The Hacker News Logo
Subscribe to Newsletter

The Hacker News - Cybersecurity News and Analysis: Privacy

WhatsApp Delays Controversial 'Data-Sharing' Privacy Policy Update By 3 Months

WhatsApp Delays Controversial 'Data-Sharing' Privacy Policy Update By 3 Months
January 16, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
WhatsApp said on Friday that it wouldn't enforce its recently announced  controversial data sharing policy  update until May 15. Originally set to go into effect next month on February 8, the three-month delay comes following "a lot of misinformation" about a revision to its privacy policy that allows WhatsApp to share data with Facebook, sparking widespread concerns about the exact kind of information that will be shared under the incoming terms. The Facebook-owned company has since repeatedly clarified that the update does not expand its ability to share personal user chats or other profile information with Facebook and is instead simply providing further transparency about how user data is collected and shared when using the messaging app to interact with businesses. "The update includes new options people will have to message a business on WhatsApp, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data," WhatsApp  said  in a post. "W

WhatsApp Will Disable Your Account If You Don't Agree Sharing Data With Facebook

WhatsApp Will Disable Your Account If You Don't Agree Sharing Data With Facebook
January 06, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
"Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA," opens WhatsApp's  privacy policy . "Since we started WhatsApp, we've aspired to build our Services with a set of strong privacy principles in mind." But come February 8, 2021, this opening statement will no longer find a place in the policy. The Facebook-owned messaging service is alerting users in India of an update to its  terms of service  and  privacy policy  that's expected to go into effect next month. The "key updates" concern how it processes user data, "how businesses can use Facebook hosted services to store and manage their WhatsApp chats," and "how we partner with Facebook to offer integrations across the Facebook Company Products." The mandatory changes allow WhatsApp to  share  more user data with other Facebook companies, including account registration information, phone numbers, transaction data, service-related information, interactions on the platform,

48 U.S. States and FTC are suing Facebook for illegal monopolization

48 U.S. States and FTC are suing Facebook for illegal monopolization
December 09, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
The US Federal Trade Commission and a coalition of 48 state attorneys general on Wednesday filed a pair of sweeping antitrust suits against Facebook, alleging that the company abused its power in the marketplace to neutralize competitors through its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp and depriving users of better privacy-friendly alternatives. "Facebook has engaged in a systematic strategy — including its 2012 acquisition of up-and-coming rival Instagram, its 2014 acquisition of the mobile messaging app WhatsApp, and the imposition of anti-competitive conditions on software developers — to eliminate threats to its monopoly," the FTC  said  in its complaint. A  separate lawsuit  filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James also claimed that in illegally acquiring competitors in a predatory manner, the social media company stripped users of the benefits of competition, limited consumer choices, and their access to rivals with better privacy practices. Specifically,

Incomplete 'Go SMS Pro' Patch Left Millions of Users' Data Still Exposed Online

Incomplete 'Go SMS Pro' Patch Left Millions of Users' Data Still Exposed Online
December 01, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
A week after cybersecurity researchers disclosed a flaw in the popular GO SMS Pro messaging app, it appears the developers of the app are silently taking steps to fix the issue from behind the scenes. The  security misstep  made it possible for an attacker to come up with a trivial script to access media files transferred between users, including private voice messages, photos, and videos, stored on an unauthenticated, publicly accessible server. Although the behavior was observed on version 7.91 of GO SMS Pro for Android, the app makers have since released three subsequent updates, two of which (v7.93 and v7.94) were pushed to the Google Play Store after public disclosure of the flaw and Google's removal of the app from the marketplace. Google reinstated the app back to the Play Store on November 23. Now following an analysis of the updated versions, Trustwave researchers said , "GOMO is attempting to fix the issue, but a complete fix is still not available in the app.&

China's Baidu Android Apps Caught Collecting Sensitive User Data

China's Baidu Android Apps Caught Collecting Sensitive User Data
November 24, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Two popular Android apps from Chinese tech giant Baidu were temporarily unavailable on the Google Play Store in October after they were caught collecting sensitive user details. The two apps in question— Baidu Maps and Baidu Search Box —were found to collect device identifiers, such as the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number or MAC address, without users' knowledge, thus making them  potentially trackable  online. The  discovery  was made by network security firm Palo Alto Networks, who notified both Baidu and Google of their findings, after which the search company pulled the apps on October 28, citing "unspecified violations."  As of writing, a compliant version of Baidu Search Box has been restored to the Play Store on November 19, while Baidu Maps remains unavailable until the unresolved issues highlighted by Google are fixed. A separate app named Homestyler was also found to collect private information from users' Android devices. Accord

