Data Privacy Day – January 28, 2016
Data Privacy Day (DPD) is an effort to empower people to protect their privacy, control their digital footprint and escalate the protection of privacy and data as everyone’s priority. Held annually on January 28th, Data Privacy Day aims to increase awareness of privacy and data protection issues among consumers, organizations, and government officials. DPD helps industry, academia, and advocates to highlight consumer privacy efforts.
Data Privacy Day began in the United States and Canada in January 2008 as an extension of the Data Protection Day celebration in Europe. Data Protection Day commemorates the January 28, 1981, signing of Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection. Data Privacy Day is now a celebration for everyone, observed annually on Jan. 28.
Data Privacy Day is led by the National Cyber Security Alliance, a non-profit, public private partnership focused on cyber security education for all online citizens. StaySafeOnline.org has many resources to help you, your family and your business stay safe online.
Free Security Check-Ups Check your computer for known viruses, spyware, and discover if your computer is vulnerable to cyber attacks.
Check Your Privacy Settings One-stop shop for easy instructions to update your privacy settings wherever and however you go online.
Parent Resources Information regarding cyberbullying, child identity theft, Facebook for parents, social networking, etc.
Educator Resources Prepared educational materials for the classroom, K – 12th grades.
Business Resources Informational resources for businesses regarding bring your own device, information security, document destruction, compliance, data breach, and risk management. https://www.staysafeonline.org/data-privacy-day/business-resources
Privacy and Domestic Violence Resources for domestic violence survivors and victims to help safeguard the privacy of their personal information.
I received an email yesterday from John McAfee. Yup – he’s the guy that founded McAfee Antivirus, he’s the libertarian party candidate in the 2016 presidential election and he’s also promoting his new security technology device called Everykey!
Everykey is a brand new product designed to replace your passwords and keys. When Everykey is close to your phone, laptop, tablet, house door, car door, or another access-controlled device, it unlocks that device. When you walk away, that device locks back down. Everykey can also log you into your website accounts. If you lose your Everykey, you can remotely freeze it, so no one else can use it.
Using the EveryKey App, you pair your key to your devices, manage key settings such as the active range and even freeze your key if it is lost or stolen. The EveryKey app also pushes the latest over-the-air software updates to your key so you stay up to date with features and updated security standards.
There are currently 2 different device options.
A Wrist Band: This wearable accessory turns EveryKey into a sleek and stylish fashion statement. Just pop your key into the pocket on the back of the band and wear it wherever you go.
Key ring: One day, Everykey will replace all of your keys on that big bulky keychain. Until that day, you can use the Everykey Rey Ring Accessory as a convenient way to carry your keys.
Current pricing which includes 1 Key Ring Accessory and 1 charging cable for each EveryKey device purchased.
1 EveryKey – $128
2 Pack: $230
4 Pack: $435
10 Pack: $1,024
Expect the first EveryKey devices to ship in March of 2016
For additional information: https://everykey.com/
Get regular updates and additional information about Everykey here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/everykey-your-only-key#/updates
Apple is facing a lawsuit over a new software feature that lets iPhones switch to cellular data when the Wi-Fi signal is weak.
Wi-Fi Assist has provoked complaints from customers since Apple introduced the feature in mid-September with the latest version of its iOS software for iPhones and iPads. Many have complained that Wi-Fi Assist is switched on by default in iOS 9 without them knowing it, causing them to run up large data bills while they think their iPhones are relying on Wi-Fi.
A couple who has been on the receiving end of such a bill on Friday filed a complaint, first spotted by AppleInsider, in US District Court in San Jose, California. William Scott Phillips and Suzanne Schmidt Phillips, both of Edgewater, Florida, say that because they didn’t know about the feature, Apple should be responsible for picking up their bill, as well as the bill of any others like them. The plaintiffs are seeking class action status for their lawsuit. Their filing contends that the overuse charges top $5 million for everyone affected.
