Category - Privacy Tips

Privacy takes the fast lane: personal data and your car

Technological advancements happen for one basic reason: to make our lives better. There’s no doubt about that, but there is however a downside to all the breakthroughs of the modern world, and that is the unwanted exposure our personal data gets along the way.

Why does this happen? Because we want everything to be done easier.

We want our car to know by default our inside temperature preferences and to give us the exact directions to “home”, without us having to dictate the precise address. We want to be able to sync our phone’s contact book with our automobile so that we can simply say the name of the person we wish to call and hear them through the car’s sound system in an instant.

However, apart from these imaginable details we willingly let our cars track about us, there are also the less-obvious ones… a GPS is incorporated in our vehicles which always knows where we’re headed and there are numerous cameras and microphones which may record information about vehicle occupants. Biometric information, such as fingerprints or faces, can also be stored and eventually hacked.

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Every move you make – 3 tips to stop your phone from tracking you

It is no mystery that everything we do online leaves traces behind. Our mobiles seem to be the most knowledgeable tool on that matter, since we carry them everywhere with us and they silently keep track of everything we do. Why is that, you ask? Well, our personal information is probably one of our most valuable assets, whether we’re aware of that or not.

On the one hand, our details can be used for advertising purposes. If you fill in your email address somewhere on the Internet, don’t be surprised if you start receiving unsolicited emails trying to convince you to buy a product you never showed interest in. Also, if you happen to google a random word, such as “backpack” or maybe use it in a hashtag on a social media channel, expect to be targeted with Facebook/Google ads for backpacks almost immediately afterwards.

On the other hand, all the info you leave behind online can be used as evidence in a legal action, if that is the case. Maybe you decide to look up online the most extremist groups throughout history – out of pure curiosity or maybe you wish to write a book on the topic. This info can be used against you should you ever be involved in a lawsuit.

Last but not least, let’s not forget about hackers. Apart from simply stealing your credit card details used on an unsecure app/website and using them to make payments in your name, they can claim your personal identity and use it as their own.

All this (and not only) can be done using the data our mobiles learn about us. Here are a few tips & tricks leave less behind and keep more to yourself:

  1. Google Maps & Location Reporting

Google Maps knows exactly where you are or you’ve been and is not afraid to share. But there is a way to delete your history and disable future tracking.

To check if you have location history is enabled, head to your Google Maps Timeline, after logging in to your Google account. In the section below the map, you will see whether location history is on or off and you will also be able to pause it, if it is on.

But let’s go beyond Google maps. There are other apps using your location. You can also which apps are using location services on your iPhone by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Services.

On Android, go to Settings > Location > Google Location Reporting. For Location Reporting, tap the slider to turn it off.

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Hello, is there anyone NOT listening?

It’s quite fascinating to discover many of the gadgets presented in sci-fi movies decades ago are slowly, but surely, becoming a contemporary reality.

We have self-driving cars (not flying just yet), we can use watches as phones (Bond had his very own version of a wrist-worn walkie-talkie in 1981) and we can use personal robotic assistants, to whom we dictate daily chores.

All this is great, but what does it mean in terms of personal privacy? How much are we willing to sacrifice for the sake of saving a bit of effort?

Alexa, take the microphone!

In the above-mentioned spy-fi movies, such as vintage Bond, the secret agent would often look for secret microphones or “wires” hidden in his/her apartment or phone.

In nowadays’ reality, we, ourselves, appear to be purchasing so-called self-spying devices or apps, which we very easily and openly allow into our most intimate activities. Such examples are Apple’s Siri, Google Home or the more recent Amazon Echo a.k.a. Alexa.

This last and most recent example is a voice-controlled digital assistant, activated via a “wake word”, such as “Alexa” (the default), “Amazon” or “Echo”. Basically, in order to function, the device has to listen to everything people say around it, unless it’s manually turned off.

Let’s face it, most users will probably opt for the default settings and not manually turn the mics (yes, “mics”, there are 7 of them) on whenever they need to access their digital assistant. Such an effort would really defeat the device’s original purpose, really.

In these circumstances, Amazon Echo will keep about 1 minute of audio in its memory, in case it is somehow connected to a question it is addressed. However, according to USA Today, as new sound is recorded, the old one is erased. Only when the Echo hears its wake-up word does it begin sending a stream of audio to the cloud to be converted into text that the program can understand and act upon.

All this sounds well, but, just like us, Alexa can mishear its name and then randomly send recordings into the cloud. All the recordings can be used in police investigations should there be a valid and binding legal demand.

