Skype security flaw leaves user locations vulnerable

By on December 8, 2011 at 9:30 PM.

Skype security flaw leaves user locations vulnerable

New York University’s Polytechnic Institute has discovered a Skype security flaw that leaves Skype users’ locations and P2P sharing activity accessible to hackers. The security hole was discovered while NYU scientists monitored 10,000 Skype users and 20 volunteers during a two-week period. “A hacker anywhere in the world could easily track the whereabouts and file-sharing habits of a Skype user – from private citizens to celebrities and politicians – and use the information for purposes of stalking, blackmail or fraud,” professor Keith Ross from computer science NYU-Poly’s computer science program said. Hackers can also keep track of a Skype user’s movements as he or she places calls from various locations. The scientists were able to follow a Skype user during a vacation from New York to Chicago and then all the way home to France, Financial Post explained. “A fairly straightforward and inexpensive fix would prevent hackers from taking the critical first step in this security breach – that of obtaining users’ IP addresses through inconspicuous calling,” the scientists said. Skype chief information officer Adrian Asher said his company will work to improve the security of Skype’s software.  More →

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Apple, Samsung and six more companies sued over Carrier IQ scandal

By on December 5, 2011 at 11:30 AM.

Apple, Samsung and six more companies sued over Carrier IQ scandal

Apple, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Carrier IQ have been sued in a federal court by what the lawyers involved have deemed a “cell phone tracking software scandal.” Law firms Sianni & Straite LLP, Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy LLP, and Keefe Bartels L.L.C. have jointly filed a class action complaint in a Delaware Federal Court related to the “unprecedented breach of the digital privacy rights of 150 million cell phone users.” The complaint suggests that the aforementioned carriers and vendors violated the Federal Wiretap Act, the Stored Electronic Communications Act, and the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The suit of course refers to the companies’ use of Carrier IQ, the carrier and vendor-implemented cell phone spyware discovered recently on a number of handsets from multiple manufacturers. Read on for more. More →

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Google intros privacy solution for home routers, forces users to opt out

By on November 15, 2011 at 1:35 PM.

Google intros privacy solution for home routers, forces users to opt out

Google has announced a new privacy option that allows users to opt out of having their wireless routers included in the Google Location Server. That’s right, you have to opt out, not in. Here’s how Google Location Server works: when you’re walking around town trying to figure out your location using your smartphone and Google Maps, your phone can either use GPS or a faster, more battery efficient method that determines your location based on local wireless networks. Google maintains a database of local wireless access points but, if you don’t want to be included in it, you can simply change your router SSID (the network name that you broadcast) to include “_nomap” at the end of the access point name. Once you’ve done that, Google will not include your wireless access point in its Google Location Server database. “As we explored different approaches for opting-out access points from the Google Location Server, we found that a method based on wireless network names provides the right balance of simplicity as well as protection against abuse,” Google’s global privacy counsel Peter Felischer said in a blog post. “Specifically, this approach helps protect against others opting out your access point without your permission.” More →

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Verizon tweaks privacy policy; starts sharing your location, web history and more with advertisers

By on October 17, 2011 at 1:45 PM.

Verizon tweaks privacy policy; starts sharing your location, web history and more with advertisers

Verizon Wireless began alerting its customers of changes to its official privacy policy on Friday. The carrier confirmed it will now use information for “private business and marketing reports” and “making mobile ads more relevant.” Verizon Wireless will share the URL of websites you visit, the location of your device, as well as app and device feature usage. It will also share information on data and calling features and your demographic so that it, and outside firms, can create reports and target ads more efficiently. Read on. More →

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Microsoft’s ‘Locationgate’ ends with Mango

By on September 30, 2011 at 4:20 PM.

Microsoft’s ‘Locationgate’ ends with Mango

Microsoft has updated its Windows Phone platform to address what is now presumed to have been a bug that caused phones to gather location data before a user opted in to such services. Windows Phone developer Rafael Rivera last week revealed that Microsoft’s mobile platform was exhibiting behavior that directly contradicted earlier claims the company made to the United States government. Microsoft’s new “Mango” update, however, appears to have remedied the matter. Read on for more. More →

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Developer says Microsoft lied to government about Windows Phone location tracking

By on September 27, 2011 at 2:20 PM.

Developer says Microsoft lied to government about Windows Phone location tracking

A developer has revealed evidence that Windows Phone devices collect and transmit user location data before users have given the phones permission to do so. The news follows claims Microsoft made to the United States House of Representatives stating that it does not collect or transmit any location data until a Windows Phone user opts in. Windows Phone devices clearly ask for permission regarding the collection of location data — the user must click “allow” in a pop-up dialog box seeking authorization for the camera app to collect positioning data — but it appears as though the OS doesn’t bother to wait for users to opt in before it begins transmitting location information. Read on for more. More →

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Microsoft gets its own ‘Locationgate’ scandal with accompanying class action lawsuit

By on September 1, 2011 at 12:25 PM.

Microsoft gets its own ‘Locationgate’ scandal with accompanying class action lawsuit

Apple has repeatedly accused Samsung of “copying” its products, but it looks like Microsoft is now the one following Apple’s lead. A class action lawsuit filed in Seattle on Wednesday accuses Microsoft of unlawfully tracking users of smartphones that run the company’s emerging Windows Phone 7 operating system. According to the complaint, the camera application in Microsoft’s Windows Phone software continues to track users’ locations and transmit that data to Microsoft even if users opt-out of Windows Phone’s tracking and feedback functions. The class action suit seeks an injunction as well as punitive damages. Earlier this year, Apple was caught tracking iPhone and iPad users’ locations and storing them in a hidden file on the devices. Apple would go on to state that the issue was caused by a bug, and the Cupertino-based company quickly issued a software update to remedy the problem. Numerous complaints were filed as a result of the scandal however, and while damages have been minimal so far, several cases are still outstanding. More →

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Microsoft outs Windows Phone 'We're in' location sharing app

By on August 18, 2011 at 9:45 PM.

