submitted only a few users.” Google added that they “omit these queries from results to protect user privacy.”

Google said the amount of queries removed depend on the site, Google said: “some sites will have very few unique queries; other sites will have a large proportion of anonymous queries.”

Google wrote on the page:

Chart totals no longer include anonymous* (rare) queries when you apply a query filter. Previously, the chart totals included all anonymous queries when a “Queries not containing:” filter was applied. Because of this, you might see a drop in clicks and impressions when adding a filter that excludes specific queries. We believe that omitting anonymous queries from all query-filtered results is more consistent.

Back in 2011, Google removed query data from their reports when they began moving Google search results to HTTPS. When Google made this move, it was about protecting user’s privacy to disallow people from sniffing Google’s searches. But Google told webmasters that they will be able to get all this data securely in Google Search Console. Now, with this change, Google is now also removing some query data from Google Search Console as well.

Categorized in Search Engine

 Source: This article was Published ifsecglobal.com By John Mason - Contributed by Member: Grace Irwin

Google voice search makes finding what you need even easier.

Just say “OK Google,” tell your phone or tablet what you want to find, and you’ll get results. Or use the microphone icon in your browser.

There’s even an official Chrome extension that combines voice search with Google Docs dictation, so you can type a document without touching a keyboard.

It’s really cool technology, but like most convenient tech, there are some tradeoffs.

In this case, the biggest trade-off is privacy. Voice search comes with some “features” that you might not be aware of, and privacy enthusiasts find those features a bit worrying. (Fortunately, you can mitigate them with a few clicks if you know where to look; we’ll get to that in a moment.)

First, let’s talk about how Google voice search is changing human-computer interaction.

Google Voice Search: The future of search

For years, Google has been making it easier to find the information you want on the internet. Extremely refined algorithms, sophisticated tracking and scoring, and integration with a variety of other services all remove barriers to getting great search results.

Voice search is an extension of that. If you can’t – or just don’t want to – type your query, all you need to do is speak it and Google will take a look. You can use it to search other search engines (like DuckDuckGo, which is much more privacy-focused), Wikipedia, YouTube, Wolfram Alpha, and a wide variety of other sites.

Google Assistant, a more powerful companion to simple voice search, will help you find photos, send text messages, keep your shopping list, and even order products.

It’s clear that Google is betting heavily on voice technology, and that it’s working. A 2018 survey by Stone Temple found that 16% of people prefer to use voice search over any other method.

And 60% used voice search at least some of the time. Users also took advantage of voice tech for sending texts, making calls, getting directions, and setting reminders.

Google stores every voice command that you’ve ever given your device

Why do so many prefer voice-enabled apps? Mostly because it saves time. Over 60% said that they use voice because it’s fast. But the fact that it’s accurate, doesn’t require typing, and results in an audio answer were mentioned, too.

The past few years have seen increased usage of voice search and other voice-enabled technologies, and it’s unlikely to slow down any time soon. Google is leading the way in making it easier for users to interact with their devices using their voice.

But this convenience has a cost that many people aren’t aware of: privacy.

Why privacy advocates are wary of Google Voice Search

Most people using Google’s voice products without much thought. They say “OK Google,” or hold down the home button on their device, and start talking. When they’re done with the search, they forget about it.

But Google doesn’t.

It stores every voice command that you’ve ever given your device, plus a few seconds of audio before you gave the command. Which means that Google is always listening through your phone. They might not be saving everything you say near the device, but they’re always listening.

And much of it is saved. In fact, you can see how much. Head to myactivity.google.com and you’ll see the data that Google has stored. If you’ve used voice search recently, you should be able to find a record of it and even listen to the stored audio.

It’s a little unnerving, hearing the things you said to your phone played back to you from your computer

It’s a little unnerving, hearing the things you said to your phone played back to you from your computer, and knowing that it’s coming from Google’s servers.

And, of course, we all know what Google does with your information that’s stored on its servers: analyzes it and uses it to serve you ads. That, combined with the fact that your phone is always listening and ready to record audio, has privacy enthusiasts worried.

What you can do to protect your privacy from Google Voice Search

The most obvious thing you can do to mitigate the privacy concerns of using Google voice search is to simply not use it. If you turn Google Assistant off, it won’t be listening, and it won’t be recording anything.

To turn it off, open Google Assistant, then tap the blue icon in the upper-right corner. Hit the three dots in the upper-right corner of the resulting screen and select Settings. Tap the name of your device, and move the slider for Google Assistant to the off position.

Of course, that means you won’t be able to use the full power voice search. And that’s inconvenient. But if you’re concerned about privacy, it might be worth it.

Especially because Google’s voice search capabilities may not work very well when you’re using a VPN. And using a high-quality, secure VPN is one of the most important things you can do to keep your mobile data safe.

If you want to keep using voice search, you can tell Google to stop recording and storing what you say. You can do this by going to myactivity.google.com, selecting Activity Controls from the sidebar menu, and scrolling down to Voice & Audio Activity. Click the slider to pause it.

This will prevent the storage of your voice searches and activity. That means Google won’t be using it to target ads . . . but it also means that it won’t be as good at recognizing your voice, have as much data for learning speech recognition, or learn things that might help it solve your problems.

But it’s a step in the right direction for privacy.

Weigh the options

Unfortunately, keeping your data secure means not getting as many benefits from Google’s voice-recognition technologies as you might otherwise. So you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of privacy versus the convenience of Google voice search and similar services.

