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    • New note by bobjonkman 2 April 2020
      oh, hang on. That was a ReTweet from @wilkieii@twitter.com But you're still invited to make that presentation!
    • New note by bobjonkman 2 April 2020
      ...and you'll make a presentation at an upcoming @KWLUG meeting, right? On the very platform you're presenting about!
    • bobjonkman repeated a notice by hubert 2 April 2020
      RT @hubert ♲ @matrix: RT @wilkieii@twitter.com Successfully using entirely self-hosted+federated Riot/Matrix/Jitsi/Etherpad/PeerTube to host lectures, teleconference with students, answer questions in chat, and collaboratively edit their code. Write-up is incoming. Once I take a nap. 🐦🔗: twitter.com/wilkieii/status/12…
    • Favorite 2 April 2020
      bobjonkman favorited something by hubert: ♲ @matrix@mastodon.matrix.org: RT @wilkieii@twitter.comSuccessfully using entirely self-hosted+federated Riot/Matrix/Jitsi/Etherpad/PeerTube to host lectures, teleconference with students, answer questions in chat, and collaboratively edit their code. Write-up is incoming. Once I take a nap.🐦🔗: twitter.com/wilkieii/status/12…
    • New note by bobjonkman 22 March 2020
      He'll never find it again. But you get a tree!
    • New note by bobjonkman 22 March 2020
      Ja, ich bin hier noch. Aber meine timeline ist oft zwei oder drei monaten langzam...
    • Favorite 27 February 2020
      bobjonkman favorited something by showerpickles: imagine an internet that was ran like a utility. one where it was the norm to run a little box server at your home that you run your services on (email, mastodon, file storage, etc), and there was a whole industry of unionized repair people who would come to your […]
    • Favorite 27 February 2020
      bobjonkman favorited something by douginamug: One of the core 'demands' of #ExtinctionRebellion is to set up a #CitizensAssembly. This is not a new concept: #sortition has been around since Athens.I find a lot of people worried about trusting 'normal people' to make big decisions. I would love to have a CA as one of the […]
    • bobjonkman repeated a notice by douginamug 27 February 2020
      RT @douginamug #ExtinctionRebellion session @ #35c3 is FULL! One third of the people sitting on the floor 😂 Amazing to see a room full of hackers excited to join the cause. There's enthusiasm to help non-techy people switch to #signal, #mastodon & #nextcloud ⚡ 💻 🌐
    • Favorite 27 February 2020
      bobjonkman favorited something by douginamug: #ExtinctionRebellion session @ #35c3 is FULL! One third of the people sitting on the floor 😂 Amazing to see a room full of hackers excited to join the cause. There's enthusiasm to help non-techy people switch to #signal, #mastodon & #nextcloud ⚡ 💻 🌐

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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