Online privacy is a major concern, and the focus of considerable effort by security experts — including Ashkan Soltani. Today, I'm interviewing Ashkan as he'd like to share news about a new privacy platform.Before getting to his news, I wanted to ask Ashkan about his part in the Wall Street Journal's "What They Know" investigative series — several articles focused on mobile-device privacy concerns.Kassner: Ashkan, you helped the Wall Street Journal test several mobile-device apps to determine what information they collected. The test results are uniquely displayed in an interactive tool depicted below. In the example, the Dictionary.com app is sending the phone's ID number to Google/DoubleClick.Why is sending information to third-party vendors like Google/DoubleClick a bad thing?Soltani: First off, most users probably do not realize their information is being transmitted to third parties — who they've never heard of or had a relationship with. Since there's little … [Read more...] about Ashkan Soltani introduces MobileScope, an innovative approach to online privacy
I use online-privacy tools. Or at least try to. Most of the time, I'm not sure what to block or what to allow. For example, I tweet so should I add a rule to my privacy app allowing: platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsI don't use Google Analytics; is it best to block this: google-analytics.com/ga.jsNow for the irony. If, like me, you're not sure what to do, the only way to find out is to go online — which means risking your privacy.I have to be honest — there isn't a good answer yet. I do know there are a lot of people working hard to find one. I've been fortunate to have several of them help with my articles about online privacy and Do Not Track. Dr. Aleecia McDonald is one such expert. Currently, Aleecia is co-chair of the W3C Tracking Protection Working Group (TPWG) — the committee deciding how to maintain privacy on the Internet.I mentioned TPWG because people behind a new online-privacy tool that I've been researching are involved in the process. In fact, one of … [Read more...] about Do Not Track Plus: A tool to protect your online privacy
Major inflection points are sometimes hidden in the details. For instance, at first I thought it was coincidental, but there is an increase in unidentified caller IDs coming in on cell phones. This occurrence has finally escalated as one being worth talking about.So what's worth talking about? An emerging inflection point in big data, where consumers are becoming aware of what companies can do with big data, and how it potentially impacts their privacy. Two recent surveys support this with their findings.In January 2014, online privacy management services provider TRUSTe issued its U.S. Consumer Confidence Index. The Index revealed that: 92% of US internet users worry about their online privacy (up from 89% in January 2013 and 90% in January 2012); 55% of US internet users said they trust most businesses with their personal information online (down from 57% in January 2013 and 59% in January 2012); and 89% of consumers said they avoided doing business with companies they do not believe … [Read more...] about Big data wake-up call: Increased online privacy concerns require risk management
Surfing on public Wi-Fi is certainly convenient, but what most users aren't aware of is the risk they take when they log on to an unsecured network. These networks can be home to snoopers and hackers eager to take a look at your browsing movements and personal information. That's why it's important to protect your privacy with a VPN that keeps these malicious users in the dark.A desktop application and browser extension duo, Windscribe VPN is the ideal choice when it comes to protecting your online privacy. This pair of tools not only masks your browsing activity from other users, but it also unblocks websites and removes ads and trackers from your everyday browsing. What's more, Windscribe safeguards your browsing with a top-notch firewall that covers you in case of a connectivity loss.Lifetime Pro Plans for Windscribe retail for $900, but you can sign up for $49. Alternatively, you can get a 3-year plan for $22 or a 5-year plan for $49. Bonus deals from the Macworld Store: … [Read more...] about Save Hundreds on a Lifetime of Online Privacy From Windscribe VPN ($49)
HMA Pro is a premium virtual private network (VPN) service operated by Privax Limited, an AVG subsidiary. Starting with version 3, HMA Pro (HMA is short for Hide My Ass) gained a much simplified user interface that makes it easy to get connected and online. This was a long overdue improvement that competing services such as ExpressVPN, SaferVPN, TunnelBear, and many others already offer.If you’ve never used a VPN before the basic idea is that you route all your PC’s Internet traffic through a third-party server. This lets you spoof your real location with a virtual one, as well as secure your web browsing habits from prying eyes such as a nosy Internet service provider (ISP) or a hacker looking for victims on public Wi-Fi.No review of a VPN would be complete without a quick look at the service’s policies for how it handles your browsing information. When you use the desktop VPN program, Privax says it will collect your IP address, as well as when you connect and … [Read more...] about HMA Pro VPN review: An easy-to-use tool for securing your online privacy
As a parent of a son who belongs to Generation Y, I wanted to understand the vast disconnect between Millennials (members of Generation Y born between 1982 and 2000) and their parents when it comes to online privacy habits. My interest deepened this past November when Facebook proposed major changes to their governing documents:[W]e found that the voting mechanism, which is triggered by a specific number of comments, actually resulted in a system that incentivized the quantity of comments over their quality. Therefore, we're proposing to end the voting component of the process in favor of a system that leads to more meaningful feedback and engagement.The decision was entirely up to Facebook members. According to CNET, the voter turnout was sparse — 700,000 out of one billion members, so Facebook rescinded the ability to vote. CNET also mentioned, of the 700,000 who did vote, 88 percent cast their vote against the new changes.Since November, I have been taking an informal poll of … [Read more...] about What’s with Generation Y and online privacy?
Tuesday’s congressional vote to repeal U.S. restrictions on broadband providers doesn’t mean that online privacy is dead. Consumers will just have to pay for it.The coming repeal, which President Trump is expected to sign into law, paves a clearer path for broadband providers to sell customers’ internet browsing history and other online data, without their consent.Privacy advocates are worried. Imagine corporate giants snooping on your internet activities, and then bombarding your PC, phone and TV with targeted ads.However, the privacy rule rollback might have an opposite effect too. Expect broadband providers and other internet services to emerge offering online privacy protections -- but at a price.“The cost for consumers wanting a private internet experience is going to go up,” said Travis LeBlanc, a former enforcement bureau chief with the Federal Communications Commission. To some degree, that’s already happening. Consumers worried about … [Read more...] about Congress to US citizens: Want online privacy? Pay up!
Eileen W. wrote to me expressing concerns about online privacy, and though we’ve written about it previously I decided to add a few more tips and tricks for future readers. It is true you can never really be truly anonymous when browsing the web from any computer, but you can take several steps to make your browsing difficult to track and to make sure information you want to keep private isn’t being shared. If you want to make your online web browsing as difficult as humanly possible to track, use the Tor browser or hardware that connects you to the internet through Tor.Tor stands for The Onion Router, which is analogous to how it connects you to the internet (via several layers). Instead of just going from your home to whatever server is hosting the site you want to visit, the Tor network bounces your connection around the globe and encrypts each link, so in the end it will look like a computer in some faraway land is connecting to the site.Though the feds have … [Read more...] about 4 ways to bolster your online privacy