In an age when privacy is increasingly threatened, it’s easy to assume that all of your data will end up in Google’s hands anyway. But if you put up a bit of a fight, you just might be able to maintain a bit of control over your data.

Categorized in How to

Source: This article was Published cbsnews.com - Contributed by Member: Bridget Miller

Even if "Location History" is off on your phone, Google often still stores your precise location.

Here are some things you can do to delete those markers and keep your location as private as possible. But there's no panacea because simply connecting to the internet on any device flags an IP address, a numeric designation that can be geographically mapped. Smartphones also connect to cell towers, so your carrier knows your general location at all times.

To prevent further tracking

For any device:

Fire up your browser and go to myactivity.google.com . Sign into Google if you haven't already. On the upper left drop-down menu, go to "Activity Controls." Turn off both "Web & App Activity" and "Location History." That should prevent precise location markers from being stored to your Google account.

Google will warn you that some of its services won't work as well with these settings off. In particular, neither the Google Assistant, a digital concierge, nor the Google Home smart speaker will be particularly useful.

On iOS:

If you use Google Maps, adjust your location setting to "While Using" the app; this will prevent the app from accessing your location when it's not active. Go to Settings - Privacy - Location Services and from there select Google Maps to make the adjustment.

In the Safari web browser, consider using a search engine other than Google. Under Settings - Safari - Search Engine, you can find other options like Bing or DuckDuckGo. You can turn location off while browsing by going to Settings - Privacy - Location Services - Safari Websites, and turn this to "Never." (This still won't prevent advertisers from knowing your rough location based on IP address on any website.)

You can also turn Location Services off to the device almost completely from Settings - Privacy - Location Services. Both Google Maps and Apple Maps will still work, but they won't know where you are on the map and won't be able to give you directions. Emergency responders will still be able to find you if the need arises.

On Android:

Under the main settings icon click on "Security & location." Scroll down to the "Privacy" heading. Tap "Location." You can toggle it off for the entire device.

Use "App-level permissions" to turn off access to various apps. Unlike the iPhone, there is no setting for "While Using." You cannot turn off Google Play services, which supplies your location to other apps if you leave that service on.

Sign in as a "guest" on your Android device by swiping down from the top and tapping the downward-facing caret, then again on the torso icon. Be aware of which services you sign in on, like Chrome.

You can also change search engines even in Chrome.

To delete past location tracking

For any device:

On the page myactivity.google.com , look for any entry that has a location pin icon beside the word "details." Clicking on that pops up a window that includes a link that sometimes says "From your current location." Clicking on it will open Google Maps, which will display where you were at the time.

You can delete it from this popup by clicking on the navigation icon with the three stacked dots and then "Delete."

Some items will be grouped in unexpected places, such as topic names, google.com, Search, or Maps. You have to delete them item by item. You can wholesale delete all items in date ranges or by service but will end up taking out more than just location markers.

Categorized in How to

Source: This article was Published legalreader.com By Olivia Ryan - Contributed by Member: Barbara Larson

Can you imagine life without Google or spending more than a few seconds searching for any information? I bet you can’t because it’s a privilege that makes your life much easier and more comfortable. But there is a big problem with search engines – they damage privacy and it becomes an issue.

It’s almost impossible to protect personal data since everybody is collecting information these days. For instance, Facebook recently announced that it can track even non-users when they visit a site or app that uses their services.

In such circumstances, it is crucial to understand how search engines function and what they do with your personal data. This post will explain to you how things work in this field.

How Search Engines Collect Data

Search engines possess every user’s browsing history. It may not sound like much, but let’s see what it really means in case of the biggest player on the search engine market, Google.

This company collects all sorts of user-related data, but it can be divided into three basic sections:

  • Things you do. Google monitors every action you take online, including search queries, websites you visit, videos you watch, ads that you click on or tap, your location, device information, and IP address and cookie data.
  • Things that you create. This section consists of emails you send and receive on Gmail, contacts that you add, calendar events, and photos or videos that you upload. Besides that, it holds documents, sheets, and slides on Drive.
  • Things about you. These are essentially personal information such as your name, email address and password, date of birth, gender, telephone number, and location.

It’s a short list of data mining units, but it obviously consists of everything you’ve ever done online. Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last couple of decades, Google knows a lot about you and uses this information to provide you with tailored online experience.

Why Search Engines Accumulate Personal Information

The more you know about users, the easier you can approach them. Search engines know this very well and so they collect personal information to enhance their services. First of all, they do it to improve website ranking.

According to SEO specialists at aussiewritings.com, Google analyzes user behavior and learns how people react to online content, which helps this company to upgrade search engine algorithms. As the result, only the best and most popular websites can make it to the first page in search results.

Secondly, Google can serve you personalized ads because it knows what you do, feels, and like. It can put things into perspective and display the right advertisement at just about the right time. That way, Google drastically improves the effectiveness of digital advertising.

How Does It Jeopardize Privacy?

With so much information hovering around the Internet, it is reasonable to assume that security breaches will happen from time to time. Identity theft is one of the biggest concerns because it’s getting easier to find someone’s personal information online and use it to steal their money.

Most websites ask you to leave your name, email, and birthday. Although it seems like nothing more than useless basic information, hackers can easily exploit it to access your bank account or any other digital property for that matter.

