Category - Privacy & Security News

Online privacy in the time of Donald Trump

The election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States of America got everyone talking these days. What we would like to know, however, is what this decision entails on the online privacy front. Do we have any reasons to worry?

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What Snowden thinks

Edward Snowden says we shouldn’t “fear” and just carry on fighting on our own for online privacy, without expecting unwitting saviors.

Speaking from Moscow on November 10, in a live stream hosted by private browser developer StartPage, the world’s most notorious whistleblower brought into everyone’s attention our hopes concerning President Obama, for instance, who once was expected to bring an end to mass surveillance.

Then, Snowden emphasized that Trump is only one president of a much bigger world and that privacy is a global matter: “This is just one president. Politicians do what they think will gain them support… ultimately if we want to see a change we must force it through.”

He thus brought into attention recent legislative changes in Russia and China, where regulations allowing mass surveillance were passed this year.

One cannot however not worry about Snowden’s own safety in Trump’s regime. Although admitting to being crazy to dismiss a potential deal between Trump and Putin for extradition and trial, Snowden quite optimistically conceded: “If I was worried about safety, if the security and the future of myself was all that I cared about, I would still be in Hawaii.”

On this topic, back in 2014, Trump tweeted: “Snowden is a spy who has caused great damage in the US. A spy in the old days, when our country was respected and strong, would be executed”.

What Trump himself says

During his campaign, Trump vowed to “eliminate our most intrusive regulations” and “reform the entire regulatory code,” as quoted by the Washington Post. He singled out net neutrality as a “top down power grab,” predicting it would allow the government to censor websites.

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Ghostie’s Weekly Digest: Yet another social media shutdown in Turkey and more

The privacy front continues to witness numerous battles these days, with no potential winners emerging any time soon.

Just when we thought that things were going in the right direction, a new app emerges to pry into our personal lives or another country ruthlessly limits its inhabitants’ Internet access.

Here is the most important online privacy news of the week, put together by the freedom fighters at CyberGhost VPN:

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Turkey blocks access to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and WhatsApp

Turkey did it again. The TurkeyBlocks monitoring network has detected restrictions on access to multiple social media services Facebook, Twitter and YouTube throughout Turkey beginning Friday Nov 04 2016 1:20AM local time, ongoing as of Friday mid-morning. This is potentially related to the detention of multiple leaders of opposition political party HDP.

If you are from Turkey (or from any other privacy-challenged country for that matter) and would like to unblock your favorite social media channels, you can download CyberGhost for free, on your preferred device or OS, from here.

When sharing isn’t caring: WhatsApp asked by European regulators to pause sharing user data with Facebook

WhatsApp has been warned by the pan-European privacy watchdogs “Article 29” over its sharing of information with Facebook and asked to pause the transfer of personal data.

The data protection authorities also wrote to Yahoo over its massive data breach. Get the full story here.

Germany recently ordered Facebook to stop collecting WhatsApp user data.

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Ghostie’s Weekly Digest: China aims to tame the Internet and more

Hi Ghosties! We haven’t published our Weekly Digest article in quite a while, but with all that’s been going on, we could not miss another week. Online privacy and security issues have made the headlines through some major issues that got us a bit worried from a multitude of reasons. Here is what we’re talking about:

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Recent DDoS attack may have been largest in history

On Friday, October 21st, a series of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks caused widespread disruption of legitimate internet activity in the US. The attacks targeted the servers of Dyn, a company controlling much of the Internet’s Domain Name Servers, or the Internet’s equivalent of a phone book, as they maintain a directory of domain names and translate them to Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.

Thus, the DDoS attacks, caused by the Mirai botnet, managed to bring down much of America’s Internet, including sites such as Twitter, the Guardian, Netflix, Reddit, CNN and many others in Europe and the US.

What’s interesting, though, is that the Mirai botnet is largely made up of so-called IoT devices, such as CCTV video cameras and digital video recorders. Since it had so many internet-connected devices to choose from, the Mirai attacks are believed to be much larger than before, involving an estimated 100,000 malicious endpoints. Get more details about this issue from here.

