Security Archives

Privacy Tool Turns Out Not As Good as it Looks

Originally posted Sunday, Sept 03

The first thing to say here is that I consider that headline to be
misleading. It isn’t an "attack" on the so-called "privacy tool" at all.
It is being labeled Adware by a lot of people because it’s web searches
involve advertizing.

The second thing to make clear is that it is not actually a browser in
and of itself. It is instead a ‘skin’ for Internet Explorer that
modifies it’s behaviour and features. As such, I would consider it to be
no more secure than plain vanilla IE which to my mind, make it something
to avoid.


‘Adware’
attack on privacy tool

Software that claimed to provide increased privacy whilst surfing
the web has been criticised by computer experts and the blogging
community.

The application Browzar has been branded "adware" by many because
it directs web searches to online adverts.

Some technical experts also say Browzar, which claims to leave no
trail of webpages visited, does not work.

If you read the full article, you’ll see that one person found evidence
that Browzar does indeed miss some things in the trail that it claims to
clean up.

I had a look at their website and read their FAQ, which leads me to at
least one item that I just can’t leave alone because it’s just not true
at all. The question dealt with other ways to protect privacy online.

Browzar isn’t completely new technology though – aren’t there other
ways that I can protect my privacy online?

Browzar is the most simple, quick and effective way to surf the
internet privately. Although there are ways, on some internet
browsers, to erase history folders and so on, it is complicated and
involves a level of technical knowledge (and time) that many people
surfing the internet do not have.

They’re trying to give the impression that in other browsers this
clearing out of private data is difficult and require technical
expertise. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Speaking of the browser that I use most, Firefox,
This process is painfully easy. You click the "Tools" menu, and select
"Clear Private Data… Ctrl+Shift+Del" and it pops up a box like this
one asking you to confirm what you want deleted.

Firefox clear private data confirmation

Of course, you can also have Firefox delete this data automatically ever
time you close the browser. All you need to do is use the "Settings"
button on the "Privacy" tab of the "Options" command, also on the
"Tools" menu.

firefox clear private data configure

In short, if you’re looking for a browser that helps make it easier to
maintain your privacy, I would recommend you avoid IE and "skins" like
Browzar and use check out Firefox. It’s probably one of the best browser
solutions around today. (and no, nobody paid me to say that either. It’s
my own actual opinion)

 

Watchdog group warns against AOL’s free software

Originally posted Tuesday, Aug 29

After years of seeing all manner of user complaints, ridicule and
derision of AOL in various internet forums and most notably usenet, This
story comes as no real surprize. Even if AOL moves to change their
software to remove the behavior the folks at stopbadware.org are talking
about, this is going to be one of those things that just never goes away.

If for example, usenet posters thoght they had reason to slam AOL
before, this is going to be years worth of amunition that AOL will not
be allowed to forget for a very long time to come, if ever.

StopBadware.org
says AOL’s free client software displayed characteristics consistent
with "badware."

The New York Times
By Tom
Zeller Jr.
The New York Times
Published: August 28, 2006, 9:50 PM
PDT

Dealing yet another blow to AOL, a leading software watchdog group
warned users away from AOL’s free client software Monday on the ground
that it displayed characteristics consistent with "badware."

The term badware describes a wide array of downloadable
applications that try to install extra components on a computer
without clearly informing users of what they are or what they will do.

The group, StopBadware.org, posted an "open inquiry" into the AOL
software Monday, meaning that a dialogue has been opened with the
company and that a full "badware" designation is still pending.

The report, however, stated that the AOL client software, which
provides subscribers with a suite of services, also installed extra
software deceptively, altered the Web browser and other computer
components without notifying the user, and did not uninstall
completely, among other "badware behaviors."

Similar characteristics are often found in pernicious forms of
spyware and adware, often called malware. The StopBadware organization
was founded in part to assist consumers in spotting shady software.
The group is run by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at
Harvard Law School and the Oxford Internet Institute of Oxford
University.

