Location Privacy and your Smartphone

There was another article this week about Location Privacy and “Services” on your smartphone. I have services in quotes because I don’t think the entity being served is the person using the phone.

According to this article, Smartphone applications can and do gather and collect location information on individual smartphones.  Then they sell that data.  Marketing firms can find out who is in the ER and sell that list to Legal Firms, or who is at Victoria’s Secret and sell it to Macy’s. Privacy, especially location privacy is on its way out.

Most smartphone users don’t really lock down their security settings, sticking with the default settings that came with the phone. When they add a new app to their phone, they may not think to check what data they are sharing with the app developer.  When the app asks if they can access the user’s location, they may think it makes sense to share their location, without know what the app will do with that raw data.

What do Marketing Firms really need to know?

As I read through the article, I found the whole thing very disturbing. Should anyone really know that one woman, a middle school teacher, went hiking, goes to the gym, visited a dermatologist, and stayed overnight in another home? While location data is supposed to be anonymous, the specificity of the data means that companies are able to track the location of a smartphone down to the minute.  From the article:

“Elina Greenstein, an executive at the location company GroundTruth, mapped out the path of a hypothetical consumer from home to work to show potential clients how tracking could reveal a person’s preferences. For example, someone may search online for healthy recipes, but GroundTruth can see that the person often eats at fast-food restaurants.”

By tracking the smartphone, you can track the person. If you can connect the smartphone location to home and work, you can figure out the person, and track all of their other activities.

Why would you want to share your location information?

There are lots of reasons to share your location.  Getting good traffic information is one.  Getting the weather is another.  But once you’ve checked the forecast, do you really want The Weather Channel (owned by IBM) to continue tracking your location?

What should I do?

I take location privacy very seriously, so here’s what I do.  About once a month I go through my list of apps and see which I’m sharing my location with. I turn off location sharing for any apps that don’t need my location to provide a service; social media accounts for example.  Then I make sure that I am only sharing my location with apps /WHILE THAT APP IS IN USE/.  (I do need to remember to close down the app when I’m done.)

How do I ensure my location privacy?

For the iPhone, click on the “Settings” icon, then scroll down to “Privacy”. Click on “Location Services”, and then scroll through each of your apps.

location privacy - iphoneI borrowed a friend’s Android phone to see how she would do this.  Again, click on “settings”, then “apps”.  At that point, you need to open each app to adjust the location sharing setting. Once you’ve opened the app, click on “Permissions” and adjust the location privacy settings.

location privacy android

Please forward this to your colleagues to help keep their online privacy safe too. Did I forget some critical advice, or do you have questions?  Let me know in the comments below.

I’ve created a Free Report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!  Prime is normally $119/year, but you can try it for 30 days for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

Privacy Issues and the Marriott

With the latest breach at Marriott, it’s time to take a look at your personal information.  What are you sharing?  Who are you sharing it with?  When a business asks you for info, do you just hand it over, or do you give a little push-back? What online privacy habits do you follow?

First of all:

If you have stayed at any Marriott Hotel in the past FIVE YEARS, you should immediately ask your bank(s) to cancel and reissue your credit and debit cards.  Marriott has reported that this breach began in 2014 or earlier.  Remember that the Marriott brand includes many different hotel chains like St. Regis, Le Meridien, Sheraton, Westin, and more.  (Click here for all of the Marriott branded hotels.)

Online Privacy Issues & the Marriott Brand
Marriott Brands

Next:

Check the Marriott website to see how they will support you if your information was stolen.

Then:

Change your login information on all Marriott sites where you have an account.  While Marriott has said that only Starwood has been compromised, it might be safe to assume that the breach was broader than they currently are aware of.

What if I haven’t stayed at a Marriott hotel in the past 5 years? Do I still need to worry about protecting my Online Privacy?

These kinds of data breaches will continue to happen as the “bad operators” become more skilled in their craft.  Get into committed habits with your online information right now.  Here are some good steps to take:

  1. Create a new “throwaway” email address using Gmail to use whenever someone asks for your email address but you’re not sure about their levels of security.
  2. Make a list of all of your bank accounts. Are you using a different password for each one?  Today is the best day to change all of those passwords AND to use a different password for each.
  3. Enable Two-Factor Authentication for all of your accounts with sensitive personal information.
  4. Make a list of all of your online billing accounts. Same deal here – change to a unique password for each.  Keep this list current and change your password every month.  Don’t reuse passwords!
  5. Do you have subscriptions where you have created an online account? Things like magazines, wine, prescriptions, clothing, etc.  Review all of them to see if you need to make changes.  If they have credit card info, follow the steps above.
  6. Of course, check all the Travel sites that may have your info, and follow the steps above.

