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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

Source: This article was published lawjournalnewsletters.com By JONATHAN BICK - Contributed by Member: Barbara Larson

Internet professional responsibility and client privacy difficulties are intimately associated with the services offered by lawyers. Electronic attorney services result in data gathering, information exchange, document transfers, enhanced communications and novel opportunities for marketing and promotion. These services, in turn, provide an array of complicated ethical issues that can present pitfalls for the uninitiated and unwary.

Since the Internet interpenetrates every aspect of the law, Internet activity can result in a grievance filed against attorneys for professional and ethical misconduct when such use results in communication failure, conflicts of interest, misrepresentation, fraud, dishonesty, missed deadlines or court appearances, advertising violations, improper billing, and funds misuse. While specific Internet privacy violation rules and regulations are rarely applied to attorney transactions, attorneys are regularly implicated in unfair and deceptive trade practices and industry-specific violations which are often interspersed with privacy violation facts.

Attorneys have a professional-responsibility duty to use the Internet, and it is that professional responsibility which results in difficulties for doing so. More specifically, the Model Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.1 (competence) paragraph 8 (maintenance) has been interpreted to require the use of the Internet, and Rules 7.1 – 7.5 (communications, advertising and soliciting) specifically charge attorneys with malfeasance for using the Internet improperly.

Internet professional conduct standards and model rules/commentary cross the full range of Internet-related concerns, including expert self-identification and specialty description; the correct way to structure Internet personal profiles; social media privacy settings; the importance and use of disclaimers; what constitutes “communication”; and the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. Additionally, ethics rules address “liking,” “friending” and “tagging” practices.

The application of codes of professional conduct is faced with a two-fold difficulty. First, what is the nature of the attorney Internet activity? Is the activity of publishing, broadcasting or telecommunications? Determining the nature of the attorney Internet activity is important because different privacy and ethic cannons apply. Additionally, the determination of the nature of the attorney activity allows practitioners to apply analogies. For example, guidance with respect to attorney Internet-advertising professional conduct is likely to be judged by the same standards as traditional attorney advertising.

The second difficulty is the location where activity occurs. Jurisdictions have enacted contrary laws and professional-responsibility duties.

Options for protecting client privacy and promoting professional responsibility include technical, business and legal options. Consider the following specific legal transactions.

A lawyer seeking to use the Internet to attract new clients across multiple jurisdictions frequently is confronted with inconsistent rules and regulations. A number of jurisdictions have taken the position that Internet communications are a form of advertising and thus subject to a particular state bar’s ethical restrictions. Such restrictions related to Internet content include banning testimonials; prohibitions on self-laudatory statements; disclaimers; and labeling the materials presented as advertising.

Other restrictions relate to content processing, such as requiring that advance copies of any advertising materials be submitted for review by designated bar entities prior to dissemination, and requiring that attorneys keep a copy of their website and any changes made to it for three years, along with a record of when and where the website was used. Still, other restrictions relate to distribution techniques, such as unsolicited commercial emailing (spam). Spam is considered by some states as overreaching, on the same grounds as ethical bans on in-person or telephone solicitation.

To overcome these difficulties and thus permit the responsible use of the Internet for attorney marketing, both technical and business solutions are available. The technical solution employs selectively serving advertisements to appropriate locations. For this solution, the software can be deployed to detect the origin of an Internet transaction. This software will serve up advertising based on the location of the recipient. Thus, attorneys can ameliorate or eliminate the difficulties associated with advertising and marketing restrictions without applying the most restrictive rule to every state.

Alternatively, a business solution may be used. Such a business solution would apply the most restrictive rules of each state to every Internet advertising and marketing communication.

Another legal difficulty associated with attorney Internet advertising and marketing is the unauthorized practice of law. All states have statutes or ethical rules that make it unlawful for persons to hold themselves out as attorneys or to provide legal services unless admitted and licensed to practice in that jurisdiction.

There are no reported decisions on this issue, but a handful of ethics opinions and court decisions take a restrictive view of unauthorized practice issues. For example, the court in Birbower, Montalbano, Condon & Frank v. Superior, 949 P.2d 1(1998), relied on unauthorized practice concerns in refusing to honor a fee agreement between a New York law firm and a California client for legal services provided in California, because the New York firm did not retain local counsel and its attorneys were not admitted in California.

The software can detect the origin of an Internet transaction. Thus, attorneys can ameliorate or eliminate the unauthorized practice of law by identifying the location of a potential client and only interacting with potential clients located in the state where an attorney is authorized to practice. Alternatively, an attorney could use a net nanny to prevent communications with potential clients located in the state where the attorney is not authorized to practice.

Preserving clients’ confidences is of critical importance in all aspects of an attorney’s practice. An attorney using the Internet to communicate with a client must consider the confidentiality of such communications. Using the Internet to communicate with clients on confidential matters raises a number of issues, including whether such communications: might violate the obligation to maintain client confidentiality; result in a waiver of the attorney-client privilege if intercepted by an unauthorized party; and create possible malpractice liability.

Both legal and technological solutions are available. First, memorializing informed consent is a legal solution.

Some recent ethics opinions suggest a need for caution. Iowa Opinion 96-1 states that before sending client-sensitive information over the Internet, a lawyer should either encrypt the information or obtain the client’s written acknowledgment of the risks of using this method of communication.

Substantial compliance may be a technological solution because the changing nature of Internet difficulties makes complete compliance unfeasible. Some attorneys have adopted internal measures to protect electronic client communications, including asking clients to consider alternative technologies; encrypting messages to increase security; obtaining written client authorization to use the Internet and acknowledgment of the possible risks in so doing, and exercising independent judgment about communications too sensitive to share using the Internet. While the use of such technology is not foolproof, if said use is demonstrably more significant than what is customary, judges and juries have found such efforts to be sufficient.

Finally, both legal and business options are available to surmount Internet-related client conflicts. Because of the business development potential of chat rooms, bulletin boards, and other electronic opportunities for client contact, many attorneys see the Internet as a powerful client development tool. What some fail to recognize, however, is that the very opportunity to attract new clients may be a source of unintended conflicts of interest.

Take, for example, one of the most common uses of Internet chat rooms: a request seeking advice from attorneys experienced in dealing with a particular legal problem. Attorneys have been known to prepare elaborate and highly detailed responses to such inquiries. Depending on the level and nature of the information received and the advice provided, however, attorneys may be dismayed to discover that they have inadvertently created an attorney-client relationship with the requesting party. At a minimum, given the anonymous nature of many such inquiries, they may face the embarrassment and potential client relations problem of taking a public position or providing advice contrary to the interests of an existing firm client.

An acceptable legal solution is the application of disclaimers and consents. Some operators of electronic bulletin boards and online discussion groups have tried to minimize the client conflict potential by providing disclaimers or including as part of the subscription agreement the acknowledgment that any participation in online discussions does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Alternatively, the use of limited answers would be a business solution. The Arizona State Bar recently cautioned that lawyers probably should not answer specific questions posed in chat rooms or newsgroups because of the inability to screen for potential conflicts with existing clients and the danger of disclosing confidential information.

