News Posts matching "privacy"

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Windows 10 Fall Creators Update to Bring Privacy Enhancements

Do you remember those times where your privacy wasn't such a concern? Where you could freely navigate through the world, and not have to worry if your apps, browsers, extensions, or operating systems weren't collecting way more data than you wanted them to? It seems eons behind us, now, but it's the world we've been living in - and the world we've been building up to with our choices as consumers. Now, consumers have to fight for almost every last scrap of privacy dignity we can expect to achieve.

Microsoft, through a blog post, has stated that they are continuing to assess and address privacy concerns users might have regarding how and when the operating system which is being hailed as the last major Microsoft OS release collects user information. Specifically, Microsoft states that "Continuing with our commitment to privacy and data control, today we're announcing privacy enhancements coming to the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update for consumers and commercial customers that further increase your access to information and provides you more control over what information is collected."

Tiny App Checks NVIDIA Driver Updates

A tiny open-source app named simply "TinyNvidiaUpdateChecker" by "ElPumpo" could make GeForce Experience look bulky and redundant, if all you use it for is keep up with driver updates. With practically each new AAA game release, NVIDIA and AMD tend to put out graphics driver updates. Among several useful features such as optimizing your game settings or making them portable, the GeForce Experience app keeps your GeForce drivers up to date. On the downside, it has drawn criticism over its user privacy, the need to register as a user and log-on at each system startup; and for its unnecessarily big memory footprint as the app keeps running in the background.

The open-source app, along with its source-code and a pre-compiled binary, are available on GitHub. It's a little rough on the edges, but could be worth it for its tiny memory footprint. On the flip-side, this app doesn't run on in the background, and you have to manually run it to look up updates, something you might as well look up online in your browser. The API that makes this app work could be pulled by NVIDIA any time, as it looks to promote GeForce Experience. Alternatively, you can subscribe to E-Mail notifications by TechPowerUp by clicking on the "Get Notified" button in our download pages, for your favorite driver updates. We're completely web-based and you won't need to trust apps to look up your driver updates.
DOWNLOAD: TinyNvidiaUpdateChecker by ElPumpo

Chrome 62 Really Won't Like "HTTP" Sites When In Incognito Mode

As part of Google's push towards a safer, HTTPS-encrypted web, the Chrome browser will begin marking any HTTP site as non-secure when a user browses in incognito mode. Incognito is the Chrome browser's enhanced privacy mode, which goes a long way in explaining why Google sees non-HTTPS sites as a non-secure place to visit. Save some network metadata, encrypted HTTPS connections keep the contents of the communications between the user and a web server hidden from outside parties - in normal circumstances, that is. The company is already marking HTTP web-pages that accept credit card details as not-secure, and starting October this year, the browser will do the same on every HTTP site in which the user has to input data, and for every HTTP page browsed in Incognito mode.

Interestingly, Google has advanced that traffic to pages it has marked "Not Secure" has dropped by 23%, which goes to show that such policies do impact a user's decision on whether or not to establish such a connection. In addition, Google started scrambling its search engine algorithm so as to feature HTTPS sites more prominently than sites that don't. This means that websites that see diminishing visitors should be more inclined towards a adopting the more secure, encrypted HTTPS. And in an era where every scrap of our information is deemed worthy of at least being stored and resold, I find it commendable that Google thinks every piece of information should be secured, instead of just our payment information - which even that isn't always secure.

Source: Google Security Blog, Tom's Hardware

US House of Representatives Confirms Senate's Privacy Stance on ISPs

Only yesterday, the United States' House of Representatives carried the US Senate's joint resolution to eliminate broadband privacy rules. These rules, which are now seemingly on their way to political oblivion, would have required ISPs to get consumers' explicit consent before selling or sharing Web browsing data and other private information with advertisers and other companies. Much like last week's Senate joint resolution, the House's voting fell mainly along partisan lines (215 for, 205 against, with 15 Republican and 190 Democratic representatives voting against the repeal) to scrap the proposed FCC rules.

