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How to Use a VPN for Safer Online Shopping
December 4, 2018
With the holidays fast approaching, are you looking to buy presents online? The holiday season has become synonymous with online shopping. This isn't really surprising as physical stores usually attract crowds of deal hunters. This often conjures up images of throngs of people waiting in line outside the store, some even camping out. This activity is tolerable for some and even fun for others.
Users Rate 'Creep Factor' in New Privacy-Security Product Guide
November 16, 2018
The Mozilla Foundation is expanding a campaign begun last year to help consumers buy safe, secure connected toys and mobile gadgets this holiday season. Mozilla's 2018 edition Privacy Not Included buyers' guide offers an assessment of the privacy and security qualities of 70 products, ranging from connected teddy bears and smart speakers to game consoles and smart home gadgets.
How to Protect Your Online Privacy: A Practical Guide
November 7, 2018
Do you take your online privacy seriously? Most people don't. They have an ideal scenario of just how private their online activities should be, but they rarely do anything to actually achieve it. The problem is that bad actors know and rely on this fact, and that's why there's been a steady rise in identity theft cases from 2013 to 2017, often resulting in loss of reputation or financial woes.
Mobile Phone Security: All You Need to Know
November 6, 2018
We rely on our phones to process and store reams of personal digital data. Our digital activities -- from checking bank balances to paying for a product with a tap of the screen, to sending friends and family messages over social media, to accessing work emails remotely -- have turned our phones into a goldmine of personal information. How secure is your mobile device?
Former White House CIO Theresa Payton: 'There Are Grave Concerns About Election Interference'
October 26, 2018
Theresa Payton, CEO of Fortalice Solutions, is one of the most influential experts on cybersecurity and IT strategy in the United States. She is an authority on Internet security, data breaches and fraud mitigation. She served as the first female chief information officer at the White House, overseeing IT operations for President George W. Bush and his staff.
Death Watch Begins for Google
September 17, 2018
The EU has been stretching its wings. In the shadow of Brexit, it apparently has decided it has the real enemy of the people in its sights: social media companies and Google. France is even more aggressive, suggesting that the EU's "right to be forgotten" law should apply worldwide. Given that it actually does fall within the legitimate purview of government, it is hard not to agree.
Google Digs In Heels Over Global Expansion of EU's 'Right to Be Forgotten'
September 14, 2018
Google took on French lawyers at the European Union Court of Justice this week, in an effort to fend off expansion of the EU's "right to be forgotten" judgment. The EU's attempts to broaden the scope of that judgment would be "completely unenvisagable," and it could result in impositions on the values of different countries around the world, Google argued.
The Thrill Is Gone for Many Facebook Users
September 6, 2018
American consumers' attitudes toward Facebook appear to be cooling, based on the results of a Pew Research Center survey. Forty-two percent of the roughly 4,600 people who responded to the May poll said they had taken a break of several weeks from checking the platform. "Facebook's probably losing subscribers for a number of reasons," said Frost & Sullivan's Michael Jude.
'Five Eyes' Nations Push for Encryption Backdoors
September 5, 2018
Strong encryption can be a threat to law enforcement and national security, the governments of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand said in a statement issued Sunday. "The increasing use and sophistication of certain encryption designs present challenges for nations in combating serious crimes and threats to national and global security," maintained the countries.
Alexa and Cortana: Two AI Heads May Be Better Than One
August 16, 2018
Microsoft and Amazon have released a public preview of the integration of their Cortana and Alexa voice assistants. Cortana will be available on amazon Echo devices, while Alexa will be available on Windows 10 devices and on Harman Kardon Invoke speakers. "Our ongoing goal has been to make Cortana your intelligent assistant, wherever you need assistance," a Microsoft spokesperson said.
How Online Businesses Must Comply With New California, EU Privacy Laws
July 27, 2018
Governor Jerry Brown last month signed into law the California Consumer Privacy Act. The CCPA is the state's response to a growing concern that consumers need stronger means to protect their personal information. The issue came to a head in part due to recent breaches that exposed the personal data of millions of American consumers. However, the CCPA also addresses other privacy incidents.
Earrings With Earphones and a Smartphone Bonanza
July 26, 2018
Swings Bluetooth Earrings with built-in earphones showcase a practical, clever idea for people with pierced ears. Swings certainly could fix the problem of losing Apple's expensive AirPods to the ether or having to root around in one's pockets or purse to find one's tangled-up headset. You can expect five hours of listening time out of the Swings on a single charge.
New iOS Security Feature Ripe for Defeat
July 11, 2018
A new feature in iOS 11.4.1, which Apple released earlier this week, is designed to protect against unwanted intrusions through the iPhone's Lightning Port. However, the protection may be weak at best. The feature, called "USB Restricted Mode," disables data transfer through the Lightning Port after an hour of inactivity. In some cases, the phone might not charge, according to Apple.
US Lawmakers Eye Apple, Alphabet Data Privacy Practices
July 11, 2018
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has written Alphabet CEO Larry Page and Apple CEO Tim Cook demanding information on their companies' practices with regard to third-party access, audio and location data collection. "This is a huge issue," said Consumer Watchdog's John Simpson. "People are becoming aware of how much data about them is being sucked up by their smartphones."
Polar Flow Fitness App Exposes Soldiers, Spies
July 10, 2018
A popular fitness app provided a convenient map for anyone interested in shadowing government personnel who exercised in secret locations, including intelligence agencies, military bases and airfields, nuclear weapons storage sites, and embassies around the world. The fitness app, Polar Flow, publicized more data about its users in a more accessible way than comparable apps, investigators found.