Because the consequences of finding an attorney-client relationship are severe and may result in disqualification from representing other clients, the prudent lawyer should carefully scrutinize the nature and extent of any participation in online chat rooms and similar venues.

Categorized in Internet Ethics

Source: This article was published insights.speakwithageek.com - Contributed by Member: Deborah Tannen

What Is Micro-VPN?

Micro-VPNs are the smaller quantum of VPNs, at the level of an application or collection of applications. These are known as trusted applications; each of these trusted applications has a token that is authenticated before the tunnel is opened for the user utilizing a Micro VPN.

VPN And Security Concerns

In today's IT world, many workers often use their personal devices to get their work completed. This turns out to be a time-saving process for employees and company. Even though these devices help them, there are critical security concerns that arise with using your own device.

An old-style VPN approach is the most commonly used remote connectivity among organizations, to check emails and documents by an employee. The VPN tunnel that is established is device-wide, and once they are connected, any application on the personal device can navigate this tunnel, and get access to corporate resources. This means that if the employee’s device is infected with malware or malignant applications, these can potentially gain access to the tunnel. The above said security downside can be avoided, through the use of micro-VPNs, which are specific to an application instead of a device.

Security Advantages

The following are the certain advantages of using micro-VPN:

  • Takes virtual private network client from the device to the application and authenticates the user.
  • Provides access to specific corporate content without having to do a full-scale VPN on the device.
  • Acts as a security wrapper for the mobile device around an enterprise application by providing a token for successful VPN tunnel.
  • Administers mobile control policies on the application that connects to the corporate network.
  • The micro-VPN application and the corporate network can see one another; however, remaining of the device is not opened to/accessible by the client network. In addition, the user cannot access company resources from the non-enterprise application.

Citrix Solutions

Citrix XenMobile’ product, NetScaler Gateway, is based on the idea of micro-VPNs through logical VPN tunnels. NetScaler Gateway helps in creating different TCP sessions for different applications automatically.

Currently, micro-VPNs are one of the trustworthy solutions that can be deployed by the IT departments on employee’s devices to avoid exposure to unknown elements.

Find out today why you may need a VPN with help choosing the right VPN Provider.

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Young people are far more likely to have a positive experience surfing the internet than a negative one.

That’s according to new research released to coincide with Safer Internet Day, which is being celebrated around the world today.

However, young people’s digital lives are increasingly a double-edged sword, with the research revealing that while 89 percent felt happy as a result of their internet use in the past seven days, more than half reported having felt sad (56%) or angry (52%).

Safer Internet Day has been established to make the internet a more secure environment – which this year’s campaign focusing on children and young people.

So here are five things you should do to ensure your children’s lives online are as protected as they are offline.

Update your privacy settings

Facebook’s default setting made be as safe as you think (Getty)

Many social media sites have the default privacy setting as ‘public’, meaning that anyone who searches your name can see everything you’ve recently been up to.

Setting a Twitter account to ‘private’ and changing your Facebook profile to ‘friends only’ only takes a few minutes but ensures you’re not leaving a traceable digital footprint.

Facebook also has an option to remove your profile from search engines like Google, which means the only way someone can view your account is if you add them as a friend yourself. You can control your Facebook privacy settings by clicking here or also by going to ‘Privacy Checkup’ on your page.

Social media websites also update and change their settings all the time, making it tricky to keep track of what’s visible to whom at any one point.

If you want to edit these settings in one go, use a product like Trend Micro Security, which provides a privacy scan of social networks like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn at once.

Install anti-virus software and firewalls

Most new laptops or computers come with a year’s trial of anti-virus software installed, but if not then it’s definitely worth investing in one. Anti-virus software prevents malicious data from accessing your private information on your accounts, ranging from your email address to passwords or bank details. The best anti-virus software available in 2018 can be found here. If the expensive software isn’t an option, check out the best free protection here.

Many people used to think that Apple products were immune from malicious attacks due to the way they were built and the ever-changing hardware programmed into them. However, according to a report from Malwarebytes in August last year, there was a 230 percent increase in Mac malware in 2017.

Installing anti-virus software is an easy way to prevent malware. (Getty)

Chris Hoffman, of How-To-Geek.com, highlights the hidden dangers of new viruses infecting popular websites. He urges everyone to install some form of virus protection software because even familiar websites can easily become compromised.

‘Your computer could be infected just from you visiting a website,” he says. “Even if you only visit websites you trust the website itself could be compromised – something that happens with alarming frequency these days.’ Downloading anti-virus software will prevent your browser from opening the webpage if it notices a problem.

Only use secure wi-fi connections

If you’re waiting around at the airport or in a shopping center, it can be tempting to join the nearby free Wi-Fi connection to kill some time. But while many of these connections are secure and trustworthy, not all of them are.

The Norton Security 2016 Wi-Fi Risk Report found that 22% of respondents have accessed bank or financial information while using public Wi-Fi, and 58% of people have logged into a personal email account. Logging into a public, unsecured Wi-Fi connection puts all of this information at risk and makes it far easier to be shared with everyone nearby who are also connected.

But if you must use public Wi-Fi, download a VPN to use alongside. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) scrambles the data from your phone or laptop before it receives the data on the other end that you’re trying to access. Some VPNs will charge you to download the software, but there are free versions available like ‘Betternet’ on the App store, which requires you to watch a quick advert but will connect you securely for free.

Use difficult and varied passwords

In 2016, nearly 17% of people safeguarded their accounts with the password ‘123456.’ Others that made the top 10 most common list included ‘password’ and ‘qwertyuiop’. Data breaches are becoming more and more common globally – an estimated 10 million passwords were made public last year – but can be avoided to an extent by using a strong password. A combination of upper and lower case letters with numbers and special symbols is the best bet to keep your data private.

Ensure that you use different passwords for different accounts, and keep them above at least six characters long. Password managers like Keeper, which come installed on some laptops, are great for creating a personalized, fully scrambled password automatically.

Widespread data breaches of big companies can often result in passwords being shared with hackers. The best result is that you lose access to one of your accounts. At worst, if you use the same password for everything, you could find yourself a victim of identity fraud.

Think twice before clicking on email links or attachments

The rise of Internet banking has made it more and more common to receive financial communication via email. Things like requesting an appointment or a reminder that your credit card will expire soon may be harmless, but may also just have likely been sent by a third-party pretending to be the bank.

Clicking on the name of the email sender will often show the full email address. Rather than just ‘Barclays Bank’, it may reveal a random email address – a giveaway sign that the account it has come from is entirely unconnected to your bank. Many bank-related scams target customers in this way, pretending to get you to log into your account for something minimal, but actually re-directing you to an entirely alien website.