President Trump's desk (and the President himself) are now all that stand before the ISP's ability to collect geo-location data, financial and health information, children's information, Social Security numbers, Web browsing history, app usage history, and the content of communications - information that gives the most unthinkable leeway in understanding your daily habits. However, President Trump's administration have issued a statement whereas they "strongly support House passage of S.J.Res. 34, which would nullify the Federal Communications Commission's final rule titled "Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunication Services".

Invading Subscriber Privacy - Senate Says ISPs Can Now Sell Your Data

The US Senate on Thursday passed a joint resolution to eliminate broadband privacy rules that would have required ISPs to get consumers' explicit consent before selling or sharing Web browsing data and other private information with advertisers and other companies. This win was pulled by a hair - 48 Nay against 50 Yea - and went entirely through party lines, with Republicans voting Yea, and the Democrats voting Nay. The effects won't be immediate, mind you - the measure will have to pass the House and then be signed by President Donald Trump before it can become law.

Buffalo Americas Delivers the LinkStation 520DN

Buffalo Americas, a leading provider of USB storage, network attached storage (NAS) and networking solutions, announces the availability of the LinkStation 520DN, a network attached storage device made specifically for the home. The LS520DN is a customizable NAS solution designed to serve as the hub of consumers' connected homes by making it easier to store, share, and secure all digital data for the modern family.

"We are excited to introduce the Buffalo LS520DN as a way for consumers to organize and protect their digital life," said Arthur Traub, Director of Strategic Accounts at Buffalo Americas. "This new product allows home users to easily store, organize, access, stream and protect all their digital assets. We provide NAS-grade disk drives for always-on performance in the LS520DN to ensure ease of use and reliability. And, as with all our Buffalo products, if a customer needs any help, they simply need to contact our 24/7 US-based customer support team."

Watch Dogs 2 Wants to Monitor Your System, But You Need Not Let It Do So

We've earlier reported about the implementation of EasyAntiCheat on Watch Dogs 2 - and how the Ubisoft game installs a driver in kernel mode and a service that monitors your systems' operating files (when Watch Dogs 2 is running). In that piece, we said that "This mechanism is also running even when you're in single-player-only - and even offline - modes, meaning that you're not getting out of its crosshairs no matter how you are playing the game". Now, there seems to be a way to bypass the system monitoring altogether and enjoy the game in single-player. The way to do so, however, varies whether you're running the game on Steam or on Uplay.

Watch Dogs 2 Uses EasyAntiCheat - Monitors Systems, Potentially Prevents Modding

Watch Dogs 2 has recently made its debut, encountering both critical acclaim and inversely proportional sales - at least for now. The game features a living open world, achieving what the original promised but never delivered, with both single-player and multi-player modes being praised by their quality.

And when there is a semblance of multiplayer, there must also be an anti-cheating mechanism. Watch Dogs 2 makes use of EasyAntiCheat, which has, embedded in its TOS - and even on its features page - a field that claims "Client data analysis to identify anomalies in the game process runtime" is used to enforce it anti-cheat detection mechanisms. What it basically means is that EasyAntiCheat installs a driver in kernel mode and a service that monitors your systems' operating files (when Watch Dogs 2 is running). This mechanism is also running even when you're in single-player-only - and even offline - modes, meaning that you're not getting out of its crosshairs no matter how you are playing the game. The addition of file-integrity checks at the start of the game, so as to detect any changes to the games' files also precludes modding, with some injection-type modding also finding troubles in being able to access the game, due to it checking game memory and system memory as well. Popular applications such as Afterburner and OBS have their overlay and recording capabilities disabled, and Cheat Engine is also not working - though that just means EasyAntiCheat is doing its job.

NVIDIA Telemetry Spooks Privacy-sensitive Users, How to Disable it

Over the past few versions of NVIDIA GeForce drivers, the company has been bundling a telemetry tool that is enabled by default, auto-runs on Windows startup by default, and doesn't appear in the list of things you can choose not to install, when doing a custom-installation with NVIDIA GeForce driver installers. Very little is known about this new Telemetry component. For all we know, it could be a means for NVIDIA to collect crash-reports that help it improve its drivers down the line. Not everyone is convinced with this explanation.