EU Watchdog Accuses Facebook, Google of Privacy Shenanigans
June 29, 2018
Facebook and Google have manipulated users into sharing data using so-called "dark patterns," according to a report from the Norwegian Consumer Council. The practices nudged users toward accepting privacy options that favored the tech companies rather than themselves, the NCC found. Facebook and Google have no intention of providing users with an actual choice, the NCC has claimed.
Upcoming iOS Access Restrictions Could Stymie Law Enforcement
June 16, 2018
Apple plans to equip iOS 12 with USB Restricted Mode, which requires users to unlock their iPhone with their passcode before USB accessories can connect if the phone last was unlocked more than an hour earlier. The company included this feature in the developer versions of iOS 11.4.1 and iOS 12. Apple will release USB Restricted Mode publicly in a future software update, it confirmed this week.
The CLOUD Act's Dramatic Impact on International Privacy Laws
June 7, 2018
Just when the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, was about to go into effect, the United States Congress created the CLOUD Act. Without any public hearings, review or public comment, Congress passed the legislation as part of the $1.3 trillion government spending bill. The CLOUD Act changed the privacy provisions that previously were in effect.
Benioff Endorses GDPR for US
May 27, 2018
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff described Facebook as the "new cigarettes" in a recent appearance on the TV show CBS This Morning and called for the U.S. to adopt a national privacy law like the GDPR, which just went into effect in Europe. "Maybe this is a time where the government has to step in and regulate not just that product but really our industry," Benioff said, referring to Facebook.
Cloud Health Services, Part 2: Privacy and Security
May 23, 2018
Health services vendors have been partnering with various organizations to gain a foothold in the cloud and to test out their solutions. One of the cloud's major selling points is security -- but it is not as safe as it's made out to be. Google Cloud "recently announced a significant expansion in HIPAA compliance across our portfolio of cloud products," noted Google Cloud's Joe Corkery.
Rhino-Saving Tech Also Could Protect Kids and Borders
May 21, 2018
Cisco has reduced the poaching of endangered rhinos in Africa by a whopping 96 percent. This success comes at a time when kids appear to be increasingly at risk from rogue school shooters and the United States government seems deadlocked on gun control. The focus of Cisco's tech is on catching the poachers who kill around 1,000 endangered rhinos a year, rather than on taking away their guns.
Cloud Providers Look for Legal Loopholes to Protect Customer Data
May 17, 2018
U.S.-based providers of e-commerce resources, including cloud services, must release foreign-held customer information to law enforcement agencies under a new law. Providers have strongly objected to releasing customer information residing outside the U.S. for fear of violating the privacy laws of other countries. The providers noted a potential "staggering" loss of international customers.
Reining In Data-Crazed Tech Companies, Part 2
May 15, 2018
Several countries -- including the United States, France and Germany -- have pointed a finger at Russia for meddling in their elections. Russia used social media as a big part of that effort. Facebook has been scrambling to win back the public's trust since the Russia and Cambridge Analytica scandal. However, it's not clear what exactly hostile nation states have been up to on social media.
Highly Sensitive Encrypted Email at Risk of Exposure
May 15, 2018
A newfound flaw in email clients that use PGP and S/MIME to encrypt messages can be exploited to expose the plain text of the missives, according to a new paper. By injecting malicious snippets of text into encrypted messages, attackers can use the flaw to make the email client exfiltrate decrypted copies of the emails, explained the authors, a team of researchers from three European universities.
Microsoft Invites Everyone Onto Its Azure Cloud
May 8, 2018
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has sounded a call for computing to empower everyone. "The world is becoming a computer," Nadella said in the opening keynote address at Build 2018, the company's premiere event for developers in Seattle. "Computing is getting embedded in every person, place and thing. That's the opportunity that we have. It's in some sense endless," he added.
Facebook's Clear History Privacy Option: Boon or Sop?
May 3, 2018
Facebook plans to offer members a tool that to prevent tracking of their online activity outside the network. The Clear History feature will allow users to see which websites and applications send Facebook information when they use them, delete the data and prevent Facebook from collecting and storing it in the future. It will take a few months to build the tool, Facebook said.
Fitbit's Health Alliance With Google Could Be a Risky Experiment
May 2, 2018
Fitbit and Google on Monday announced a new partnership on healthcare. Fitbit will develop consumer and enterprise health solutions that will use Google's new Cloud Healthcare application programming interface. Fitbit also will move to the Google Cloud Platform to innovate and advance its products and services. Fitbit will leverage Google Cloud's infrastructure and security features.
Could BlackBerry Displace Apple?
April 30, 2018
I spent a day with BlackBerry last week and it brought back memories of how Apple displaced the company around a decade ago. I, like a lot of folks, thought what Apple was attempting was impossible. However, after the fact, it didn't even look difficult. BlackBerry largely has completed its pivot to software and services, but a wave of new phones from its partners suggests new possibilities.
Gmail Privacy and Security Get Ruggedized
April 26, 2018
Google has rolled out a number of new features designed to make its G Suite collaboration and productivity apps more efficient and safer to use. G Suite currently has more than 4 million paying business customers. The updates include a new design, enhanced security and AI components, and better integration of G Suite apps -- including Gmail, which is getting a brand new look.
A Home Robot Could Be Amazon's Next Gamble
April 24, 2018
Amazon could bring a home robot to market as early as 2019. Codenamed "Vesta," after the Roman goddess of home and family, the project is several years old, but hiring for it recently has ramped up with an eye toward placing prototypes in employees' homes this year. The robot could be a mobile smart speaker. Some versions of the product apparently have cameras and computer vision software.
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Should government regulators force the breakup of big tech companies?
Yes -- it's the only way to restore competition.
No -- breaking them up would make them less useful to consumers.
Yes -- it would encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.
No -- but some regulation is needed to restrict their power.
Yes -- but only the firms that function as utilities.
No -- the government should keep its hands off and let the market decide.