Web Directories

Daniel K. Henry

Daniel K. Henry

Wednesday, 28 December 2016 04:22

New iPhone 7S Leak Will Anger Everyone

For Apple AAPL +0.63% and the iPhone, 2017 is the big one. It marks the 10th anniversary of the iconic smartphone and leak after credible leak has told us about radical design changes and revolutionary new technology. But are they wrong?

According to new information from Mac Otakara, the 2017 iPhones could be very disappointing indeed. Citing a “Taiwan supplier”, the site says that instead of the so-called ‘iPhone 8’ Apple will instead follow tradition and simply release an iPhone 7S and iPhone 7S Plus which will be virtually identical to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

If correct, this would be the fourth successive generation where Apple has stuck with the same design and the move would likely anger fans as iPhone rivals continue to cut down bezel sizes to fit larger displays into physically smaller phones. Other than one brilliant exception 

How seriously should we take this frustrating news? Well Mac Otakara has a good track record and it was the first site to reveal Apple would remove the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 at the start of the year (though I predicted the move in 2014).

For those looking for an upside to this leak, Mac Otakara does point out a couple of notable changes are on the way in 2017. It says the iPhone 7S will increase its screen size from 4.7 to 5-inches while both the iPhone 7S and iPhone 7S Plus will have dual cameras that are arranged vertically rather than horizontally, as they are on the iPhone 7 Plus.

Breaking these down, the increased screen size for the iPhone 7S would align it more closely to leading Android rivals but also make the phone larger if the core design is not going to change. For users who prefer smaller phones, that won’t be a popular move.

Meanwhile dual cameras on both iPhones would be a step forward after the iPhone 7 missed out on this feature, while the switch to a more traditional vertical orientation for both camera modules implies Apple has rethought how the setup works. Currently the second camera is used as a 2x optical zoom and for a cool portrait mode, but dual cameras can also be used to take the same photo at different exposures to boost image quality (a kind of optical enhancement for HDR).

Dual horizontal camera would be a major change from the current iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus cameras pictured. Image credit: Gordon Kelly

Dual horizontal camera would be a major change from the current iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus cameras pictured. Image credit: Gordon Kelly

The good news for those still disappointed by this report, however, is Mac Otakara says Apple won’t finalise the specifications for either new iPhone until the second quarter of Apple’s 2017 fiscal year, which is in April.

As such these leaks could be backups in case Apple’s more radical iPhone 8 plans don’t come to fruition or even, as some have speculated, the iPhone 7S and iPhone 7S Plus may be released in addition to a more expensive overhauled iPhone 8 giving customers the choice of three premium models for the first time.

Personally I think this latter theory is the most likely. After all, with iPhone sales slowing in recent years, a triple play would allow Apple to increase profit margins by retaining current pricing for models which hold onto older designs for longer while introducing a new and more expensive flagship model as the brand’s posterchild. After all, as the new 2017 MacBook Pros demonstrated, price rises are not something Apple worries about.

So if the Mac Otakara news does anger you, keep your hopes up for a) Mac Otakara’s usually reliable sources getting it wrong this time and being the real source of your anger, or b) an iPhone triple play in 2017, for which I would suggest you start saving now…

Author : Gordon Kelly

Source : http://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2016/12/27/iphone7s-design-camera-changes/#2f8cfd1c3801

Forget about security! It turns out that the Chip-and-PIN cards are just as easy to clone as magnetic stripe cards.

It took researchers just a simple chip and pin hack to withdraw up to $50,000 in cash from an ATM in America in under 15 minutes.

We have been told that EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) chip-equipped cards provides an extra layer of security which makes these cards more secure and harder to clone than the old magnetic stripe cards.

But, it turns out to be just a myth.

A team of security engineers from Rapid7 at Black Hat USA 2016 conference in Las Vegas demonstrated how a small and simple modifications to equipment would be enough for attackers to bypass the Chip-and-PIN protections and enable unauthorized transactions.

The demonstration was part of their presentation titled, "Hacking Next-Gen ATMs: From Capture to Washout," [PDF]. The team of researchers was able to show the audience an ATM spitting out hundreds of dollars in cash.

Here's How the Hack Work

The hack requires two processes to be performed.

First, the criminals need to add a small device known as a Shimmer to a point-of-sale (POS) machine (here, ATM's card reader) in order to pull off a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack against an ATM.

