Mobile phone users with the Android operating system can rejoice today as Firefox releases a new version of its popular mobile web browser that includes the “Do Not Track Privacy Feature” which is already used in its desktop browser. Firefox for Android is currently the only mobile browser that us the do not track feature.
This feature can be turned on in the setting tabs as pictured below. Android users can download the beta application for free from Android.com
If you are a user of Firefox and have the Ant Video Downloader add on installed than we strongly recommend you remove it ASAP. The app which has recently been removed from the Firefox website has been found to be secretly collecting data about every website you visit and combines it into traceable data even when Private Browsing is enabled. The add on which had over 7 million downloads with more than 7000 new downloads daily was very popular.
A researcher found the problem in the middle of developing web applications. He discovered that every single HTTP request his computer made was being sent to Ants servers which is owned by a company called Reality Check Network Corp.
The developer Simon Newton was quoted as saying
“”As there is this unique identifier, patterns could be built up about where I go — for example if I use my laptop at work, at a public wifi hotspot, at home or a friends house — that [UUID] and cookie can be tied to all of those IP addresses, building a picture of not only what I am doing online, but where I am doing it from.”
“What alarms me a bit more is that the data that is transmitted about me and my browsing (even anonymously) is going onto servers in New York, USA,” he continued. “What if I were visiting [a] site I did not want anyone to know about? What if the US government subpoena ‘Reality check network corp’ for all information stored on their servers about my IP address, cookie, or UUID?”
Another concern is that Firefox did not check this application carefully enough when it was approved to be listed on their site. Firefox currently has more that 5000 add ons listed and this could be the first of many secretly disguised applications that are tracking the movements and data of its users.
Should you get rid of Firefox? We don’t think that is necessary, but you should always be careful what add ons you are installing. The add on is also available for download on Internet Explorer. If you are looking for an alternative we recommend Download Helper with more than 91 million downloads.
Following our recent post on the secret iPhone feature that tracks your movements Apple has finally responded saying they will cease backing up the cache that records the tracking, delete any cache stored when Location Services is turned off and reduce the size of the crowd sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower database cached on the iPhone.
All this they say will be fixed in the next major iOS software update.
They have also responded to a number of questions in this Q&A session they had at this link. A must read for all iPhone users.
As a follow up to yesterdays post on the secret Apple iPhone tracking fiasco, the below video shows its making it onto some of the main stream media outlets. So far Apple has still not responded. We will post another update when Apple does respond to their secret tracking software on the iPhone 4.0.
An interesting fact for some of you that are not already using a VPN. Search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo keep all your search history including keywords, IP addresses, cookies etc. on file for 18 months after you did the initial search. Why do they need to keep this data on file? Well only they really know, but if you are not using a Virtual Private Network to hide your true identity than every search, every page and quite possibly everything you have done on the internet in the past 18 months has been tracked and recorded. Yahoo recently changed its policy from 6 months to 18 months after it changed from 18 months to 6 months a few years back.
It doesn’t stop with the search engines either. Google Analytics tracks every user going to a specific website, what they do on that site, how long they are on it, what pages they visit and when they leave it. It can also pinpoint your location down to a few kilometers as you can see if this screen shot below taken from our Google Analytics of a user in California.
From Google we can see your location, browser, network speed, internet service provider, screen resolution and more!
Alot of this information is also used to target advertisers. Have you ever searched for something like “how to hide my ip address” and then suddenly your seeing ads on several sites directed to that previous search? Yes you guess it right; the search engine has stored this information and is now targeting specific ads based on that search from cookies stored in your browser. You are now on their marketing list.
So how do you stop this type of behavior and stop yourself from being tracked? Simple you just need to do a few things.
1. Get a VPN, this is the most important security feature to surfing online, it will protect you by encrypting your connection and also hide your true identity by hiding your IP address. View a list of the top VPN providers here.
2. Use the private browsing features in Google Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer. This will make sure no data, history, cache or cookies are stored on your computer. In Google its called “Incognito Mode” in Firefox its Private Browsing and in Internet Explorer its called InPrivate browsing. If you need help setting them us send us a message on the Internet Security Forum.
3. Not a necessity, but don’t browse the internet when signed into your Google or Yahoo account. Keep 1 browser specifically for browsing the internet and another one for your emails and personal stuff.
Quite a bizarre story for you today, one so outrageous it doesn’t even sound true, however it was posted at the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) website earlier this month.
