Category Privacy

Don’t Be Like Bill

be-like-jayneYesterday was International Data Privacy Day. Ironically, 1 in 10 people reading this post probably had their data stolen yesterday through a malicious Facebook app. Maybe this one, maybe not — depends on which source you believe — but data-stealing apps are out there and being used constantly by unaware, or unsavvy, FB users.

You should avoid those apps-of-the-month, but if abstinence from FB apps just isn’t something you can practice, here’s a good rule of thumb to identify the bad’uns: If you are ON Facebook, and click on an app or post that then asks you to log into Facebook before continuing, you can bet the mud farm that it’s about to record and misuse your login and personal info.

Depending on how enthusiastic you are in populating your Facebook profile with personal data about yourself, and/or how lax you are with passwords, that info can give the bad guys the ammunition they need to impersonate you on FB, steal your identity, even discover and access your financial accounts. Trust me, if they aim to misbehave, you would be very surprised at how easy it is to do so once you have clicked and given them permission.

Microsoft Loves You! (More Than You Know)

Image courtesy of photostock at

Image courtesy of photostock at

Have you upgraded to Windows 10 yet?  By all accounts, it is leaps and bounds better than the universally-reviled Windows 8, and keeps alive Microsoft’s odd/even string of cursed/decent operating system releases.  The best part is that it is free (supposedly) to current Windows 7 and 8 users, though we have yet to test this out ourselves.

The less-than-wonderful part? Apparently the new OS is none too shy about spying on your activity — nothing new for Microsoft in terms of browser usage, but their data collection has now expanded to include the contents of messages and calendars, apps and networks, some purchases, what you upload to Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage, and use of the sparkly new Cortana search assistant.

Of course, you can opt out of all (?) of this stuff during installation, or afterwards if you’re the kind of person who never reads those Terms & Conditions screens (which means 99.5% of humanity). After all, Microsoft would never, ever want to know things about their customers without permission, right? As they have stated, “real transparency starts with straightforward terms and policies that people can clearly understand.”

Here’s the catch: that “transparency” comes in the form of 45 pages of service agreement documents. And you can believe those docs aren’t written in the King’s English, either, but rather in the kind of techno-legalese that pretty much guarantees you give up reading after three pages or so.  This comment from a terrific Rock Paper Shotgun article pretty much says it all:

There is no world in which 45 pages of policy documents and opt-out settings split across 13 different Settings screens and an external website constitutes “real transparency.”

Why all of this data collection? Two words: targeted ads.  No different than the practices of Facebook, Google, Twitter, or any other “free” online service whose end game is knowing as much as possible about you, and therefore about what you would like to buy. So, buyer-beware, and user-beware, when it comes to upgrading. Oh, and if you happen to currently use some other browser than Internet Explorer (and by all that’s holy, you should), be prepared to have that overridden by the upgrade, as well. But that’s an article for another day!

Online Safety Tips for Your Family

sanford-lea-online-safetyThe latest issue of “In The Loop”, from Sanford, Lea & Associates, has a terrific article on tips for keeping your family safe online.  Everyone is a computer user these days, from your child playing online games to grandma learning to use Facebook.  There are security and privacy concerns with any type of online activity, so be sure to read up and familiarize yourself with what you can do to be more secure.  (And if you need accounting services, you can’t go wrong with Sanford, Lea & Associates!)

Read the entire article here.

Tracking Your Personal Data Online

EVERY website has the ability to track certain basic data about you when you visit, such as time and date, your IP address (and therefore general location), and third-party referrer data (meaning how you got there from here). For the majority of websites, this information is merely passively collected and rarely, if ever, used.

If you’ve ever had experience with Google Analytics, you know that this data-tracking can be expanded much further, to include your computer’s operating system, type of browser, what you looked at on the site, where you went when you left the site, and so on. Many businesses (ostensibly) use this expanded information set to improve your user experience when you visit their site.

But you might be surprised to learn exactly how MUCH data is collected about you when you go to the 5 biggest (and most-visited) technology company sites on the ‘Net: Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Yahoo. Check out the infographic below to see what’s collected, and what that information is actually being used for. And remember, in most cases you provide, or allow, this information to be collected…


Article source: VentureBeat Infographic source: Baynet