At the same time, continuous data accumulation also means humans are being treated primarily as consumers. You can’t hide from search engines – they will always find you and serve you customized ads.

If you are a 30-year-old mother, they will offer you baby clothing. If you are a high school boy, they will suggest you buy video games. In each case, there is no way to hide from search engines and that’s something that scares us all.

Final Thoughts

Search engines damage privacy and it becomes an issue because there is no way to protect yourself completely. Google and other platforms use personal information to improve user experience and customize advertising, but it comes with a cost.

Categorized in Search Engine

Source: This article was Published productwatch.co By Kevin Meyer - Contributed by Member: David J. Redcliff

I don’t think I’m blowing your mind when I say most sites are trying to collect your data. If you don’t have to pay for the product, you are the product — it’s the reason Movie Pass doesn’t mind taking a loss if you see more than one movie a month, though who knows how long that experiment will last.

So, if you want to protect your privacy, you will have to put in some effort. Thankfully, there are services you can use to make your job easier. And we’ll show you both which ones are efficient, and how to use them.

uBlock Origin

The very first extension you should get when you get a new device is a good ad-blocker. Not many are better than uBlock Origin. Essentially, this service will filter the content you see in your browser. Also, unlike other ad-blockers, uBlock doesn’t slow your browser down.

Furthermore, using it is a breeze. All you need to do is install the extension and let it run. The default settings are such that the standard filters for ads, privacy, and malware are active. You just need to let the extension run.

In the meantime, if you want to change the settings, you can easily do so by clicking the shield icon next to your URL bar.

BitDefender

BitDefender is one of the biggest companies that offer device protection services. In fact, if you choose to use their products, you will be one of over 500 million users they have. They offer multiple tools that can protect your computer from harm. And, more importantly for this article, they also offer online privacy tools. For example, their BitDefender VPN tool is possibly the best VPN tool you can get.

The interface is rather simple, and once you start using the tool, you will see how easy it can be to protect yourself.

Unshorten.It

Short URLs were very popular when they first came out. After all, they are a lot tidier than the usual bunch of symbols you might get. However, not long after, they became one of the serious threats to your computer’s safety. Namely, even though the link says it is going to take you to a funny site, it might just take you to a site that will mug you instead.

Naturally, you might want to get a tool that will let you analyze the said short URLs. That is where unshorten. It comes into play. This service lets you see exactly what page you will visit if you follow the link. It will give you the description, the safety ratings, and even screenshots of web pages you might unwittingly visit.

HTTPS Everywhere

Do you want to have Internet privacy, but you are not ready to go as far as using Tor? Well, in that case, it seems like HTTPS is the right extension for you. This Chrome, Firefox, and Opera extension will let you encrypt your communications on almost all major websites. Thankfully, a lot of websites already support encryption over HTTPS. But, they tend to make it difficult to use properly. On the other hand, using HTTPS Everywhere is easy and intuitive. Overall, it is a great way to make your surfing a lot safer.

No Coin

Another danger of using unknown websites lies in the fact that many of them will use your resources to mine cryptocurrencies. In essence, these websites will hack your device and use its processing power for themselves.

Now, you might think it’s not that bad. You are only on the website for a couple of minutes at a time. But, the issue doesn’t stop there. Namely, once they do hack your device, they can keep using it for a long time after you visit their website. Thankfully, you can use No Coin to stop the websites from doing this to you. With this service, you should see noticeable improvements in your computer’s performance.

Punycode Alert

Punycode Alert is an extension that will give you a notification if you venture onto a phishing website that uses Unicode to trick you. For those who don’t know what phishing is, in layman’s terms, it is a practice of stealing someone’s information by setting up an imitation of a successful website.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for phishing websites to trick people out of thousands of dollars. The reason these traps are incredibly effective is that their URLs look exactly like you would expect them to. So, you might very well follow a URL that reads as “apple.com” and ends up on a completely different website. We definitely recommend using Punycode Alert to protect yourself from such websites.

LastPass

Coming up with good passwords is not easy. You might think that your birthday is as good a password as any, but that couldn’t be further away from the truth. Fact is, a lot of people use passwords that are too weak to protect their data. And the reason for that is simple – they don’t want to bother with remembering complex passwords.

That is where LastPass comes in. This tool will let you store all of your passwords and use them without having to type them out. In essence, this password manager will let you use unbeatable passwords without having to worry about forgetting them.

ProtonVPN

Using VPN services is of utmost importance if you want your data to remain safe. And ProtonVPN is one of the best providers you can find. The company behind this service created ProtonVPN to give protection to activists and journalists around the world. And, not only that, but it will also let you avoid Internet censorship and visit websites that are trying to lock you and other people from your country out.

1.1.1.1

If you don’t feel like you want to go to extremes to protect your data, but you still don’t want your DNS resolver to sell your data to advertisers, you might want to consider using 1.1.1.1. This service, in essence, is a public DNS resolver that respects your privacy and offers you a fast way to browse the web.

DuckDuckGo

The first thought that might pop into your mind when you want to search for something online is probably: “I’ll just Google it.” However, you should be aware by now that Google is not only guilty of storing your data, but it also doesn’t offer the same results to everyone. In fact, it is almost impossible to find unbiased results by using Google. However, DuckDuckGo will help you protect your privacy and give you objective search results. And, you don’t have to do a lot to make this change. Simply switch to DuckDuckGo as your primary search engine, and you are good to go.