The shimmer sits between the victim's chip and the card reader in the ATM and can record the data on the chip, including PIN, as the ATM reads it. It then transmits this data to the criminals.

The criminals then use a smartphone to download this stolen data and recreate the victim's card in an ATM, instructing it to eject cash constantly.

Tod Beardsley, a security research manager for Rapid7, told the BBC that shimmer is basically a tiny RaspBerry-Pi-powered device that could be installed quickly to the outside of the ATM without access to the internals of the cash machine.

"It's really just a card that is capable of impersonating a chip," Beardsley said. "It's not cloning."

The perpetrators would only be able to replicate each card for a few minutes and use it to fraudulently withdraw money, enabling them to make between up to $50,000, but Beardsley suggests that a network of hacked chip-and-pin machines could create a constant stream of victims.

Researchers have disclosed full details about the issue in Chip-and-PIN ATMs to banks and major ATM manufacturers and said they hope the institutions (currently unnamed) are examining the issue.

Author : 

Source : http://thehackernews.com/2016/08/hacking-chip-pin-card.html

Back in March, scientists detected 10 powerful bursts of radio signals coming from the same location in space. And now researchers have just picked up six more of the signals seemingly emanating from the same region, far beyond our Milky Way.

These fast radio bursts (FRB) are some of the most elusive and explosive signals ever detected from space - they only last milliseconds, but in that short period of time, they generate as much energy as the Sun in an entire day. But despite how powerful they are, scientists still aren't sure what causes them.

Until the detection of the 10 repeating signals back in March, it was thought that the bursts were only ever one-off events, coming from random locations around space. And without a discernible pattern to them, researchers were left stumped as to what could be causing them.

The reason we're so in the dark about FRB isn't that they're that uncommon - researchers have estimated that there are around 2,000 of these FRBs firing across the Universe every single day - but that they're so incredibly short-lived that we struggle to detect them.

It was only in 2007 that we discovered FRB, and it wasn't until earlier this year that researchers were quick enough to see one happening in real time. Usually we have to study the events long after the fact.

But now that we've detected 16 of the signals all coming from the same place, scientists might finally begin to narrow down options for what could be causing the powerful bursts.

The first 10 radio bursts detected coming from this one region were first identified in March this year, but they actually occurred in May and June 2015.

Not only were these the first FRB ever detected outside our galaxy - the rest all appeared to originate in the Milky Way - but they also created a repeating pattern of signals unlike anything we'd seen before.

Six of the bursts were recorded arriving at the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico within just 10 minutes of each other, and then four more spread out signals were detected over the next month, all coming from the same place.

When the team looked back over the data, they also saw a FRB from 2012 that appeared to come from the same location, too, making a total of 11 FRB from the one spot, and indicating that there was something out there beyond the Milky Way that was regularly producing the extremely short and intense signals.

Now a team of researchers from McGill University in Canada has found six more of the mysterious signals coming from the same spot, which has become known as FRB 121102, after the first FRB detected there.

"We report on radio and X-ray observations of the only known repeating fast radio burst source, FRB 121102," the team wrote in The Astrophysical Journal.

"We have detected six additional radio bursts from this source: five with the Green Bank Telescope at 2 GHz, and one at 1.4 GHz with the Arecibo Observatory, for a total of 17 bursts from this source."

The team can't pinpoint the exact location of FRB 121102, but based on the specific way their lower frequencies are slowed, they can tell they came from a long way away, far beyond the Milky Way. And that gives us some pretty important clues about what could be causing the events.

Interestingly, it also contradicts the evidence we have on FRB coming from within our own galaxy.

Currently, the leading hypothesis for the source of the Milky Way's FRB is the cataclysmic collision of two neutron stars, which forms a black hole. The idea is that as this collision happens, huge amounts of short-lived radio energy are blasted out into space.

But the repeating nature of these distant signals, all coming from the same place, suggest that can't be the case - at least for these particular FRB.

Instead, the 17 radio bursts detected from FRB 121102 indicate that something less dramatic is going on - the most likely hypothesis at the moment for these outer-galactic FRB is that they're coming from an exotic object such as a young neutron star, that's rotating with enough power to regularly emit the extremely bright pulses. 

The good news is that the two types of FRB don't necessarily contradict each other - a more likely prediction is that there's more than one type of FRB out there, both with different origins.

This is supported by the fact that the repeating FRB 121102 radio burst signals appear to be wider than the one-off events detected coming from within the galaxy.

