Did you hear? Google is going to stop scanning your Gmail for ad personalization

Google has announced in a blog post that later this year the content of free Consumer Gmail will not be used or scanned for any ad personalization.

G Suite’s Gmail is already not used as input for ads personalization, and Google has decided to follow suit later this year in our free consumer Gmail service. Consumer Gmail content will not be used or scanned for any ads personalization after this change. This decision brings Gmail ads in line with how we personalize ads for other Google products. Ads shown are based on users’ settings. Users can change those settings at any time, including disabling ads personalization. G Suite will continue to be ad free.

G Suite customers and free consumer Gmail users can remain confident that Google will keep privacy and security paramount as we continue to innovate. As ever, users can control the information they share with Google at myaccount.google.com.

This is good news for Privacy. Unfortunately Gmail users will still see ads in there Gmail.

Two years of Fastmail and how it replaced Gmail
Google now knows when its users go to the store and buy stuff
Google’s Pixel Phone and other AI enabled devices are a privacy nightmare

Google now knows when its users go to the store and buy stuff

According to an article by the Washington Post, Google has now devised a new way to further violate user privacy. Google now knows when their users go to a brick and mortar store and buy stuff.

Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg, Writing for the Washington Post May 23

Google has begun using billions of credit-card transaction records to prove that its online ads are prompting people to make purchases – even when they happen offline in brick-and-mortar stores, the company said Tuesday.

The advance allows Google to determine how many sales have been generated by digital ad campaigns, a goal that industry insiders have long described as “the holy grail” of online advertising. But the announcement also renewed long-standing privacy complaints about how the company uses personal information.

The new credit-card data enables the tech giant to connect these digital trails to real-world purchase records in a far more extensive way than was possible before. But in doing so, Google is yet again treading in territory that consumers may consider too intimate and potentially sensitive. Privacy advocates said few people understand that their purchases are being analyzed in this way and could feel uneasy, despite assurances from Google that it has taken steps to protect the personal information of its users.

What we have learned is that it’s extremely difficult to anonymize data,” he said. “If you care about your privacy, you definitely need to be concerned.”

You can read the full article here.

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Google’s Pixel Phone and other AI enabled devices are a privacy nightmare


Apple releases security updates for iPhone and Mac. Update now and be safe online.

On Monday Apple released security updates iOS 10.3.2 (for iPhone and iPad users), MacOS, and OS X. They also released updates for watchOS 3.2.2, iTunes, Safari, tvOS and iCloud for Windows 6.2.1.

Looking at the list of fixes it is clear that scores of security vulnerabilities have been addressed for iPhones, iPads and Macs.

US-CERT encourages users and administrators to apply the necessary updates.

Privacy Tip – How to know when your Mac’s webcam or microphone is spying on you.

If you are like me and stick a piece of tape over your Macs webcam then Objective-See’s Oversight is for you.

Once installed, Oversight sits in your menu bar and runs in the background monitoring your Mac’s mic and webcam, alerting you when the internal mic is activated, or whenever a process accesses your webcam.

The developer of Oversight explains why a tool like Oversight might be beneficial to you:

One of the most insidious actions of malware, is abusing the audio and video capabilities of an infected host to record an unknowing user. Macs, of course, are not immune; malware such as OSX/FruitFly, OSX/Crisis, OSX/Mokes, and others, all attempt to spy on Mac users. OverSight constantly monitors a system, alerting a user whenever the internal microphone is activated, or the built-in webcam is accessed. And yes, while the webcam’s LED will turn on whenever a session is initially started, new research has shown that malware can surreptitious piggyback into such existing sessions (FaceTime, Sykpe, Google Hangouts, etc.) and record both audio and video – without fear of detection.

I run Oversight on both my Macs. You can download and get more information about Oversight here. Oh yes, and by the way it’s free so there’s no reason to not install Oversight to better protect your privacy.

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Google’s Pixel Phone and other AI enabled devices are a privacy nightmare
The rising cost of cracking iPhone security and privacy
Did you know Facebook is buying sensitive data, about you, from data brokers?