Wi-Fi Assist lets iPhones automatically switch to using data when Wi-Fi signal drops. It was designed to give iPhone users the smoothest and most consistent experience possible when using the Internet. Some Apple customers are pleased that Wi-Fi Assist allows them to stay online even when their Wi-Fi signal drops. Others, especially those with low-usage data plans, have complained about unexpected charges on their phone bill.
The mixed reactions to the feature led the Cupertino, California, company to publish an online guide to Wi-Fi Assist in early October.
“Because you’ll stay connected to the Internet over cellular when you have a poor Wi-Fi connection, you might use more cellular data,” it explained. “For most users, this should only be a small percentage higher than previous usage.”
For the plaintiffs, though, the explanation is too little, too late. The lawsuit claims that the couple only found out about the potential for extra charges when articles and tweets started appearing about Wi-Fi Assist. They also say that video and music streaming consumes high quantities of data and that Apple’s “corrective statement does not disclose any basis for its conclusion that an average consumer would not see much increase in cellular usage.”
The lawsuit accuses Apple of violating California’s Unfair Competition Law and its False Advertising Law, as well as of negligent misrepresentation. Despite rival smartphone manufacturers, including Samsung, LG and HTC, offering similar features on their own devices, only Apple is on the receiving end of a legal complaint.
I’m always happy when one of my favorite FREE apps gets a major update. Even though I have built in navigation in my car, I always use and actually prefer Waze when I travel. I don’t worry about renting a car with a GPS to get around in an unfamiliar city or state – I simply plug in my iPhone, fire up Waze and type in my destination. Long gone are the detailed state highway maps and TripTik’s of my youth.
Waze, the navigation app that uses crowdsourced data to warn drivers about incidents on the road has just completed its biggest update since being acquired by Google over 2 years ago.
Yesterday, Waze launched a major update for its popular turn-by-turn navigation app. The entire user interface has been revamped for “higher visibility and clarity,” while still retaining the colorful, almost cartoonish appearance that has become its signature. It’s still bold and bright, but is noticeably less cluttered than before. Version 4.0 also adds a new ETA panel that puts traffic reports, alternate routes, and other useful options just one tap away.
Waze will also now give you a heads up about certain accidents before you even get in the car. The “smart calendar” feature will alert users when road incidents are likely to impact the day’s schedule, giving you the chance to leave earlier and minimize delays.
And last, Waze claims to have made significant improvements to battery consumption; the app will now use less of your phone’s charge to get you from place to place. Most people probably have their phones plugged in when driving around, so this is one change that may go unnoticed by many of Waze’s users.
And there are still a lot of Wazers out there, even after Google acquired the app and rolled almost all of its best functionality into Google Maps. Maybe it’s the social element of the app (sharing your ETA with friends, etc.) or the perception that Waze’s traffic alerts are more timely than those in Maps. Either way, it’s good to see a major update that’s a bit more substantial than simply adding yet another celebrity voice. Waze remains a free download, and the latest version is available on iOS now and will hit Android very soon.
I’m always the first to tell people to update their technology devices whenever the manufacturer releases a new update. In many cases the updates include new security fixes as well as new “features” available for the device.
If you’ve noticed that your data usage has skyrocketed since installing iOS 9 then this may be caused by a new feature on your iPhone called Wi-Fi assist. For some of us, Wi-Fi Assist may be more of a bug rather than a feature.
Wi-Fi Assist automatically switches your iPhone to use your cellular data plan if you happen to be in a spot where Wi-Fi coverage is poor. This sounds great in theory, but if you’re not on an unlimited data plan then all this extra access on your metered data plan could result in a nasty shock when you get your next bill.
Compensating for poor Wi-Fi when you’re out and about is one thing, but with this setting you could be burning through your data allowance when sitting at home or in your office.
You can find the switch to turn off this feature under Settings > Cellular and then scroll to the bottom of the (very long) page till you see the Wi-Fi assist entry
Note that the default for this “feature” is on.
This could be a useful feature, and it’s a shame that the toggle for it is buried at the bottom on an obscure page under Settings that most people will never venture into, because it’s one of those things that would be nice to be able to turn on if the need arose.