 

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Source: This article was published forbes.com By John F. Wasik - Contributed by Member: Corey Parker

Some people collect baseball cards or ceramic figurines. I collect scams, which come in all varieties.

These days, I don't have to go far to see how thieves all over the world are operating. I just go to my spam folder. The most obvious scams are sitting there.

All online scams have one thing in common: They want to tap your greed to get at the personal information they can steal. These "phishing" ruses are happening 24/7.

Here are a few gems I discovered:

-- "Bank of America" email. It would be wonderful if Bank of America owed me money. But since I've never had an account there, that would be the first time.

Here's how the email, with the subject "Message from Bank of America," read:

"Be informed that we have verified your payment file as directed to us and your name is next on the list of our outstanding fund beneficiaries to receive their payment.

Be advised that because of too many funds beneficiaries, you are entitled to receive the sum of $14.5M,(Fourteen Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars only), as to enable us to pay other eligible beneficiaries.

To facilitate with the process of this transaction, please kindly re-confirm the following information below:

  1. Your Full Name:
  2. Your Full Address:
  3. Your Contact Telephone and Fax No:
  4. Your Profession, Age, and Marital Status:
  5. Any Valid Form of Your Identification/Driver's License:
  6. Bank Name:
  7. Bank Address:
  8. Account Name:
  9. Account Number:
  10. Swift Code:
  11. Routing Number:"

Wow, all I have to do is send them all of my personal and financial information and they will send me $14.5 million. What a deal! By the way, Bank of America has nothing to do with this message, as if you haven't already surmised. 

This is a fairly typical banking scam. They will ask for information so that they can access anything from your credit cards to your checking account. Never reply to these emails.

-- American Embassy Note. It would be really neat if the U.S. government owed me money as well. Boy, I'd sure like to get some of my hard-earned tax dollars back -- just for being a good citizen.

Here's a novel approach that pairs the U.S. Embassy with an African Bank, no less (note the bad syntax):

"American Embassy in conjunction with the United Bank For African, has come to agreement to send your funds in consignment worth about $7.5 Million USD without any further delay and they have done as instructed by the United Nation, as matter of fact your funds has already arrived in one of the airports in your country but the diplomat signaled us that she lost your contact address as result of security inspection and screening in the airport."

How kind of the United (sic) Nation to get involved. But they could use a proofreader if they want people to fall for this swindle.

-- Your Order Has Arrived/Shipping Status. These emails will appear to come from Amazon or some other e-commerce transaction.

They aren't really banking scams, but they will ask you to click a link and ask for personal information. You will pay dearly if you do.

How to avoid a phishing scam? Just don't open any email with an offer to send you money or one pretending to be from a bank, which will mostly send you paper notices.

And never send personal or financial information to an email address, even if you think you know who it is.

It's that simple and it will save you a lot of aggravation — and money.

Categorized in Internet Privacy

 Source: This article was published nytimes.com By GABRIEL J.X. DANCE, NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, and MICHAEL LaFORGIA - Contributed by Member: Linda Manly

As Facebook sought to become the world’s dominant social media service, it struck agreements allowing phone and other device makers access to vast amounts of its users’ personal information.

Facebook has reached data-sharing partnerships with at least 60 device makers — including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung — over the last decade, starting before Facebook apps were widely available on smartphones, company officials said. The deals allowed Facebook to expand its reach and let device makers offer customers popular features of the social network, such as messaging, “like” buttons and address books.

But the partnerships, whose scope has not previously been reported, raise concerns about the company’s privacy protections and compliance with a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission. Facebook allowed the device companies access to the data of users’ friends without their explicit consent, even after declaring that it would no longer share such information with outsiders. Some device makers could retrieve personal information even from users’ friends who believed they had barred any sharing, The New York Times found.

[Here’s what we know about Facebook’s partnerships with device makers.]

Most of the partnerships remain in effect, though Facebook began winding them down in April. The company came under intensifying scrutiny by lawmakers and regulators after news reports in March that a political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, misused the private information of tens of millions of Facebook users.

In the furor that followed, Facebook’s leaders said that the kind of access exploited by Cambridge in 2014 was cut off by the next year, when Facebook prohibited developers from collecting information from users’ friends. But the company officials did not disclose that Facebook had exempted the makers of cellphones, tablets and other hardware from such restrictions.

“You might think that Facebook or the device manufacturer is trustworthy,” said Serge Egelman, a privacy researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies the security of mobile apps. “But the problem is that as more and more data is collected on the device — and if it can be accessed by apps on the device — it creates serious privacy and security risks.”

In interviews, Facebook officials defended the data sharing as consistent with its privacy policies, the F.T.C. agreement and pledges to users. They said its partnerships were governed by contracts that strictly limited use of the data, including any stored on partners’ servers. The officials added that they knew of no cases where the information had been misused.

The company views its device partners as extensions of Facebook, serving its more than two billion users, the officials said.

“These partnerships work very differently from the way in which app developers use our platform,” said Ime Archibong, a Facebook vice president. Unlike developers that provide games and services to Facebook users, the device partners can use Facebook data only to provide versions of “the Facebook experience,” the officials said.

Some device partners can retrieve Facebook users’ relationship status, religion, political leaning and upcoming events, among other data. Tests by The Times showed that the partners requested and received data in the same way other third parties did.