Many banking scams have obvious giveaways like a lack of personal greeting. (Information Security HeadQuarters)

Look for spelling errors, links that don’t work or impersonal greetings (like the Dear customer, instead of Dear ‘Your Name’) as the first port of call. If you’re not sure whether or not an email is legitimate, try sending a reply. If it’s a fraudulent account then there’s a chance the email might bounce – a big hint that it’s not an authentic request. The safest way to check is to get in contact with the bank or organization and ask if they’ve emailed you before anything else.

The UK Safer Internet Centre is led by three charities – Childnet, the South West Grid for Learning and the Internet Watch Foundation and aims to create a better online experience for all.

The theme this year is ‘Create, Connect and Share Respect: a better internet starts with you’.

Source: This article was published uk.news.yahoo.com By Georgie Darling

Categorized in Internet Privacy

DuckDuckGo launched Tuesday what CEO Gabriel Weinberg called in his blog SpreadPrivacy.com “fully revamped versions of our browser extension and mobile app” designed to block third-party trackers and to make the service easier to use on smartphones.

The updates offer “built-in tracker network blocking, smarter encryption, and, of course, private search” in Android, Chrome, Firefox, iOS, and Safari “with just one download,” Weinberg writes. DuckDuckGo promises not to store or sell user data, unlike Google and other marketing-advertising-data collection search engines and social media sites. Ads for companies like Expedia that pop up on its search and affiliate pages aren’t targeted to individual readers, the company says.

Search volume rose for the 10-year-old, Paoli-based internet search site last year before the mobile upgrades were announced. Still, DuckDuckGo, which employs 45, many of whom work remotely and through the GitHub software development platform, remains a very small fraction of the global search market, which is attractive to advertisers and other behavioral trackers who pay big bucks to know where our eyes go.

DuckDuckGo says it logged more than 16 million queries a day as of the past month, up from 12 million a year earlier. The engine’s share of the U.S. laptop/desktop search market rose to 0.25 percent in December, up from 0.16 percent a year earlier, according to NetMarketShare.com. (Google as of December held more than 70 percent of the laptop/desktop search market, China-based Baidu 15 percent, Microsoft’s Bing 8 percent, Verizon’s Yahoo 5 percent, Russia-based Yandex 1 percent, and Ask.com had slightly more than DuckDuck Go. Dogpile, AOL, and all others were smaller.)

But, despite European Commission for Competition chairman Margarethe Vesteger’s admission to Wired Magazine that she uses DuckDuckGo instead of Google on her own mobile phone to avoid snooping, its share of the mobile market has lagged, rising only to 0.09 percent from 0.06 percent last year. Weinberg hopes to capture more with the new tools.

DuckDuckGo is also rating websites, with school-style “Privacy Grades” from A to F. (Philly.com got a C grade on my DuckDuckGo phone extension; according to its tools, Amazon, Facebook, and Google were all “trying to track me” around the site; they were absent from several other news sites I checked using the app.)

Weinberg writes that DuckDuckGo is more private than Google’s “Incognito” option and simpler than other search services. “Google trackers [are] now lurking behind 76% of pages, Facebook’s trackers on 24% of pages, and countless others soaking up your personal information to follow you with ads around the web, or worse,” Weinberg added. “Our privacy protection will block all the hidden trackers we can find, exposing the major advertising networks tracking you over time, so that you can track who’s trying to track you.”

Source: This article was published philly.com By Joseph N. DiStefano,

Categorized in Search Engine

Columnist Wesley Young covers a growing storm of events that are likely to culminate in substantial regulatory change and analyzes the impact that can have on the local search industry.

Most marketing professionals don’t give much thought to the regulatory climate. In the US, unlike Europe, privacy laws are largely industry-specific and targeted toward healthcare and financial services. Thus, marketers have largely been able to rely on lawyers to provide privacy disclosures and then go on to business as usual.

Yet there are a number of indications that a tipping point may be near, giving way to new regulations that demand significant changes in business practice. These changes can have a disproportionate impact on small and medium-sized local businesses. And varying standards across state lines means that companies with local operations in different states may have to make multiple adjustments.

Below, I take a look at the current environment and indicators that major changes are due in 2018. Then I cover seven ways changing privacy laws will impact the local search market.

Deregulation on federal level driving changes on state level

With all the news on Net Neutrality last month, you may have forgotten that earlier this year, Republicans killed federal privacy rules adopted by the FCC that would have required your Internet Service Provider to obtain permission before collecting and selling certain types of personal data (such as web browsing and app usage data). While the general perception is that such deregulation means fewer privacy laws, the practical impact may be more regulation.

Following the repeal of the FCC privacy rules, at least 21 states and the District of Columbia filed state versions of the FCC privacy rules as a direct response. Two states passed those bills into law, while others deferred the issue to 2018 or passed bills to study the issue further. And even though bills in a number of states died at the end of their 2017 legislative sessions, it is likely that many will reintroduce those in 2018.

The broader application is that deregulation on the federal level is causing states to take more action, which causes a number of problems. While state versions may all address the same topic, they are not identical. They are similar but contain differences unique to each state, such as different notice requirements, disclosures, consent or use requirements and enforcement mechanisms. Even using similar but different terms to describe the same principle creates problems regarding uniformity.

Lack of uniformity amongst states means more complexity. And more complexity results in greater uncertainty, risk, and cost.

The state reaction to the repeal of FCC privacy rules is just one example of how federal deregulation trickling down to state levels can create major headaches for business.

The mother of all data breach cases: Equifax

Major data breaches almost seem to be yesterday’s headline with the prevalence of the problem. Yet the Equifax data breach may finally push us over the edge in demands for regulatory action. Let’s review how bad the Equifax case was and still is:

  • Data thieves stole private information on over 145 million Americans from Equifax.
  • Data stolen was the most sensitive kind: personal and permanent information including names, addresses, social security numbers, dates of birth and drivers’ license numbers.
  • Equifax discovered the breach on July 29, 2017, yet didn’t announce the breach until September 2017.
  • Equifax executives sold millions of dollars of stock days after the breach was discovered and before the public announcement.
  • Equifax claimed that top executives of a company whose business is a protection of personal data didn’t know about the breach.
  • Equifax was notified in March 2017 by the Department of Homeland Security that there was a critical vulnerability in its software.
  • Equifax relied on a single employee to alert the company (he didn’t) to the risk of a data breach affecting 50 percent of all Americans.
  • Equifax sent customers needing more information about the breach to a fake phishing site.
  • That fake site clearly disclosed it was a fake in its headline and contained a tongue-firmly-in-cheek link to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” music video.
  • Equifax is profiting from its screw-up: Concerned consumers are purchasing third-party credit monitoring services that frequently utilize Equifax services. So money spent due to Equifax’s problem is paid back to Equifax.

