Category - Privacy & Security News

Implementation of ePrivacy Regulation – re-gain control over your personal data

A privacy law proposed by the European Commission is about to set a new model in terms of online privacy for people residing in Europe. The ePrivacy Regulation was initially drafted in 2002 and was revised in 2009. In the beginning of 2017, the EU updated the text and introduced new policies regarding users’ prior consent when it comes to websites and marketing companies processing and controlling their own personal data.

The updates will bring significant changes to the web surfing activity, if they are indeed accepted. The legislation still needs to be approved by the member states during a vote that will be held in a Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg next week.

These new privacy proposals align with changes suggested by the GDPR (EU General Data Protection Regulation); the organization has as main aim to make sure EU citizens enjoy online privacy and are protected from data breaches. The difference between the two is that GDPR wants to enhance Article 8 of the European Charter of Human Rights referring to personal data protection, while the ePrivacy regulation is meant to complement Article 7 of the charter in respect to a person’s private life.

The fundamental changes of the ePrivacy rules refer to:

  1. Cookies law – give your consent for web tracking

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Beware of the Bad Rabbit new wave of ransomware

Initially, Bad Rabbit was thought to be similar to the Petya and WannaCry outbreaks that have corrupted Windows computers. However, according to researchers from Kaspersky Lab, Bad Rabbit is actually linked to the ExPetr (notPetya attacks).

The malware has hit the systems in Ukraine, Turkey and Germany, but the largest number of victims affected by the attack are from Russia. Here, three important news agencies have been attacked; Interfax, one of them, has complained their servers were deeply affected, making the company distribute their activity solely on their Facebook account.

In Ukraine, Bad Rabbit has damaged the systems of the Kiev Metro, Odessa airport, and Ukrainian ministries of infrastructure and finance.

Additionally, U.S. security experts have mentioned that they have been receiving complaints regarding malware infections in other countries around the world as well.

This is what we know about Bad Rabbit so far:

How it infects your computer

Security firm Eset has discovered the malware is spread via a bogus Adobe Flash update.

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How net neutrality issues in the U.S. can affect us all

Update, October 23rd, 2017:

According to latest news, by November 22nd, the chairman of the FCC will give an official response regarding net neutrality. In the case of a negative comeback which will put net neutrality to an end, that would mean internet service providers will charge U.S. citizens extra for accessing certain websites, apps or even streaming services.

If you want to put a stop to the vote that approves dissolving net neutrality, you can do that by giving as many calls to the U.S. Congress members through the official battle for the net website. Mention you are in favor of net neutrality and that you demand the FCC Chairman to quit his plan.

Article originally published on September 28th, 2017

The road to digital freedom is not straight. In fact, it is full of obstacles along with a new proposal set by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The new rule is meant to put an end to net neutrality and let ISPs (Internet Service Providers) decide which online content their subscribers should have access to. Mainly, it gives them the right to promote their own services online and block their rivals.

In other words, ISPs will determine what you can see and read on the internet based on how much internet customers pay for.  So much for free speech and equal opportunities, not to mention the beginning of a censorship era in the online world.

What security specialists fear is that big companies will afford a toll given to ISPs, but small companies won’t. In a way, this is already happening. A few years ago, a news service run by Verizon banned web content regarding mass surveillance as ideas revealed in those websites opposed their interests. However, FCC’s Republican chairman Ajit Pai wants to make it all legal, even though FCC is the same authority that promised to protect net neutrality in 2015.

Why should you care about an internet freedom rule passed in the USA?

If you don’t live in the U.S., you may think this doesn’t concern you. Well, surprise! This decision will affect you too.

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WiFi breach makes devices vulnerable to hacks, but there is a solution

Much to everyone’s concern, there have been discovered serious weaknesses in WPA2, a protocol that secures all modern protected Wi-Fi networks. An attacker within range of a victim can exploit these weaknesses using key reinstallation attacks (KRACKs), notes

The “Krack” attack works by exploiting the “handshake” that a WiFi network and a device give to each other when the latter wants to join. Usually, the two decide on an encryption key for all future traffic, meaning that each device will only be able to read data if it has that key.