China plans to rate its society based on big data

By 2020, China aims to build a Social Credit System, which will attribute scores to its citizens, in order to build a culture of “sincerity”, where “keeping trust is glorious.”

The ambition is to collect every scrap of information available online about China’s companies and citizens in a single place — and then assign each of them a score based on their political, commercial, social and legal “credit.” Those who fall short would be denied certain privileges and be subjected to expanded daily supervision and random inspections.

Read an eye-opening analysis on the topic here.

Busy week: #DDoS attack used #IoT, China plans to rate society based on big data and more. Stay updated with our… Click to Tweet

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NSA/FBI strikes again: Yahoo reportedly scanned emails for US government

In case you were wondering what the NSA has been up to lately, rumour has it they’ve been quite busy.

According to Reuters, last year, email service provider Yahoo secretly built a custom software program to search of all its users’ incoming emails for specific information provided by U.S. intelligence officials. Apparently, the company did this as a result of a classified US government demand, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts for the National Security Agency or FBI, according to four different sources quoted by the international news agency.

The NSA usually makes requests for domestic surveillance through the FBI, so it is hard to know which agency is seeking the information.

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“Yahoo is a law abiding company, and complies with the laws of the United States,” the company said in a brief statement in response to Reuters’ questions about the demand. Yahoo declined any further comment.

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Ghostie’s weekly digest: the Germany Facebook ban and more

You win some, you lose some, they say. Well, this could sum up the week just perfectly on the online privacy front, since we had both a victory when Germany ordered Facebook to stop collecting data from WhatsApp users and an important step back, when Swiss voters decided to give new surveillance powers to authorities.

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German privacy regulator orders Facebook to stop collecting data from users; Facebook to appeal

The Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information said Facebook was infringing the data protection law and had not obtained effective approval from WhatsApp’s 35 million users in Germany, according to Reuters.

“After the acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook two years ago, both parties have publicly assured that data will not be shared between them,” commissioner Johannes Caspar said in a statement.

Facebook is however not pleased with this decision and said it would appeal it.

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The new Swiss surveillance law or the false choice between privacy and security

It happened on a Sunday, September 25th, a day which will probably go down in history. That is when Swiss voters approved a new surveillance law granting their national intelligence service greater powers to spy on “terrorist” suspects and cyber criminals.

A good initiative in theory, when put to practice, this new law would allow the authorities to tap phones, snoop on email and deploy hidden cameras and bugs, thus monitoring any potential suspects.

Of the 5 million voters, 65 percent supported this legislative initiative. The other 35 percent will just have to deal with this situation and find solutions for not being tracked (you can always try our free VPN, available on any platform).

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Any resemblance to the NSA is purely coincidental

Does this new law remind of the already notorious data-gathering machine developed by the NSA and revealed by Edward Snowden?

Not to Yannick Buttet, a politician and Christian Democratic Party vice president, who declared: “This is not generalized surveillance. It’s letting the intelligence services do their job.” Guy Parmelin, Swiss defence minister, said that with the new measures Switzerland was “leaving the basement and coming up to the ground floor by international standards”.

Until now, phone tapping and monitoring emails were banned in Switzerland.

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Ghostie’s Weekly Digest: the Opera server hack, NY students get a Privacy Officer and more

The start of autumn anticipates an interesting last quarter of 2016, especially as online privacy begins to be taken more and more seriously. For instance, we were quite intrigued to discover that the New York State Education Department has appointed its first Privacy Officer charged with the task of protecting confidential student information. Discover more below:

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Opera resets users’ passwords after web service gets hacked

The Norway-based internet browser maker has declared in blog post that it “quickly blocked” an attack to its sync system. As a measure of precaution, all the Opera sync account passwords have been reset. Users have also been informed about this incident and asked to change their passwords. If you want to reset your password, go to this link.

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