Yes, all of the above really happened. It seems it can only be a matter of time before cases like this force legislators on both sides of the aisle to take regulatory action tightening privacy and data protection laws.

Categorizing personal information to include marketing info

But it’s not just highly sensitive personal information that lawmakers are seeking to protect. While protection against breaches that cause economic harm or risk serious personal threats such as identity theft is justified, proposals are reaching beyond financial and health data.

States have introduced legislation that imposes reporting and notice requirements upon a data breach of personal information. But broad definitions of “personal data” have included what is typically considered to be marketing data, including search history and location information.

The argument against the broad regulation of consumer data is that there are different risks and expectations of privacy for credit card numbers compared to shopping history for a phone case or search history for coffee shops.

Yet broad regulation impacting all such information has been pushed through by state legislators, sometimes only being stopped by a governor’s veto.

Location data is being targeted

Location data that so many local search marketers rely on for targeted campaigns have, in turn, become a favorite target for privacy activists. The recent legislation specifically calls out geolocation information derived from mobile devices as requiring express consent before it may be collected, used or disclosed.

Several states introduced similar legislation in 2017 requiring affirmative express consent after clear and prominent disclosure as follows:

  • Notice that the geolocation information will be collected, used or disclosed.
  • Information about the specific purposes for which such information will be collected, used or disclosed.
  • Provision of links to access other disclosure information.

Failure to comply is deemed to be a violation of and subject to enforcement provisions of the state consumer protection laws. It is likely that some states will reintroduce bills that were vetoed or that died in committee, while others have carried the bill over to 2018.

Europe is redefining consent

Europe has already passed sweeping privacy regulation, titled GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), which takes effect in May 2018. For example, the personal data subject to protection is defined as “any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person.” That’s as broad as it gets.

The GDPR also makes major changes to rules surrounding transparency and consent before personal data can be used. Consent will be an especially complex issue for businesses to figure out, as conditions for obtaining consent are much tighter. Issues will include the form of consent, the specificity of consent and what downstream matters that consent applies to.

Some of the restrictions include prohibitions on making services contingent upon consent and on obtaining consent for multiple purposes. Consent must also be separately given, as opposed to being one clause in a lengthy terms and conditions agreement. Further, the ability to revoke that consent must be as easy to do as it was to give it.

The impact on local search

The above are all factors that seem to be culminating toward significant movement and changes in privacy regulation that will have a dramatic impact in the marketplace. Below are seven ways in which privacy will become a disruption to the local search and marketing industry:

1. The cost of marketing data will rise

Increased privacy regulation means all businesses will have to spend more resources to comply. It also raises the exposure to liability and increases the risk of public enforcement and of private lawsuits. Potentially, there could also be a decrease in the supply of marketing data if consumers respond to the notice requirements and consent requests by not giving permission to collect or use their profile information.  All of these changes would make collecting, acquiring, using or buying marketing data more expensive.

2. Targeted marketing becomes harder

If the supply of marketing data is throttled, accuracy declines. For example, if fewer people share their location, getting a sufficient volume of leads from targeted marketing will require casting a broader net.

The effectiveness of targeted marketing is further hurt by the ability to determine those target audiences. Less data regarding behaviors that predict specific purchase or online actions makes forecasting less accurate. Attribution would likewise be harder to pinpoint.

3. The competitive edge shifts back to larger companies

I’ve written recently about how having the right data is the new competitive edge over traditional economies of scale. Good data means that smaller businesses can more equally compete against larger companies.

But tougher privacy laws benefit larger businesses that have resources to adjust to mandated changes. Also, they will have better access to data as it becomes more expensive and potentially less available.

4. Google and Apple will become even more powerful

Google and Apple have great leverage over user privacy choices via their mobile operating systems. They embed many functions and apps that have a huge user base and that are critical to local search into those systems such as maps, media, and search engines. Consumers frequently treat these apps and functions as essential services and defer to Google or Apple terms for access and use.

Android and iOS also serve as a gateway to third-party apps and control how users grant app permissions or consent to the collection and use for data such as location.

5. Brands who control first-party data will hold premium ad inventory

Brands have direct contact with consumers and sufficient reach such that they are able to offer advertising solutions to third parties, especially those related to the brand’s product or service.

For example, Honeywell offers a software upgrade for its WiFi thermostats that will optimize thermostat settings. The offer to help save its customers $71 to $117 a year off of their energy bills means many opt-in. Users get customized reports with insights into energy use, comparison to similar homes and tips to help track and improve energy efficiency. Those “tips” will likely include some referrals to vendors such as insulation companies, solar energy vendors, and HVAC contractors or other marketing offers.

Brands are well-positioned to reach their customers within the confines of privacy regulations, and targeted audiences they can reach should demand premium ad spend.

6. The GDPR bleed-over effect

The GDPR will affect local businesses and marketers even if they don’t have European customers. Larger companies that already have to deal with tighter European regulation may find it difficult to segment different policies for American and European customers. As a result, they may adopt uniform privacy policies companywide.

Local businesses that rely on third-party data or do business using services of those global companies may be forced to follow stringent privacy policies as conditions of terms of use. And as discussed above, that could involve some major changes to business operations.

7. Regulatory hurdles used as a competitive barrier to entry

The other potential consequence of larger companies voluntarily adopting stricter privacy policies is that they would be less resistant to privacy regulations that mirror those internal policies. In other words, they may not oppose the legislation, or even publicly support legislation, undercutting the position of those who are against it.

Some may even push for those regulations knowing that it may give them an advantage over competitors who haven’t adopted such privacy policies. Regulation that raises the cost of doing business or requires some catch-up changes may serve as a barrier to entry for new startups or others seeking to add business outside their core service area.

Closing thoughts

Understanding the issues and potential impacts will help identify when action is needed and provide some guidance to thinking through a business strategy.

It’s also important to get involved on the issue. The breadth and details of legislative policy may seem overwhelming, but there are groups that will help keep you up to date and work on your behalf. Chambers of commerce, business associations and trade groups represent wide business interests in policy issues like privacy. So get plugged into a group that can support you and your business.

 Source: This article was published searchengineland.com By Wesley Young

Categorized in Internet Privacy

How much information does Google have about me?

Our lives have become more integrated online than in any other time in history. We interact with each other online via social mediaemail, and forums; we conduct business via complex, data-driven channels and innovations; and the culture we encounter online is fundamentally linked to that we come across in real life.

As the world’s most popular search engineGoogle has created an enormously popular service – search -  with many peripheral platforms (YouTubeGmailGoogle Maps, etc.) used by hundreds of millions of people.

These services are easy to use, deliver fast and relevant results, and are the primary search destinations for many worldwide.

However, with this ease of use comes privacy concerns, especially in the realm of data storage, search tracking, and use of personal information. Vital concerns about the right to privacy, especially in regards to Google and the amount of information that they track, store, and ultimately use, are becoming increasingly important to many users.