MMS now available on freenet

Originally posted Sunday Aug 27

As of tonight, Mixminion Message Sender is now available within freenet.
It’s url Is:
SSK@XKgPxdSUjAcZrV0oTUGeXmoAGfIPAgM,ZOJm89bQCLLZw7DJ23i4gw/mmsdev/1//

Note: in order for the freenet link to work you must be running freenet
0.5, which you can get at http://freenetproject.org/download-old.html.
Don’t let the "old" part of that url worry you. Freenet developers are
working on a new version of freenet, 0.7 which is not compatible with
0.5 and is still very much in testing and serious development. Version
0.5 is still in use by a large number of people and will continue to be
for some time to come.

Do We Have A Right To Anonymity As Well As Privacy?

In a word, YES

What the author of the blog/whatever quoted here makes the argument that anonymity is not a right that people have an expectation of. She also tries to suggest that anonymity software should not be legally distributed except when somebody demonstrates the “need” for it somehow.

The problem with this is when somebody needs to be anonymous I daresay that they don’t really have the time to go getting approval first. It’s also entirely reasonable that the very person or persons / agency that is in charge of permitting anonymity could be the very thing that the would-be anonymous person needs to remain anonymous FROM in the first place.

She also tries to make the argument that anonymity and privacy are not the same thing. I submit that they very often are and that people have the right to function anonymously… Just like you don’t (or shouldn’t) have to identify yourself to a Law Enforcement Agent simply because they tell you to. They need to show cause or bring specific charges before identifying yourself should be required.


Do We Have an Expected Right to Internet Anonymity?
Should Internet Anonymity Software Be Distributed Legally?
Internet anonymity allows users to keep all the information regarding their personal, computer, and business information private while being active on the internet. Like any right or freedom, it can be very helpful or be heavily abused. If someone uses internet anonymity software because they are being stalked or harassed, then most would agree that their right to use internet anonymity is viable.  But, if someone wishes to be anonymous on the internet so that they can distribute viruses or communicate with terrorists, than their access to these tools should be denied. From these two assumptions, we can only agree that idealy, internet anonymity should be evaluated on an individual basis. The means, nor the support are available to offer this kind of regulation to internet anonymity, so the debate remains, should it be legal?

Privacy Tool Turns Out Not As Good as it Looks

The first thing to say here is that I consider that headline to be misleading. It isn’t an “attack” on the so-called “privacy tool” at all.  It is being labeled Adware by a lot of people because it’s web searches involve advertizing.

The second thing to make clear is that it is not actually a browser in and of itself. It is instead a ‘skin’ for Internet Explorer that modifies it’s behaviour and features. As such, I would consider it to be no more secure than plain vanilla IE which to my mind, make it something to avoid.


‘Adware’ attack on privacy tool
Software that claimed to provide increased privacy whilst surfing the web has been criticised by computer experts and the blogging community.

The application Browzar has been branded “adware” by many because it directs web searches to online adverts.

Some technical experts also say Browzar, which claims to leave no trail of webpages visited, does not work.

If you read the full article, you’ll see that one person found evidence that Browzar does indeed miss some things in the trail that it claims to clean up.

I had a look at their website and read their FAQ, which leads me to at least one item that I just can’t leave alone because it’s just not true at all. The question dealt with other ways to protect privacy online.

Browzar isn’t completely new technology though – aren’t there other ways that I can protect my privacy online? Browzar is the most simple, quick and effective way to surf the internet privately. Although there are ways, on some internet browsers, to erase history folders and so on, it is complicated and involves a level of technical knowledge (and time) that many people surfing the internet do not have.

They’re trying to give the impression that in other browsers this clearing out of private data is difficult and require technical expertise. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Speaking of the browser that I use most, Firefox, This process is painfully easy. You click the “Tools” menu, and select “Clear Private Data… Ctrl+Shift+Del” and it pops up a box like this one asking you to confirm what you want deleted.

Firefox clear private data confirmation
Of course, you can also have Firefox delete this data automatically ever time you close the browser. All you need to do is use the “Settings” button on the “Privacy” tab of the “Options” command, also on the “Tools” menu.

firefox clear private data configure
In short, if you’re looking for a browser that helps make it easier to maintain your privacy, I would recommend you avoide IE and “skins” like Browzar and use check out Firefox. It’s probably one of the best browser solutions around today. (and no, nobody paid me to say that either. It’s my own actual opinion)

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