Spanning across three separate startup tasks (a bit much for a crash reporter?), Telemetry is allegedly a means for NVIDIA to send data "back and forth." Users that are the privacy equivalent of germ-freaks might see this as a means for NVIDIA to spy on its users, for a plethora of data, such as usage patterns, etc. MajorGeeks posted a brief tutorial on how to disable Telemetry (and other bloatware included in NVIDIA drivers), using Sysinternals, but you can use Task Manager, msconfig, or Registry Editor to disable these as well.

Source: MajorGeeks

Intel Launches Low-Power, High-Performance Silvermont Microarchitecture

Intel Corporation today took the wraps off its brand new, low-power, high-performance microarchitecture named Silvermont. The technology is aimed squarely at low-power requirements in market segments from smartphones to the data center. Silvermont will be the foundation for a range of innovative products beginning to come to market later this year, and will also be manufactured using the company's leading-edge, 22nm Tri-Gate SoC manufacturing process, which brings significant performance increases and improved energy efficiency.

"Silvermont is a leap forward and an entirely new technology foundation for the future that will address a broad range of products and market segments," said Dadi Perlmutter, Intel executive vice president and chief product officer. "Early sampling of our 22nm SoCs, including "Bay Trail" and "Avoton" is already garnering positive feedback from our customers. Going forward, we will accelerate future generations of this low-power microarchitecture on a yearly cadence."

Governments Take On Google Over User Monitoring

Authorities from various countries, are suiting up to take on Google over its controversial "One Google, One Policy", which is in effect from today, which its critics call as being invasive to privacy. "Under the new policy," DailyTech writes, "Google will do away with separate privacy agreements and individual collection of data in its various products. In its place will be a single mass monitoring/data mining apparatus, which will collect sensitive information including location, interests, age, sexual orientation, sexual habits, relationship status, religion, political views, health concerns, employment status, and more."

Google's implementation of the new policy has been faced with opposition from French authorities, who sent an open letter to Google CEO Larry Page asking for technical details of how Google plans to collect and use user data. The letter notes that the new policy "does not meet the requirements of the European Directive on Data Protection, especially regarding the information provided to data subjects." Across the Atlantic, in the US, Attorneys General of various states expressed concerns and voiced criticism over the new policy.Source: DailyTech

FTC Chairman Calls New Google Policy A "Fairly Binary and Brutal Choice to Consumers"

US FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz called Google's new unified policy "a fairly binary and somewhat brutal choice that they're giving consumers," in other words, a "take it or leave it" choice. Mr. Leibowitz made these comments speaking an episode of C-SPAN's Newsmakers. Google's new unified gives users of its various services (eg: G-Mail, YouTube, Picassa), a single user policy to agree to, to continue using the services. The policy also outlines how Google will use data collected by its different services, something its critics noted to be invasive. Less than 48 hours from taking effect, the policy is facing opposition from European regulators, and even a group of 36 US Attorneys General.
Sources: The Verge, All Things D

ISPs Should Do More to Safeguard the Web: FCC Chairman

US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman sought "smart, practical, voluntary solutions", without mandating his own, for internet service providers (ISPs) to fight online fraud and data theft. Chairman Julius Genachowski estimated that 8.4 million credit-card details are stolen online, each year. "If consumers lose trust in the Internet, this will suppress broadband adoption and online commerce and communication, and all the benefits that come with it," Genachowski said in a speech. The FCC feels ISPs can come up with solutions that prevent client PCs in the US from being forced into malicious botnets by hackers, without having to encroach upon users' privacy.

