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Google and Facebook Go Deeper Into Your Privacy

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This post is a summary of an excellent article appearing in USA Today By Byron Acohido, Scott Martin and Jon Swartz.

It’s a heated competition to tap what many experts predict will be the next big Internet gold rush — online advertising — Google and Facebook laid down very big bets, during a week when European regulators are hashing out strict new rules that could prevent much of what the tech giants seek to do.

Google signaled its intent to begin correlating data about its users’ activities across all of its most popular services and across multiple devices. The goal: to deliver those richer behavior profiles to advertisers.

Likewise, Facebook announced it will soon make Timeline the new, more glitzy user interface for its service, mandatory. Timeline is designed to chronologically assemble, automatically display and make globally accessible the preferences, acquaintances and activities for most of Facebook’s 800 million members.

“If they can make the ads more relevant, the logic goes, they can increase the number of advertisers and the price they can charge per click (on each ad),” says Alex Daley, chief investment strategist at Casey Research. “Because the click will be from more qualified leads — customers who are more interested in the product — they can grow the revenue base.”

But security analysts, privacy advocates and technologists say consumers probably should be very concerned. While making richer behavioral data more readily available to advertisers, Google’s new data-correlating practices and Facebook’s new Timeline and Open Graph, a more powerful way to express preferences on third-party websites, also tend to aid and abet more unsavory uses.

Richer personal details are very beneficial to identity thieves and cyberspies, as well as to parties motivated to use such data unfairly against consumers, such as insurance companies, prospective employers, political campaigners and, lately, hacktivists, security analysts say.

“What these unilateral decisions by Google and Facebook demonstrate is a complete disregard for their users’ interests and concerns,” says John Simpson, spokesman for Consumer Watchdog. “It’s an uncommonly arrogant approach not usually seen in business, where these companies believe they can do whatever they want with our data, whenever and however they want to do it.”

The deeper personal data of Timeline — which Facebook users willfully share — are potentially online advertising gold for marketers and advertisers. This is especially crucial, analysts say, as Facebook has finalized it’s initial public stock offering.

John Sileo is an award-winning author and international speaker on the dark art of deception (identity theft, data privacy, social media manipulation) and its polar opposite, the powerful use of trust, to achieve success. He is CEO of The Sileo Group, which advises teams on how to multiply performance by building a culture of deep trust. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, the FDIC, and Homeland Security. Sample his Keynote Presentation (he shares how he lost $300,000, 2 years and his business to data breach) or watch him on Anderson Cooper, 60 Minutes or Fox Business. 1.800.258.8076.

iPhone and Droid Want to Be Your Big Brother

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Remember the iconic 1984 Super Bowl ad with Apple shattering Big Brother? How times have changed! Now they are Big Brother.

According to recent Wall Street Journal findings, Apple Inc.’s iPhones and Google Inc.’s Android smartphones regularly transmit your locations back to Apple and Google, respectively. This new information only intensifies the privacy concerns that many people already have regarding smartphones. Essentially, they know where you are anytime your phone is on, and can sell that to advertisers in your area (or will be selling it soon enough).

The actual answer here is for the public to put enough pressure on Apple and Google that they stop the practice of tracking our location-based data and no longer collect, store or transmit it in any way without our consent.

You may ask, “don’t all cell phone carriers know where you are due to cell tower usage?” Yes, but Google and Apple are not cell phone carriers, they are software and hardware designers and should have no real reason (other than information control) to be tracking your every move without your knowledge. Google and Apple are not AT&T or Verizon, therefore they should not be recording, synching and transmitting your location like it appears they are.

Both companies are trying to build huge databases that allow them to pinpoint your exact location. So how are they doing it? By recording the cell phone towers and WiFi hotspots that you pass and that your phone utilizes. This data will ultimately be used to help them market location based services to their audience, which is a market that is expected to rise $6 billion in the next 3 years.

The Wall Street Journal found through research by security analyst Samy Kamkar, the HTC Android phone collected its location every few seconds and transmitted the data to Google at least several times an hour. It transmitted the name, location and signal strength of any nearby WiFi networks, as well as a unique phone identifier. This was not as personal of information like what the Street-View cars collected that Google had to shut down some time ago.

So what do we do now? According to the Wall Street Journal, neither Apple or Google commented when contacted about these findings, so it is hard to know the extent of how they are using the data collected. Right now, there really isn’t much you can do to stop GPS tracing of your location without your consent. Of course you could power down your phone, but we are all way too additcted to these handy little digital Swiss Army Knives to do that. You can turn of GPS services, but again, that makes it impossible to use maps and other location-based apps.