You can keep an eye on your usage by periodically using the Reset Statistics feature, which you can find just below the Wi-Fi Assist toggle detailed above. I do this on a regular basis since I subscribe to a limited data plan that’s shared with other users. If you’re on a limited plan then doing this monthly could help you keep an eye on your data usage as well.
A few days ago Apple released the iOS 9.0.2 update to fix this and a number of other issues – If you’ve already upgraded to iOS 9 then it’s time to install the latest patch or at the very least, change the Wi-Fi Assist settings before your next billing period rolls around.
Amazon Echo, also known as Alexa, is a voice command device from Amazon.com with functions including question answering, playing music and controlling smart devices. It’s a tall cylinder with a seven-piece microphone array and speakers that include a woofer/tweeter and a remote control. The device responds to the name “Alexa”, however this “wake word” can be changed by the user. Amazon had been developing Echo inside their Silicon Valley and Cambridge, Mass labs for at least four years. The device, codenamed ‘Doppler’ or ‘Project D’, was part of Amazon’s first attempts to expand its device portfolio beyond the original Kindle E-reader.
The Echo, previously available to Amazon Prime members or by invitation only, became widely available in late June, 2015. Additionally the service behind it (Alexa Voice Service) is now available to be added to other devices and other companies’ devices and services are encouraged to connect to it (using the Alexa Skills Kit).
Amazon Echo runs on Amazon Web Services. In the default mode the device continuously listens to all speech, monitoring for the wake word to be spoken. The device also comes with a manually and voice-activated remote control which can be used in lieu of the ‘wake word’. Echo’s microphones can be manually disabled by pressing a mute button to turn off the audio processing circuit.
Echo requires a Wi-Fi internet connection in order to work. Its voice recognition capability is based on Amazon Web Services and the Amazon common voice platform it acquired from Yap, Evi, and IVONA. Echo performs well with a ‘good’ Internet connection which minimizes processing time due to minimal communication round trips, streamable responses and geo-distributed service endpoints.
Echo’s natural lifelike voices result from speech-unit selection technology. High speech accuracy is achieved through sophisticated natural language processing (NLP) algorithms built into the Echo’s text-to-speech (TTS) engine.
Echo offers weather and news from a variety of sources, including local radio stations, NPR, and ESPN from TuneIn. Echo will play music from the users Amazon Music accounts and built in support for the Pandora streaming music service was recently added, as was support for IFTTT (If This, Then That).
Echo can also play music from streaming services such as Apple Music, and Google Play Music from a phone or tablet. Echo maintains your voice-controlled alarms, timers, shopping and to-do lists and will respond to your questions about items in your Google calendar. It also integrates with Philips Hue, Belkin WeMo, SmartThings, and Wink. Additionally, integration with Echo is in the works for Countertop by Orange Chef, Scout Alarm, Garageio, Toymail, MARA, and Mojio.
There are concerns about the access Echo has to private conversations in the home, or other non-verbal indications that can identify who is present in the home and who is not—based on audible cues such as footstep-cadence or radio/television programming. Amazon responds to these concerns by stating that Echo only streams recordings from the user’s home when the ‘wake word’ activates the device. However, remember Echo is always be listening to detect that a user has uttered the word.
Echo uses past voice recordings the user has sent to the cloud service to improve response to future questions the user may pose. To address privacy concerns, the user can delete voice recordings that are currently associated with the user’s account, but doing so may degrade the user’s experience using voice search. To delete these recordings, the user must visit the Manage My Device page on Amazon.com or contact Amazon customer service.
Echo determines its location in the user’s home by the collection of networks detected including Wi-Fi routers, the signal strengths of these routers, the type of security the routers use, and the registration information provided by the broadband carrier of these devices. Amazon and third-party apps and websites use location information to provide location-based services and store this information to provide voice services, the Maps app, Find Your Device, and to monitor the performance and accuracy of location services. For example, Echo voice services use the user’s location to respond to the user’s requests for nearby restaurants or stores. Similarly, Echo uses the user’s location to process the user’s mapping-related requests and improve the Maps experience. All information collected is subject to the Amazon.com Privacy Notice.