Facebook’s view that the device makers are not outsiders lets the partners go even further, The Times found: They can obtain data about a user’s Facebook friends, even those who have denied Facebook permission to share information with any third parties.

In interviews, several former Facebook software engineers and security experts said they were surprised at the ability to override sharing restrictions.

“It’s like having door locks installed, only to find out that the locksmith also gave keys to all of his friends so they can come in and rifle through your stuff without having to ask you for permission,” said Ashkan Soltani, a research and privacy consultant who formerly served as the F.T.C.’s chief technologist.

How One Phone Gains Access to Hundreds of Thousands of Facebook Accounts

After connecting to Facebook, the BlackBerry Hub app was able to retrieve detailed data on 556 of Mr. LaForgia's friends, including relationship status, religious and political leanings and events they planned to attend. Facebook has said that it cut off third parties' access to this type of information in 2015, but that it does not consider BlackBerry a third party in this case.

The Hub app was also able to access information — including unique identifiers — on 294,258 friends of Mr. LaForgia's friends.

By Rich Harris and Gabriel J.X. Dance

Details of Facebook’s partnerships have emerged amid a reckoning in Silicon Valley over the volume of personal information collected on the internet and monetized by the tech industry. The pervasive collection of data, while largely unregulated in the United States, has come under growing criticism from elected officials at home and overseas and provoked concern among consumers about how freely their information is shared.

In a tense appearance before Congress in March, Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, emphasized what he said was a company priority for Facebook users.“Every piece of content that you share on Facebook you own,” he testified. ”You have complete control over who sees it and how you share it.”

But the device partnerships provoked discussion even within Facebook as early as 2012, according to Sandy Parakilas, who at the time led third-party advertising and privacy compliance for Facebook’s platform.

“This was flagged internally as a privacy issue,” said Mr. Parakilas, who left Facebook that year and has recently emerged as a harsh critic of the company. “It is shocking that this practice may still continue six years later, and it appears to contradict Facebook’s testimony to Congress that all friend permissions were disabled.”

The partnerships were briefly mentioned in documents submitted to German lawmakers investigating the social media giant’s privacy practices and released by Facebook in mid-May. But Facebook provided the lawmakers with the name of only one partner — BlackBerry, maker of the once-ubiquitous mobile device — and little information about how the agreements worked.

The submission followed testimony by Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president for global public policy, during a closed-door German parliamentary hearing in April. Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker, one of the lawmakers who questioned Mr. Kaplan, said in an interview that she believed the data partnerships disclosed by Facebook violated users’ privacy rights.

“What we have been trying to determine is whether Facebook has knowingly handed over user data elsewhere without explicit consent,” Ms. Winkelmeier-Becker said. “I would never have imagined that this might even be happening secretly via deals with device makers. BlackBerry users seem to have been turned into data dealers, unknowingly and unwillingly.”

In interviews with The Times, Facebook identified other partners: Apple and Samsung, the world’s two biggest smartphone makers, and Amazon, which sells tablets.

An Apple spokesman said the company relied on private access to Facebook data for features that enabled users to post photos to the social network without opening the Facebook app, among other things. Apple said its phones no longer had such access to Facebook as of last September.

Samsung declined to respond to questions about whether it had any data-sharing partnerships with Facebook. Amazon also declined to respond to questions.

Usher Lieberman, a BlackBerry spokesman, said in a statement that the company used Facebook data only to give its own customers access to their Facebook networks and messages. Mr. Lieberman said that the company “did not collect or mine the Facebook data of our customers,” adding that “BlackBerry has always been in the business of protecting, not monetizing, customer data.”

Microsoft entered a partnership with Facebook in 2008 that allowed Microsoft-powered devices to do things like add contacts and friends and receive notifications, according to a spokesman. He added that the data was stored locally on the phone and was not synced to Microsoft’s servers.

Facebook acknowledged that some partners did store users’ data — including friends’ data — on their own servers. A Facebook official said that regardless of where the data was kept, it was governed by strict agreements between the companies.

“I am dumbfounded by the attitude that anybody in Facebook’s corporate office would think allowing third parties access to data would be a good idea,” said Henning Schulzrinne, a computer science professor at Columbia University who specializes in network security and mobile systems.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed how loosely Facebook had policed the bustling ecosystem of developers building apps on its platform. They ranged from well-known players like Zynga, the maker of the FarmVille game, to smaller ones, like a Cambridge contractor who used a quiz taken by about 300,000 Facebook users to gain access to the profiles of as many as 87 million of their friends.

Those developers relied on Facebook’s public data channels, known as application programming interfaces, or APIs. But starting in 2007, the company also established private data channels for device manufacturers.

At the time, mobile phones were less powerful, and relatively few of them could run stand-alone Facebook apps like those now common on smartphones. The company continued to build new private APIs for device makers through 2014, spreading user data through tens of millions of mobile devices, game consoles, televisions and other systems outside Facebook’s direct control.

Facebook began moving to wind down the partnerships in April, after assessing its privacy and data practices in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Mr. Archibong said the company had concluded that the partnerships were no longer needed to serve Facebook users. About 22 of them have been shut down.

The broad access Facebook provided to device makers raises questions about its compliance with a 2011 consent decree with the F.T.C.

The decree barred Facebook from overriding users’ privacy settings without first getting explicit consent. That agreement stemmed from an investigation that found Facebook had allowed app developers and other third parties to collect personal details about users’ friends, even when those friends had asked that their information remain private.