What should I do going forward?

I think we all know that this will not be the last time there will be a major data breach and our online privacy is compromised.  There might even be a time when we say “Remember that time when they only stole data from 500,000 accounts at Marriott?”  Changing your password doesn’t help if the hacker already has your credit card info.  Whenever anyone asks for your email or credit card info or birthday or any other private information, think before you just hand it over.  Here are a few steps to take:

  1. Use your “throwaway” email when signing up for anything on the internet in the future.
  2. Consider getting a separate debit card for all online payments. Fund it every week with just enough cash to cover your weekly expenses.  If that data is compromised, your exposure will be limited.
  3. When you purchase something and they ask if you would like them to save your billing information, think PRIVACY, and then click on the “No Thank You” box.
  4. Keep a complete list of everyone who has your credit card info – this includes your banks. Change your password on those accounts AT LEAST EVERY MONTH!

Please forward this to your colleagues to help keep their online privacy safe too. Did I forget some critical advice, or do you have questions?  Let me know in the comments below.

More About Geek For Hire:

I’ve created a Free Report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!  Prime is normally $119/year, but you can try it for 30 days for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

Privacy Policy and the EU’s GDPR

Privacy Policy Overload

Oh. My. Goodness!  Another Privacy Policy in my email inbox!  What is going on? And why is every single company all of a sudden updating their Privacy Policy?!

Well, the European Union has just enacted a new law called the General Data Protection Regulation.  The GDPR governs what companies can do with your data. It also governs how they can ask you for your consent to those new policies.  Right now it is only in effect in the EU, but so many companies have a global presence that they do need to make sure they are in compliance.

In my opinion, this could not have come at a better time.  It seems to me that so many companies are just running roughshod on our information.  It is perfectly reasonable to ask:

  1. Who has my data – my email, my age, my address, my phone, my likes, etc.?
  2. What are they doing with my data?

GDPR

Under GDPR, and if you live in the EU, companies must disclose in their Privacy Policy, what data they are collecting and retaining about you, AND, receive your direct permission to do this.  You can also request the data that a company has compiled about you.  It is only a matter of time before something similar to GDPR goes into effect globally, so many US companies are jumping the gun to update their Policies and Procedures now.  However, it doesn’t appear that US companies are actually providing that info to people in the US.  They do need to comply if the person lives in the EU.   There was an interesting article in the NY Times last week where two journalists, one in the US, and one in Britain, requested their data from a number of different tech firms.  The difference in the data provided to each was astounding.  From one source, the person in the US received one piece of data.  The person in the UK received 543 lines of data!privacy policy

As far as I can see, Twitter has made it relatively easy to get all of your data from them.  Click on your account, then on “Settings and Privacy”.  Near the bottom, you can click on “Request Your Archive”.  You’ll receive an email when the archive is ready to be downloaded.

Did you recieve an updated Privacy Policy or two?  How many?! Did you read any of them?  Let us know!


Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $119/year ($59 for students!), but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Any links to products or services in this post may be affiliate links. If they are, we may receive a small commission when you click on it. Rest assured, your price will be the same!)  If you’d like to receive our newsletters in your email, please click here.

Why do I need a VPN and What is it anyways?

VPN’s

Many of our customers have been asking us about VPN’s lately.  What is a VPN? Do I need a VPN? How do I set up a VPN? With Internet privacy being what it is, more and more people are wondering how they can protect themselves.  A VPN may be the answer.  Let’s answer these questions one at a time:

What is a VPN?

A VPN or Virtual Private Network is encrypting software that masks your identity and internet activity by hiding your IP Address. (Your IDo you need a VPN?P Address is the number associated with your computer or phone that identifies you to the network. It’s a string of numbers like 11.111.11.111 and uniquely identifies you.  If you head over to What Is My IP Address, it will tell you what your IP address is, who your ISP is, and where you are located.)  When you use a VPN, your computer sends your internet activity to a remote server which will then send your request on, but without your identifying IP address. Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) will not be able to see or track your activity.

Do I need a VPN?

