Facebook Gets Thumbs Down At Pride Parade


Video Ads in your Facebook Feed coming this FallMarchers during the Pride Parade held Sunday in San Francisco had a pointed message for Facebook.

Protesters and drag queens marching with the #MyNameIs campaign handed out stickers, buttons and fliers that took the social network to task over their policy that users with accounts have to have “authentic names” and provide proper identification if required in order to not be barred from their accounts.

The LGBTQ community has viewed this policy as highly discriminatory and potentially dangerous to the point of life-threatening for them since it was enacted last September.

They marched with the Harvey Milk group, ahead of marchers representing Facebook.

As they approached the judging platform, the marchers turned their signs around to spell “Shame On FB”.

The group had lobbied to ban Facebook from marching in the annual parade, but a personal phone call from Mark Zuckerberg and a narrow board vote gave the social media company the green light to march.

Since the uproar, Facebook has made slight adjustments to the part of the policy looking for identification, where users can now add bank information along with others as long as they match up.

Christopher A. Smith


FBI Personnel Files Breached In Recent OPM Hack


The FBI Is Offering A $3 Million Reward For Information Leading To The Arrest Or Conviction Of This Russian Hacking SuspectThe recent cyberattack that compromised the servers containing information on federal employees may have also hit the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The attacks, which were first reported here and have led to the Office Of Personnel Management admitting that Social Security numbers of employees were exposed as well as other sensitive information in data packets on their servers, appear to have also affected agents with the F.B.I.

According to a source in the agency, the breach was the second such attack to affect them personally, with the first being via Anthem Blue Cross which took place last February.

The source says that they were notified by OPM last month that their information was compromised.

When pressed further, they did state that they weren’t sure that it was an agency-wide problem.

A wider breach of F.B.I. files would be a catastrophic danger to national security.

Speculation as to is behind these cyberattacks has fallen squarely on China’s doorstep.

While the White House has not officially stated that China was behind them, members of Congress have aired their suspicions.

Observers have their doubts of the breach as well as the veracity of the source.

Christopher A. Smith


Private Eye Email Hacker May Face Prison Time


Court Rules: Bulk Collection Of Phone Records Is IllegalA private investigator could now be staring prison in the face once federal prosecutors make their recommendations in a New York courtroom on Friday.

Eric Saldarriaga, of Queens, New York, pled guilty in March to one count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking.

The charge is related to claims that Saldarriaga was hired by the Church of Scientology to gather information on journalists who had written pieces on the church over the past years.

The insistence on a prison sentence, which could see the private eye do six months maximum, is a flag alerting the public as to how seriously the government is viewing the acts of hacking emails and social media accounts.

The request would also be in opposition to the court’s own recommendation that Saldarriaga undergo six months of house arrest followed by three probationary years of supervision.

Saldarriaga admitted to the wrongdoing but also expressed that in doing so he may have prevented a crime concerning a woman who was one of the individuals the Church of Scientology tasked him to investigate.

Others affected feel that giving Saldarriaga jail time while his employers get away without facing court time would be wrong.

Christopher A. Smith


18 Million Social Security Numbers Were Leaked In The Recent Government Hack


Cyberthreat Sharing Bill Approved By CongressThe United States Office of Personnel Management revealed during congressional hearings on Monday that they feel that 18 million people may have had their Social Security numbers exposed as part of a massive cyberattack in the past few weeks.

As first reported earlier this month, hackers believed to be aligned with the Chinese government gained illegal access to servers that contained sensitive information for every employee of the federal government.

That information was later revealed to include Social Security numbers, which was covered soon after on this website.

Standing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the director of the OPM spoke to this particular part of the breach.

“The 18 million refers to a preliminary, unverified and approximate number of unique social security numbers in the background investigations data,” said Katherine Archuleta.

Further testimony from the chief information office, Donna Seymour, stated that the hackers also took manuals on the department which included manuals on the government servers themselves.

The head of the committee, Utah Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz, voiced his displeasure with Archuleta’s testimony, blaming her for failing to disclose the full impact of the attacks and calling for her to resign.

“As the head of the agency, Ms. Archuleta is—in fact—statutorily responsible for the security of the OPM network and managing any related risk.” he said during the proceedings.

The OPM has taken great measures since the attack to bolster their online  security in a 23 step that includes mandatory cybersecurity training and more sturdy firewalls.

Christopher A. Smith


CVS Acquisition Of Target Pharmacy Might Pose Data Security Risk


2000px-CVS_Pharmacy_Alt_Logo.svgA recent acquisition by retail giant CVS of the pharmacy business of Target last week looked to be a mighty fine deal all around.

But there may be an underlying factor that could put those new customers at serious risk online.

The merger gives CVS a total of close to 10,000 pharmacies and a little over 1,000 clinics in its nationwide network.

The issue at hand lies in the possible security risks at hand, and CVS has had their issues protecting customer information in the past, being fined $2.5 million by the Federal Trade Commission for getting rid of highly sensitive records in 2009.

Observers worry that the data involved, which is the largest bulk collection of pharmacy data globally, could potentially be exposed by carelessness or possible deliberate measures by disgruntled employees.

