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    • New note by bobjonkman 26 June 2022
      I've never played #Minecraft - Is this #Federated software? Is it #FreeSoftware? If so, how can Microsoft control what's happening on someone's private server? Even if such code existed in a #FreeSoftware application, I would have thought there'd be a fork that eliminates that external control. It's time for that now. But if #Minecraft isn't […]
    • bobjonkman repeated a notice by lnxw48a1 26 June 2022
      RT @lnxw48a1 Seen via @sullybiker https://freeradical.zone/@thenewoil/108539077382008407 Microsoft bans in #Minecraft will soon carry over to privately run servers as well. One commenter said "Seems like there is a really simple solution here: Don't be a toxic asshole on a public server." But once $CORPORATION starts interfering with privately hosted servers in any way, those servers' […]
    • New note by bobjonkman 27 May 2022
      Mind you, there's something charming and soporific about listening to a professional baseball game with an old-fashioned, laid-back announcer. But most of those have retired... #ASMR
    • New note by bobjonkman 27 May 2022
      Applies to all professional #Sportsball: begging to see overpaid drug-users doing something that the rest of us would gladly do for free. When I walked our dog we'd pass the local baseball field, and we'd stop and watch the game for hours. But the one time I went to a professional baseball match (Toronto Blue […]
    • New note by bobjonkman 19 May 2022
      I've had all my clocks and watches on 24hr time ever since...
    • New note by bobjonkman 19 May 2022
      When I was a young pup, just started my first job. Woke up at 4:30 one day, panicked, "I've slept through the whole day, I'll get fired!!" It was 4:30am, of course. Don't recall if I got back to sleep or not.
    • bobjonkman repeated a notice by lnxw48a1 19 May 2022
      RT @lnxw48a1 I woke up around 02:45, thinking it was 07:45. Before 03:00, I realized it wasn’t time to get up. I still really feel the lack of #sleep 💤.
    • Favorite 19 May 2022
      bobjonkman favorited something by lnxw48a1: I woke up around 02:45, thinking it was 07:45. Before 03:00, I realized it wasn’t time to get up. I still really feel the lack of #sleep 💤.
    • New note by bobjonkman 14 May 2022
      "A Supreme Court that doesn't give a damn what the public wants ... is exactly what a Supreme Court is for, actually." True enough. But elected representatives in government *are* supposed to do what people want, that's why they get elected. If they had fulfilled their obligations to actually represent the citizens' wants then the […]
    • bobjonkman repeated a notice by clacke 14 May 2022
      RT @clacke People, not all people but most people, are angry about the wrong thing. I agree that Roe v Wade being canceled is a bad outcome. I agree that women should have the right to their bodies, but here's my possibly unpopular take: A Supreme Court that doesn't give a damn what the public […]

Google Spyware considered harmful

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 16th April 2012

Google wordmark in a "No" symbol

No Google

One day I was asked:

Hi IT Peeps,

I was wondering if I would cause major havoc if I downloaded google chrome? Will it mess anything up? Any recommendations?

My answer:

What problem are you trying to solve? What’s the question that gets answered “Install Google Chrome”?

Google the company is becoming ever more pervasive in our Internet lives. Google’s business is not providing a search engine for free; Google’s business is to sell our demographic information to advertisers. They gather that demographic data by luring us in with relevant search results, free e-mail and slick looking browsers.

Google collects personal information, including information that was voluntarily given to Google (for instance, by signing up for GMail or Google Plus; posting a video on YouTube), information that was collected anonymously (eg. when you perform a Google search or watch a YouTube video and Google records the search terms, your IP address, and leaves a cookie on your computer), and information that Google collected as it does its web indexing (comments you’ve left on a newspaper site, Tweets you’ve made, messages you’ve posted to public mailing lists). Google then correlates all this data based on IP address, cookies, e-mail addresses, your name, geo-location (finding out where you are based on your WiFi connection or IP address).