Purchasing merchandise or digital media such as songs, by commanding Echo to buy the song, does require manual intervention—through an alternate user interface—to complete the purchase. Echo has demonstrated hit-or-miss results when asked common questions that users would expect better answers to.
The current location of the device is set to Seattle (Amazon headquarters) by default and must be changed manually, and can only be set to a location within the USA. This is different from smartphone-based voice assistants that can get the actual location via built-in GPS locators. This restriction can lead to undesired or seemingly “wrong” results for questions that imply the location such as “What is the weather” (around here) or “Set an alarm for 1000am” (local time here).
Echo is currently available on Amazon.com for $179.99 Prime and you expect much more functionality in the future as Amazon just dropped another $100 Million in the developers pot.
Amazon Echo Video:
Facebook just filed a patent on using social network data to influence lending decisions. God help us all.
If there was any confusion over why Facebook has continually defended its policy requiring users to display their real, legal names, the company may have finally laid it to rest with its recent patent application. Earlier this month, the social giant filed to protect a tool ostensibly designed to track how users are networked together—a tool that could be used by lenders to accept or reject a loan application based on the credit ratings of one’s social network.
In short: You could be denied a loan simply because your friends have defaulted on theirs. It’s the kind of digital redlining that critics of “big data” collection have been warning us of for years. It could make Facebook a lot of money, it could make the Web even less safe for poor people and it could be just the beginning.
Many banking institutions in the US have a long history of discriminatory lending. Federal laws passed in the 1970s made these practices illegal and further protected the poor from discriminatory credit reporting and lending practices. But these laws narrowly define lenders and creditors in ways that don’t apply so neatly in the internet age.
Depending on which factors are considered and which aren’t, predictive modeling based on one’s own history and behaviors can be terribly incorrect. When there’s more and more data to choose from, that could be good or bad news for consumers, depending on the algorithm used. Despite Facebook’s self-assured patent application and the company’s apparent confidence in its “authorized nodes,” modeling based on one’s social network only presents more opportunities for discriminatory and inaccurate conclusions.
Behavioral research consistently shows we’re more likely to seek out friends who are like ourselves, and we’re even more likely to be genetically similar to them than to strangers. If our friends are likely to default on a loan, it may well be true that we are too. Depending on how that calculation is figured, and on how data-collecting technology companies are regulated under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, it may or may not be illegal. A policy that judges an individual’s qualifications based on the qualifications of one’s social network would reinforce class distinctions and privilege. Returning to an era where the demographics of your community determined your credit-worthiness should be illegal.
Facebook’s true value comes from the data it collects on us, which it in turn sells to advertisers, lenders, and whoever else it wants to. The accuracy of that data is critical to the company’s business model success, and this patent is Facebook doubling down on the supposed truth in its networks.
But a lot of that data is bad because Facebook isn’t real life. Our social networks are not simply our friends. The way we “like” online is usually not the way we “like” in real life. Our networks are clogged with exes, old co-workers, relatives permanently set to mute, strangers and characters we’ve never even met.
On Facebook, we interact the most not with our best friends, but with those friends and acquaintances who use Facebook the most. This could lead to not only discriminatory lending decisions, but completely unpredictable ones—how will users exercise due process to determine why their loan applications were rejected when a mosaic of proprietary information formed the ultimate decision? How will users know what any of that proprietary information says about them? How will anyone know if it’s accurate? And how could this change the way we interact on the Web entirely, when fraternizing with less fiscally responsible friends or family members could cost you your mortgage?
Windows 10 is here and it’s faster, smoother and more user-friendly than any Windows operating system that has come before it. Windows 10 is everything Windows 8 should have been, addressing nearly all of the major problems users had with Microsoft’s previous operating system in one fell swoop.