Microsoft outs Windows Phone 'We're in' location sharing app

Microsoft’s Bing team took the wraps off of a new location-sharing application for Windows Phone on Thursday called “We’re in.” The application is similar to foursquare and Latitude in some respects, and yet still very different. The idea is simple: you can create an invitation that will allow your friends to share their location for a specified amount of time. Say, for example, you want to share your location and see where four of your friends are, for one hour, while you all head towards a local restaurant. You can create a quick event with “We’re in” and then send it to those friends. Once they accept, their pictures and locations will appear on Bing Maps. If you hit traffic or the train is late, you and your friends can update your status as you make your way to the restaurant. Unlike Latitude, which some people avoid for fear of location privacy issues, you can always leave the party. Better yet, when the allotted time is up, your location is automatically turned off. The application is available in the Zune Marketplace now and Microsoft says it plans on delivering it to other platforms soon, too. More →

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27,000 South Koreans sue Apple over iPhone privacy concerns

By on August 17, 2011 at 10:00 AM.

27,000 South Koreans sue Apple over iPhone privacy concerns

27,000 people have filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple in South Korea over concerns Apple collected private location data, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday. The group is seeking 1 million won per person in damages, or about $930 each and just over $25 million total. In early August, the Korean Communications Commission fined Apple 3 million won ($2,829) following the “Locationgate” scandal that occurred earlier this year. Apple has stood by its claims that the location-tracking was the result of a bug that was fixed in a software update. The iPhone maker was also sued in the United States by two consumers in Florida and by one man in Puerto Rico. Apple paid South Korean lawyer Kim Hyung-suk $945 this past May after he filed a lawsuit against the company, and that is the only other recorded pay-out at this point regarding the iOS location tracking bug. More →

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Facebook launches Messenger chat app for Android, iPhone

By on August 9, 2011 at 5:20 PM.

Facebook launches Messenger chat app for Android, iPhone

Facebook announced on Tuesday that it has released a new application called “Messenger” for Android and the iPhone. Messenger allows users to quickly chat with friends, create group chats, share their location or photos and more. It doesn’t appear that Facebook will tie it in with its Facebook Chat application just yet, but you can access your Facebook inbox from the new app. Unfortunately, it does not offer the same delivered/read alerts that competing services such as BBM, iMessage and WhatsApp offer. The free application is available in both the Android Market and the iTunes App Store now. Facebook acquired a messaging platform called Beluga in March and this is likely the preliminary fruit of that purchase. More →

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Apple fined by South Korean regulator following 'Locationgate' scandal

By on August 3, 2011 at 10:35 AM.

Apple fined by South Korean regulator following 'Locationgate' scandal

Apple has been fined by South Korea’s telecommunications regulator following the “Locationgate” scandal that caused public outrage earlier this year, Dow Jones reports. This marks the second time Apple has had to pay penalties resulting from the iOS location-tracking snafu. A South Korean lawyer sued Apple and was awarded $1 million won, or approximately $945 at the time, by a court this past June. It was discovered in April that the iPhone and some iPad models were secretly tracking users and storing their locations in a local file. Apple determined that a software bug was responsible for the collection of location data, and it promptly issued a fix. The damage had already been done, however, and lawsuits were filed. Apple’s prompt attention to the matter likely limited the damage, and Wednesday’s fine levied by the Korea Communications Commission is the first penalty we’ve seen issued by a regulatory body. So what’s the damage this time around? $3 million won, or approximately $2,829. More →

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Google updates browser-based Maps for Android and iOS

By on May 21, 2011 at 9:00 AM.

Google updates browser-based Maps for Android and iOS

Google — noting that 40% of its Google Maps users are on mobile devices — updated its Google Maps Web app for iOS and Android today. We’ve been pretty satisfied with the native applications on Android and iOS, but the website allows you to access many of the options that are available from a desktop browser, too. That includes the ability to view your location, search nearby areas with suggestions and auto-complete, get directions for driving, transit, biking, or walking, view different lays, view Place pages, and access your starred locations. We’re particularly excited about the option for accessing our starred locations, a feature that’s not available in the native iOS application. You can access the revamped interface by visiting maps.google.com from your iOS or Android device. More →

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Wirefly unveils Mobile Backup PRO, offers free 30-day trial

By on May 18, 2011 at 10:01 PM.

Wirefly unveils Mobile Backup PRO, offers free 30-day trial

Wirefly this month unveiled a new service option for its popular mobile backup service. Mobile Backup PRO, which is compatible with the Android, iOS, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile 6.5 devices, affords subscribers a host of functionality not available with the standard free service. For starters, PRO subscribers get either 10GB or unlimited storage for music, photos, videos, and any other data backed up using the service, depending on the subscription option they choose. Free subscribers only get 2GB of storage. For added value, PRO subscribers can also use the service to locate their phone remotely using the device’s GPS, lock and unlock their phone remotely, display a message on the phone’s display, sound an alarm on the phone, and completely erase the phone’s memory remotely. Wirefly’s full-featured backup and remote security solution costs $2.99 per month or $30 annually for one phone and one computer with up to 10GB of storage. $5.99 or $60 annually grants users unlimited storage for up to five phones and one computer. Both plans feature a free 30-day trial for users who enter the code “WMBPRO.” More →

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