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5 of your friends who desperately need a VPN for Xmas

Christmas is right around the corner and we’re all looking for innovative gift ideas for our most demanding of friends. But there just might be an easier and more at-hand way out of this. A Premium subscription for CyberGhost VPN could be just what your friends need underneath their Xmas tree if they fit the following descriptions:

  1. The foodie with a passion for sharing

We all know someone in this category. These foodie friends are so passionate with the art of fine and healthy dining that they’ve created dedicated blogs/social media channels with their very own recipes or food recommendations.

Since they’re so active online, they need to protect their original content from hackers and use public WiFis safely using a one-tap VPN solution, such as CyberGhost.

  1. The omnipresent photographer

It’s hard not to have a photographer friend these days.

This line of work often requires sharing copyright-protected materials, on dedicated websites or through various messaging systems.

With CyberGhost VPN (also available for iOS), photographers can easily encrypt their online activity and keep their work safe. They will surely appreciate this practical gift.

Do you have chronic googlers, oversharing foodies or WiFi-hooked buddies? Here are some awesome #gitftideas… Click to Tweet

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These holidays, the only thing that should be public is your letter to Santa

The winter holidays are just around the corner, which means that soon enough, we’ll be doing plenty of online shopping, travelling and social media browsing. The Christmas and New Year’s cheer may get us into a mood for sharing, but we recommend limiting our enthusiasm to the offline world. Online privacy is the way to go, even when we’re in a celebratory mood.

Here are 3 tips and tricks for a merry and headache-free holiday season:

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  1. Even Santa is coming online this year, but he’s taking some safety measures

… you’d better do the same, or you may end up on his naughty list! (just kidding)

Seriously now, although gift shopping is so much easier when you don’t have to stand in line, it does come with some safety risks, such as cyber fraud. Using a VPN (a.k.a. Virtual Private Network, a great tool for online privacy and for unblocking geo-restricted content), you will force “https” URLs and enable safe online payments.

Our recommendation for an efficient and easy to use VPN is CyberGhost, which we also tried on more devices, and it did the job. It can also be a practical gift idea for people who are always online. Ring any bells? Another tip: you must pry phones out of their hands, even when it’s freezing outside. 

With the winter holidays around the corner, here are some #tipsandtricks for being safe and merry #online Click to Tweet
  1. Fight for your right to share, but choose not to

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8 ways to enhance your gaming experience with CyberGhost VPN

There are many ways in which a VPN can improve your life and if you are a passionate online gamer, CyberGhost can help your gameplay more than you had probably imagined. Here are some examples – 9 of them, to be more precise:

technology, gaming, entertainment, let's play and people concept - angry screaming young man in headset with pc computer playing game at home and streaming playthrough or walkthrough video

  1. If you enjoy online gaming, then you are probably familiar with DDoS attacks (short for “Distributed Denial of Service”). In plain words, what these attacks do is enable other users to remove you from a server and make the game inaccessible to you. With CyberGhost VPN, however, your real IP will be hidden and no one will be able to discover your real one so as to target you with a DDoS attack, which will now be attacking our DDoS-protected servers.
  1. When playing online, Internet speed can be a real advantage. If you connect to CyberGhost VPN while enjoying your favorite online game such as DOTA, LOL, CS:Go or many others, you may be able to lower your ping rate by connecting to the CyberGhost server closest to the gaming server. Thus your Internet speed and gaming experience will visibly improve.
  1. As a gamer, you will probably have to make an online payment at a certain point, in order to purchase a new game or a token. This can make you prone to certain risks, such as cyberfraud. By forcing HTTPS, CyberGhost will enable you to place safe online payments.

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We’re sending you on a trip to the most private destination in the world

Banksy once said “I don’t know why people are so keen to put the details of their private life in public; they forget that invisibility is a superpower.” He also added that in the future we will manage to be anonymous for only 15 minutes.

Now, according to Banksy’s predictions, it appears that the future is here. Fewer and fewer people realize the joys of a life lived only for themselves, without an audience to like, share or comment in the background.

Here, at CyberGhost, as you already know, we’re all about online privacy. But this time, we are taking our credo to a whole new level: offline, that is. Join us in our privacy challenge: help us discover the world’s best hidden Vanishing Point and, as a reward, you could win a trip there!

To enter our Vanishing Point competition, all you need to do is vote for the destination you regard as the most private from our list of 6 locations. Increase your chances of winning by downloading our free app and by spreading the news about this competition on social media.

Get all the info you need about the Vanishing Point competition by clicking here.

Stay private online. Stay free. Choose CyberGhost VPN.

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