But there’s something you should know: As you read this article from your newly upgraded PC, Windows 10 is also spying on nearly everything you do.
“It’s your own fault if you don’t know that Windows 10 is spying on you.” That’s what people always say when users fail to read through a company’s terms of service document, right?
Well, here is Microsoft’s 12,000-word service agreement. Some of it is probably in English. I’m pretty sure it says you can’t steal Windows or use Windows to send spam, and also that Microsoft reserves the right to take possession of your first-born child if it so chooses. And that’s only one of several documents you’ll have to read through.
Actually, here’s one excerpt from Microsoft’s privacy statement that everyone can understand:
Finally, we will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to: 1.Comply with applicable law or respond to valid legal process, including from law enforcement or other government agencies;
2.Protect our customers, for example to prevent spam or attempts to defraud users of the services, or to help prevent the loss of life or serious injury of anyone;
3.Operate and maintain the security of our services, including to prevent or stop an attack on our computer systems or networks; or
4.Protect the rights or property of Microsoft, including enforcing the terms governing the use of the services – however, if we receive information indicating that someone is using our services to traffic in stolen intellectual or physical property of Microsoft, we will not inspect a customer’s private content ourselves, but we may refer the matter to law enforcement.
If that sentence sent shivers down your spine, don’t worry. As invasive as it is, Microsoft does allow Windows 10 users to opt out of all of the features that might be considered invasions of privacy. Of course, users are opted in by default, which is more than a little disconcerting, but let’s focus on the solution.
First, you’ll want to open Settings and click on Privacy. There, you’ll find 13 different screens — yes, 13 — to go through, and you’ll want to disable anything that seems at all intrusive or worrisome. Most of the important settings can be found on the General tab, though other tabs are important as well. For example, you’ll definitely want to adjust what types of data each app on your system can access.
Next, users should consider dumping Cortana. Yes, the voice-driven assistant is easily one of the best new features in Windows 10, but it also plays fast and loose with your data. As a result, many users will find that the benefits do not outweigh the risks.
To complete the third task, you’ll have to venture outside the confines of your PC and hit the web. Perhaps this is a good opportunity to check out Microsoft’s nifty new Edge browser. In it, click on this link and set both “Personalized ads in this browser” and “Personalized ads wherever I use my Microsoft account” to off. This will disable Microsoft’s Google-style ad tracking features.
The last tip is one that most users will likely skip, as it is a bit excessive. Some users are removing their Microsoft account from Windows 10 completely and using a newly created local account instead. This way, Microsoft doesn’t grab hold of all your data to sync it across machines. To me, that’s a pretty good feature so I’ve opted to keep it.
Here’s another tool in the never ending battle against malware, drive-by and infected webpages – and this one is FREE
CISCO is currently in the process of buying OpenDNS to the tune of $635 million. That means very little to most people who probably haven’t even heard of OpenDNS until today. What’s important here is that even with that market valuation – YOU can still get this valuable service absolutely FREE!
OpenDNS is a company and service which extends the Domain Name System (DNS) by adding features such as phishing protection and optional content filtering to traditional recursive DNS services.
The OpenDNS Global Network processes an estimated 70 billion DNS queries daily from over 65 million active users across 160+ countries connected to the service through 24 data centers worldwide. Previously OpenDNS was an ad-supported service showing relevant ads when they show search results and a paid advertisement-free service. The free service has since evolved to no longer showing advertisements.
DNS services for personal/home use Back on May 13, 2007, OpenDNS launched a domain-blocking service to block web sites or non-Web servers visited based upon categories, allowing control over the type of sites that may be accessed. The categories can be overridden through individually managed blacklists and whitelists. In 2008, OpenDNS changed from a closed list of blocked domains to a community-driven list allowing subscribers to suggest sites for blocking; if enough subscribers (the number has not been disclosed) concur with the categorization of the site it is added to the appropriate category for blocking. As of 2014 there were over 60 categories. The basic FREE OpenDNS service does not require users to register, but using the customizable block feature requires registration.
