How Big Tech Convinced Us to Become Our Own Informants

In exchange for the digital goods we crave, we willingly give Google, Facebook and others access to our entire private lives. In 1992, two years after East and West Germany reunited, the new government made an unprecedented gesture in response to demands from the people: It released the archives of East Germany’s former security administration, the dreaded Stasi. Probing the vast files, German artist Simon Menner compiled a collection of the Stasi’s photographs which he published in 2013, affording a voyeuristic glance at the former voyeurs. Or as the artist puts it, giving us a look at what Big Brother “gets to see when he’s watching us.” Some of the photos are frankly hilarious. We’re privy to a seminar on disguises—basically, pics of men with dad bods wearing fake mustaches. The agents of the notorious surveillance state look oddly harmless with their double chins and 1980s turtlenecks. Other images are […] Read More

Apple Admits Siri Voice Data is Being Sent to Third Parties

Following controversy last month about Samsung transmitting spoken words to a third party, Apple’s terms of service clearly state that the company is following a similar process by recording and transmitting the voice data of Siri users. In November last year we reported on how Samsung’s global privacy policy advised users of their Smart TV range that “personal or other sensitive information” in the form of spoken words was being captured and transmitted to a third party. The controversy only blew up three months later when Samsung was forced to admit that voice data was being “sent to a server” operated by a third party during the process.. FallenMyst, a Reddit user claimed to had recently started a new job with a company called Walk N’ Talk Technologies, where job profile requires her to listen voice data collected from Apple, Microsoft users and check for incorrect interpretations. “I get […] Read More

2015: Guess Who Wasn’t Invited to the CIA’s Hacker Jamboree?

Apple, that’s who. Or Microsoft, or any of the other vendors whose products US government contractors have successfully exploited according to a recent report in the Intercept. While we’re not surprised that the Intelligence Community is actively attempting to develop new spycraft tools and capabilities—that’s their job—we expect them to follow the administration’s rules of engagement. Those rules require an evaluation under what’s known as the “Vulnerabilities Equities Process.” In the White House’s own words , the process should usually result in disclosing software vulnerabilities to vendors, because “in the majority of cases, responsibly disclosing a newly discovered vulnerability is clearly in the national interest.” Nevertheless, the Intercept article describes an annual CIA conference known as the Trusted Computing Base (TCB) Jamboree 1 at which members of the intelligence community present extensively on software vulnerabilities and exploits to be used in spying operations. At the 2012 TCB Jamboree, presenters […] Read More

2015: Steve Jobs Held Billions Of Dollars Offshore. Was He “Unpatriotic”?

Submitted by Simon Black via Sovereign Man blog, At the end of September 2011, just days before his passing, the company that Steve Jobs founded had a $25 billion cash hoard. Nearly half of this was stashed overseas. What’s more, Apple was running billions in profit through multiple Irish subsidiaries, neither of which were taxable by the US government. Steve Jobs departed this life owning 5.5 million shares of Apple (and another 138 million shares of Disney, which employed similar offshore practices). So his personal share of the untaxed offshore booty was obviously substantial. Did this make him ‘unpatriotic’? Was the guy who revolutionized five industries and touched the lives of billions of people some nefarious traitor because he held so much money offshore? Of course not. Despite all the absurd, highly negative media attention centered on shaming companies and individuals who go offshore, it’s one of the most […] Read More

2014: WhatsApp Works To Achieve Greater User Privacy By Encrypting Messages

More than 500 million people are using the WhatsApp Android application now. the most widely used instant messaging service in the world announced that it has started encrypting messages in order to protect its users from hackers, says Open Whisper Systems, a software development group associated with the company. Last Tuesday, WhatsApp declared that it is out, performing end-to-end encryption, an upgrade to its privacy protections that make it nearly impossible for anyone to read users’ messages—even the company itself, WhatsApp claims it will not be able to decrypt any messages even if it is asked to do so by the authorities. This will be achieved via TextSecure protocol, which scrambles messages with a cryptographic key that only the user can access and never leaves his or her device. That’s why end-to-end encryption is so hard to break. WhatsApp, which became a Facebook subsidiary, will use an encryption system […] Read More

2014: 5 Reasons To Question Apple’s Data Security

Submitted by Mike Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog, I’m the furthest thing in the world from a technology or security expert, but what I have learned in recent years is that a dedicated, sophisticated and well funded hacker can pretty much own your data no matter how many precautions you take. Nevertheless, the major technology companies on the planet shouldn’t go out of their way to make this as easy as possible. In the wake of the theft of private images from several prominent celebrities, many people are rightly wondering whether how vulnerable their data is. The answer appears to be “very,” and if you use Apple, the following article from Slate may leave you seething with a sense of anger and betrayal. David Auerbach wrote the following for Slate. Read it and weep: >In the wake of the theft of the private data and photos of dozens of celebrities, there […] Read More

2014: Momentum Stock Fiasco Already Pricked San Francisco Housing Bubble

Wolf Richter   www.testosteronepit.com   www.amazon.com/author/wolfrichter San Francisco is unique in many ways, and not only because it gets cold in the summer. Wild boom-and-bust cycles rule the city, and right now we’re in a boom cycle. Medium-rise and high-rise buildings for offices and apartments are sprouting like mushrooms. Cranes dot the skyline. Construction sites are everywhere. Streets are even more congested than usual, with concrete pumps blocking three of the four lanes. Tax revenues are flooding city coffers. Money grows on trees. Rents are soaring. People are getting evicted. And home prices, oh my…. By February, the median home in San Francisco changed hands at $945,000, according to DataQuick (now a division of CoreLogic). That was up a screaming 35% year over year, and 16% higher than the peak of the prior bubble. That peak was in November 2007, the craziest time when nothing could go wrong because stocks were […] Read More

2013: Google & Microsoft Hire Hackers To Identify Software Vulnerabilities

By Susanne Posel Occupy Corporatism Thanks to HackerOne , rewards will be given to hackers who can identify software vulnerabilities for programmers to overcome. Microsoft and Google have come together to fund this project. These “bug bounties” will not be tied to a specific technology. Criteria for a bounty exposing cheese holes in software include the widespread and severity of the compromise. First a hacker must crack Chrome, Internet Explorer 10 EPM, Adobe Reader, and Adobe Flash. Programs of interest include: • PHP • Open SSL • Ruby • Apache Google’s bounty program has been running for several years and paid out an estimated $2 million to hackers under the Chromium and Google Web Vulnerability Reward Programs (CGW-VRP). Microsoft has their own bounty program that has poured out $128,000 to hackers for uncovering issues with Windows 8.1. Facebook has invested $1.5 million for research into bounties and have hired full-time employees to ensure bugs are exposed and security […] Read More