Add to that the fact that pharmacy data is considered by security experts as among the most sensitive, due to the permanence of medical records, and the concern grows larger.

It remains to be seen how CVS will address these issues internally.

Christopher A. Smith


Privacy Group Asking FTC To Investigate Uber’s Tracking Of Customers


Uber Looks To Acquire Nokia’s Digital Mapping Service HereA privacy group has raised concerns about the on-demand car service Uber and their method of tracking customers, and have taken them to the government.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C. has lodged a complaint against Uber Technologies with the Federal Trade Commission over Uber’s upcoming privacy policy that is set to go into effect on July 15th.

The new policy looks to obtain passengers’ information, specifically access to their address book and location, when the app runs in the background.

Uber states that users can opt out of this policy on their smartphones, but EPIC has noted two flaws to that in their complaint.

The first concern lies in the fact that iOS users can opt out more of the contact syncing more easily than Android users; there apparently is no setting to do so on the Android platform.

The second issue is the claim that even if the syncing is turned off, Uber can still obtain location info from the IP addresses of the phones.

For its part, Uber has expressed that the complaint was needless, and has added that the new policy will include more transparency.

This is not the first time that Uber has dealt with issues of infringing on customer privacy —  Senator Al Franken of Minnesota has also asked for an investigation into their practices, and their tracking of “rides of glory” which involve customers getting rides on weekend nights in a 4 to 6 hour span.

Christopher A. Smith


Allstate Wants To Know Everything About Drivers And They’ve Patented A Process To Do Just That


AT&T Drives Forward With Connected CarsThe insurance company Allstate is highly interested in knowing all it can about the drivers who are signed up with them.

And a new technology idea may help them get closer to that goal.

Allstate was recently granted a patent for a specialized database that would catalog driving behavior.

That database would allow the company and its agents to get an evaluation on drivers’ physiological data including blood pressure rates and electrocardiogram or EKG rates.

The further application could lead to that data being measured by sensors within a car, located possibly in the steering wheel or the accelerator pedals.

Other information that could be gleaned would how fast a car is going and its location through GPS tracking.

The patent states that the database would be designed to collect data every two seconds and lead to getting readings of future events.

One other possibility could be that the database would be able to detect which drivers are risky due to aggressive behavior.

Christopher A. Smith


Google Is Now Removing Revenge Porn Links From Their Search Results


GooglelogoGoogle is now making sure that revenge porn will no longer be readily found in their search engine results, causing a slight sigh of relief from those that the behavior was directed towards.

Over the next few weeks, Google will implement a web form that will let people make the request to get rid of results that show them naked or in sexually explicit and compromising situations they did not agree to become public.

In a blog post by Google, they explained part of their reasoning with the following: “Revenge porn images are intensely personal and emotionally damaging, and serve only to degrade the victims — predominantly women.”

The new policy will have some limits and bear a resemblance to those already in place concerning the removal of bank signatures and account numbers from search results.

Google’s move in this regard is highly significant and represents the rising tide of those looking to strictly outlaw revenge porn – several states have created laws against it, and the United Kingdom has instituted a similar law.

While it’s still difficult to prosecute someone responsible for publishing it, Google’s policy makes it one of the biggest online platforms to institute a ban on revenge porn, along with Twitter’s own recent policies.

Christopher A. Smith


WhatsApp And AT&T Rate Poorly In Privacy Ranking


2000px-Simple_Monitor_Icon.svgWhatsApp and AT&T have some egg on their face after a recent report concerning privacy rankings.

The rankings report was compiled and issued by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and its designed to convey which tech companies are good at keeping consumer data and information private and which aren’t. I

n a climate where more and more Americans are distrustful of their data being collected, a report like this can be illuminating.

The listings are based on the criteria that ranges from who opposed backdoors to who closely follows industry practices.

Based on that criteria, the unfortunate bottom-dwellers on the list were the text-messaging service WhatsApp and telecommunications giant AT&T with one star apiece.

Their standings are striking, WhatsApp’s in particular given that its parent company has a four star rating.

That parent company? Facebook.

One has to wonder how both companies feel about such a rating and how it’s viewed by their customers.

Christopher A. Smith


New Chinese App Asks Citizens To Spy On Officials


SURVEY: More70 Million Computer Users In China Face Security Risk Apps Downloaded In China Than In The United StatesThe Chinese government has released a new application that is meant to give the power of keeping an eye on corrupt officials to the people.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection(CCDI), the nation’s anti-corruption agency, announced the new app on their website entitled “One-click anti-four tendencies app”.

The title refers to violations of discipline that include gifts in violation of Communist Party rules and other forms of extravagance.

The app was created as a response to citizen outrage over officials being highly extravagant with funds, with examples of throwing ostentatious weddings and other occasions as they struggle to make a living.

The app allows users to write messages up to 432 words and even include photos or videos that could be up to 5 MB in size with the message reporting these “tigers.”

While on the surface this app release can be seen as a way for the public to help the government crack down on corruption, there are some concerns that it could have a backlash against some citizens and anti-corruption activists who have fought against those officials only to be hounded in return.

Christopher A. Smith