The actual answer here is for the public to put enough pressure on Apple and Google that they stop the practice of tracking our location-based data and no longer collect, store or transmit it in any way without our consent.

While this may be the future of privacy, it is better that we are aware of what may come rather than remain in the dark about the possibilities of technology.

John Sileo is the President of The Sileo Group and the award winning author of four books, including his latest workbook, The Smartphone Survival Guide. He speaks around the world on identity theft, online reputation and influence. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and Homeland Security. Learn more at www.ThinkLikeASpy.com.

Google Spying Cost Them $1

Some months ago, [intlink id=”2349″ type=”post”]Google got caught sniffing[/intlink] the wireless connection in our homes as they photographed our houses to post on Google Street View. Although the case may be newsworthy, the settlement is only peanuts.  Google has been found guilty of trespassing on Aaron and Christine Boring’s home and will have to pay them the astounding amount of $1 for punitive damages. The search engine giant admitted that they trespassed when they took a picture of the plaintiffs house for Google Street View and ended up settling the case. The couple were hoping to make a point, but also realized that they financially can’t take on the huge corporation.

The Street View cars have found controversy not only because they drive around and take pictures of homes to post to the Internet, but they were also collecting sensitive information from WiFi connections while doing so. Google admitted that it had in fact accidentally collected private details, and stated they deleted all the private information gathered. Although we are left helpless with that data breach, we DO have the option to remove our homes from Street View.  Recently I outlined how you can do this by following a few simple steps to remove yourself from Google Street View.

This case may not change the way Google operates, but it does keep bringing to light privacy issues that the company is facing. These privacy issues directly affect you and me and hopefully one day we will not be quite so helpless in protecting our identity from Google and other Internet gorillas.

John Sileo is the award-winning author of Stolen Lives and Privacy Means Profit (Wiley, August 2010), a professional Financial Speaker and America’s leading identity theft expert. His clients include the Department of Defense, FTC, FDIC and Pfizer; his recent media appearances include 60 Minutes. Contact him on 800.258.8076.

Google Maps Street View: Removing Your House

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According to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, if you are looking for more privacy, then you should move.

His callous remark came during a discussion on Google Maps Street View cars, which were found to be illegally collecting e-mails, passwords and surfing habits while photographing your neighborhood. Appearing on CNN’s Parker Spitzer a week ago, Schmidt made a bold statement that was eventually edited out of the broadcast. He said that said individuals who did not want the Street View cars to snap photos of their homes should “just move.” Schmidt then told The Hollywood Reporter, “As you can see from the unedited interview, my comments were made during a fairly long back and forth on privacy. I clearly misspoke. If you are worried about Street View and want your house removed please contact Google and we will remove it.” You can have your house removed from Google Maps Street View. Here’s how (see video):

  1. Go to www.google.com/maps
  2. Locate your house by typing its address into the search box and pressing Enter.
  3. Click on the small picture of your house that says Street View.
  4. Adjust Google Maps Street View by clicking the left and right arrows on the Street View image until you see your house.
  5. Click the Report a Problem link at the bottom-right corner of the Street View image.
  6.  It will take you to a page to Report Inappropriate Street View.  Here you can ask to have any number of things blurred, including the picture of your house.
  7.  You will need to provide your email address and submit a CAPTCHA.

An investigation into Google’s accidental practice of collecting identity information has been opened in France, Germany,  Spain, as well as in the U.S. Google claims that it will delete the sensitive information as soon as possible, but in the meantime, victims remain helpless. John Sileo is an an award-winning author and keynote speaker on identity theft, internet privacy, fraud training & technology defense. John specializes in making security entertaining, so that it works. John is CEO of The Sileo Group, whose clients include the Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security & Pfizer. John’s body of work includes appearances on 60 Minutes, Rachael Ray, Anderson Cooper & Fox Business. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076.

Is Google building a Facebook Rival?

According to CNN and Facebook CTO Adam D’Angelo they are.

(CNN) — Google is working on a social service to rival Facebook, if web rumors are to be believed.

And while Google’s social-networking efforts have so far fallen flat, even satisfied Facebook users should hope that the search engine’s efforts bear fruit.

First, to the rumor: A now-deleted Tweet last weekend from entrepreneur Kevin Rose claimed  that Google is working on a Facebook competitor called “Google Me.”

That claim gained credence as former Facebook CTO Adam D’Angelo weighed in. Posting a response on the question-and-answer service Quora, D’Angelo wrote: “This is not a rumor. This is a real project. There are a large number of people working on it. I am completely confident about this.”

