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The Hacker News - Cybersecurity News and Analysis: online privacy

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

L1ght Looks to Protect Internet Users from Toxic and Predatory Behavior

L1ght Looks to Protect Internet Users from Toxic and Predatory Behavior
March 11, 2020The Hacker News
Cybersecurity has been regarded as a necessity for all computer users, especially today when data breaches and malware attacks have become rampant. However, one of the more overlooked aspects of cybersecurity is the prevention of other forms of cybercrime, such as the spread of harmful content and predatory behavior. Most current discussions on cybersecurity revolve around organizations needing to protect customer data or for individual users to prevent their sensitive data from being intercepted. However, given the prevalence of toxic behavior, it's about time the cybersecurity community also gives internet safety, especially for children and younger users, its due attention. Israel-based startup L1ght aims to curb the spread of bad behavior online. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to detect harmful content, hate speech, bullying, and other predatory behavior in social networks, communication applications, and online video games. The firm

Google Fined $170 Million For Violating Kids' Privacy On YouTube

Google Fined $170 Million For Violating Kids' Privacy On YouTube
September 05, 2019Wang Wei
Google has finally agreed to pay $170 million fine to settle allegations by the Federal Trade Commission and the New York attorney general that its YouTube service earned millions by illegally harvesting personal information from children without their parents' consent. The settlement requires Google to pay $136 million to the FTC and an additional $34 million fine to New York state for allegedly violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule. The COPPA rule requires child-directed websites and online services to explicitly obtain parental consent before collecting personal information from children under the age of 13 and then using it for targeted advertising. However, an FTC investigation [ PDF ] against Google's video service for children, called YouTube Kids, revealed that it had illegally gathered kids' data under 13. The data also includes children' persistent identification codes used to track a user's Internet browsing hab

Apple Changes the Way It Listens to Your Siri Recordings Following Privacy Concerns

Apple Changes the Way It Listens to Your Siri Recordings Following Privacy Concerns
August 29, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Apple today announced some major changes to its controversial 'Siri audio grading program' following criticism for employing humans to listen to audio recordings of users collected via its voice-controlled Siri personal assistant without their knowledge or consent. The move came a month after The Guardian reported that third-party contractors were regularly listening to private conversations of Apple users giving voice commands to Siri in a bid to improve the quality of its product's response. While the data received by the contractors were anonymized and not associated to Apple devices, the private conversations—which also includes private discussions between doctors and patients, business deals, seemingly criminal dealings, people having sex and so on—sometimes reveal identifiable details like a person's name or medical records. In response to the backlash Apple received after the report went public, the company initially responded by temporarily suspending

Google Proposes 'Privacy Sandbox' to Develop Privacy-Focused Ads

Google Proposes 'Privacy Sandbox' to Develop Privacy-Focused Ads
August 23, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Google today announced a new initiative—called Privacy Sandbox —in an attempt to develop a set of open standards that fundamentally enhances privacy on the web while continuing to support a free, open and democratic Internet through digital advertisements. A lot of websites on the Internet today, including The Hacker News, rely on online advertisements as their primary source of funding to operate and keep their professionally created content open and freely accessible to everyone. However, with the evolution of online advertising, the targeted advertisement technologies have become too much invasive because of involved intrusive practices and more prudent approaches to accurately curate users' personal information, thereby raising serious privacy concerns among Internet users. In its latest blog post , Google acknowledged that ad tracking is "now being used far beyond its original design intent," but also highlights that unplanned attempts to address privacy con

Use This Privacy Tool to View and Clear Your 'Off-Facebook Activity' Data

Use This Privacy Tool to View and Clear Your 'Off-Facebook Activity' Data
August 20, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Well, here we have great news for Facebook users, which is otherwise terrible for marketers and publishers whose businesses rely on Facebook advertisement for re-targeted conversations. Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal , Facebook has taken several privacy measures in the past one year with an aim to give its users more control over their data and transparency about how the social media giant and other apps on its platform use that data. Now in its new effort, Facebook has launched a new privacy feature that allows its users to control data that the social media platform receives from other apps and websites about their online activity. Dubbed " Off-Facebook Activity ," the feature was initially announced by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last year as "Clear History," allowing users to clear the data that third-party websites and apps share with Facebook. "Off-Facebook Activity lets you see a summary of the apps and websites that send us infor

Viral FaceApp Unnecessarily Requests Access to Users' Facebook Friends List

Viral FaceApp Unnecessarily Requests Access to Users' Facebook Friends List
July 29, 2019Mohit Kumar
FaceApp—the AI-powered photo-morphing app that recently gone viral for its age filter but hit the headlines for its controversial privacy policy—has been found collecting the list of your Facebook friends for no reason. The Russian-made FaceApp has been around since the spring of 2017 but taken social media by storm over the course of the past few weeks as millions of people downloaded the app to see how they would look when they are older or younger, or swap genders. The app also contains a feature that allows users to download and edit photos from their Facebook accounts, which only works when a user enables FaceApp to access the social media account via the 'Login with Facebook' option. As you can see in the screenshot above, besides requesting for access to your basic profile information and photos, FaceApp also fetches the list of your Facebook friends "who also use and have shared their friends' lists with FaceApp." Have you yet asked yourself why