If you are traveling in a country with less secure internet practices, you may need a VPN.  Or if you frequently use the Internet at coffee shops, you may need a VPN. When you want to keep your internet activity secure for any reason at all, you probably need a VPN. (Remember that just because a public WiFi is called Starbucks, doesn’t mean it is really being provided by the store you are in.  It could also be someone in the parking lot monitoring traffic and collecting as much personal data as they can.)

How do I set up a VPN?

First, do some research to see which VPN provides the features that you want at an affordable price. You can expect to pay under $10/month for a good VPN Service.  Most VPN’s allow you to connect multiple devices. When doing your research, look to see if the company saves your data and what the laws are in the country it operates in. Another feature that some VPNs have is to disconnect you from the Internet if their service stops working for whatever reason.  That way you’re never using the internet without being encrypted.

Once you’ve selected the service, download the software on each device – computer, tablet, phone – and you are good to go!  We like NordVPN:


Was this helpful for you? Let us know in the comments below!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!  Prime is normally $119/year, but you can try it for 30 days for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

Private Search Engines & Your Internet Safety

When we first started using Google, who would have thought that we’d want Private Search Engines in 2018? Privacy on the internet is something we used to take for granted. No one knew that we were logging into weird sites or making questionable purchases.  That’s all changed now.  Google tracks us.  Facebook tracks us. Even Amazon knows that we bought those pink Ugg boots at Marshalls.

Last year I learned about a search engine that doesn’t track our searches. I have installed it on my phone, my tablet, and my laptop.  It was easy to do.  While my level of trust with technology is somewhat lower than it was five years ago, I do feel good about using DuckDuckGo.

But as I started researching this article, I wondered what other search engines are out there. It turns out that there are several from which to choose.

PRIVATE SEARCH ENGINES:

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is the one of the first private search engines I became aware of.  I found that the app was easy to install on all of my devices.  I like their privacy policy which is described on their website:Private Search Engines

DuckDuckGo does not collect or share personal information. That is our privacy policy in a nutshell.”

However, SearchEncrypt doesn’t think DuckDuckGo is as secure as it could be.  Here’s a description of its major flaw on the SearchEncrypt website:

DuckDuckGo is a private search engine. It is adamant about spreading privacy around the internet. However, there is one issue we discovered that raises privacy concerns. Your search terms, while they may be sent over your network in an encrypted form, show up in plain text in browsing history.  DDG may work well for reducing advertiser tracking, avoiding filter bubbles, and limiting data profiling, however as this post explains, it may not offer the protection from surveillance organizations that some think.”

StartPage:

StartPage was originally developed in New York as the Ixquick private search engine.  It was then acquired by a Dutch company and so most of its growth was in Europe.  Now, they are becoming more well known around the world, including the US. They do utilize Google to get their results. I like how they define “Personal Information”

“Information is regarded as personal when it tells something about a human being who is or can be (uniquely) identified.
This definition stems from European law, which applies to StartPage, and is intentionally broad in order to provide a high level of privacy protection. This means, for example, that not just names and e-mail addresses can be personal information, but also numbers or other identifiers, such as your IP-address, to the extent that they link other information to a specific human being.”

SearchEncrypt:

According to HackerNoon, this is a newer edition to the private search engines. But SearchEncrypt is gaining users.  Here is HackerNoon‘s description:

“This private search engine uses local encryption to secure your searches. It combines with AES-256 encryption with Secure Sockets Layer encryption. Search Encrypt then retrieves your search results from its network of search partners. After you’re done searching, your search terms expire so they are private even if someone else has access to your computer.  Search Encrypt is a relatively new addition to this list, but it is growing quickly. Its Alexa Traffic Rank of 878 indicates that it receives millions of visitors daily.”

More About Private Search Engines:

If you’re looking for other private Search Engines, you can find a few listed in this article.

How do you do your Internet searches?  Are you using Google, Yahoo!, or something else?

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call on 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 days for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

(Any links to products or services in this post may be affiliate links. If they are, we may receive a small commission when you click on it. Rest assured, your price will be the same!)

 

Your New iPhone: How to Set it Up For Ease and Security

Did you get a brand new iPhone over the holidays?  There are some things you should do right away to make sure it stays secure and you keep being happy with it.  Even if you’ve had your phone for several months, make sure you’ve taken care of these.

Lock down your new iPhone:

First – you want to make sure your new iPhone can be locked down.  Go to “Settings”, and scroll down to “Touch (or Face) ID and Passcode”.  If you’ve already set up a passcode, you’ll need to enter it before continuing to these options. Decide if you want to use the Touch or Face ID, or if you just want to use a passcode.  If you do want to use a passcode, we recommend that you select one that is more than four digits.  You can select a custom alph-numeric code, or a custom numeric code.

