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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Franken, Congress Pursue Smartphone Privacy Legislation

Ever since it was revealed in April that mobile device applications and OS makers can monitor and store smartphone user tracking and location data, possibly compromising private browsing from a mobile phone, consumers have been clamoring for more privacy. The technology giants claim their recording of the data is completely innocuous, but customers do like to be in the driver's seat when privacy is concerned. In response, Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) unveiled a bill Wednesday that would require communication tech firms, along with app developers, to obtain consent before collecting or sharing consumers' location data.

The bill would require firms to get customers' expressed consent before collecting location data from their smartphones or mobile devices. Any firm that obtains location data from more than 5,000 mobile devices must take reasonable steps towards identity protection, deleting data if requested by the customer.

There are instances where mobile phone OS providers kept geo-location data, regardless if users hide an IP address. In certain cases, OS and app providers did not ask users if they wished to opt out of this info storage. Several firms have since sworn that no customer information has been shared without consent. The Franken bill would make this pledge mandatory.

“Geolocation technology gives us incredible benefits, but the same information that allows emergency responders to locate us when we're in trouble is not necessarily information all of us want to share with the rest of the world,” Franken said in a statement. “This legislation would give people the right to know what geolocation data is being collected about them and ensure they give their consent before it’s shared with others."

With smartphones constantly searching for public Wi-Fi connections you can utilize on the go, your personal information can be easily pick-pocketed. In this age of constant info connection, many smartphone users have eased privacy concerns by using a VPN service to browse in private. GoTrusted.com has features that can lock up your smartphone info so you can browse anywhere without fear. Be sure to read the privacy policies of all apps you download..

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Identity Theft On The Rise As Tech Giants Struggle To Prevent Crime

Almost 10 million Americans learned they were victims of identity fraud in 2008, up from 8.1 million victims in 2007. As casual Internet use has become even more common, research and security professionals estimate that information crimes have continued to increase, despite increased protection from viruses and hackers. Why is this identity protection failing?

There are three basic types of identity thieves: online crooks, online spies and a new breed of political criminal called Hacktivists. The popularity of online shopping, social media and overall increased browsing has made online crime more attractive and led identity thieves to get creative. A technique called phishing—which earlier this month was used to obtain thousands of prominent e-mail addresses, passwords and other sensitive information from government officials and CEOs through GMail, Yahoo Mail and Hotmail—uses real-looking e-mails to fool readers into clicking a link or entering a password to an untrustworthy source.

Revealing personal information on Facebook is a prominent example of what can go wrong when users neglect identity protection. Oftentimes, phishers will send a fake message from a user you are friends with, asking you to click a link. When you do, you are taken to what you think is Facebook to log in but you are actually turning your username and password over to identity thieves. This can be used for simple spying or, since many people use the same passwords for everything, even financial gain. Phishers also create e-mail forms that look like they are coming from your bank, asking you for account information and other sensitive information.

During the WikiLeaks scandal, the imprisonment of founder Julian Asange angered his ardent supporters, who supported the transparency the WikiLeaks document dumps represented. In protest, sites who blocked donations to Asange's legal defense—Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Amazon—were the victims of thousands of hack attacks that crippled servers and caused a small financial panic. These 'Hackivists' used information obtained through identity theft to break into these servers.

To avoid being a victim of identity theft, there are several things you can do. Hiding your IP address is a good start. Using a proxy server, you can confuse identity thieves into thinking you are at one IP address when in fact, your IP address is hidden in a virtual private network, or VPN. VPN services allow you to browse undetected, protect yourself from phishing and even give you a dummy e-mail address you can use for online websites you don't trust.

The best way to stack the deck against getting your personal information taken is by using identity protection software when using the Internet. Visit GoTrusted.com today to learn more about our online protection services.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Anthony Weiner And The Myth Of Online Privacy

In the wake of Congressman Anthony Weiner's resignation, details continue to surface about the seven-time congressman's online dalliances. But beyond the obvious moral implications of online flirtation and implied sexual contact as a newly married man, Weiner violated another cardinal rule of 21st century America: he assumed he could keep his private life private.

When conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart began accusing Anthony Weiner of sending illicit pictures of himself to female friends via social media, Weiner went on the defensive, accusing conservative journalists of running a smear campaign. But this is the 21st century, where nothing ever dies. Weiner made active use of Twitter and Facebook, assuming a level of private browsing that is just not there. And he is not alone.

According to a study from Seton Hall University Psychology professor Joseph J. Tucciarone Jr., embarrassment as it relates to online interactions is drastically reduced when compared with actual, face-to-face interactions. The study, which examined Internet and social media use by college students, found users more willing to take social risks and even embarrass themselves online. For shy or socially awkward people, this freedom can be a blessing. But for some, there is not a lot of thought put into who is examining your information online. Hackers, identity thieves and even potential employers look to social media as a means of discovery. And with Facebook and Twitter now connected through search engines like Bing and Yahoo, people are finding more about you than you realize.