According to a complaint filed against the Michigan State Police, the police are using specialized portable devices to search and extract your personal information, videos, call history, emails and messages etc. on your cell phone during random routine stops on the cities roads. The device the police officers are using is called the UFED Physical Pro which are sold by a company called Cellebrite with a a slogan of “mobile data secured” well not in this case. The device which seems to be made to restore access to phones including a data dump and also recovering the lock and sim passwords does not appear to be made for the purposes of searching private citizens phones but the police are using it for their own purposes in violation of your 4th Amendment rights.
The ACLU has been investigating this case all the way back to 2008 with no success. You can find Information on the ACLU website. Just a thought though, imagine if this hardware and these tactics were used everywhere, including on laptop in airports at road blocks etc, is that a country you would want to live in? Perhaps this is just a trial and its success could see it rolled out in other cities across the USA.
A reader recently sent me in some pictures of a huge pile of secret and potentially dangerous documents dumped outside a business that had been shut down in his city which appear to be somewhere in France as alot of them are in French. I will post some of the images below but not all of them, they include company documents such as bank account numbers, bank statements, customer data, phone numbers, names and addresses, employee data such as names, phone numbers and addresses as well as resumes and qualifications. There were also purchase invoices, receipts and pretty much every single document a company would have on file dating back to 2003.I have removed some of the sensitive information to protect the employees.
I was quite shocked to see what this anonymous reader sent in, not only at what had been discarded simply on the street but that absolutely no care had been taken to protect their own data. This is just 1 company going out of business, now just think of the thousands or millions that went bust during the 2008 crash, and the ones that will go bust in the new crash, what do they do with all their documents, looking at the pictures below doesn’t it make you wonder?
- Cyber crime and more data breaches in 2011 June 11, 2011Its been a really bad year for companies that have experienced cyber crime or have had serious data breaches. Most recently the Sony Corporation has been in the headlines for failing to properly secure its PlayStation Network which allowed hackers to steal hundreds of millions of users details and possibly credit card information. In April […]
- Is internet privacy impossible? June 10, 2011Internet privacy is becoming more and more of a topic of discussion these last few months as issues with Google, Apple and Sony are in the headlines. Privacy advocates are going as far as saying that privacy does not exist, it can’t exist and on the internet privacy is virtually impossible. In some way they […]
- Google Chrome update fixes 15 bugs June 8, 2011If you are using Google Chrome than you need to update to the latest version as Google as fixed 15 bugs including 5 high severity vulnerabilities. Along with these new bug fixes the new version allows users to delete flash cookies just like they can do with web cookies. Another new feature will prevent the […]
- Internet Privacy Bill rejected in California for the 2nd time June 5, 2011Bill SB242 also known as the internet privacy bill was rejected 19-17 by lawmakers in California for the 2nd time after coming under heavy opposition by those pesky social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook who want the bill abolished because it will defeat the purpose of their website which is to exploit internet […]
- Gmail users – beware of fake login pages June 3, 2011Google sent a warning yesterday about targeted attacks on Gmail users that use phishing attacks to trick users to login to fake Gmail pages. The attackers thought to be Chinese seem to be targeting US officials that use Gmail (who would have thought they even do!?) and also political activists, journalists and military personnel. To […]
- Hide My Ass VPN launches new website June 3, 2011Hide My Ass VPN, one of the premier virtual private network companies has just released a new version of its website complete with a new blog. They have also 10 more VPN servers to their already large list of available ip addresses to use anonymously. Hide My Ass VPN currently offers 13,000 unique ip addresses […]
- Google Wallet payment system May 30, 2011Google has announced the release of their long awaited new payment system Google Wallet. This revolutionary new payment system allows users to pay at certain stores by swiping their mobile phones instead of their credit cards. The technology is fairly new at the moment so it only works on the Nexus S 4G by Google […]
- Inside Strong VPN – World class VPN services May 27, 2011One of the best Virtual Private Network services around at the moment is Strong VPN which is owned and operated by a Reliablehosting.com, one of the best hosting companies. In business for over 12 years, with 24/7/365 support its easy to see why people go with Strong VPN for their VPN needs. With over 900 […]
- New Private Browsing feature for mobile Firefox users May 22, 2011Mobile phone users with the Android operating system can rejoice today as Firefox releases a new version of its popular mobile web browser that includes the “Do Not Track Privacy Feature” which is already used in its desktop browser. Firefox for Android is currently the only mobile browser that us the do not track feature. […]
- Ant Video Downloader addon for Firefox a privacy concern May 22, 2011If you are a user of Firefox and have the Ant Video Downloader add on installed than we strongly recommend you remove it ASAP. The app which has recently been removed from the Firefox website has been found to be secretly collecting data about every website you visit and combines it into traceable data even […]