Genachowski urged ISPs to adopt DNSSEC, a system that ensures people accessing sensitive sites such as their banks' online transaction portals go to the right address, and not redirected to a fraudulent password phishing site. "To be effective, everyone who is a part of the Internet ecosystem must play a meaningful role in ensuring that private and government networks, and personal computers and devices are secured," said Comcast/NBCUniversal President Kyle McSlarrow in a blog posting. Comcast is one of America's biggest ISPs. This is an example of how threats to the sanctity of a productive internet can be defeated with highly-specific solutions that don't threaten privacy and freedoms, instead of broad-scoped legislations that potentially do.

Source: Reuters

UK Govt.'s Idea of "Communications Capabilities Development": Monitoring IP Traffic

The UK government has a bizarre idea of "communications capabilities development": mass-monitoring of IP traffic, and snooping into what British netizens are up to. Despite being defeated during the UK Labour Party rule, there seems to be a revival of the idea of greater monitoring of internet traffic under the Conservative government, under a legislation titled "Communications Capabilities Development Programme".

This legislation proposes that ISPs and other communications providers be required to maintain logs of individual users' communications, all of them, starting from web history, to IM, to in-game text/voice chat, e-mails, Skype calls, even Twitter messages. This monitoring should run for at least an year, so the establishment collects enough data to draw patterns around.

Microsoft Cashes in on Google One-Policy Paranoia in Newspaper Ad

Later this year, Google will adopt a single privacy-policy system for all its services. Some of Google's most popular services, as some might recall, are built from acquisitions of other equally genius start-ups as itself (eg: YouTube), many of these services were allowed to retain the essential part of their old privacy policies. The unified policy, effective March 1, 2012, allows sharing of usage statistics between services, to provide a user experience that's consistent between all its services. It doesn't sound harmful enough, yet it has generated public paranoia that it would, in some way, make Google more invasive on people's privacy than it already is, by, you know...owning YouTube?

Microsoft was quick put on an angel's robe and cash in on this paranoia. In a newspaper ad (first image below is down-scaled, the second is original), Microsoft talked about how Google's One Policy, One Google, One Experience is designed to be invasive to people's privacy, and how it allows Google to connect the dots between everything you do or say, across Google's various services. Fair enough, but what should have concluded as a PSA by Microsoft, ended up in being an advertisement for its own portfolio of services that are "better for users", as they're not as invasive as Google's.
A video detailing Google's One Policy update (by Google), follows.

Backlash Over Google's New Privacy Settings

Analysts from all over the world are questioning Google's new privacy settings being implemented on March 1. Google is going to be tying its services closer together then before by allowing the privacy setting to be shared across services.

By doing this It will also be able to implement a new search for registered users. Google has stated,"If you're signed into Google, we can do things like suggest search queries, or tailor your search results, based on the interests you've expressed in Google+, Gmail and YouTube" the firm said.

Critics like the UK's Information Commissioner's Office warned that any changes must be communicated to users. They are quoted as saying, "It is important that technology companies, such as Google, are aware of the privacy concerns that exist when behavioral advertising is used to target particular content at individuals. Failure to inform users about changes may not only lead to a loss of trust in the company, but could also mean that they are failing to comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act," it warned.

Bitcoin & Password Stealer Trojan For Mac Now Available!

Hot on the heels of our previous story of Apple Macs falling prey to a DDoS trojan, we now have another Mac trojan come on the market, as explained by Sophos. Yes, the Apple platform must indeed be becoming more popular to get this one. It's an unfortunate fact of life that the popularity of any computing platform, including smartphones, can be judged by the number of criminals who will attack it. This little nasty, called OSX/Miner-D or 'DevilRobber', hijacks Mac OS X to perform various tricks, which include minting Bitcoins (the virtual and now virtually worthless currency) stealing usernames and passwords (of course) taking screenshots and stealing the victim's Bitcoin wallet while it's at it, if there is one. And for good measure:
it runs a script that copies information to a file called dump.txt regarding truecrypt data, Vidalia (TOR plugin for Firefox), your Safari browsing history, and .bash_history.
So, now the criminals also know about all the sites one has visited, eroding user privacy even more. It looks like this malware has covered all the bases, but wait, there's more.
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