“Note that if your device supports Wi-Fi, it is most likely affected,” wrote security researcher Mathy Vanhoef, whose work was noted by the US government.

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Why U.S. Justice Department’s call on responsible encryption is not an option

U.S. Justice Department official Rod Rosenstein held a speech on Tuesday at the U.S. Naval Academy in which he criticized technology companies for helping out criminals and terrorists accomplish their plans through encryption software.

Directly pointing to Silicon Valley companies, he supported the idea of responsible encryption after mentioning several terrorism cases from the past. Tech companies refused to collaborate with the FBI despite the fact that the organization presented proper warrants that would have allowed them to access company databases.

Sure, this would have meant collecting only the data concerning terrorist suspects, but the reaction of companies is by far understandable. Once “inside” the system, law enforcement officers could easily break in and collect other important information as well, not related to terrorist suspects.

Responsible encryption or forced monitoring?

Many people (security specialists or not) fear that Rosenstein’s call for responsible encryption, while presenting strong arguments, is rather just another attempt to create a back door and legally monitor peoples’ lives online.

Saying that encryption methods are bad because they don’t help governments catch terrorists is just like saying that bulletproof vests should be banned simply because some criminals wear them when they are trying to escape the police. Yet, bulletproof vests have been a lifesaver for police officers, detectives and other law enforcement professionals.

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Curious about your genealogy? Mind the privacy risks in DNA tests

Taking do-it-yourself DNA tests from providers found online is a growing trend nowadays, as, by the end of the decade, the direct-to-consumer lab testing market is expected to reach $350 million.

Some of the purposes for these DNA tests are finding out where one’s ancestors come from, what health dangers are hidden in our genes or even if a child is truly ours.

Why is this happening, though? Why are people, suddenly, looking for their origins? Perhaps they feel that in an increasingly globalized world, we, as individuals are losing our identities and need to belong to a group or maybe it’s quite the opposite: we want to stand out from an apparently homogenous society.

Regardless of our reasons for taking these tests, though, one thing is clear. As for anything that’s too good or simple to be true, there are risks involved.

We are not talking about the accuracy of these tests, because others, more qualified on the matter, have tackled this subject thoroughly.

We are however discussing something one should always be careful about: online privacy.


Why would anyone be interested in your genetic data?

Your genetic data reveals precious information about you, more precious than you think. Drug companies, insurers and sometimes police would love to have a sneak peek into those.

Thinking of taking a #DNAtest from #genealogy websites? Consider the #privacy risks | #CyberGhost #tips Click to Tweet

Once you put your cheek swab in the mailbox, you are willingly sending a valuable copy of your genetic data to a group of strangers who can do as they please with your information. You may have signed a privacy agreement, but since this is a commercial service and not an academic research project, things can change overnight, as companies get bought, and your data could get sold along with that transaction.

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Constant changes of data protection laws not in our benefit

Remember how you were told that “no one can take your memories from you”? Well, today, what you thought was your own with no access to anyone else seems to have become a myth. It appears data is the most valuable commodity, along with so many mass-surveillance attempts proposed by governments from different countries.

Let’s take the U.S. DHS (Department of Homeland Security) policy that plans to make a thorough check of immigrants, including monitoring their social media activity. This method will help immigration officials decide who “deserves” to enter their country and who doesn’t.

Ok, your memories or personal information will not be erased, but knowing that other people can do whatever they want with that information is worrisome to say the least.

So, what was once a routine check in which immigration officers looked into nationality, country of residence, if your name is listed on a sanctions list and so on, now becomes a thorough monitoring of your online activities. Totally weird, right?

Farewell freedom of expression

What we used to know about the United States as the land of freedom doesn’t seem to be real anymore. At least not in terms of freedom of speech and expression. America’s core values referring to individual freedom, equality of opportunity and eternal optimism that once traveled around the world, are hard to believe these days.

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