In this article, we’ll go into detail on what kind of information Google tracks about you, how it uses this information, and what you can do to better protect and safeguard your Google searches.

Does Google Track What I Search For? 

Yes, Google definitely tracks all of your search history. If you want to use any of Google’s services, and utilize their personalization of the services that you receive, you must be signed in with a Google account in order for this to happen.

Once you are signed in, Google begins actively tracking

  • What you are searching for
  • How you are searching
  • Your search patterns
  • What ads you’re interested in
  • What you click on
  • What images you view
  • What videos you watch

This is all detailed out in Google’s terms of service, as well as the Google privacy policies.

While these are dense legal documents, it's wise to at least give them a quick look if you are at all concerned about how Google tracks and stores your information.

Does Google Track My Search History Even if I'm Not Signed In?

Every single time we log onto the Internet, we leave traces of our identity via IP addressesMAC addresses, and other unique identifiers. In addition, most web browsers, sites, and applications require the user to opt in to the utilization of cookies – simple software that basically make our web browsing experience more enjoyable, personalized, and efficient.

If you’re not logged into Google, there is still a wide variety of information that you’re making available to Google simply by being online. That includes:

  • Where you are in the world geographically
  • Your IP address
  • Information about the Google services you use and how you might be using them based on your activity patterns
  • What ads you might click on
  • What device you are using
  • Server information
  • Identifying information gleaned from your use of partner services.

This information is used for targeted ad placement and search relevancy. It’s also made available to people who own sites that are tracking data via Google’s statistics tool, Google Analytics; they won’t necessarily be able to drill down and see from what neighborhood you’re accessing their site, but other identifying information (device, browser, time of day, approximate geo, time on site, what content is being accessed) will be available.

What are Examples of Information That Google Collects?

Here are a few examples of what Google collects from users:

  • Information that users give to Google, including personal information such as name, email address, phone number, credit card, and photo
  • Information gleaned from use of Google services, including usage data, personal preferences, emails, photos, videos, browsing history, map searches, spreadsheet and documents, etc.
  • Information from the device you are using to access Google  and Google services, including hardware model, mobile network information (yes, this includes your phone number), even what operating system you might be using
  • Server log information collated from when users are actively using Google services, including search queries, phone information (time and date of calls, types of calls, forwarding numbers, etc.), IP addresses, cookies that are uniquely linked to your web browser or Google account, and device activity information (crashes, what settings are on your hardware, language, etc.)
  • Location information about where you are in the world, including your city, state, neighborhood, and approximate address
  • Peripheral services and apps can also provide what is called a “unique application number” that provides more identifying information to Google when queried
  • Search history, including personal information found in Google services such as YouTube, Google Maps, and Google Images
  • User interactions with other sites and services are also tracked, especially when the user interacts with ads (read Why Are Ads Following Me Around Online? for more on how this works). 

Why Does Google Track So Much Information, and Why?

In order for Google to deliver the amazingly detailed and relevant results that many millions of people have come to rely on, they need a certain amount of data in order to deliver targeted results. For example, if you have a history of searching for videos about training a dog, and you’ve signed into Google (aka, opted in to sharing your data with Google), Google infers that you would like to see targeted results about dog training on all the Google services that you use: this could include Gmail, YouTube, web search, images, etc.

Google’s primary purpose in tracking and storing so much information is to deliver more relevant results to its users, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, growing privacy concerns have motivated many people to carefully monitor their data, including data shared online. 

How to Keep Google From Tracking Your Data

There are three different approaches users can take if they are concerned about Google tracking, saving, and utilizing their data.

Cut everything off: By far the simplest way to disallow your data being tracked by Google is to simply not use any Google services – there are alternative search engines out there that do not track your search history, or collect any of your personal information.

Don’t sign in, but recognize that some relevancy will be lost: People who want to continue using Google without getting tracked can definitely do so, simply by not signing in to their Google accounts. This option is somewhat of a double-edged sword: your information will not be tracked, but your search relevancy could see a decline because of this.

Use Google with caution and common sense: For users who want to continue using Google, don’t want their information to be tracked, but want to take advantage of its competitive search results, there are ways to go about this.

  • Check your Google settings on a regular basis. You, as the user, have complete control over what data you choose to share (or not to share) with Google. You can do this for each service you use with Google, from Gmail to YouTube to general search settings. Click here to update your Google account activity settings. 
  • Check your Google dashboard. Everyone who has an account at Google has what is called a “dashboard”, which is simply a way to see all your Google activity, settings, and profile information in one convenient place. Here’s where you can see what email(s) Google might have, change passwords, see connected applications and sites, view all accounts, manage active devices, manage  your contacts, and much, much more. There’s even an option to have a reminder sent monthly to make sure all your settings are where you want them to be for each individual Google service. Click here to access your Google dashboard.
  • Take power over the ads that you are shown. Did you know that you can review and control the kinds of ads that Google shows you? Most users don’t take advantage of this amazing convenience, but it’s very easy to do. Click here to view, edit, and even opt out of the kinds of ads you see on Google.
  • Do periodic privacy checkups. Not sure which Google services are using what information, how much of your personal information is being shared, or what information Google already has gathered on your search habits? One way to tackle this somewhat overwhelming data is to use the Google Privacy Checker. This simple tool helps users to methodically check exactly what is being shared, and where. For example, you can choose  how much information is shared in your Google+ profile, both publicly and privately. You can edit how much information is available if someone clicks on your YouTube user profile. You can opt out of Google using any publicly shared photos in background images, edit any endorsements of products you might have given in the past, keep all your Google subscriptions (YouTube videos, for example) private, manage your Google Photos settings, and more. You can even personalize your Google experience here, from how you view directions to how your search results are displayed. The user is ultimately in charge of how they experience Google – all the tools are in your hands.  

Overwhelmed? Here’s Where to Start

If this is the first time that you’re learning about how much information Google is actually tracking, storing, and using, you might be a little overwhelmed as to what to do first.

Simply taking the time to educate yourself about what one of the most popular search engines in the world is doing with your online data is a valuable first step.

If you’re looking for a virtual “clean slate”, the best thing to do would simply be to clear your Google search history completely. You can find a detailed step by step on how to accomplish that here: How to Find, Manage, and Delete Your Search History.

Next, decide how much information you are comfortable with giving Google access to. Do you care if all your searches are tracked as long as you get relevant results? Are you okay with giving Google access to your personal information if you receive more targeted access to what you’re looking for? Decide what level of access you are comfortable with, and then use the suggestions in this article to update your Google settings accordingly.

How to Protect Your Privacy and Anonymity Online

For more on how to manage your privacy online, and stop your information from being potentially tracked, we invite you to read the following articles:

Privacy: It's Ultimately Up To You 

Whether or not you’re concerned about the information in your Google searches, profile, and personal dashboards being used to enhance the relevancy of your queries online, it’s always a good idea to make sure that all information shared on any service is within the bounds of personal privacy that you are most comfortable with. While we should certainly keep the platforms and services we use accountable to a common standard of user privacy, the safety and security of our information online is ultimately up to each one of us to determine. 