Other free, built-in features include a phishing filter and a service called Phish Tank for users to submit and review suspected phishing sites.
The OpenDNS service consists of recursive nameserver addresses as part of their FamilyShield parental controls which block pornography, proxy servers, and phishing sites as well. The service works with any device connected to a single home network after the user makes a simple DNS change in their router. Instructions for making this change in all the popular routers and modem can be found on their support forums link below.
How does OpenDNS work?
- Instantly blocks access to adult websites No complicated configuration FamilyShield is pre-configured to block adult websites across your Internet connection. Just turn it on and go. The filter is always up-to-date, adding new sites 24/7.
- Flexible parental controls that protect every Internet-connected device in your home, instantly. When you set up FamilyShield on your router, every device in your home gets protected. That means everything: your kids’ Xbox, Playstation, Wii, DS, iPad, and even their iPhone.
- Built-in anti-fraud and phishing protection Take the guesswork out of identifying fraudulent sites. FamilyShield automatically blocks phishing and identity theft websites.
- Makes your Internet faster and more reliable Setting up FamilyShield frees you of frustrating, intermittent Internet outages and makes Web pages load faster, which makes your overall Internet connection faster.
Visit the following links for additional information:
The best tool for protecting your kids (or employees) from malware and porn: http://www.techrepublic.com/article/the-best-tool-for-protecting-your-kids-or-employees-from-malware-and-porn/
Getting Started Forums and FAQ’s https://support.opendns.com/home
After nine months of waiting, Windows 10 is almost here. Tuesday night at midnight, Microsoft will release the first full release of Windows 10, the biggest change in PC software in nearly three years. It’s kind of a big deal! We’ve been getting previews of Windows 10 since October, and the rollout of the actual software will happen in stages, but midnight will still be zero hour for answering a lot of the questions that have swirled around Windows 10 since it was first announced. How do you build a single OS for laptops, tablets, and smartphones? Tuesday night, we’ll find out.
First thing’s first: how do you get it? Microsoft is sending out Windows 10 in waves, starting with Windows Insiders and then moving through preorders gradually. The waves are designed to make the release more stable — issues that pop up in one wave can be fixed for the next one — but it means it could be days before you actually get the chance to download the new OS. The good news is that, unlike Windows 8, Windows 10 is designed to work as a straight upgrade, so as long as your computer meets the specs, you should be able to install it right away. Still, we definitely recommend doing a full system backup before you install. If you’ve got Windows 7 or Windows 8, you’ll be able to upgrade free any time in the next year. Otherwise, the official price is $119, although third party sellers like NewEgg are already offering cheaper versions for pre-order, scheduled to ship at the end of the month.
What will Windows 10 look like when it arrives? When Windows 10 does arrive you won’t have to wait days to find out. Many PC magazines and Tech Support forums are going to be putting the OS through its paces as soon as it becomes public, which means Microsoft fans will have a lot to piece through on Wednesday morning.
To start with, there’s a whole new interface to work through. Based on developer previews, Windows 10 seems to be a combination of the best features from 7 and 8, but it also comes with a lot of new ideas that have never been implemented at this scale. Cortana will be everywhere in Windows 10, available in the Start Menu and through voice commands. It’s also the first big stage for Microsoft’s new Edge browser, a fully revamped notification center, and for PC gamers, a deeper Xbox integration than we’ve ever seen before.
The biggest question of all: is Windows 10 ready for prime time? As recently as June, there were still some troubling and persistent upgrade bugs kicking around the developer preview. The Windows team had a lot of sleepless nights throughout June and July to ensure the quality is high across the vast amount of PCs out there. After Vista and Windows 8, there’s a lot of pressure to make sure this launch goes smoothly. Still, we won’t know for sure until Windows 10 goes live on Tuesday.
Finally – will the new Cortana outpace Siri? It seems like Cortana will definitely give Siri a run for the money. Obviously, you’ll need a microphone in order to communicate with Cortana – so if you want to join the voice revolution now would be a good time to pick one up…