Category - Privacy & Security News

Attention, travelers: countries where VPNs are illegal

In some countries, topless sunbathing is frowned upon and strictly prohibited. Such a place is Egypt. In other countries, wearing a burqa is not allowed. That kind of place is France. Winter tires are also source for controversy, as using them during summer can lead to certain fines in Italy.

If such things leave room for debate, it comes as no surprise that tools such as VPNs are frowned upon in certain places, especially since they were created to protect our identities online, thus not allowing others to spy on us and maybe to control us easier.

Why are VPNs banned?

The reasons/pretexts for which VPNs are banned vary. The most widespread ones are terrorism, child pornography distribution, spreading malware, committing fraud or other illegal activities. Such a measure may save time and effort when catching certain felons, but it could expose many innocents to various types of cybercrimes.

However, this VPN ban is taken very seriously in the countries which have adopted it. Harsh punishments can be applied to those violating it, including simple tourists.

What forms of punishments are applied?

If you take the following excerpt from the United Arab Emirates’ federal law, you will notice that breaking the VPN ban is in no way regarded lightly:

“Whoever uses a fraudulent computer network protocol address (IP address) by using a false address or a third-party address by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery, shall be punished by temporary imprisonment and a fine of no less than Dhs 500,000 [US$136,000] and not exceeding Dhs 2,000,000 [US$544,500] of either of these two penalties.”

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Welcome to the USA! Upon entering, please relinquish your privacy

Donald Trump has only just taken up the role of president of the US and he seems to be determined to take one controversial measure after another.

An executive order that he signed in his first days in office is potentially threatening the 6-month-old EU-US Privacy Shield agreement.

In short, the order strips non-US citizens of their privacy rights. Here is what section 14 of the freshly signed Executive Order says:

“Agencies shall, to the extent consistent with applicable law, ensure that their privacy policies exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information.” (the entire Executive Order can be found on the White House’s website)

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Ghostie’s Weekly Digest: Gmail phishing, cybercrime surge and more

The week has been quite generous in terms of online privacy news. Our weekly digest aims to showcase what we regard as the most important headlines of the past seven days. Did we leave anything out? Are you directly affected by any of these measures? Drop us a line in the comment section and let’s debate!

Gmail phishing technique mimics past emails

An ingenious phishing technique that composes convincing emails by analyzing and mimicking past messages and attachments has been discovered by security experts. The new technique convinces Gmail users to click on an infected attachment which will then send them to a fake Gmail login page that will steal their credentials.

Read more on the topic here.

 

North Wales reports more cybercrimes than offline ones

It may seem like this is only a small region from a much bigger world, but this fact may be a reflection of a global trend.

According to the local police and crime commissioner (PCC) for the area, there are now more cybercrimes being recorded in north Wales than those in the offline world.

North Wales PCC Arfon Jones claimed that while traditional crimes such as burglary and shoplifting had decreased over the past decade, online crime has made up for the shortfall.

 

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Ghostie’s Weekly Digest: US expand surveillance powers and more

The year is starting on a more political note in terms of online privacy and surveillance, mainly because president-elect Donald Trump has only a few days until his White House inauguration. But this of course, is not the only reason why there’s a global turmoil around these matters. The constant threat of terrorism is lurking in the shadows, often calling for irrational or controversial measures.

Here’s what’s been happening in the last week, in a nutshell:

Obama expands surveillance powers during last days of presidency

With mere days left before President-elect Donald Trump takes the White House, current President Barack Obama’s administration just finalized rules to make it easier for the nation’s intelligence agencies to share unfiltered information about US citizens.

Under the new, relaxed rules, the NSA will grant access to the raw streams of data it collects easier to the FBI, the DEA and the Department of Homeland Security, among others. Before, the National Security Agency shared data with these agencies only after it had screened the data, filtering out unnecessary personal information.

Read more on the topic on eff.org.

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2016 in review: TOP 10 online privacy milestones

If we were to describe 2016 in terms of privacy, it was neither good, nor bad. It was probably somewhere in between. Just when we thought we won some battles, new enemies emerged, armed with even more advanced weapons.

What is however important is that, slowly but surely, people are starting to be more aware of their ideally innate right to online privacy and are starting to fight for it.

So here are 10 of the most important privacy highlights of 2016*:

  1. The Pokémon GO frenzy

The Pokémon GO bug traveled fast and faded away just as quickly. Everyone seemed to be out on a hunt around the town this summer, but no one seemed to pay any attention to the permissions they were giving the intrusive app. If you’re still enjoying this game, here are 10 tips for staying private.

  1. WhatsApp with your privacy?

At the end of August, WhatsApp announced a change in their ToS, by sharing the phone numbers of users with Facebook. Upon doing so, they claimed they were fighting spam and increasing business-to-consumer communication. There is however a hidden way out of this.

  1. The rise of fake news in social media feeds

In light of Donald Trump’s recent election, many fingers have been pointed at Facebook’s potential contribution. Here’s how to stay safe from the daily cavalcade of alarming headlines thrown in our direction.

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Ghostie’s Weekly Digest: Stricter privacy rules for Facebook and more

Even if the winter holidays are just around the corner and a breeze of hope and optimism seems to be in the air, privacy issues are happening at their usual pace. Here is what caught our attention in this week:

Snooper’s Charter already claims first victims

Hackers appear to already be exploiting the infamous Snooper’s Charter, by promoting fake privacy solutions to worried older Internet users across the UK, according to scmagazine.com.

In a recent survery, forty-four percent of over-55s said they would consider downloading software to protect themselves from government in a recent survey.

However, a VPN such as CyberGhost is the solution at-hand recommended by security experts.

Potentially stricter privacy rules for Facebook, WhatsApp and Skype

Popular platforms such as Google, Facebook and WhatsApp face a strict new privacy crackdown from the EU, as per some new proposals leaked from the European Commission.

The rules would force websites and browsers to ask for users’ consent before directing advertising at them based on their browser history. Users currently have to actively opt out of receiving such advertisements.

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Ghostie’s Weekly Digest: Facebook’s rumored censorship tool and more

In many other parts of the world, the holiday season has officially begun. Thanksgiving was just yesterday in the US and Black Friday has become a global frenzy, reminding us that in less than a month, our close ones would better find something underneath their Christmas trees (on sale or not).

In spite of this global “cheerfulness”, however, digital freedom and online privacy are becoming more and more elusive, with anti-democratic measures being taken all around the globe.

Here is the news of the week in brief, brought to you by CyberGhost VPN, the always at-hand solution to bypass censorship or surveillance:

hands-laptop-coffee-freelancer

Facebook reportedly built a censorship tool to return to China

According to the NY Times, the social network has quietly developed software to suppress posts from appearing in people’s news feeds in specific geographic areas.

The social network giant has restricted content in other countries before, such as Pakistan, Russia and Turkey. China has not been on Facebook’s map since 2009 because of the government’s strict rules around censorship.

Speaking of China, on a funnier note…

Chinese websites have again blocked searches for “Fatty Kim the Third”, as many Chinese mockingly call North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with China’s foreign ministry saying it did not approve of ridiculing foreign leaders, according to reuters.com.

Extra, extra, read all about it: #Facebook may have built a #censorship tool, #Thailand pushes #cybersecurity… Click to Tweet

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