But without more evidence to go on, researchers still can't say for sure what's going on.

"Whether FRB 121102 is a unique object in the currently known sample of FRBs, or all FRBs are capable of repeating, its characterisation is extremely important to understanding fast extragalactic radio transients," the team writes.

The race is now on to detect more of these FRB, either from within or outside our galaxy, and try to nail down once and for all where they're coming from. Because the strange events could also provide insight into the other mysteries happening within our Universe.


Source : http://www.sciencealert.com/6-more-mysterious-radio-signals-have-been-detected-coming-from-outside-our-galaxy

The proliferation on online censorships from dozens of countries around the world has prevented numbers to access limitless sources of information from the internet; countries such as China, Iran, North Korea, Egypt, and United Arab Emirates have successfully blocked a couple of websites in their area and limited the flow of information to government-sponsored sites only. But encryption app Signal discovered ways to fight and win against the online censorship regime.

Open Whisper Systems, developer of the Signal app, discovered the most clever ways to fight against censorship by mirroring traffic and web address request via search engine giant Google. This way, if the government-sponsored censorship tools want to block the request, it has to block the entire Google system. It can also shut down its internet connectivity from the world, isolating the country from the global online community.

The Signal app, which is now available in Google PlayStore, can circumvent from censorship tools, while hiding itself within the encrypted connections of major internet services like Google. In a nutshell, using the Signal app is just like using Google. It turns the search giant into a proxy site for Signal users, while bouncing its traffic to the requesting party and fooling the censors.

Dubbed as domain fronting technique, Signal has already become a favorite tool within the security and cryptography community. Other encryption and anti-censorship tools such as Tor, Psiphon, and Lantern are already using the app.

Moxie Marlinspike, the founder of Open Whisper Systems, said that Signal app showcases a feature that sidesteps censorship in countries like Egypt and UEA after it was blocked days ago. Updating the app, users can regain free access to censored sites. While Signal app is available for Android users only, Marlinspike said that an iOS version will be coming in days ahead.

"It's possible that these countries will respond. But the endgame is that we'll win," said Marlinspike as quoted by Wired.

Watch the video below to know how secure the Signal app is:

Author : Jun Pasaylo

Source : http://www.mobilenapps.com/articles/25256/20161222/signal-app-win-against-internet-censorship.htm

When I was a kid in the late 1990s, most everyone I knew had a Windows 95 PC — myself included.

But I had this one friend whose family owned a Mac, one of those multicolored iMacs that were the company's first big product launch after Steve Jobs returned to the company.

I loved video games, and he loved video games, but he especially loved games on his Mac. Well, one game in particular: "Marathon," a first-person shooter, which was only for the Mac.

We got into fierce, weeklong arguments about it, in the way that only 10-year-olds can. He said the Mac may have less software, but what was there was simply better. I said the Windows PC was way more versatile. Each of us begrudged the other everything.

Apple stoked the flames with its famous "Get a Mac" ads circa the late 2000s, in which actors John Hodgman and Justin Long played a PC and a Mac, respectively, showing how the PC was old and stodgy but the Mac was young and hip. It was a big part of Apple's turnaround story — the iMac brought the company back from the brink of disaster, paving the way for the massive success of the iPod and then the iPhone, which turned Apple into the most valuable company in the world. Sometimes, it feels as though those days never ended.

People are still crazy protective of the computers and phones they use. When Business Insider published a piece a little while back saying that Microsoft's Surface Book laptop might be abetter buy for most people than the newest MacBook Pro models, we got some hate mail from the Apple crowd.

surface book review 0786Microsoft Surface Book. Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Well, guess what? The world has moved on. And it's less of a "choice" than ever before.

Because so much of what we do these days is based in the browser and in the cloud, Mac versus PC is no longer a lifestyle decision like it was back when boxed software ruled all.

It's just a matter of taste. Even Microsoft knows it.

And in the exact same way, because of the rise of the App Store model, iPhone versus Android is barely a thing anymore to most people. That's why analysts now believe that iPhone versus Android is "stable" — nobody cares anymore.

The operating system wars are over

After many years of being a Mac faithful, I've been using Windows 10 for the past year and a half or so. I found a lot to like (touch screens, Cortana, window management) and a lot that was annoying (random crashes, peculiar device issues).