Google, he added, is threatened by Facebook’s rise to prominence and feels the need to build a social network of its own.

The Facebook threat

The search giant has legitimate cause for concern.

Continue reading this article.

Order your Facebook Safety Survival Guide with Parents Guide to Online Safety

John Sileo is the award-winning author of Stolen Lives, Privacy Means Profit and the Facebook Safety Survival Guide. His professional speaking clients include the Department of Defense, the FTC, FDIC, Pfizer, Prudential and hundreds of other organizations that care about their information privacy. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076.

5 Business Survival Lessons from Google's Spying

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A few months ago, Google got caught sniffing unencrypted wireless transmissions as its Street View photography vehicles drove around neighborhoods and businesses. It had been “accidentally” listening in on transmissions for more than 3 years – potentially viewing what websites you visit, reading your emails, and browsing the documents you edit and save in the cloud.

Public opinion blames Google, because Google is big and rich and and scarily omnipotent in the world of information domination. It’s fashionable to blame Google. What Google did was, to me, unethical, and they should eliminate both the collection practice and their archive of sniffed data.

But the greater responsibility lies with the businesses and homes that plugged in a wireless network and did nothing to protect it. Don’t tell me that you don’t know better. When you beam unencrypted data outside of your building, it’s no different than putting unshredded trash on your curb – YOU NO LONGER OWN IT. In fact, when you take no steps to protect the data that flies out of your airwaves and into the public domain, you really have no claim against someone taking it. It’s like finding a $100 bill on an abandoned sidewalk – you can claim it or the next lucky person will. Tom Bradley of PC World agrees:

The lesson for businesses and IT administrators is that you have to put forth some effort to at least give the appearance that you intend for the information to be private in order for there to be any inherent expectation of privacy. The burden should not be on Google, or the general public to have to determine whether the data you let freely fly about unencrypted is meant to be shared or is intended for a specific audience.

The Google story illuminates 5 Business Survival Lessons:

  1. This, like so many other business issues, is not a technology problem. The technology to keep out unwanted eyes exists (unless a government wants to tap you) and is accessible and affordable. The problem is human — someone has decided to ignore what they know should be done (especially having read this article)
  2. Private information that you fail to protect is no longer your private information (pragmatically and probably even legally).
  3. In the marketplace of data, just like in business, it is your responsibility to control what you can. Not everything is in your power, but safe wireless transmissions are. Whether it’s trash in a dumpster, posts on Facebook or wireless signals, the responsibility is yours and your business’s, not just Google’s, Facebook’s and corporate America’s. You must do your part.
  4. If you don’t employ at least WPA2 encryption currently on your wireless networks, I can nearly guarantee your data is being watched. And the expense of upgrading is minor compared to the prospect of breach, so lose that excuse.
  5. Prevention isn’t sexy, but it’s profitable. Whether your are preventing data leakage, budget shortfalls, or a heart attack, the key is to do the hard work before it happens.

John Sileo is the award-winning author of Stolen Lives and Privacy Means Profit (Wiley, August 2010), a professional Financial Speaker and America’s leading identity theft expert. His clients include the Department of Defense, FTC, FDIC and Pfizer; his recent media appearances include 60 Minutes. Contact him on 800.258.8076.

Breaking News: Google Admits WiFi Data Collection

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Breaking News

Google has apologized after admitting that they were “accidentally” collecting users personal information that was sent over unsecured wifi networks. Head of communications at Google, Peter Barron, told the BBC that this was a ‘mistake‘ and more robust procedures will be put in place.

John Sileo became one of America’s leading Social Networking Speakers & sought after Identity Theft Experts after he lost his business and more than $300,000 to identity theft and data breach. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference, contact him by email or on 800.258.8076.

Information Control: FCC Comcast Ruling and World War III

Information ControlInformation control will be at the heart of the next major war waged between nations. None of us yet knows if the battlefield will be virtual or actual, but it’s liable to be both. From this point forward, every business person (and individual) must understand the discipline of CIA, Controlling Information Assets. That’s where the profits are, and that’s where their battles will be fought.

Take Tuesday’s decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals, as summarized here by the New York Times (emphasis mine):

A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that regulators [Sileo Note: the FCC] had limited power over Web traffic under current law. The decision will allow Internet service companies to block or slow specific sites and charge video sites like YouTube to deliver their content faster to users.

So, for example, if Comcast completes its takeover of NBC, it would have the right to increase the broadcast speed of NBC-owned programs over the web while decreasing the speed of television programs provided by competing networks. Suddenly, American Idol is less attractive to watch because of frustrating download bottlenecks that make FOX’s show inferior to NBC’s The Biggest Loser. And that is how the average viewer becomes the biggest loser. All because Comcast has been given a higher degree of information control.