 Source: This article was published lifewire.com By Wendy Boswell

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Rather than becoming ubiquitous in homes as expected, the Internet of Things (IoT) has become the butt of jokes, in part because of major security and privacy issues. UK mobile chip designer ARM -- which created the architecture used by Qualcomm, Samsung and others -- has a lot to lose if it doesn't take off. As such, it has unveiled a new security framework called Platform Security Architecture (PSA) that will help designers build security directly into device firmware.

ARM notes that "many of the biggest names in the industry" have signed on to support PSA (sorry ARM, that's a bad acronym). That includes Google Cloud Platform, Sprint, Softbank, which owns ARM, and Cisco. (A complete list is shown in the image below.)

The main component of it is an open-source reference "Firmware-M" that the company will unveil for Armv8-M systems in early 2018. ARM said that PSA also gives hardware, software and cloud platform designers IoT threat models, security analyses, and hardware and firmware architecture specifications, based on a "best practice approach" for consumer devices.

Despite Intel's best efforts, ARM is far and away the most prevalent architecture used in connected homes for security devices, light bulbs, appliances and more. ARM says that over 100 billion IoT devices using its designs have shipped, and expects another 100 billion by 2021. Improving the notoriously bad security of such devices is a good start, but it also behooves manufacturers to create compelling devices, not pointless ones.

Source: This article was published engadget.com By Steve Dent

Categorized in Internet of Things

Privacy search engines such as DuckDuckGo and Startpage are becoming increasingly popular. They usually leverage the big search engines in order to return results, but proxy search requests so that Google or Yahoo or Microsoft do not know who made the search. In other words, these see only that the search query came from the privacy search engine.

These privacy search engines promise to not log your IP address or any searches you make. Does this sound good to you? Good. The next question, then, is which privacy search engine to use…

Why privacy search engines?

The problem with most search engines is that they spy on you. This is their business model – to learn as much about you as possible, in order deliver highly targeted advertising direct to your browser window.

Google has even recently dropped its moratorium on combining what it learns by scanning your emails with what it learns about you through your searches. All the better to spy on you. Information typically collected and stored each time you make a search includes:

  • Your IP address
  • Date and time of query
  • Query search terms
  • Cookie ID – this cookie is deposited in your browser’s cookie folder, and uniquely identifies your computer. With it, a search engine provider can trace a search request back to your computer

This information is usually transmitted to the requested web page, and to the owners of any third party advertising banners displayed on that page. As you surf around the internet, advertisers build up a (potentially highly embarrassing) profile of you.

Of course, if Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!, etc., know lots about you, this information can be (and often is) handed over to the police and the NSA.

Google Transparency Report on the number of User Data Requests received, and the number (at least partially) acceded to

Indeed, it was only recently that evidence emerged showing Yahoo works hand in glove with the NSA to betray its users to the intelligence service.  Naughty, naughty.

The filter bubble

An added benefit of using a search engine that does not track you is that it avoids the “filter bubble” effect. Most search engines use your past search terms (and things you “Like” on social networks) to profile you. They can then return results they think will interest you.

This can result in only receiving search returns that agree with your point of view, This locks you into a “filter bubble,” where you do not get to see alternative viewpoints and opinions because they have been downgraded in your search results.

Not only does this deny you access to the rich texture and multiplicity of human input, but it can also be very dangerous as it can confirm prejudices, and prevent you from seeing the “bigger picture”.

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo Privacy Search Engines

  • PROS
  • No logs or tracking
  • Looks great
  • Discrete non-targeted ads
  • Bangs
  • Contextual filters
  • CONS
  • US company
  • Uses Amazon servers
  • Yahoo results 

DuckDuckGo is “The Search Engine that Vows Not to Track You.” Gabriel Weinberg, the CEO and founder of DuckDuckGo has stated that “if the FBI comes to us, we have nothing to tie back to you.”

It is a US-based company, and is the most popular and high-profile of the privacy search engines. Searches are primarily sourced via Yahoo, with whom DuckDuckGo has a strong relationship.

This is very worrying given recent revelations about its ties to the NSA,  but DuckDuckGo continues to promise that it does not collect or share personal information.

Aesthetics

DuckDuckGo sports a clean interface. I find its red, grey, and white styling and cutesy logo attractive and fun, although this is, of course, a matter of personal taste.

Search results

  • DuckDuckGo offers search suggestions as you type in a query.
  • Search returns are very fast. This includes image and video search returns.
  • Presentation of results is very clear.
  • Search filter categories include Web, Images, Videos, Products, Meanings, Definition, and News. Displayed filters are adaptive, and DDG will initially show results under the filter category that it feels is most appropriate to the search terms. Depending the filter selected, DuckDuckGo may display image, video or Wikipedia previews at either the top of the search page, or in a box to the right of the results.
  • Ads may also be displayed to the right of search results. Paid ads are clearly marked as such, are discreet, and are never mixed in with the “pure” search returns.
  • Image results, however, can only be filtered by size (Small, Medium. Large).
  • Video results display a thumbnail preview. YouTube videos can be played directly from DDG the website, but a warning alerts you to the fact that these will be tracked by YouTube/Google.
  • Results can also be filtered by country and date (Anytime, Past Day, Past Week or Past Month).
  • Subjectively, I find the quality of DuckDuckGo’s search returns to be very good. I have seen complaints, however, by others who do not find them as good as those of Google. This is one reason why “bangs” are so useful (see below).

Here we can see both the contextual filter in actual (auto-direct to Products) and DDG’s discrete ads

How it makes money

DuchDuckGo displays ads alongside its search results. These are sourced from Yahoo as part of the Yahoo-Microsoft search alliance. By default, when advertisers sign up for a Bing Ads account, their ads automatically enter rotation into all of Bing’s distribution channels, including DuckDuckGo

Importantly, however, these ads are untargeted (they are displayed based on your search terms). And as already noted, there are clearly marked and are displayed separately from the “pure” search returns.

DuckDuckGo is part of the affiliate programs of Amazon and eBay. When you visit those sites through DuckDuckGo and subsequently make a purchase, it receives a small commission. No personally identifiable information is given out in this way, however, and this does not influence search result rankings.

Privacy

DuckDuckGo states that does not collect or share personal information.

  • An affiliate code may be added to some eCommerce sites (e.g. Amazon & eBay), but this does not include any personally identifiable information.
  • Being based in the US means that DuckDuckGo is subject to government pressure and laws such as FISA and the Patriot Act. This means that the US government could mandate that DuckDuckGo start logging its users’ activities. And prevent the company from alerting users to this fact via a Gag order.
  • DuckDuckGo uses Amazon servers. Again, this is a US company, subject to pressure from the US government.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A+

Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo, has contacted me regarding this article. Please see the Update at the bottom of this page for his answers to some  criticisms expressed here.