After the Cambridge Analytica revelations, the F.T.C. began an investigation into whether Facebook’s continued sharing of data after 2011 violated the decree, potentially exposing the company to fines.

Facebook officials said the private data channels did not violate the decree because the company viewed its hardware partners as “service providers,” akin to a cloud computing service paid to store Facebook data or a company contracted to process credit card transactions. According to the consent decree, Facebook does not need to seek additional permission to share friend data with service providers.

“These contracts and partnerships are entirely consistent with Facebook’s F.T.C. consent decree,” Mr. Archibong, the Facebook official, said.

But Jessica Rich, a former F.T.C. official who helped lead the commission’s earlier Facebook investigation, disagreed with that assessment.

“Under Facebook’s interpretation, the exception swallows the rule,” said Ms. Rich, now with the Consumers Union. “They could argue that any sharing of data with third parties is part of the Facebook experience. And this is not at all how the public interpreted their 2014 announcement that they would limit third-party app access to friend data.”

To test one partner’s access to Facebook’s private data channels, The Times used a reporter’s Facebook account — with about 550 friends — and a 2013 BlackBerry device, monitoring what data the device requested and received. (More recent BlackBerry devices, which run Google’s Android operating system, do not use the same private channels, BlackBerry officials said.)

Immediately after the reporter connected the device to his Facebook account, it requested some of his profile data, including user ID, name, picture, “about” information, location, email, and cell phone number. The device then retrieved the reporter’s private messages and the responses to them, along with the name and user ID of each person with whom he was communicating.

The data flowed to a BlackBerry app known as the Hub, which was designed to let BlackBerry users view all of their messages and social media accounts in one place.

The Hub also requested — and received — data that Facebook’s policy appears to prohibit. Since 2015, Facebook has said that apps can request only the names of friends using the same app. But the BlackBerry app had access to all of the reporter’s Facebook friends and, for most of them, returned information such as user ID, birthday, work and education history and whether they were currently online.

The BlackBerry device was also able to retrieve identifying information for nearly 295,000 Facebook users. Most of them were second-degree Facebook friends of the reporter, or friends of friends.

In all, Facebook empowers BlackBerry devices to access more than 50 types of information about users and their friends, The Times found.

Categorized in Social

Source: This article was published lifewire.com By Heinz Tschabitscher - Contributed by Member: Alex Grey

Keep Email Addresses, Private, When Sending to Multiple Recipients

Sending an email to undisclosed recipients protects everyone's privacy and makes the email look clean and professional.

The alternative is to send an email to multiple recipients while listing all their addresses in the To: or Cc: fields. Not only does this definitely look messy to everyone who looks at who the message was sent to, it exposes everyone's email address.

To send an email to undisclosed recipients is as easy as putting all the recipient addresses in the Bcc: field so that they're hidden from each other. The other part of the process involves sending the email to yourself under the name "Undisclosed Recipients" so that everyone can clearly see that the message was sent to multiple people whose identities are unknown.

How to Send an Email to Undisclosed Recipients

  1. Create a new message in your email client.
  2. Type Undisclosed Recipients in the To: field, followed by your email address in. For example, type Undisclosed Recipients.
    1. Note: If this doesn't work, make a brand new contact in the address book, name it "Undisclosed Recipients" and then type your email address in the address text box.
  3. In the Bcc: field, type all the email addresses that the message should be sent to, separated by commas. If these recipients are already contacts, it should be fairly easy to start typing their names or addresses so that the program will autofill those entries.
    1. Note: If your email program doesn't show the Bcc: field by default, open the preferences and look for that option somewhere so that you can enable it.
  4. Compose the rest of the message normally, adding a subject and writing the body of the message, and then send it off when you're done.

Tip: If you end up doing this often, feel free to make a new contact called "Undisclosed Recipients" that includes your email address. It'll be easier next time to just send the message to the contact you already have in your address book.

Although these general instructions work in most email programs, small variations might exist. If your email client is listed below, check its specific instructions for how to use the Bcc field to send a message to undisclosed recipients.

Bcc Cautions

Seeing Undisclosed Recipients in the To: field of an email is a clear indication that other people received the same email, but you don't know who or why.

To understand this, consider if you decided to send your email to just one name (not Undisclosed Recipients) and still Bcc other recipients. The problem that arises here is if the original recipient or any Cc'd recipients find out other people were copied on what they assumed was a private email. This can damage your reputation and cause bad feelings.

How would they find out? Simple: when one of your BCC recipients happens to "reply to all" on the email, that person's identity is exposed to all the hidden recipients. Even though none of the other Bcc names are revealed, the existence of a hidden list is discovered.

Much can go wrong here if any of the recipients reply with disparaging remarks about someone who is on the blind carbon copy list. This all-too-easy-to-make mistake could cost a co-worker her job or damage a relationship with an important client.

So, the message here is to use Bcc lists with caution and broadcast their existence with the Undisclosed Recipients name. Another option is to just mention in the email that it was sent to other people and that nobody should use the "reply to all" option.

Categorized in How to

 Source: This article was published crixeo.com By A.J. SØRENSEN - Contributed by Member: David J. Redcliff

UNLIKE GOOGLE, THE DUCKDUCKGO SEARCH ENGINE DOESN’T TRACK YOU.