Experts Warn of Privacy Risks Caused by Link Previews in Messaging Apps

Experts Warn of Privacy Risks Caused by Link Previews in Messaging Apps
October 26, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers over the weekend disclosed new security risks associated with link previews in popular messaging apps that cause the services to leak IP addresses, expose links sent via end-to-end encrypted chats, and even unnecessarily download gigabytes of data stealthily in the background. "Links shared in chats may contain private information intended only for the recipients," researchers Talal Haj Bakry and Tommy Mysk  said . "This could be bills, contracts, medical records, or anything that may be confidential." "Apps that rely on servers to generate link previews may be violating the privacy of their users by sending links shared in a private chat to their servers." Generating Link Previews at the Sender/Receiver Side Link previews are a common feature in most chat apps, making it easy to display a visual preview and a brief description of the shared link. Although apps like  Signal  and  Wire  give users the option to turn on/off l

FinSpy Spyware for Mac and Linux OS Targets Egyptian Organisations

FinSpy Spyware for Mac and Linux OS Targets Egyptian Organisations
September 25, 2020Mohit Kumar
Amnesty International today exposed details of a new surveillance campaign that targeted Egyptian civil society organizations with previously undisclosed versions of FinSpy spyware designed to target Linux and macOS systems. Developed by a German company , FinSpy is extremely powerful spying software that is being sold as a legal law enforcement tool to governments around the world but has also been found in use by oppressive and dubious regimes to spy on activists. FinSpy, also known as FinFisher, can target both desktop and mobile operating systems, including Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and Linux, to gain spying capabilities, including secretly turning on their webcams and microphones, recording everything the victim types on the keyboard, intercepting calls, and exfiltration of data. According to the human rights organization Amnesty International , the newly discovered campaign is not linked to 'NilePhish,' a hacking group known for attacking Egyptian NGOs in a ser

OkCupid Dating App Flaws Could've Let Hackers Read Your Private Messages

OkCupid Dating App Flaws Could've Let Hackers Read Your Private Messages
July 29, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers today disclosed several security issues in popular online dating platform OkCupid that could potentially let attackers remotely spy on users' private information or perform malicious actions on behalf of the targeted accounts. According to a report shared with The Hacker News, researchers from Check Point found that the flaws in OkCupid's Android and web applications could allow the theft of users' authentication tokens, users IDs, and other sensitive information such as email addresses, preferences, sexual orientation, and other private data. After Check Point researchers responsibly shared their findings with OkCupid, the Match Group-owned company fixed the issues, stating, "not a single user was impacted by the potential vulnerability." The Chain of Flaws The flaws were identified as part of reverse engineering of OkCupid's Android app version 40.3.1, which was released on April 29 earlier this year. Since then, there

Change This Browser Setting to Stop Xiaomi from Spying On Your Incognito Activities

Change This Browser Setting to Stop Xiaomi from Spying On Your Incognito Activities
May 05, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
If you own a Xiaomi smartphone or have installed the Mi browser app on any of your other brand Android device, you should enable a newly introduced privacy setting immediately to prevent the company from spying on your online activities. The smartphone maker has begun rolling out an update to its Mi Browser/Mi Browser Pro (v12.1.4) and Mint Browser (v3.4.3) after concerns were raised over its practice of transmitting web browsing histories and device metadata to the company servers. The new privacy setting now allows Mi Browser users to disable aggregated data collection feature while in Incognito Mode, but it bears noting that it's not enabled by default. The option can be accessed by tapping the settings icon in the browser > Incognito mode settings > and then disable 'Enhanced incognito mode,' as shown in an attached screenshot below. Mint Browser and Mi Browser Pro have been downloaded more than 15 million times from Google Play to date. The devel

Researchers Uncover Novel Way to De-anonymize Device IDs to Users' Biometrics

Researchers Uncover Novel Way to De-anonymize Device IDs to Users' Biometrics
April 28, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Researchers have uncovered a potential means to profile and track online users using a novel approach that combines device identifiers with their biometric information. The details come from a newly published research titled "Nowhere to Hide: Cross-modal Identity Leakage between Biometrics and Devices" by a group of academics from the University of Liverpool, New York University, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and University at Buffalo SUNY. "Prior studies on identity theft only consider the attack goal for a single type of identity, either for device IDs or biometrics," Chris Xiaoxuan Lu, Assistant Professor at the University of Liverpool, told The Hacker News in an email interview. "The missing part, however, is to explore the feasibility of compromising the two types of identities simultaneously and deeply understand their correlation in multi-modal IoT environments." The researchers presented the findings at the Web Conference 2020 held

Zoom Caught in Cybersecurity Debate — Here's Everything You Need To Know

Zoom Caught in Cybersecurity Debate — Here's Everything You Need To Know
April 06, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Over the past few weeks, the use of Zoom video conferencing software has exploded ever since it emerged the platform of choice to host everything from cabinet meetings to yoga classes amidst the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and work from home became the new normal. The app has skyrocketed to 200 million daily users from an average of 10 million in December — along with a 535 percent increase in daily traffic to its download page in the last month — but it's also seen a massive uptick in Zoom's problems, all of which stem from sloppy design practices and security implementations. Zoom may never have designed its product beyond enterprise chat initially, but with the app now being used in a myriad number of ways and by regular consumers, the company's full scope of gaffes have come into sharp focus — something it was able to avoid all this time. But if this public scrutiny can make it a more secure product, it can only be a good thing in the long run. A Laundry