As of 1 March 2012 Google changed its privacy policies to combine data mining from all its holdings – the search engine, YouTube, Picasa, Google Maps, Google Plus, Google Mail, &c. I didn’t think too much of that, since I had thought that Google had always aggregated its data. According to an article I read[1] that’s actually a new development. Google used to keep all its data mining separate, in fact, kept it so separate that it didn’t even correlate its adwords between different messages in GMail. With the new privacy policy that’s all changed, and everything is now aggregated, correlated, and retained to be sold to the highest bidder. Google says we’ll never sell your personal information or share it without your permission, but you grant that permission every time you agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policies when you sign up for Google’s services.

Remember the Google Toolbar? Every search request, every URL, and every local file you opened in a browser with the Google toolbar installed was sent to the Google servers. There was a report of someone who opened confidential company documents with IE and the Google toolbar, only to find those reports cached on Google’s servers. Google Chrome is far more invasive than a mere toolbar.

Google Chrome does not have the same set of security-related add-ons that Firefox offers. For your best privacy protection and security, use Firefox with the NoScript, AdBlock Plus, HTTPS-Everywhere and Force-TLS extensions. See my article on Browser Security for details on installing and configuring them.

–Bob, who will be getting fitted for a new tinfoil hat at lunch…

Footnote 1: I wish I knew what article that was. To my recollection, the author said he wouldn’t trust Google with his data again. He had visited the Googleplex some years earlier, and was told how Google kept the data from its different projects in separate silos, so that profile aggregation was next to impossible. Data silos were so extensive that although one GMail message might trigger certain AdWords, there was no tracking between messages. I read the article in March of 2012; if you can provide me with a link let me know in the comments.

Update 8 Nov 2012: A similar quote about data silos from Google’s Vic Gundotra appears in the CNN article Google exec: We won’t break users’ trust.


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Posted in considered harmful, Google, Google Free, Internet, privacy | 2 Comments »

What to do about compromised Hotmail passwords

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 18th November 2010

autoroute à emails

autoroute à emails by Biscarotte

I administer a number of e-mail systems, and I’ve been seeing a lot of spam coming from Hotmail accounts recently. And both friends and clients have been telling me that it’s not them who are sending spam from Hotmail (and ending up in my e-mail systems), their accounts have been hacked. One person asked me:

Is it just Hotmail? What else could I use? Can’t I just change my password?

Changing passwords is only an effective solution if the account was compromised by social engineering, eg. the legitimate user giving out the password in a phishing attempt or other direct means, or if a simple password was guessed or cracked.

There is evidence that Hotmail and Yahoo’s password recovery mechanism is flawed (eg. the Sarah Palin breach), so that malusers can acquire a new password for an account. I don’t think this is happening, because victims are not reporting being locked out of their accounts. Of course, if the service merely sends out the current password then this may be what is happening, and no amount of password complexity will protect the account.

If the passwords were compromised by an automated password cracker then I would expect only simple passwords to be breached, and accounts with strong passwords would be safe. I do not know what kind of passwords were in use by the people who have compromised accounts, but it is likely they were simple passwords.

While I have no evidence, I think the current rash of breaches is due to a more systematic attack by URL munging, or fuzzing the inputs on a POST request, or some other attack vector. These attacks do not require an authenticated login, and in that case no amount of password complexity will provide security either.

I haven’t heard of similar compromised accounts in Gmail, so that may be a suitable alternative for now. I’ve been recommending that people use the mail accounts provided by their ISPs, largely so that they can make use of the ISP’s technical support if their accounts do get compromised. And, of course, if they’re paying their ISP for a mail account then there may be immunity from liability (“My mail account was compromised and I was paying my ISP for security, so all this spam is their fault”).

–Bob.

Update 5 Feb 2012: I retract the first sentence in the last paragraph. E-mail Administrator friends have been telling me that Google Mail is just as vulnerable as Hotmail and Yahoo. Having just read “Hacked!” in The Atlantic I’m convinced the problem of compromised mail accounts is worse than I thought, and that no online providers (especially the “free” ones) adequately protect the e-mail of their users.

autoroute à emails by Biscarotte is used under a Creative Commons by-sa-v2.0 license.

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Posted in email, Internet, spam | 1 Comment »

 
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