Every so often, like today, I switch back to the Mac just to make sure I stay familiar with both sides. And I'm rediscovering that there's a lot to like (performance, stability, iPhone-related superpowers like iMessage) and a lot that's annoying (no touch screen, no Cortana).

They both fill a niche. And they're both successful for their parent companies in their own ways. Macs are highly profitable for Apple, which is still primarily a hardware company. Windows is everywhere, from cheap laptops to premium machines like the Surface Studio, and that's good for Microsoft, which is still mainly a software company.

cortana movie gameCortana on Windows 10. Matt Weinberger

They can both win. Windows and Apple have their die-hard fans, sure, but they can happily coexist.

The same goes for the mobile platforms, too.

Apple and Google both won. Apple's iPhone is ridiculously profitable, while Android dominates with something like 87% of the market. Each of them got exactly what it wanted from the smartphone business. Apple is selling a lot of profitable iPhones; Google gets its web services and search engine in front of more people.

So while iPhones and Androids may have few features that set them apart, they are still, by and large, running the same major apps, connecting to the same big services. Each phone operating system has its pluses and minuses, but each is pretty much as useful to a vast majority of people as the other.

Maybe you like Instagram on iPhone better than Instagram on Android, but Instagram is still Instagram.

It's all about the service

Indeed, it's service that's going to make the difference going forward.

Switching between a PC and Mac was simple because even my handwritten notes from the Windows 10 computer were stored in Microsoft's Office 365 cloud service. I didn't need to worry about syncing my music between computers because I use the Spotify service on my Mac and PC and iPhone.

This is why Microsoft is making sure Office apps and services are available for the iPhone and Android. It's why Apple is going to bring its new Apple Music service to Android. It's why Google invests so much in the Chrome browser, which runs on both Windows and macOS and in web services like Google Photos.

When the operating system doesn't matter, users are free to choose whatever service suits them, at any time.

iphone vs pixelAntonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

It also means that picking a computer or a phone is no longer like getting sorted into a house at Hogwarts. Go where you want, do what you want.

So relax, and remember that you don't owe the big tech companies anything. Let them serve you, in the way that you want.

Author : Matt Weinberger

Source : http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-mac-vs-microsoft-windows-pc-is-over-2016-12

Google's John Mueller spelled it out in a single post on Twitter that there is no one single recipe for success for when it comes to ranking in Google search.

In short, since Wikipedia ranks so well in Google, an SEO said should we copy their efforts. John basically responded that every site is different, every niche is different, Google uses hundreds of ranking factors - so following one site might not be the best bet for your own success.

I believe this is overall very true in the SEO world - what may work for one site might not work for another.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Author : Barry Schwartz

Source : https://www.seroundtable.com/google-no-one-recipe-for-seo-success-23164.html

The Internet Society has released the findings of its 2016 Global Internet Report in which 40% of users admit they would not do business with a company which had suffered a data breach.

Highlighting the extent of the data breach problem, the report makes key recommendations for building user trust in the online environment, stating that more needs to be done to protect online personal information.

With a reported 1,673 breaches and 707 million exposed records occurring in 2015, the Internet Society is urging organisations to change their stance and follow five recommendations to reduce the number and impact of data breaches globally:

1. Put users - who are the ultimate victims of data breaches - at the centre of solutions. When assessing the costs of data breaches, include the costs to both users and organisations. 

2. Increase transparency about the risk, incidence and impact of data breaches globally. Sharing information responsibly helps organisations improve data security, helps policymakers improve policies and regulators pursue attackers, and helps the data security industry create better solutions.

3. Data security must be a priority – organisations should be held to best practice standards when it comes to data security.

4. Increase accountability – organisations should be held accountable for their breaches. Rules regarding liability and remediation must be established up front.

5. Increase incentives to invest in security – create a market for trusted, independent assessment of data security measures so that organisations can credibly signal their level of data security. Security signals enable organisations to indicate that that they are less vulnerable than competitors.

The report also draws parallels with threats posed by the Internet of Things (IoT). Forecasted to grow to tens of billions of devices by 2020, interconnected components and sensors that can track locations, health and other daily habits are opening gateways into user’s personal lives, leaving data exposed.

“We are at a turning point in the level of trust users are placing in the Internet,” said Internet Society’s Olaf Kolkman, Chief Internet Technology Officer. “With more of the devices in our pockets now having Internet connectivity, the opportunities for us to lose personal data is extremely high.

