I'm speaking, of course, of the privacy features that come native to the Windows operating system. Sure, you can tuck your special documents away in a private user folder, but that doesn't mean that your files have been secreted away forever. An industrious user with physical access to your machine can wreak havoc on your personal files, regardless of how much Windows tells you that they're safe from external abuse.
Change that. Beyond the cut of this week's freeware update are five applications that will enhance your ability to secret away that-which-you-don't-want-anyone-else-seeing. Does that involve encryption? Yes. But that's not the end-all be-all technique for hiding things on your computer. Depending on the amount of privacy you need, there are faster and easier solutions than merely locking down your entire drive using a 128-bit cipher.
Grab your Sherlock Holmes pipe. It's time to get cryptic.
Think your browsing history is secure from prying eyes so long as you never leave your PC unattended? Think again. A new site, Web2.0collage.com, digs through your browser's history and then constructs a collage of the web2.0 websites that you've visited.
"Web2.0collage.com mixes art and technology to raise privacy concerns," the site states on its homepage. "Many of us consider our browser history to be private, but that is no longer the case. Any website you visit can determine your browser history by exploiting the very features designed to enhance your Internet experience, a fact many people are not aware of."
You probably pay your cell phone, cable TV, Internet, and several other bills online, and even so, you probably also receive a stack of mail in your mailbox every day. Enter the Swiss postal service which, starting in June, will offer subscribers a digital delivery option.
The service, called Swiss Post Box, will send subscribers scanned images of their unopened envelopes to their email address. Subscribers can then decide which ones they want opened and have the contents scanned so that it can be read online. In addition, the Swiss Post Box will offer to archive contents, send unopened letters to another address, or shred and recycle unwanted mail, The New York Times reports.
"There are very few things you get that you actually have to have in your hand," said Michael Laprade, a two year subscriber to Earth Class Mail, a Seattle-based company licensing its technology to the Swiss postal service.
The new service will start at about $18.35 per month. In the U.S., Earth Class Mail subscribers pay anywhere from $10 to $60 per month depending on how much mail is scanned.
The National Security Agency is facing renewed scrutiny over its domestic surveillance program, and Congress is now claiming that their powers may go too far. A review of recent telephone and email intercepts seems to suggest that the agency may be monitoring the conversations of everyday Americans far more than they let on. Longstanding legal issues aside, the N.S.A, as of last year, is expected to only monitor the private communications of US citizens if it can be demonstrated that it was done so as an incidental byproduct of investigating individuals abroad.
Even more troubling, in April, it was disclosed that intercepts of private American communications were far beyond the legal limits for both late 2008 and early 2009, and the extent of the problem is still being investigated. Further supporting evidence was provided by a former N.S.A analyst who claims he was trained in 2005 to use specialized email monitoring software, an application which intelligence officials confirms is still in operation. New Jersey Democratic representative Rush Holt admitted that “Some actions are so flagrant that they can’t be accidental”, but still admits, few lawmakers can deal with the issues because of the technical complexities of the operation. “The people making the policy,” he said, “don’t understand the technicalities.”
It’s easy to see that trying to distinguish between domestic and foreign email correspondence can be difficult, but is the privacy trade off worth the added security benefit? Let us know what you think.
Potentially bad news for G1 owners and anyone else signed up with T-Mobile (we're looking at you Dwayne Wade and Charles Barkley). According to ChannelInsider, hackers have dug their way into the wireless telcom's network and stolen everything they could get their greedy little hands on, including proprietary operating data, customer databases, and financial records.
T-Mobile initially said it was unaware of the reported incident, but has since released a statement to ChannelInsider.
"The protection of our customers' information, and the safety and security of our systems, is absolutely paramount at T-Mobile. Regarding the recent claim, we are fully investigating the matter. As is our standard practice, if there is any evidence that customer information has been compromised, we would inform those affected as soon as possible."
As proof of the alleged breach, hackers fired off an email to insecure.org providing an extensive list of T-Mobile servers. According to ChannelInsider, several former T-Mobile network admins came forward saying the list and server names look authentic.
Google recently announced that they have planned to retake all of their photographs for the Japanese version of Street View thanks to their cameras being too high for most resident’s fences.
The new images will be taken from 16 inches lower than before, and will blur out license plates to protect the privacy of those potentially in the camera’s view. Japan Probe argues that the height difference will make little to no difference, because many images that have been deemed inappropriate weren’t behind fences. Examples include a high school girl’s chest being touched, a man who has passed out in his own sick, and a couple entering a “love hotel.”
Given what passes for a game show over there, I’m surprised that this is what people are having issues with.
A Google Street View vehicle came up against a tempestuous, unyielding mob in the British village of Broughton. The Street View car had gone there to collect photographs to be used by the Google Street View service. Google’s ingenious camouflage tactic of leaving the car unmarked failed miserably as its peculiar rooftop camera betrayed the vehicle’s identity and purpose of visit.
Earlier this month, Google blamed a bug for causing an "isolated incident" which resulted in some users of Google Docs having their word-processing and presentation documents inadvertently shared. According to Google, the mishap only affected 0.05 percent of documents stored at the site, but that's enough to have privacy advocates turning to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to shut down all of Google's online services until government-approved "safeguards are verifiably established."
"If we were talking about a child safety seat that could not be securely attached to a car passenger seat, the commission in that instance would say to the company, 'Look, you've got to fix that problem,'" Marc Rotenberg, a lawyer and adjunct law professor, said in a telephone interview with CNet on Tuesday. "Consumers are at risk when that product is in the marketplace. We have a similar view of cloud computing at this point: people are at risk."
Leading the charge is the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), who submitted a letter to the FTC asking that all Google cloud-computing services be halted, including Gmail. In addition to shutting everything down, EPIC also wants Google to pay $5 million into a "public fund" to benefit advocacy groups.
Is EPIC asking for too much? And equally important, can you manage without Gmail? Hit the jump and sound off.
Today, we live in a world of rapidly diminishing privacy. If you use your employer's email system, it is possible that every message you send or receive is logged and intercepted without your knowledge. This may have unintended or even disastrous consequences if an intercepted email message contains sensitive personal information. Unless your email goes through Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protected connections, your email is vulnerable to what is known in the IT security field as man-in-the-middle attacks, where an attacker can intercept your message as it flies to its intended recipient.
Email is sent in a format that is easily readable if an attacker can grab and reconstruct enough pieces (packets) from the data transmission with packet sniffing software. Technologies like deep packet inspection make it theoretically possible that any given message that goes over the internet can be sniffed and read by third parties who have the right software and know-how. (the feds, your ISP, etc.) While no one may have a real reason to spy on you, relying solely on security through obscurity has always been a poor policy to live by. Because of this, encryption is the only real option you can trust. We teach you how to put your emails in a lockbox before sending them off to their destinations.
"In our world of customized online services, responsible use of data is critical to establishing and maintaining user trust," said Anne Toth, Yahoo!'s Vice President of Policy and Head of Privacy. "We know that our users expect relevant and compelling content and advertising when they visit Yahoo!, but they also want assurances that we are focused on protecting their privacy."
The new limit puts Yahoo well ahead of its competition. Earlier this year, Google reduced its data retention time frame from 18 months to nine months, and Microsoft vowed to cut its data retention policy to six months if its rivals did the same.
Yahoo will begin implementing the new policy next month and says it will be effective across all of the company's services by the middle of 2010.