It would be similar to your phone company being able to restrict all calls from states that didn’t offer its services.

Now, apply this seemingly trivial but precedent-setting decision to the political sphere. China, flexing its information control muscle, says that it won’t do business with Google unless Google agrees to filter out references to Tienanmen Square and Democracy (among other topics) on its Google China search engine. In a creepy reincarnation of George Orwell’s Big Brother, China wants to control the flow of information so that it can influence public opinion in any way it likes. Google, on the other hand, by pulling out of China, is firing their own salvo at who controls the information. So in steps Microsoft and it’s Google rival, Bing, to pick up the competitive slack. It turns out that Microsoft doesn’t mind filtering out some results, as this is what a search engine is meant to do – filter results. Information control.

Or look at the story run by NPR today, Cyberattack: U.S. Unready For Future Face Of War:

The bloody little conflict between Russia and Georgia in August 2008 lasted just nine days, but it marked a turning point in the history of warfare. For the first time ever, the shooting was accompanied by a cyberattack.

In the opening hours of battle, unidentified hackers shut down Georgian government, media and banking Web sites. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili insisted that Russia was responsible for the cyberattack, and U.S. officials subsequently said he was probably right.

The timing was propitious. Just as Russian ground troops were engaging Georgian forces in combat, the Georgian government was forced to deal with malfunctioning computer systems. U.S. intelligence analysts were convinced that the actions were carefully coordinated.

These aren’t doomsday predictions. They are a new arsenal of weapons put to play on a poorly-understood battlefield that bridges the virtual and the actual. What are you doing to prepare your organization to Control Information Assets?

John Sileo speaks on information control, identity theft prevention and data breach avoidance. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more, contact him directly on 800.258.8076.

Facebook Privacy: Hide from Google

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facebook_privacyThe New York Times recently published an article that discusses the severe changes Facebook has made to privacy settings. This is the last post on these changes and each post gives you details on how to manage these new settings so that you can gradually accumulate your Facebook Privacy.

What Can Google See? (Keep Your Data Off the Search Engines)

When you visit Facebook’s Search Settings page, a warning message pops up. Apparently, Facebook wants to clear the air about what info is being indexed by Google. The message reads:

There have been misleading rumors recently about Facebook indexing all your information on Google. This is not true. Facebook created public search listings in 2007 to enable people to search for your name and see a link to your Facebook profile. They will still only see a basic set of information.

While that may be true to a point, the second setting listed on this Search Settings page refers to exactly what you’re allowing Google to index. If the box next to “Allow” is checked, you’re giving search engines the ability to access and index any information you’ve marked as visible by “Everyone.” As you can see from the settings discussed above, if you had not made some changes to certain fields, you would be sharing quite a bit with the search engines…probably more information than you were comfortable with. To keep your data private and out of the search engines, do the following:

  1. From your Profile page, hover your mouse over the Settings menu at the top right and click “Privacy Settings” from the list that appears.
  2. Click “Search” from the list of choices on the next page.
  3. Click “Close” on the pop-up message that appears.
  4. On this page, uncheck the box labeled “Allow” next to the second setting “Public Search Results.” That keeps all your publicly shared information (items set to viewable by “Everyone”) out of the search engines. If you want to see what the end result looks like, click the “see preview” link in blue underneath this setting.

Read more from the New York Times article that discusses the Facebook settings that every user should be aware of. Be proactive about what you share on Facebook and protect your online privacy!

Read The first 2 articles –

Facebook Privacy: Videos, Photos, and Status Updates

Facebook Privacy: Your Personal Info

Order your copy of the Facebook Safety Survival Guide to make sure you and your children are protected online.

John Sileo became one of America’s leading Social Networking Speakers & sought after Identity Theft Expert after he lost his business and more than $300,000 to identity theft and data breach. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference, contact him by email or on 800.258.8076.

Google Dashboard Calms Privacy Critics

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google-logoGoogle introduced the Google Dashboard on November 5th to help calm privacy critics. This provides a summary of the application data associated with your Google account.

Users are able to see what sites they visit, how many Docs they have created and share, how many iGoogle gadgets they are using, Google Reader info, Profile info, Tasks and YouTube history. This is great way for users to be able to see and control their data. It makes people more aware of what they put out there and allows them to set certain privacy settings. The Google Dashboard is currently available in 17 languages and you can Click Here to Read More.

John Sileo provides identity theft training to human resource departments and organizations around the country. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference, contact him by email or on 800.258.8076.