“Direct attacks on websites such as Ashley Madison and the recent IoT-based attack on Internet performance management company, Dyn, that rendered some of the world’s most famous websites including Reddit, Twitter and The New York Times temporarily inaccessible, are incredibly damaging both in terms of profits and reputation, but also to the levels of trust users have in the Internet.”

Other report highlights include:

  • The average cost of a data breach is now $4 million, up 29 percent since 2013
  • The average cost per lost record is $158, up 15 percent since 2013
  • Within business, the retail sector represents 13 percent of all breaches and six percent of all records stolen, while financial institutions represent 15 percent of breaches, but just 0.1 percent of records stolen, indicating these businesses might have greater resilience built in to protect their users

Source  :  https://www.finextra.com/pressarticle/67186/internet-trust-at-all-time-low-not-enough-data-protection

Monday, 19 December 2016 07:51

government gag orders Google gets

The web giant begins publishing now-unrestricted letters that let the FBI acquire information from companies about their customers.

Tech companies must often walk a fine line between its customers' expectations for privacy and the US government's secret demands for user information. Now Google is showing how delicate that balancing act can be.

The web giant on Tuesday began publishing some of the gag orders it has received as part of national security letters (NSLs), which let the FBI get information from companies about their customers without alerting the person being investigated. No court approval is required for the federal subpoena, and NSLs typically contain a gag order that prevents the recipient from disclosing the request.

The move is part of Google's effort to increase transparency about what information is requested and provided, the company said.

"Our goal in doing so is to shed more light on the nature and scope of NSLs," Richard Salgado, Google's director for information security and law enforcement matters, wrote in a company blog post Tuesday. "We minimized redactions to protect privacy interests, but the content of the NSLs remain as they were when served."

Tech companies have sought legal permission for greater transparency about the government requests since 2013 when reports based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden alleged that they provided the NSA with "direct access" to their servers through a so-called Prism program. The companies have denied that allegation and petitioned the government to allow them to publish, in detail, the types of national security requests they have received under the controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The letters are being published in accordance with the 2015 USA Freedom Act, which requires the Justice Department to regularly review disclosure restrictions contained in NSLs and lift them when they are no longer relevant.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

Author : 

Source : https://www.cnet.com/news/here-are-some-of-the-government-gag-orders-google-gets/

The Internet Archive has been making waves lately, and not entirely by choice. The non-profit has been growing, and recently announced an intriguing new feature for its famous Wayback Machine that will make it far more useful, but it’s also been at center of a number of controversies over censorship and data freedom. This week it announced a provocative plan to spend millions mirroring its archives on Canadian soil, apparently to avoid future attacks from the Trump Administration. The two are at least somewhat related; as Archive.org makes its services larger and more user friendly, those services become more problematic in the eyes of the authorities.


The Internet Archive basically has two components: the website archive, called the Wayback Machine, and everything else, including databases of digitized books, music, movies, and more. The Wayback Machine has become a major pillar of the internet, not nearly as highly trafficked as Wikipedia but similar in that quite a few people would be screwed without it. In principle, its goal is really just part of the overall thesis of the internet: The Internet Archive is meant to ensure that knowledge and the public record stay intact over time. Through the Wayback Machine, it archives “snapshots” of as many websites as it can, as often as it can, and makes the full history available, for free. For most of its history, the biggest controversy it saw was whether it was appropriate to ask users for cash.



The issue reached a much higher level of profile earlier this week, when the organization revealed that it had received a so-called National Security Letter from the FBI. The group also posted a redacted version of the document online, one of the few such publications that has ever taken place. The letter was even shown to be pushing false information about how to challenge the automatic gag order that comes with an NSL, and the FBI has admitted that the same mistake was sent to some portion of NSL recipients. It’s not known quite how many just yet, but there were over 13,000 sent out last year alone. Archive.org is now one of the most successful challengers to their legal authority.Recently, though, Archive.org has been getting a very different sort of profile.


The ability to use its servers to anonymously host files has led ISIS and other extremist organizations to habitually post their videos and literature there. Much of it is aimed at recruiting impressionable teens around the world, and much of the rest depicts real crimes of gratuitous violence — but there it is, free and public, just a (slightly outside-the-box) search away on Archive.org. The Internet Archive’s ideological beliefs about censorship, along with its genuine inability to police the vastness of its own databases, has transformed its once squeaky-clean image. In some circles, Archive.org is a multimedia PasteBin, but with a lot more self-righteousness.