Facebook Agrees to Pay $5 Billion Fine and Setup New Privacy Program for 20 Years

Facebook Agrees to Pay $5 Billion Fine and Setup New Privacy Program for 20 Years
July 24, 2019Mohit Kumar
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today officially confirmed that Facebook has agreed to pay a record-breaking $5 billion fine over privacy violations surrounding the Cambridge Analytica scandal . Besides the multibillion-dollar penalty, the company has also accepted a 20-year-long agreement that enforces it to implement a new organizational framework designed to strengthen its data privacy practices and policies. The agreement requires Facebook to make some major structural changes, as explained below, that will hold the company accountable for the decisions it makes about its users' privacy and information it collects on them. "The order requires Facebook to restructure its approach to privacy from the corporate board-level down, and establishes strong new mechanisms to ensure that Facebook executives are accountable for the decisions they make about privacy and that those decisions are subject to meaningful oversight," the FTC said in a press release . Ac

Firefox Web Browser Now Blocks Third-Party Tracking Cookies By Default

Firefox Web Browser Now Blocks Third-Party Tracking Cookies By Default
June 04, 2019Mohit Kumar
As promised, Mozilla has finally enabled "Enhanced Tracking Protection" feature on its Firefox browser by default, which from now onwards would automatically block all third-party tracking cookies that allow advertisers and websites to track you across the web. Tracking cookies, also known as third-party cookies, allows advertisers to monitor your online behavior and interests, using which they display relevant advertisements, content, and promotions on the websites you visit. Which makes sense as no one likes to waste time in watching advertisements and offers that are not of one's interest. However, since tracking cookies gather way more information without requiring users' explicit permissions and there is no control over how companies would use it, the technique also poses a massive threat to users' online privacy. To limit this extensive tracking, Mozilla included the "Enhanced Tracking Protection" option as an experimental feature in Octo

A Twitter Bug Left Android Users' Private Tweets Exposed For 4 Years

A Twitter Bug Left Android Users' Private Tweets Exposed For 4 Years
January 17, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Twitter just admitted that the social network accidentally revealed some Android users' protected tweets to the public for more than 4 years — a kind of privacy blunder that you'd typically expect from Facebook . When you sign up for Twitter, all your Tweets are public by default, allowing anyone to view and interact with your Tweets. Fortunately, Twitter also gives you control of your information, allowing you to choose if you want to keep your Tweets protected. Enabling "Protect your Tweets" setting makes your tweets private, and you'll receive a request whenever new people want to follow you, which you can approve or deny. It's just similar to private Facebook updates that limit your information to your friends only. In a post on its Help Center on Thursday, Twitter disclosed a privacy bug dating back to November 3, 2014, potentially caused the Twitter for Android app to disable the "Protect your Tweets" setting for users without their k

Facebook Admits Sharing Users' Data With 61 Tech Companies

Facebook Admits Sharing Users' Data With 61 Tech Companies
July 02, 2018Swati Khandelwal
Facebook has admitted that the company gave dozens of tech companies and app developers special access to its users' data after publicly saying it had restricted outside companies to access such data back in 2015. It's an unusual clear view of how the largest social networking site manages your personal information. During the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed March this year, Facebook stated that it already cut off third-party access to its users' data and their friends in May 2015 only. However, in a 747-page long document [ PDF ] delivered to Congress late Friday, the social networking giant admitted that it continued sharing data with 61 hardware and software makers , as well as app developers after 2015 as well. The disclosure comes in response to hundreds of questions posed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg by members of Congress in April about its company's practices with data of its billions of users. The Washington Post reported that the company

Researcher Claims Hotspot Shield VPN Service Exposes You on the Internet

Researcher Claims Hotspot Shield VPN Service Exposes You on the Internet
February 07, 2018Mohit Kumar
Virtual Private Network (VPN) is one of the best solutions you can have to protect your privacy and data on the Internet, but you should be more vigilant while choosing a VPN service which truly respects your privacy. If you are using the popular VPN service Hotspot Shield for online anonymity and privacy, you may inadvertently be leaking your real IP address and other sensitive information. Developed by AnchorFree GmbH, Hotspot Shield is a VPN service available for free on Google Play Store and Apple Mac App Store with an estimated 500 million users around the world. The service promises to " secure all online activities ," hide users' IP addresses and their identities and protect them from tracking by transferring their internet and browsing traffic through its encrypted channel. However, an 'alleged' information disclosure vulnerability discovered in Hotspot Shield results in the exposure of users data, like the name of Wi-Fi network name (if conne