In 2006 Gabriel Weinberg sold a company for millions. A year and a half later, he founded his next project with the money: an alternative search engine named DuckDuckGo. Initially, the goal was to make it more efficient and compelling than Google by cutting down on spam and providing instant answers, similar to a Wikipedia or IMDb. The project launched in 2008, bringing Weinberg’s brainchild into public consciousness.

But Weinberg didn’t realize at the time that the main reason people were wary of Google wasn’t the user experience but how the search engine tracked its users. Being the astute entrepreneur that Weinberg is, he instantly saw this as an area for an opportunity and a way to compete with one of the largest companies in the world. As a result, DuckDuckGo became the go-to search engine for privacy — long before the NSA leaks in 2013, when the government got “Snowdened,” and Facebook’s recent Cambridge Analytica scandal — all with a better user experience.

Here’s why you should consider making the move to the “Duck Side.”

1. THE SEARCH ENGINE THAT DOESN’T TRACK YOU

DuckDuckGo browser
DUCKDUCKGO

According to a micro-site connected to DuckDuckGo — DontTrack.us — Google tracks users on 75% of websites. The information gathered from your site visits and search terms can be used to follow you across over two million websites and applications. Oh, and all that private information is stored by Google indefinitely. (Hint: Don’t use Google for embarrassing searches that might cost you money during a divorce, for example. All that information can be subpoenaed by lawyers.)

Even Facebook tracks you across the internet. According to Weinberg, the social media company “operates a massive hidden tracker network.” He claims they’re “lurking behind about 25% of the top million sites, where consumers don’t expect to be tracked by Facebook.” And, as of now, there is no way to opt out of this so-called “experience.” (Don’t forget: Facebook owns Instagram.)

And since there are no digital privacy laws currently active in the United States, at the time of this writing anyway, consumers are forced to vote with their attention and time once again. As it stands now, companies are not required by federal law to share what information they collect, how it’s used, and whether or not it’s even been stolen. You’ve got to protect yourself by choosing your platforms and tools wisely.

As for DuckDuckGo, they do not track you or store your personal information. And while they do have some advertising on their platform for revenue purposes, you only see ads for what you search for — and those ads won’t stalk you around the web like a rabid spider.

2. DUCKDUCKGO IS A COMPANY WITH SERIOUS BALLS

DuckDuckGo browser
DUCKDUCKGO

Weinberg resembles a younger, techier version of Eric Bana, and he’s got the same gall of the actor/rally racer. Case in point: in 2011, Weinberg pulled a highly successful publicity stunt for his alternative search engine by strategically placing a billboard right in Google’s backyard that called out the company for tracking its users. It earned the scrappy start-up valuable press from the likes of USA Today, Business Insider and Wired.

For those opposed to Google’s handling of users’ data, the billboard represented a major burn. Of course, it’s just one of the many ways Weinberg helped his company gain users. I highly recommend Traction, a wildly useful book co-written by Weinberg and Justin Mares. It’s a must-read for any start-up founder or creative entrepreneur.

3. KEEP YOUR SEARCHES PRIVATE & EFFICIENT

DuckDuckGo browser

DUCKDUCKGO

As for working with search engines, think of all the “embarrassing searches” you wish to keep private, whatever they may be. Now imagine that Google has all that information stored indefinitely — plus, it can be held against you in a court of law. Scary stuff, right? Turns out that what you search for online can be far more sensitive than the things you openly share on social media platforms. So how can you keep that stuff private?

In 2017 DuckDuckGo was able to integrate with the Brave Browser to provide a potential solution. With most browsers, websites can still track and monitor your behavior, even while you’re in “private browsing mode.” However, with this new combination of Brave’s privacy protection features and DuckDuckGo’s private search capabilities, you can surf the web without having your search terms or personal information collected, sold or shared.

But that’s not the only thing DuckDuckGo has to offer for a more empowered user experience. Another feature the search engine has become known for are “bangs!” Here’s how they work.

DuckDuckGo browser
DUCKDUCKGO

Random example: Let’s say you want to find Camille Paglia books on Amazon. If you were to search via Google, you might type “site: amazon camille paglia.” Your results might look like this:

DuckDuckGo browser

GOOGLE

Now let’s say you do the same thing with DuckDuckGo’s bangs. In this case, you would type “!a Camille Paglia.” Here’s what you’d get:

DuckDuckGo browser

AMAZON

Bang! You’re right there on Amazon, redirected to their internal search page from DuckDuckGo.

Of course, you might be thinking, “Why not just search Amazon.com for the answer, to begin with?” Well, bangs aren’t just for searching Amazon. You can use bangs to search nearly 11,000 sites (as of this writing), including eBay, YouTube (owned by Google), Wikipedia, Instagram and more. You can even suggest new ones.

Plus, with DuckDuckGo, you can see social media profiles by searching the user’s handle, explore app stores and discover alternative apps, shorten and expand links/URLs, generate complex passwords, find rhymes, determine whether or not sites are down (or if it’s really just you), calculate loan payments, receive instant answers to questions and more — all without having to leave the search engine.

4. IT’S GROWING — FAST

DuckDuckGo browser

DUCKDUCKGO

In a sense, Weinberg has achieved his initial goal of creating a search engine that offers a more direct and spam-free user experience. It just also happens to be much more private and way less creepy than the buzzword alternatives. Perhaps that’s why it’s growing so damn fast — 10 years after launching, that is.