Marriott Suffers Second Breach Exposing Data of 5.2 Million Hotel Guests

Marriott Suffers Second Breach Exposing Data of 5.2 Million Hotel Guests
March 31, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
International hotel chain Marriott today disclosed a data breach impacting nearly 5.2 million hotel guests, making it the second security incident to hit the company in recent years. "At the end of February 2020, we identified that an unexpected amount of guest information may have been accessed using the login credentials of two employees at a franchise property," Marriott said in a statement . "We believe this activity started in mid-January 2020. Upon discovery, we confirmed that the login credentials were disabled, immediately began an investigation, implemented heightened monitoring, and arranged resources to inform and assist guests." The incident exposed guests' personal information such as contact details (name, mailing address, email address, and phone number), loyalty account information (account number and points balance), and additional information such as company, gender, dates of births, room preferences, and language preferences. The ho

500 Chrome Extensions Caught Stealing Private Data of 1.7 Million Users

500 Chrome Extensions Caught Stealing Private Data of 1.7 Million Users
February 14, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Google removed 500 malicious Chrome extensions from its Web Store after they found to inject malicious ads and siphon off user browsing data to servers under the control of attackers. These extensions were part of a malvertising and ad-fraud campaign that's been operating at least since January 2019, although evidence points out the possibility that the actor behind the scheme may have been active since 2017. The findings come as part of a joint investigation by security researcher Jamila Kaya and Cisco-owned Duo Security, which unearthed 70 Chrome Extensions with over 1.7 million installations. Upon sharing the discovery privately with Google, the company went on to identify 430 more problematic browser extensions, all of which have since been deactivated. "The prominence of malvertising as an attack vector will continue to rise as long as tracking-based advertising remains ubiquitous, and particularly if users remain underserved by protection mechanisms," sa

Zoom Bug Could Have Let Uninvited People Join Private Meetings

Zoom Bug Could Have Let Uninvited People Join Private Meetings
January 28, 2020Swati Khandelwal
If you use Zoom to host your remote online meetings, you need to read this piece carefully. The massively popular video conferencing software has patched a security loophole that could have allowed anyone to remotely eavesdrop on unprotected active meetings, potentially exposing private audio, video, and documents shared throughout the session. Besides hosting password-protected virtual meetings and webinars, Zoom also allows users to set up a session for non-pre-registered participants who can join an active meeting by entering a unique Meeting ID, without requiring a password or going through the Waiting Rooms. Zoom generates this random meeting ID, comprised of 9, 10, and 11-digit numbers, for each meeting you schedule or create. If leaked beyond an individual or intended group of people, merely knowing Meeting IDs could allow unwelcome guests joining meetings or webinars. This could be bad news for anyone expecting their conversations to be private. To circumvent suc

Xiaomi Cameras Connected to Google Nest Expose Video Feeds From Others

Xiaomi Cameras Connected to Google Nest Expose Video Feeds From Others
January 03, 2020Wang Wei
Internet-connected devices have been one of the most remarkable developments that have happened to humankind in the last decade. Although this development is a good thing, it also stipulates a high security and privacy risk to personal information. In one such recent privacy mishap, smart IP cameras manufactured by Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi found mistakenly sharing surveillance footage of Xiaomi users with other random users without any permission. The issue appears to affect Xiaomi IP cameras only when streamed through connected Google's Nest Hub, which came into light when a Reddit user claimed that his Google Nest Hub is apparently pulling random feeds from other users instead of his own Xiaomi Mijia cameras. The Reddit user also shared some photos showing other people's homes, an older adult sleeping on a chair, and a baby sleeping in its crib that appeared on his Nest Hub screen. It appears the issue doesn't reside in Google products; instead, it c

Avast and AVG Browser Extensions Spying On Chrome and Firefox Users

Avast and AVG Browser Extensions Spying On Chrome and Firefox Users
December 03, 2019Mohit Kumar
If your Firefox or Chrome browser has any of the below-listed four extensions offered by Avast and its subsidiary AVG installed, you should disable or remove them as soon as possible. Avast Online Security AVG Online Security Avast SafePrice AVG SafePrice Why? Because these four widely installed browser extensions have been caught collecting a lot more data on its millions of users than they are intended to, including your detailed browsing history. Most of you might not even remember downloading and installing these extensions on your web browser, and that's likely because when users install Avast or AVG antivirus on their PCs, the software automatically installs their respective add-ons on the users' browsers. Both online security extensions have been designed to warn users when they visit a malicious or phishing website; whereas, SafePrice extensions help online shoppers learn about best offers, price comparisons, travel deals, and discount coupons from variou
Online Courses and Software

Sign up for cybersecurity newsletter and get latest news updates delivered straight to your inbox daily.