Tip – Search sites with DuckDuckGo !Bangs

I’ve been using DuckDuckGo search for a few years and I just recently discovered searching with !Bangs.

Bangs allow me to search on thousands of sites, directly. I do a lot of research for my stories so bangs have allowed me to search specific sites for the result I’m looking for. For example, if I’m looking for a specific story on TechCrunch I can type “!tc” followed by the content of my search. This would take me to the search results on TechCrunch.com.

I use “!g” a lot because I don’t always get the result I’m looking for with a DuckDuckGo search. The bang “!g” runs a google search with an encrypted Google search result as if I were searching on Google itself.

There are thousands of !Bangs. Go here and give it a try.

Two years of Fastmail and how it replaced Gmail

Twenty-four months ago I moved all my email from Gmail to FastMail. The reason? I was tired of paying for Gmail and other Google services with my privacy. You know the saying “If it’s free you’re the product. “. I chose FastMail for their simple business model and privacy policy. FastMail provides email hosting. I pay them money. They host my email. No spam and no scanning my email for showing me ads.

In two years I’ve had no problems with the service. It’s rock solid! I was able to import my contacts, calendar and migrate all my email from Gmail to Fastmail with the help of the Fastmail Migration Guide.

Continue reading “Two years of Fastmail and how it replaced Gmail”

Web Finds for April 16, 2017

Web Finds are from my web surfing travels. You’ll find some unique, informative, and some of the coolest websites and apps that you may have never known existed. Enjoy!

Clips is a new iOS app for making fun videos to share with friends, family, and the world. With a few taps you can create and send a video message or tell a quick story with animated text, graphics and emoji, music, and more.

Apple has a secret team working on the holy grail for treating diabetes
Apple has hired a small team of biomedical engineers to work at a nondescript office in Palo Alto, California, miles from corporate headquarters. They are part of a super secret initiative, initially envisioned by the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, to develop sensors that can noninvasively and continuously monitor blood sugar levels to better treat diabetes, according to three people familiar with the matter.

How to Prevent iMessages From Accidentally Appearing On Other Devices
If you own multiple Apple devices, you’ve probably signed into all of them with your Apple ID. You’ve also probably noticed that when you get a Facetime call your computer rings, or when you get an iMessage your iPad beeps. For most of us, this is a small annoyance worth fixing. For others, it’s a potential privacy nightmare.

Security Now > Proactive Privacy by Steve Gibson
Steve Gibson discusses how to try to keep your online activities secret, even from your ISP (internet Service Provider), who know everything you do online.

Previous Web Finds are here.

Apple Says It Has Patched The Vulnerabilities Mentioned In The Wikileaks Dump Of CIA Cyber Tools

Yesterday Wikileaks leaked documents named Vault 7. Vault 7 details the government’s efforts to hack popular devices like iPhones, Android phones, and Samsung smart TVs. According to a Wikileaks Vault 7 press release the CIA has a special branch dedicated to attacks against the iPhone.

Despite iPhone’s minority share (14.5%) of the global smart phone market in 2016, a specialized unit in the CIA’s Mobile Development Branch produces malware to infest, control and exfiltrate data from iPhones and other Apple products running iOS, such as iPads. CIA’s arsenal includes numerous local and remote “zero days” developed by CIA or obtained from GCHQ, NSA, FBI or purchased from cyber arms contractors such as Baitshop. The disproportionate focus on iOS may be explained by the popularity of the iPhone among social, political, diplomatic and business elites.

Yesterday, Apple said in a statement provided to TechCrunch that most of the vulnerabilities detailed in the leaks have been patched.

“Apple is deeply committed to safeguarding our customers’ privacy and security. The technology built into today’s iPhone represents the best data security available to consumers, and we’re constantly working to keep it that way. Our products and software are designed to quickly get security updates into the hands of our customers, with nearly 80 percent of users running the latest version of our operating system. While our initial analysis indicates that many of the issues leaked today were already patched in the latest iOS, we will continue work to rapidly address any identified vulnerabilities. We always urge customers to download the latest iOS to make sure they have the most recent security updates.”

I think this tweet puts the whole thing in perspective.