And it’s those brushes with the spooks and criminals alike that are driving Archive.org’s concern. Trump, who will be the oldest President ever at first swearing-in, has said that he would “certainly be open to closing areas [of the internet] where we are at war with somebody… I’m not talking about closing the internet. I’m talking about closing parts of the internet where ISIS is.” Evidently, the Internet Archive is unsure of whether it would be categorized as “where ISIS is,” since it explicitly referenced the “new administration promising radical change” as the reason for its new, Northern mirror.



As mentioned, though, the Internet Archive is famously cash-strapped, so the whole initiative is to be paid for with donations. It will cost “millions” according to their own estimates, but that’s actually pretty reasonable considering that the data itself comes in at a whopping 15 petabytes, or 15,000 terabytes. With such volume, the base storage costs should be at least around a few million all on their own. The project’s banner ad states that the entire thing could be funded if everybody reading gave just $50 — far beyond what Wikipedia generally suggests. The organization already has a small number of employees in Toronto, though, so presumably creating a copy there would be cheaper than other countries.Canada is of course a terrible choice for the archive’s backup, especially since the stated goal of the move is to keep a Library of Alexandria-style disaster from ending its existence for good. If there were to be a malicious attempt to burn down Archive.org, what protection would Canada’s draconian free speech laws provide, compared with those in the United States? Most attempts to take down the American side would presumably have the force of American law — does the Internet Archive think the Canadian government is going to resist a legal data seizure or server take-down request from the United States? Iceland would have been a much more logical choice — a country that, at the very least, doesn’t openly share virtually all intelligence with the agencies the Internet Archive is trying to escape.


The Internet Archive might seem like an odd sort of organization to go head to head with Big Government, but society and law seem to be slowly veering into a collision course with everything it represents. The archive’s views haven’t changed; if a conflict is coming, it’s because law and society are changing. Any public service with a true commitment to data freedom is going to become home to the people who need such freedom the most, both the journalist/activist types and the criminal/terrorist types. And that means that they will naturally attract the attention of anyone interested in countering one or both of those types of user.

By announcing even the intention to mirror their content in a different legal environment, this little archiving group has signaled that it will not back down, if challenged. Luckily for the archive, its seems to have the support of larger, more experienced groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation. This may all be rank overreaction on the part of the Internet Archive, but if not, there is now enough attention focused on it to ensure that any legal challenge becomes a major battle. For groups like the ACLU, which basically exist to fight and win battles of legal precedent, that might be the most desirable outcome of all.


Author : Graham Templeton

Source :  https://www.extremetech.com/internet/240720-internet-archive-just-got-bit-useful-lot-political

Thursday, 15 December 2016 03:02

How police can access your browser history

The kindest thing you can do for a person after they die—or even just sell you their used computer—is to delete their browser history so no one knows the secrets it holds.

From our politics to our health to our porn, where we go online says a whole lot about who we are and what we do when we think nobody else is looking. Most of the time, our travels on the web are innocent. But that doesn’t mean we’d all look like upstanding citizens if a stranger started combing through our browser histories.

The potential for authorities to gain access to people’s browser histories greatly increased in the United Kingdom, where the government recently passed the Investigatory Powers Bill, aka the Snooper’s Charter, which allows the collection of phone calls, texts, and browsing histories, even if the people targeted aren’t suspected of committing any crimes.

So what about in the United States: Can police see your browsing history and other things you do online? The short answer is, sometimes. Here’s a breakdown of how police can access your browser history and what steps you can do to help keep it secret.

Get a warrant

Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, police can access some of your internet data with a simple subpoena, which investigators can obtain without a judge’s approval. But a subpoena will only give police things like the IP addresses you used to access certain sites or online services and not much more than that. The next level of access is a ECPA court order, which gives police access to more information about your online activities but still doesn’t include things like browser histories, emails, or files. For that, police need a search warrant.

Police can obtain a search warrant for your browsing history “in any instance where the police affiant can convince a judge that there is probable cause to believe that the suspect's browsing history contains evidence of a crime,” according to Stephanie Lacambra, a criminal defense staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

“I have seen judges authorize ‘cell dump’ warrants that include a suspect's browsing history and account login and password information in attempted murder, possession of child pornography, and domestic violence cases,” Lacambra says, “but there is nothing stopping police from applying for warrants in drug cases or theft cases.”