Fine Tune Location Settings:

You’ll also want to lock down your Location settings.  Click on “Settings”, and then “Privacy”.  You can see which Apps get location data and turn off the ones that don’t really need to know where you are located.

Set up Siri:Setting up your new iPhone

When I’m on a road trip, I turn on “Hey Siri”.  This allows me to have hands-free interaction with my iphone.  To turn this on, click on “Settings”, and then “Siri & Search”.  Slide the button to “on” to allow for Siri to listen.  You can also select a language and voice for Siri on this screen.

Sharing Analytics:

Decide if you want to share analytics from your iPhone with Apple.  Apple collects usage data and location information.  To turn this off click on “Settings”, and then “Privacy”.  Scroll to the bottom and click on “Analytics”.  Make sure the button is turned off.

Targeted Ads:

Opt out of receiving targeted ads.  Click on “Settings”, “Privacy”.  Scroll to the bottom and click on “Advertising”.  Slide the green button On to Limit Ad Tracking.

Save Your Photos!

This is a good time to decide what to do with your photos. Do you have a plan in place for saving them off of your phone?  I have set up  Dropbox to save my photos onto the cloud every day.

Add Shortcuts for Favorite Websites:

Do you have websites that you go to frequently?  You can add them as an icon on your new iPhone screen by clicking on the up arrow at the bottom of your Safari screen.  Slide the bottom row of options over until you see “Add to Home Screen”.  Click on that, personalize the text, and then click “Add”.

What do you do to set up your new iPhone?  Share in the comments below!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

Facial Recognition – History and Privacy

Have you been hearing more about Facial Recognition software?  I have, especially with the new iPhone coming out.  I’ve been wondering how well it works. I’m also wondering about the impact on our privacy.  But first, a little history.

History of Facial Recognition:

Scientists developed Facial Recognition Software in the 1960s.  The scientist’s names were Woody Bledsoe, Helen Chan Wolf, and Charles Bisson.  (There are two surprises to me here.  First that scientists were working on this more than a half-century ago. Secondly, one of the scientists – in the 1960s! – was a woman.)  “Their programs required the administrator to locate features such as the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth on the photograph. It then calculated distances and ratios to a common reference point which was then compared to reference data.”

Certainly, the technology continued to advance decade by decade.  In 1993 one of the US Defense agencies took it over.  They named the project FERET or Face Recognition Technology Evaluation.  In 2006, “The Face Recognition Grand Challenge (FRGC) evaluated the latest face recognition algorithms available. High-resolution face images, 3D face scans, and iris images were used in the tests. … Some of the algorithms were able to outperform human participants in recognizing faces and could uniquely identify identical twins.”

More Recent Developments:

A big failure occurred in 2002.  The software scanned crowds at Super Bowl 35 for known criminals.  Consequently, they found that the tech was not quite ready. Now, it is more accepted by US consumers. Then, in 2010, Facebook began using the software on uploaded photos.  In 2014, Law Enforcement began to adopt facial recognition in the Automated Regional Justice Information System (ARJIS). ARJIS is currently only used in Southern California. Facial Recognition

Drawbacks:

Privacy is the biggest drawback with Facial Recognition.

In addition, Racial Bias is a big negative.  Japanese and Chinese software recognize Asian faces with a great degree of accuracy. European and US companies recognize Caucasian faces very accurately, but not so much blacks and other “non-white” faces.

Today:

  • First of all, Facial Recognition Software is used to identify travelers.  (A boarding pass or passport are used as alternate forms of ID.)
  • Also, a fast food restaurant in China is using “Smile to Pay” to pay their bill.  (ANT Financial developed this facial recognition software.)
  • In addition, in a few months, Apple will release the iPhone X which uses your face to unlock your phone.

Privacy Implications:

As I said to a friend recently, there is no privacy.  And we’ve helped with that.  We freely give plenty of photos of our face for anyone that wants them.  We upload photos to social media, get passports, and just appear in public.  The Economist stated, “…could obtain pictures of visitors to a car showroom say, and later use facial recognition to serve them ads for cars”. 

Importantly, the article continued, “photos of half of America’s adult population are stored in databases … used by the FBI.”