Facebook slapped with $1.43 million fine for violating users' privacy in Spain

Facebook slapped with $1.43 million fine for violating users' privacy in Spain
September 11, 2017Wang Wei
Facebook is once again in trouble regarding its users' privacy. The social media giant has recently been heavily fined once again for a series of privacy violations in Spain. Recently, Google also incurred a record-breaking fine of $2.7 billion (€2.42 billion) by the European antitrust officials for unfairly manipulating search results since at least 2008. Now, the Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) has issued a €1.2 Million (nearly $1.4 Million) fine against Facebook for breaching laws designed to protect its people's information and confidentiality. According to the data protection watchdog, the social network collects its users' personal data without their 'unequivocal consent' and makes the profit by sharing the data with advertisers and marketers. The AEPD also found Facebook collects sensitive data on user's ideology, religious beliefs, sex and personal tastes and navigation—either directly from its own services or through third parties—w

European Companies Must Tell Employees If Their Work Emails Are Being Monitored

European Companies Must Tell Employees If Their Work Emails Are Being Monitored
September 05, 2017Wang Wei
Finally, European companies must inform employees in advance if their work email accounts are being monitored. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday gave a landmark judgement concerning privacy in the workplace by overturning an earlier ruling that gave employers the right to spy on workplace communications. The new ruling came in judging the case of Romanian engineer Bogdan Barbulescu, who was fired ten years ago for sending messages to his fianceé and brother using his workplace Yahoo Messenger account. Earlier Romanian courts had rejected Barbulescu's complaint that his employer had violated his right to correspondence—including in January last year when it was ruled that it was not " unreasonable for an employer to want to verify that the employees are completing their professional tasks during working hours. " But now, the European court ruled by an 11-6 majority that Romanian judges failed to protect Barbulescu's right to private life and cor

European Parliament Proposes Ban On Encryption Backdoors

European Parliament Proposes Ban On Encryption Backdoors
June 19, 2017Mohit Kumar
Prime Minister Theresa May wants tech companies, like Facebook, Apple, and Google, to create controversial 'backdoors' for police, but even somewhere she knows that it's not that easy as it sounds. The Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee of the European Parliament has released a draft proposal [ PDF ] for new laws on privacy and electronic communications, recommending end-to-end (E2E) encryption on all communications and forbidding backdoors that offer access to law enforcement. "The protection of confidentiality of communications is also an essential condition for the respect of other related fundamental rights and freedoms, such as the protection of freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and freedom of expression and information," the draft reads. Draft Says, Your Security is Our Top Priority According to the draft, EU citizens need more protection, not less and they need to know that the "confidentiality and safety" of their

Save the Internet: FCC Unveils Plan to Rollback Net-Neutrality Rules

Save the Internet: FCC Unveils Plan to Rollback Net-Neutrality Rules
April 27, 2017Mohit Kumar
After crushing a set of privacy rules on ISPs that restrict them from sharing your online data with third parties without your consent, President Donald Trump's newly appointed FCC chairman Ajit Pai has announced the first move in its efforts to kill off Net Neutrality. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that it will roll back net neutrality rules that require Internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all services and websites on the Internet equally. Before moving forward, let's first understand What does Net Neutrality mean? What is Net Neutrality And Why It's Important? Net Neutrality is simply the Internet Freedom — Free, Fast and Open Internet for all. Net Neutrality is the principle that ISPs should give consumers access to all and every contents and application on an equal basis, treating all Internet traffic equally. Today, if there is something that makes everyone across the world 'Equal,' it's the Internet. Equality over

Websites Can Now Track You Online Across Multiple Web Browsers

Websites Can Now Track You Online Across Multiple Web Browsers
February 15, 2017Swati Khandelwal
You might be aware of websites, banks, retailers, and advertisers tracking your online activities using different Web "fingerprinting" techniques even in incognito/private mode, but now sites can track you anywhere online — even if you switch browsers. A team of researchers has recently developed a cross-browser fingerprinting technique — the first reliable technique to accurately track users across multiple browsers based on information like extensions, plugins, time zone and whether or not an ad blocker is installed. Previous fingerprinting methods usually only work across a single browser, but the new method uses operating system and hardware level features and works across multiple browsers. This new fingerprinting technique ties digital fingerprint left behind by a Firefox browser to the fingerprint from a Chrome browser or Windows Edge running on the same device. This makes the method particularly useful to advertisers, enabling them to continue serving tar

US Judge Ordered Google to Hand Over Emails Stored On Foreign Servers to FBI

US Judge Ordered Google to Hand Over Emails Stored On Foreign Servers to FBI
February 06, 2017Swati Khandelwal
In this world of global mass surveillance by not the only US, but also intelligence agencies across the world, every other country wants tech companies including Google, Apple, and Microsoft to set-up and maintain their servers in their country to keep their citizen data within boundaries. Last year, Microsoft won a case which ruled that the US government cannot force tech companies to hand over their non-US customers' data stored on servers located in other countries to the FBI or any other federal authorities. However, a new notable ruling just goes against the court judgment last year, raising concerns regarding people's privacy. A US magistrate reportedly ruled Friday that Google has to comply with FBI search warrants seeking customer emails stored on servers outside of the United States, according to RT . U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Rueter in Philadelphia noted that transferring emails from outside servers so FBI could read them locally as part of a domestic f
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