Straight to the source

Unlike, say, your Google Search history (which we’ll touch on in a minute), police will most likely attempt to access your browsing history by pulling it from your machine, whether that’s a desktop computer or a smartphone.

To access what’s stored on your phone, police use mobile forensics software called Cellebrite, which can pull all types of data that you may not even know is lingering in the dark corners of your device’s memory. And similar tools exist for PCs as well, giving law enforcement some CSI: Cyber-level capabilities.

“The Cellebrite software allows police to directly download browsing history from a suspect’s cellphone,” says Lacambra. “There’s no need to go to a third-party internet service provider to get this information. With a desktop, the browsing history is often stored locally. There is negligible difference in the digital footprints left behind when web browsing via desktop or mobile device.”

Spying in real time

Sometimes, a search warrant simply isn’t good enough for the cops—they need to watch what you’re doing online in real time. To do this, police will install malware on a suspect’s computer that serves as a digital wiretap, giving them access to everything you do on the internet.

We’ve seen a variety of instances in which the FBI uses malware while investigating users on the dark net, which can be accessed through anonymity tools like Tor. In fact, at least one person who worked for the Tor Project, the nonprofit that develops Tor’s privacy technology, later designed malware for the FBI to use in investigations for things like child pornography rings.

If you happen to be targeted by police malware, you probably don’t even know about it, says Lacambra. It is possible, however, to figure out if you have law enforcement malware installed on your machine, and it’s even possible to remove at least some versions of this type of malware—if you have the right level of technical know-how.

“With a large degree of technical expertise, [a person] could use tools to disassemble it and determine what it's doing, if they had a sample of the malware,” she says. “Alternatively, they could send it to a malware lab for disassembly. This is generally not within the ability of most users, though.”

Lacambra says it’s also possible to use something called a packet-sniffing tool to see if your computer is connecting with law enforcement-owned IP address. But again, this requires a high level of technical skill and the ability to pinpoint the data that will tell you if you’ve been targeted. Another option is to reinstall your operating system or to simply use a different computer to do, um, whatever it is you really don’t want anyone to find out about. “These techniques may or may not work, though, depending on how well engineered the law enforcement malware is,” Lacambra says.

Going through the side entrance

For something like Google Search history, police can also go straight to a company to gain access to your records. According to its most recent Transparency Report, Google received 12,523 criminal legal requests for user data in the U.S. in the last six months of 2015. Of those, 7,250 were subpoenas, 1,056 were court orders, and 3,716 were search warrants. Google says it honored the search warrant requests 85 percent of the time.

Lock it down

If you’re concerned about your browser history making its way into the hands of police (or even just a snooping roommate), there are things you can do to keep your internet activity more private.

The first, of course, is to use Incognito Mode on Google Chrome or Private Browsing Mode on Firefox, which will “ensure that traces of the sites you’ve visited are not stored locally,” says Lacambra. Another option is to use a tool that protects your privacy. Lacambra recommends Privacy Badger, a tool created by the EFF, which limits the number of tracking cookies that are installed on your computer while you surf the web, as do ad-blocking tools like uBlock Origin.

To really beef up your online privacy, however, you need to install the Tor Browser. Trusted by everyone from journalists and dissidents in countries that serve harsh penalties for subversive activities to criminals selling drugs on the dark net, the Tor Browser encrypts all of your internet traffic and bounces it around through different IP addresses before connecting to any website. This makes it extremely difficult for authorities to figure out what you’re doing online. Lacambra calls it the “best way to protect your privacy from your ISP or local authorities that are able to tap into your connection.”

“The engineers of the Tor Browser have done a lot of work to make sure that the bits of information browsers leak about users can not be linked back to users’ personal information or identity,” she adds.

Of course, the easiest way to reduce your anxiety about police accessing your browser history is to not break the law. But that’s not going to make your searches for “can police see my internet history” any less suspicious.

Author : Andrew Couts

Source : http://www.dailydot.com/layer8/police-search-internet-history-browser-history-rights/


World's leading professional association of Internet Research Specialists - We deliver Knowledge, Education, Training, and Certification in the field of Professional Online Research. The AOFIRS is considered a major contributor in improving Web Search Skills and recognizes Online Research work as a full-time occupation for those that use the Internet as their primary source of information.

Get Exclusive Research Tips in Your Inbox

Receive Great tips via email, enter your email to Subscribe.