Archive for the 'Privacy' Category

It’s your potty and they’ll spy if they want to

It’s no secret that virtually anything that runs on code can and will eventually be hacked. There’s no dearth of examples. Our desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets are really just the playthings of any attacker with sufficient skills and time. But now it’s getting personal. Hackers are hitting us where it really hurts. Yes, I’m […]

Love trees? Hate meat? You too may be a terrorist.

Read any good spy stories lately? It’s all I’ve been doing for the past five days. Thanks to a 29-year-old disgruntled security geek named Edward James Snowden, we all know quite a bit more about what our nation’s spies are probably doing than we did just a few days ago. While the details are still […]

Love Pentagon II: Electric legal bugaloo

Poor Jill Kelley. All she wanted was fame and fortune, and all she ended up with was fame and misfortune. But that last part may soon change, if she wins the civil suit she and her husband just filed against the US government for the “willful, malicious, and unlawful violation of [their] constitutional and statutory […]

Who can you trust with your data? Twitter, yes. Apple, AT&T and Verizon, not so much.

You may not be aware of this, but: We are officially in the middle of Privacy Awareness Week, according to the FTC. To mark it, the Electronic Frontier Foundation published its annual “Who Has Your Back?” report, which details how major Internet companies share data with the government. Seeking a company that will stand up […]

What the hell am I doing on the BBC?

So this week I’m on the BBC blabbing about how Web tracking companies are out to get us. What did the Beeb want with me? Read on for the details. It started with this blog post I wrote a few weeks ago about how certain ads – one in particular for Jitterbug smartphones – were […]

Why opt out is a cop out

About a week ago I wrote a piece asking why RapLeaf, a data mining company with a controversial history, had failed to remove my personal profile from its database, despite my strong recollection of having opted out some two years ago. With some help from RapLeaf, I finally figured out what happened: I did in […]

Online security? It’s dead, Jim. Now what?

A couple of days ago I received a scary sounding email from Twitter. It started like this: Twitter believes that your account may have been compromised by a website or service not associated with Twitter. We’ve reset your password to prevent others from accessing your account. My first thought was that this email was bogus […]

Murder 2014: Colonel Mustard, in the chat room, with the Internet

In a couple of years the Internet might just kill you. At least, that’s one of the 2014 predictions from one security company. This is the time of year when everyone and their dog posts their predictions for what will happen in the wacky world of tech in 2013. The reason? Nobody wants to work […]

Share a hyperlink, go to prison?

Don’t look now, but there’s a crime wave surging across the Webbernets. Everywhere you look people are recklessly sharing dangerous and illegal hyperlinks. Lock up your children, barricade the doors and windows, throttle your broadband connection, and pray that the FBI gets to these scofflaws in time.  Am I being a bit too sarcastic? Maybe. […]

When privacy collides with politics, privacy loses

At this point in this especially insane political season there’s still no telling who will end up winning it all next Tuesday. But it’s very clear to me who has already lost: You and me. More specifically, what little personal privacy we may once have had. The amount and scope of data collection employed by […]

Big data, big problems? Here’s one possible solution

By now it’s kind of a truism that Big Data is going to be Big Business. Marketing companies want to comb big data sets to determine what you’re likely to buy, so they can show you the right offers at the right time. Health care providers want to analyze big data so they can determine […]

Passwords suck. Here’s what you can (and can’t) do about it

Last June, 6.5 million Linked-In passwords were stolen by hackers and posted online. eHarmony lost 1.5 million passwords; Yahoo Voice another 450,000. Among the most common passwords used: 123456, welcome, and the ever popular “password.” The problem isn’t that these sites should have done a better job protecting user data (though they should have). It’s […]

Auto Robotica: What will we do when our cars are smarter than we are?

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the IFA 2012 consumer electronics show in Berlin as a guest of the IFA organizers. When not drinking Pilsner and eating bratwurst I managed to squeeze in a panel on the future of the car, featuring representatives from Ford, Microsoft, Inrix (the leading provider of aggregated traffic […]

Once something sticks to the Web, how do you get it unstuck?

A few months ago I got an email from a woman about a story I’d written nearly three years ago. To protect her privacy I’ll call her Samantha Sugarlips. In that story, which I’d written for my somewhat more sarcastic blog, I mocked this woman for posting photos and other personal information to Facebook, then […]

My love/hate relationship with Facebook

I love Facebook. I also hate it. And sometimes I’m indifferent, but not often. As the big IPO day looms closer, lots of folks are taking a second look at this thing that started out as kind of a goofy diversion for college kids and has grown into the beast with 900 million heads. For […]

Privacy after 9/11

Last week I was in Germany, as a guest of the IFA Berlin consumer electronics show. That means, of course, that I had to perform the airport security samba. I took off my shoes and my belt; stuffed my watch, keys, cell phone, and loose change into the pockets of my jacket; took my laptop […]

Are the Feds snooping on your Skype calls?

Tap, tap, tap. I’m sorry, could you please speak up? the Federal employees playing monkey in the middle on our Skype call couldn’t quite make out what you were saying. In case you missed the headlines in the New York Times this morning, or all the me-too stories in the blogosphere cranked to varying degrees […]

Google’s data pervert wants your children

Imagine wandering through Times Square and seeing a 60-foot-tall animation depicting you (yes, you) as a creepy child-baiting ice cream truck driver. How would you feel? That’s probably how Google’s Eric Schmidt feels today. A group calling itself Consumer Watchdog, which has decided that Google is Evil Incorporated, has taken the unusual step of buying […]

Beware of Flash (eating) Zombies

Don’t look now, but the Flash Zombies are after you. This week privacy attorney Joseph Malley filed his third lawsuit against major media sites and their ad firms, accusing them of using Flash cookies to illegally collect information about visitors to their Web sites. Malley’s defendants aren’t exactly Joe Blow — they’re deep-pocketed media companies […]

Is your iPhone spying on you?

And you thought those iPhone 4 signal problems were bad. At last week’s Blackhat conference, a San Francisco firm called Lookout Mobile Security revealed that third-party smart phone apps are stealing user information and (literally) phoning home with it. And by ‘home,’ I mean China. But unlike those bogus Droid X signal problems, this problem […]