Above all, you should know that the software is not just recognizing faces.  In some cases, it also has the ability to guess at a person’s sexuality and IQ.   The Economist writes “firms … filter all job applications for ethnicity and signs of intelligence and sexuality”. 

As a result, companies deny jobs to qualified people based entirely on what software learns from their face.

Research:

I used these articles while writing this post:

Please forward this to your colleagues who may find this interesting.

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past fifteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate his company highly. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range.  We also provide Remote Service in the US and Canada.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!  Prime is normally $119/year, but you can try it for 30 days for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

Online and Facebook Privacy – Is It Possible?

Lately Chris has been forwarding articles to me about online and Facebook privacy.   Now, if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, I know you know that I don’t think anything is private on the internet.  These articles seem to solidify my opinion.  The story that piqued my interest early this week was this one in Gizmodo.  In this case you had people who had to keep a part of their identity secret, so they have set up a separate online identity.  So they have a different emails, phone numbers, social media, etc., which may be connected to each other, but are not in any way connected to their “real” identity.  In this case, the people are sex workers, but they could just as easily be someone who was in an abusive relationship or another situation that requires real-life, general online, and specifically, Facebook privacy.

Here are some excerpts from that article:facebook privacy

“Her “real identity”—the public one, who lives in California, uses an academic email address, and posts about politics—joined Facebook in 2011. Her sex-work identity is not on the social network at all; for it, she uses a different email address, a different phone number, and a different name. Yet earlier this year, looking at Facebook’s “People You May Know” recommendations, Leila (a name I’m using using in place of either of the names she uses) was shocked to see some of her regular sex-work clients.

“Despite the fact that she’d only given Facebook information from her vanilla identity, the company had somehow discerned her real-world connection to these people—and, even more horrifyingly, her account was potentially being presented to them as a friend suggestion too, outing her regular identity to them.”

and:

“Darling used to have a second, private account under her legal name for connecting with people she knew in her normal, vanilla life, but it was getting recommended to her fans, revealing her “real” identity to them. Some of them began harassing her and trying to track down her family.

“We’re living in an age where you can weaponize personal information against people,” Darling said. She’s not sure how Facebook linked her porn identity to her legal identity, but it meant one had to go. She deleted her private account a few years ago, leaving only her public, porn one.”

You might think that, as people who have chosen an alternative career and life style, that they somehow “deserve” to be outed.  But imagine if you had an ex-spouse who had been stalking you and a restraining order wasn’t working.

Facebook Privacy How To:

Here are some suggestions if you need to keep your identity secret, but still want to use Facebook:

  • Set your posts to “Friends Only”, and don’t tag anyone in your status.  (When you tag other people, then their friends can see your post as well.)
  • Don’t allow other people to post on your page, and, if they tag you in a post, make sure you approve (or not) it before it posts.
  • Make sure any personal information stays private. Don’t allow Facebook to share your birthday, phone number, email, etc. –
  • You should also lock down your Online Facebook Privacy Settings
  • Finally, all of these options are available to you under Facebook Settings.

Other Strategies:

  • Because people can recognize your face, make sure there are no photos of you on your account.  Use a beautiful photo or a meme or cartoon to represent your profile picture.
  • After a post has been up for a week or so, consider changing the privacy level to “only me”.  You’ll keep a historical record of what you posted and who commented, but it will be invisible to everyone else.

Are there other strategies you’re using to manage your Facebook privacy?  Please share those in the comments!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you check it out.)

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4 Articles about Online Privacy

If you have been reading my posts for any length of time, you know that my biggest bug a boo is privacy.  Second, of course, is security.  In hopes that others will want to learn a little about privacy, I’ve searched the interwebs for some of the best articles out there right now about why online privacy on your electronic devices is important.

As Marsha Blackburn of US News and World Report says:

“Online privacy is an issue that continues to rightfully concern Americans. According to research by IBM, over ninety percent of the world’s data has been generated in the last two years alone. The explosion of smartphones and internet-connected devices has Americans utilizing online services to do everything from grocery shopping to tracking their health. However, increased reliance on online services has made Americans more conscious about how they share sensitive personal information…”

Who else besides me uses their phone for everything from buying coffee to checking Facebook to tracking steps?  That’s a lot of info that goes out into the “cloud”.  Is it safe?Online Privacy

It’s important to remember that the onus is on you to keep your own data secure as these people who sued Facebook found out.  They thought that once they had logged out of Facebook, it should not be able to track their browsing history.  In this article, the Judge presiding over the case said no.