Features

In addition to its rather nifty contextual filters, the most striking feature of DuckDuckGo is “bangs”.

These allow you to search other websites quickly and easily. For example, typing !guk before a search query will return Google UK search results, and typing !a will search the Amazon store for you.

Note that bangs take you to the website in question. The searches are proxied, but if you are signed into Google (for example), then Google will know who you are and will record the search terms.

My thoughts

DuckDuckGo is, in my opinion, the best looking and most user-friendly privacy search engine out there. This makes it great to use, although some may prefer Google to the primarily Yahoo-based search results.

Bangs are a killer feature, however, and one that go a long way towards compensating for this issue. Just remember to sign out of your Google account before using a Google bang!

It is little surprise, then, that DuckDuckGo is so popular. But the fact that it is a US company should sound a note of caution.

Startpage (and Ixquick)

Startpage

  • PROS
  • No logs or tracking
  • Non-targeted ads
  • Can proxy webpages
  • Based in Netherlands
  • Google results
  • CONS
  • Runs servers in the US (but can you choose non-US servers)

Startpage and Ixquick are run by the same company. In the past, Startpage returned Google results, while Ixquick returned results from a number of other search engines, but not Google. The two services have now been combined, and both return identical Google results.

Although no longer actively supported, the old Ixquick metasearch engine is still available at Ixquick.eu. Interestingly, despite no longer being actively supported, Startpage has recently removed Yahoo results from the legacy search engine. This is in response to news that Yahoo has been helping the NSA spy on its users.

Aesthetics

The cloudy blue sky default theme doesn’t really do it for me, although this can be changed in the settings. Overall, there is nothing wrong with how Startpage looks, but I much prefer DuckDuckGo’s red-themed cutesiness.

Search results

  • Suggestions are not offered as you type.
  • Search returns are fast, but perhaps not as fast as those of DuckDuckGo (this is a purely subjective assessment).
  • Presentation of results is very clear.
  • Searches can be only filtered by Web, Images and Video categories. An advanced search option is available that allows you to specify a variety of search parameters, and you can filter results by time.
  • Ads are displayed above search results. These are clearly marked as ads, and are not mixed with the “pure” search results.
  • There are no additional filters for Images.
  • Video results display an image preview. YouTube can be played directly on the Startpage website, although you are warned that this is not private.
  • Search results are pulled directly from Google, and are therefore very good. This does mean, however, that information censored by Google is also censored from these returns.

startpage-1

Ads are more prominent than with DDG, but the ability to proxy webpages is great

How it makes money

Much like DuckDuckGo, Startpage makes money from ads and affiliate links. These ads are untargeted, clearly marked, and not mixed in with the “real” search returns. They are somewhat more prominently displayed than with DuckDuckGo, however.

Privacy

  • Startpage is based in the Netherlands, which has strong privacy laws.
  • It runs servers collocated in the US. These are owned and controlled by Startpage, and I am assured that they are secure against government snooping. If this worries you, however…
  • It is possible to use non-US servers only (or non-EU servers).
  • Webpages returned from searches can be proxied (see below).
  • Startpage is the only privacy search engine that has been independently audited.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A+

Features

Startpage’s killer feature is that, rather than visiting a website directly, you can proxy the connection. If you select this option, then a proxy server run by Startpage sits between your computer and the website.

This prevents the website from knowing your true IP address (much like a VPN), and from being able to use web tracking and fingerprinting technologies to identify and track you.  The downside is that pages load more slowly, since StartPage must retrieve the contents and redisplay them.

I must say that this is a terrific feature, and one that can greatly improve your privacy. Given its downside, however, you probably won’t want to use it all the time.

My thoughts

Startpage is not as pretty or user-friendly as DuckDuckGo. But thanks to being based in the Netherlands and having nothing to do with Yahoo, it should be more resistant to NSA spying than its US-based rivals long (if you specify non-US servers!). And  the ability to proxy web pages is an absolute doozy.

 SearX

Search

  • PROS
  • Can be self-hosted
  • Choose which search engines to leverage
  • Can proxy webpages
  • No ads
  • CONS
  • Public instances could be logged

Less well-known, but fast gaining traction with the security community is SearX. Not only is SearX fully open source, but it is easy to setup and run your own instance of it.

There is an official public SearX instance, or you can use one of many volunteer-run public instances. But what SearX is really about is running your own instance. This makes SearX the only metasearch engine where you can be 100 percent sure that no logs are kept!

Aesthetics

I would describe SearX as functional looking, rather than pretty. That said, the layout is clean, and results are displayed clearly. It is possible for hosts to customize their instances somewhat, although most instances look and feel fairly similar to the official template.

Search results

  • By default, SearX leverages results from a large number of search engines.

searx-search-engines

In Preferences, users can change which search engines are used

  • Search suggestions are not offered as you type, but are displayed to the right of your search returns.
  • Searches can be filtered by the following categories: General, Files, Images, IT, Map (using OpenStreetMap), Music, News, Science, Social Media and Videos. They can also be filtered by time.
  • There are no ads
  • Wikipedia entries are displayed to the right of search results
  • There are no additional filters for Images, although a preview is displayed when they are clicked on.
  • Video results display a thumbnail preview. Clicking on a video takes you to the website it is hosted on (for example YouTube or Vimeo).
  • Search results can be downloaded as a .csv, .json., or rss file.
  • As with Starpage, search results can be viewed proxied. This will “break” many websites, but does allow for a very high level of privacy.
  • Search results are as good as the engine’s selected. The official instance uses Google, Bing, Wikipedia, and a host of other first-rate engines by default, so the results are excellent.

How it makes money

SearX is an open source project run by volunteers. On the official instance there is no on-site advertising and no affiliate marketing.

Because it is open source, individual operators of public SearX instances are free to introduce their own finance models. But I have yet to find a single instance that is not 100 percent ad and affiliate-free.

Privacy

  • There is no way to know if a public SearX instance operator is logging your searches. And this includes the official instance.
  • That said, there is no way to guarantee that DDG, Startpage, or any other “private” search engines are not logging your searches either…
  • If you are serious about privacy, therefore, you should set up your own SearX instance. In fact, setting up your own SearX instance on a server that only you directly control is the only way currently available to guarantee that your searches are not logged.
  • This makes self-hosted SearX instances by far the most secure search engines available. Documentation for installing your own SearX instance is available here.
  • For the casual user, public SearX instances are unlikely to log your searches, and are much less likely to be monitored by the likes of the NSA than the other services mentioned here.
  • Just remember, though, that there is no way to be sure of this.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report for searx.me (the official instance): A. Note that each SearX instance (public or private) is different in this respect.

searx-reults

The are no ads, search suggestions are listed to the right, and as with Startpage, you can proxy webpages

Features

As with Startpage, the ability to proxy websites is a killer feature if you can live with it breaking many websites that you visit.