In fact, 2017 was a monumental year for DuckDuckGo, accounting for 36% of all searches ever conducted through the search engine. It was also during 2017 that the company achieved 55% growth in daily private searches, crossing the threshold of 20 million private searches a day. Sure, the experience isn’t as highly customized as Google’s — which relies on your personal data to fine-tune results — but this little search engine that could still manage to provide solid, relevant results without infringing on your personal privacy.

5. BALANCING THE SCALES OF GOOD & EVIL

DuckDuckGo browser

DUCKDUCKGO

When Google first started, it touted the mantra “Don’t be evil.” Curiously, it’s since changed to “Do the right thing.” It’s only now that most users have started to ask, “Do the right thing for whom?” And in light of the recent Facebook scandals, these same users are starting to wonder, “What the hell is my data actually being used for? Who does it benefit? And who actually has it?” Unsurprisingly, these are turning into the biggest questions of our time.

In the past, users assumed they had nothing to hide, and that it was even shameful to consider hiding their internet histories or online preferences. “Nobody cares about me. I’m nobody.” But to a major data company, one without constraints, how you spend your time and money, with whom, and on what sites can easily be sold to the highest bidder at your expense. So while Dax the Duck may not need to say, “We’re a source for good,” the brains behind DuckDuckGo seem to be balancing the scales in that direction anyway.

Through their donations to private organizations, as well as their micro-sites providing eye-opening data, various email campaigns to help internet users maintain their privacy, and plenty of generous content outlining the trouble with “informed consent” online, DuckDuckGo has become a force for good in the digital age. Of course, Google doesn’t have to become obsolete in the process — they still offer some remarkable services — but there need to be more alternatives if only to provide a choice. What do you want as a search engine user? And how do you want your information to be handled?

That’s the real service DuckDuckGo provides: it gives you the option to say no to track. And without real policies in place in the U.S. to protect internet users, your best bet for privacy and data protection may just be to #ComeToTheDuckSide. end

 

Categorized in Search Engine

Source: This article was usa.kaspersky.com - Contributed by Member: Barbara Larson

Even though computers have become a constant feature of modern life, many people still don't realize the enormous risks that come from constant interaction with technology. 

Computer viruses are one of the oldest forms of malware — in other words, malicious software designed to do harm — but their ability to avoid detection and replicate themselves means that these programs will always be cause for worry. Understanding just what a virus can do to your computer is the first step to securing your system and protecting your family from attack.

A Computer Virus' Potential

The only real qualification for a piece of software to be labeled a "virus" is that the program has the ability to replicate itself onto other machines. This means that not all viruses pose a direct threat to your computer, but often even latent viruses will allow cyberthieves and hackers to install more damaging programs like worms and Trojans. 
Regardless of the intention of the computer virus, the program will take up some system resources while it runs. This slows down your system, even bringing your computer to an abrupt halt if the virus hogs enough resources or if there are many viruses running at the same time.

More often, the computer virus has some kind of malicious intent, either written into the virus itself or from the other pieces of malware that the virus installs. This software can take a number of harmful actions, like opening up a back door to the computer where hackers can take control of the system, or stealing confidential personal information like online banking credentials or credit card numbers. It could also direct your Web browser to unwanted, often pornographic, sites, or even lock the computer down and ask for a ransom to open it back up again. In the most severe cases, viruses can corrupt important computer files, rendering the system useless. Windows OS products are often targets of these types of vulnerabilities so be sure you're secure whether you are running the newest OS , XP, or Windows 8 - security is essential.

How to be a Savvy Computer-User

So with all the damage that a virus can do, you're sure to wonder how you can protect yourself and your family from these threats. The first step is the most obvious, and it all comes down to using your computer in a smart way. 
Ensure all your programs have the latest version of antivirus software installed. This is especially true for things like your operating system, security software and Web browser, but also holds true for just about any program that you frequently use. Viruses often take advantages of bugs or exploits in the code of these programs to propagate to new machines, and while the companies that make the programs are usually quick to fix the holes, those fixes only work if they have been downloaded to your computer. 


It's also important to avoid taking actions that could put your computer at risk. These include opening unsolicited email attachments, visiting unknown websites or downloading software from untrustworthy websites or peer-to-peer file transfer networks. To ensure that the entire family understands the risks, these procedures should be taught to everyone, and children should have their Internet use monitored to ensure they aren't visiting suspect websites or downloading random programs or files.

How to Install Virus Prevention and Detection Software

The next important step in protecting your computer and your family is to install trusted computer security software that can actively scan your system and provide virus protection. You should be warned, however, that not all security solutions are the same. 
Free antivirus software abounds on the Internet, but much of it isn't robust enough to offer complete protection or updated frequently enough to be of much use. Horrifyingly, some of this free software doesn't do anything at all and instead installs viruses, adware, spyware or Trojans when you try to download and install the program. 
If the price is a factor, the best option is to find a competitively priced Internet security solution that offers a free antivirus trial, so that you can see the software in action, and how your computer responds after being cleaned, before you make a purchasing decision. 
The hardest part about all of this is that while each day many threats are neutralized, more are then created in their place. This means that as long as there's an Internet, computer viruses will continue to be a problem. Ignoring the issue or thinking that it won't affect you is a sure way to get your computer compromised, and put your family's information or peace of mind at risk.

Categorized in Internet Privacy
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