Without hiding your IP address or other private information, hackers and interested parties can and will invade your privacy. Being careful with what you post online is a good first step but it cannot protect you from accidentally sharing public information like your e-mail address or home phone number. Tools like VPN services, free proxy sites and phony e-mails are just a few of the features GoTrusted.com can provide to you or your business so you are not sharing your info with everyone on the local network.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

How a VPN Service Boosts Internet Security

The International Monetary Fund is in the headlines again, and this time it has nothing to do with Dominique Strauss-Kahn being accused of sexual assault. This time the IMF is dealing with an entirely new threat: computer hackers. According to reports, this "large and sophisticated" cyber-attack targeted the organization a few months ago because of the nature of the information in their computer systems: highly confidential data regarding global economies and finances. This story is relevant because it puts a spotlight on the changes in Internet security vulnerabilities that exist online. Computer hackers may be getting bolder in their attacks, but one thing remains the same: individuals who use a VPN service are generally safer.

As more personal information winds up on the Web, more hackers come together to attack and steal that data. Credit card numbers appear to be the hot-ticket item, as the April attacks on Sony and the more recent assault on Citibank indicate. As technology continues to evolve, hackers need to adjust to these changes. Kevin Mitnick, a former hacker and current information security consultant, warns in a recent NPR story that "anything is vulnerable to attack given enough time and resources."

According to Mitnick, there is hope. There are things that every Internet user can do to protect their personal information. He recommends using using a VPN service like GoTrusted's. Not only will a VPN account make your Internet use completely secure, but it turns public WiFi connections private for maximum safety. Even though the service will not prevent corporate breaches, it helps users protect their own personal computers from the same attacks.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hide Your IP: If You Don't, No One Else Will

If you hide your IP address, you can prevent unauthorized usage of your account, but should you have to? When the Firesheep plug-in was recently created, the plug-in's ease of use and feature-set made it a very good tool for vulnerability testing by security professionals. Unfortunately, it also enabled novice users of the Firefox web browser to become amateur hackers in just a few minutes.

Commonly, websites will encrypt the password information, but not the cookie that you receive when you enter it. Once a hacker has discovered your password and ID they can also access the rest of your information for that website, since the cookie is not encrypted. The Firesheep plug-in allows you to capture the ID and password of anyone locally when using websites that are playing loose with their security measures and design. The only way to be certain that you are protecting your information (especially in public hotspots) is to hide your IP and encrypt your data by using a VPN service. That places most of the security responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the public. It would be rather like walking into a bank, depositing money, and then having them tell you, "Ok. Now go stand outside and guard the door."

Just like any tool, computers and the software on them can be used for both good and nefarious purposes. The newest tools can quickly reveal vulnerabilities in supposedly secure online websites that process your personal information. The nature of online security is that all vulnerabilities can never be found with certainty, which means that it's always a 'best practice' to encrypt your information and hide your IP.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

VPN Service for Cars? The Future of the Car Industry

There are many advances being made in the car industry. Computer systems in cars are becoming more and more common as technology continues its upward trend. Sometimes this technology leads to positive things like rear view sensors, but all new things come with risk. In the future, a VPN service may be necessary to keep cars with internet connections from hackers.

Many cars have computer systems in place now. With satellites, remotely controlled engines and door locks, cars are becoming more and more connected. This connection to outside systems has the potential to make your vehicle vulnerable, however. Every system has cracks, and increasingly hackers have been able to find those cracks in the internet and exploit them. If your car is connected, that means that hackers could have access to it. A VPN service may be necessary to keep your car's internet connection secure.

Imagine that a thief hacks your car. Without making any noise that would arouse suspicion, they could unlock your door, turn on your engine and drive the car away. If they stole your car at night, they could be selling the car for parts by the time you find out it's gone. Cars may not have been targeted yet, but it's only a matter of time before someone figures out that they could make a lot of money hacking cars and has the knowledge to do it. Investing in a VPN service might be a way for the car industry or individual car owners to avoid theft and sabotage.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cloud Computing Makes Private Browsing Services Even More Necessary

In today's high-tech world, cloud technology allows you to access information almost anywhere. However, if you haven't heard of private browsing, then you may be vulnerable to hackers and identity thieves.

With cloud computing becoming more and more popular, people have access to a great deal of information from multiple devices, using applications as opposed to software. As the ease of using these tools increases, so do the instances of information theft. When you log onto the Internet from a public location like a hotel or a café, your information is broadcast and is easy to find for someone with the knowledge to find it. VPN (Virtual Private Networking) will hide your IP address and encrypt traffic to protect your information.

Private browsing services allow a user to access information anywhere without letting anyone within a one mile radius know all of their private information. These systems also allow a user to access the web safely using multiple devices. Think of all the places that you use your cell phone. Imagine doing work on your laptop at a business conference or accessing the Internet through your tablet and finding out the hard way that someone stole your passwords and email information and now has access to your bank account.

Cloud technology is incredibly portable and convenient, and the more people that are aware of what they are transmitting while using it, the easier it will be to stop hackers. A private browsing system is a simple and easy way to use public Internet stress free.

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