“Judge dismisses lawsuit accusing Facebook of tracking users’ activity, saying responsibility was on plaintiffs to keep browsing history private. …. US district judge Edward Davila in San Jose, California, dismissed the case because he said that the plaintiffs failed to show that they had a reasonable expectation of privacy or suffered any realistic economic harm or loss. …. Davila said that plaintiffs could have taken steps to keep their browsing histories private…”

And Alfred Ng reports in c|net that some of the bargain phones are sending info to a server in China.

“People have enough to worry about when it comes to privacy on their personal devices. Between government surveillance and security vulnerabilities, preinstalled software on the phone itself is an unexpected breach of both trust and privacy for millions of owners who are just looking for an inexpensive phone. ….. Having access to the command and control channel — a communications route between your device and a server — allowed Adups to execute commands as if it’s the user, meaning it could also install apps, take screenshots, record the screen, make calls and wipe devices without needing permission.”

Privacy has become such an issue that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case later this year.  This article in Reuters describes much of the case.

The case reaches the high court amid growing scrutiny of the surveillance practices of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies amid concern among lawmakers across the political spectrum about civil liberties and police evading warrant requirements.

The legal fight has raised questions about how much companies protect the privacy rights of their customers. The big four wireless carriers, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, receive tens of thousands of requests a year from law enforcement for what is known as “cell site location information,” or CSLI. The requests are routinely granted.

The Supreme Court has twice in recent years ruled on major cases concerning how criminal law applies to new technology, on each occasion ruling against law enforcement. In 2012, the court held that a warrant is required to place a GPS tracking device on a vehicle. Two years later, the court said police need a warrant to search a cellphone that is seized during an arrest.

Civil liberties lawyers have said that police need “probable cause,” and therefore a warrant, in order to avoid constitutionally unreasonable searches.”

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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Stop using the Internet! 4 ways to maintain your online privacy

The other day I was thinking about new shoes.  I went to Google and typed in “Keen Mary Janes”. Now, all I see when I’m on my computer (and phone!) are ads for Keens and ads for Mary Janes.  So much for my online privacy… I keep wondering if I do decide to buy them will the ads disappear and I’ll start seeing ads for a different product that I’ve Googled.

I’ve been thinking a lot about privacy lately, ever since the House & Senate passed a bill last month in favor of blocking internet privacy rules.  You can read more about that here.  This bill essentially gives Internet Service Providers more leeway in selling our searching info to advertisers.

There are ways to keep our data more private, one of them being setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN). That’s a little over my head, so I’ve asked Chris to write a blog about that.  In the meantime, there are four pretty easy ways of keeping your searching history more private.

Online Privacy – What can you do?

You could….

Well, you could just stop using the Internet.  No more email. No more Facebook and other Social Media. No more online shopping sprees.  No more checking the news online.  Yeah, like that’s gonna happen!

Or, you could….

Do all of your shopping in person.  With cash.  Without signing into the store’s reward program. A good friend of mine once went to a store and bought a pair of pink Ugg boots for a friend with cash.  Unfortunately she did use the store’s reward card.  For weeks afterwards she got ads on her computer for Uggs!

Or, maybe….

You can go to your local library.  As long as you don’t sign in to your email or any other account, your online privacy is maintained.  You can search for anything while you’re there without worrying about what your ISP will see.  You can print off the relevant pages, fork over 10¢ or 20¢ per page,  and be on your way.

Realistically….DuckDuckGo helps protect your online privacy

You can use apps that protect your privacy.  Two that come to mind are DuckDuckGo for Internet searches and What’sApp for texting.  I like What’s App’s description of their end-to-end encryption:

“WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption is available when you and the people you message use the latest versions of our app. Many messaging apps only encrypt messages between you and them, but WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption ensures only you and the person you’re communicating with can read what is sent, and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp. This is because your messages are secured with a lock, and only the recipient and you have the special key needed to unlock and read them.”  Here’s the link to download WhatsApp to your Smartphone or tablet.

It’s easy to change your default search engine on the iPhone to DuckDuckGo.  Click on the Settings icon, then scroll down to Safari.  Click on Safari and select your preferred Search Engine. On your computer, just bookmark the DuckDuckGo page and use it whenever you do a search.  I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and am not noticing a difference in the quality of responses to my searches.

Using DuckDuckGo and WhatsApp doesn’t protect you 100% but it does help you maintain some online privacy.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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