My thoughts

For serious tech-savvy privacy-heads, a self-hosted SearX instance is the way to go. Simply put, nothing else is in the same league when it comes to knowing for certain that your searches are not logged.

More casual users may also be surprised at how well the software works on public instances. My personal feelings are that these are much less likely to log your searches or be spied on by the US and other governments than DuckDuckGo, Startpage or Disconnect. But this is purely speculation.

Disconnect Search

Disconnect Search

  • PROS
  • No logs or tracking
  • No ads
  • Choice of search engines
  • CONS
  • US company (so beware the NSA)
  • Uses Amazon servers (so beware the NSA)

Before writing a Disconnect review, we knew the US-based company had made a name for itself with some excellent open source privacy-oriented browser extensions. One of these is the open source Disconnect Search add-on for Firefox and Chrome (a non-open source Android app is also available).

This browser add-on is still the primary way to use Disconnect Search, although a JavaScript web app is available. This mimics the browser extension, and allow you to perform web searches from the Disconnect Search web page.

Disconnect also markets a Premium VPN and online security app, with Disconnect Search functionality built-in. Please see my Disconnect review for more details on this.

Search results

  • Searches are usually made from the browser add-on.
  • You can select which of three search engines to query: Bing, Yahoo or DuckDuckGo (default).
  • Unlike the other privacy metasearch engines discussing this article, Disconnect does not display search returns on its own website. Results are simply routed through Disconnect’s servers to hide their origin, and are then opened in the selected search engine’s webpage.
  • Incognito mode searches are supported.

disconnect-search-1

The browser extension

How it makes money

Disconnect markets a Premium product (see review), but the Disconnect Search browser extension is free. It hides your IP when making searches, but then sends you direct to the selected search engine.  This means that Disconnect performs no advertising or affiliate marketing of its own when making a search.

Privacy

  • Disconnect is a US company, and is therefore not a good choice for the more NSA-phobic out there.
  • The browser extension is open source, but search requests can still be logged by Disconnect, as they are made through its servers.
  • Disconnect hosts its service on Amazon servers.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A (this is for the Disonnect.me website).

My thoughts

The Disconnect Search browser extension provides a quick and easy way hide your true identity whilst making searches using your favorite search engine.  The fact that Disconnect is US-based, however, is a major issue.

Honorary mention: Peekier

Peekier is a new no-logs search engine. There is not enough information about this service currently available for me to give it a proper assessment. It is worth mentioning, however, because of the attractive and innovative way that it displays search results.

Results are displayed as large thumbnail previews of returned webpages

In a field were where, if we are honest, most search engines look pretty similar, it is great to see a different approach. I therefore think it worth flagging up Peekier, and keeping an eye on the service to see how it develops.

Privacy Search Engines Conclusion

Using any of these services engines will greatly improve your search privacy. Crucially, your searches will not be recorded in order to build to help a profile that is used to sell you stuff. All the search engines I looked at in this article are easy to use and return good results.

DuckDuckGo, in particular, is extremely user-friendly. This makes it a great service for transitioning away from Google.

Will these services protect your searches from government surveillance (and the NSA in particular)? In the case of US companies, it is safest to assume not. But unless you are doing something very illegal, this may not concern you (although it should).

Startpage is non-US based, has been independently audited, and allows you to access websites with a great deal of privacy thanks to its proxy feature. It is therefore a much better choice for privacy-heads than DuckDuckGo.

Public SearX instances are less likely to be monitored than other higher-profile search engines, but they may be. It is also likely that you will know nothing about their operators. Running your own SearX instance on hardware directly under your control, however, is an extremely secure and private solution. And is therefore only one that I can recommend to serious privacy fanatics.

The fact the SearX has a great interface and returns on-the-button results from all the major search engines is the icing on the cake.

Update

Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo, has contacted me regarding this article. It is his firm (and I believe genuine) belief that DDG is as secure and private as a search engine can be (barring one that is self-hosted). And that my concerns about it being a US company and over its partnership with Yahoo are largely unfounded.

Central to his argument is that DDG keeps no logs. This means that it cannot be subpoenaed to provide what it does not have, and makes it irrelevant who it partners with. As no information exists about DDG’s users anyway.

Gabriel also pointed out the legal protections US citizens enjoy against government spying that are not afforded to other nationals, and that DuckDuckGo operates non-US servers. Users outside the US will mostly be directed to these when performing searches.

Now. I will go on record as saying that I think being a US company is a serious threat to privacy. This article is not the place to discuss such issues in detail, but look out for an upcoming article where I will dive into the subject head first.

Source: This article was published bestvpn.com By Douglas Crawford

Categorized in Search Engine

By Adeniyi Ogunfowoke

With almost everyone relying on the internet to perform tasks, there is barely anything like privacy. All your personal information are readily available to everyone by simply googling your name.

However, you can control the information others have access to online thereby guaranteeing your online privacy by taking certain steps. Jumia Travel, the leading online travel agency shares some of the steps you should take.

Password all your devices

Protect all your devices with passwords and that includes your computers, tablets, smartphones and anything other gadgets with your personal data on them. If it is unsecured by a password, your lost or stolen gadget will become a source of personal information for whoever has it and this can lead to identity theft.

Use two-factor authentication

The two-factor authentication is becoming very popular today. Activating this feature will not give you or any other person immediate access to your accounts. Instead, when you login, you will need to enter a special code that the website texts to your phone. No code, no access.

Do not share too much information on your social media profile

The more information you share online, the easier it’s going to be for someone to get their hands on it. One of such ways to get this information is via social media. So, check your social media profiles and remove information such as date of birth, phone numbers and email addresses. Anyone who wants to contact you should send a Direct Message.

Enable private browsing

If you don’t want anyone with physical access to your computer to see your online activities, you should enable private browsing which is a setting available in all major web browser. Enabling it will automatically delete cookies, browsing history and temporary Internet files after you close the window.

Set up a Google alert for your name

This is one of the easiest ways to keep track of everything someone may be saying about you on the website. With the activation of Google alert, you will be alerted immediately if someone illegally accesses your information.

Pay for transactions with cash

If you do not want to give out your card information online, you should use the cash on delivery option to pay for online transactions. You know some of these websites can sometimes be unreliable.

Keep your computer virus free

If your computer is infected by a virus or malware, hackers will not only have access to your information to steal your identity, but they may lock up your files and ask for a ransome to get them back. You will have to pay if the files are important to you.

Do not rely on search engines

If you don’t like the idea of your search history being used to do business, you can switch your search engines. This is because many of us rely heavily on Google Chrome. So, make it a rule of thumb to switch your search engine.

Adeniyi Ogunfowoke is a PR Associate at Jumia Travel

Source: This article was published businesspost.ng By Dipo Olowookere

Categorized in Internet Privacy
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