It’s the season Going a little overboard with gift-giving. But this year, give yourself the gift of great security (and privacy) and avoid technologies that may introduce unwanted risks or consequences. We are not talking about things that explode in the night or suddenly break, but rather gifts that can have irrevocable or lasting consequences in the future. This year has seen several major hacks involving healthcare and genetic data, and consumer surveillance technology is becoming more commonplace to spy on unsuspecting people. everyone, an ongoing unscrupulous data operation that sells personal information to those who want to buy it. The best solution to this problem is to not get involved in the first place. We have many gift ideas for you to consider.
Things to avoid…
- Genetic testing kits like 23andMe can have permanent and unexpected results
- Video door phone to see and hear all
- VPNs do not maintain your anonymity but may expose your web data
- Tracking your kids with dangerous location tracking apps is a terrible idea
- Cheap knock-off Android tablets can hide malware
- For practical safety, avoid sex toys connected to the internet
Genetic testing is forever. Once you spit it into the tube and send it on its way, there’s no way to get it back. And it’s not just genes that are being digitized. You will also be sharing your genes with your immediate family and relatives. What could go wrong? This year, the profiles and genetic information of millions of 23andMe customers were removed from the company’s systems in what is believed to be the largest genetic data breach in recent years. But 23andMe is not the first victim of a data breach, nor will it be the last. Even if security isn’t a concern, the fact that these companies store large amounts of highly sensitive information to begin with makes them attractive targets for law enforcement trying to solve crimes. It becomes. And while companies like 23andMe and Ancestry have – in the past emphatically – resisted law enforcement efforts to access DNA data pursuant to transparency reports, other companies have Principle of laissez faire Approaches to accessing genetic data held by police. Jason Koebler of 404 Media I couldn’t have said it any better.: “Doing 23andMe is an irreversible act that can have unintended consequences not only for yourself, but also for your family and future descendants.”
Video door phone to see and hear all
While there may be some benefit to seeing who’s at your front door before they get there, the long-term effects of installing a video camera on your front door open up a world of surveillance to your neighborhood. You or your neighbors may be watching. Not comfortable. doorbell video recording all They use cameras and microphones to see and listen, and send the recorded footage to the cloud for later viewing. However, as a result, that footage is often also available to law enforcement and can be highly intrusive, especially if: Police obtained footage from inside the home without the owner’s permission. End-to-end encrypted (E2EE) cameras offer maximum privacy (assuming that’s the company you bought the camera from). Not lying about encryption claims) to ensure that no one other than the owner (including the company itself) can access their footage. This is a good thing, especially since companies like Ring have been fined in the past for letting their employees snoop on customers’ unencrypted videos. After resolving the charges with federal regulators, Ring now says: Staff will only access customer footage in “very limited circumstances.” Of course, Ring hasn’t said what those situations will be.
VPNs do not maintain your anonymity but may expose your web data
If you think a VPN (Virtual Private Network) will keep you anonymous on the Internet, think again. Consumer-grade VPNs hide your IP address (a series of numbers that identify you to other devices on the Internet) and make it appear as if you’re in the area, typically You can claim to allow access to blocked streaming shows. In reality, VPN providers have a negative impact on your privacy and should be avoided like the plague. A VPN allows you to divert all your internet traffic away from your internet provider and instead route it through a VPN provider that ostensibly hides your privacy. Internet traffic may include information about which websites you visit and when, and may include highly sensitive information such as passwords and other credentials. However, some VPN providers don’t even encrypt the user’s data flowing over their network, despite claiming to do so. VPN providers need to make money just like any other provider. Free her VPN providers are by far the worst offenders, as they make money by selling or sharing your internet traffic to advertisers (or other unscrupulous buyers). Even for premium or paid services, anonymity cannot be guaranteed if you are paying with a traceable method such as a credit card. If you want anonymity online, you may want to use the Tor browser. It’s slower than the typical public internet and not ideal for streaming video, but it’s a compromise you have to make to ensure maximum privacy. Otherwise, you run the risk of your VPN selling or exfiltrating your sensitive internet traffic. Also, if a VPN is right for your use case, at least consider setting up a VPN to run yourself.
Tracking your kids with dangerous location tracking apps is a terrible idea
We can all understand the stress and fear of having children in an age of stranger danger and online harm. No wonder many parents want to track the location of their children’s phones. But child tracking apps are a thorny security and privacy issue, and the data they collect rarely remains on the device. Location data is some of the most sensitive data belonging to individuals. Location information can determine where someone was at a particular time, which can be highly revealing and invasive. But for years, we’ve reported on leaked location-sharing apps that expose people’s real-time location data, as well as nefarious and buggy “stalkerware” apps that leak information to everyone on the internet. Even one of his well-known family tracking apps, Life360, was busted Sell your precise location data to a data broker. There’s no reason not to discuss the benefits and pitfalls of tracking children. and your children. The key is trust, not stealth tracking. If your child consents to sharing their location, consider using the Family app or parental control apps built into most modern cell phones. Google also has Family Link, which allows Apple devices to share their end-to-end encrypted location with other Apple users, making it inaccessible to others.
Cheap knock-off Android tablets can hide malware
Cheaper isn’t always better, and Android devices are no exception. Case in point: earlier this year, EFF’s girlfriend Alexis Hancock discovered that her low-cost Android tablet given to her daughter had been shipped preloaded with software that appeared to be malware. This tablet also ran her Android software, which was released five years ago, but the app store designed for kids was also outdated. Hancock contacted the tablet manufacturer, but received no response. It’s tempting to buy a cheap device, but it’s not uncommon for manufacturers to include software for financial rebates to offset the price of the device itself. In some cases, preloaded software can send back data about the device or its user, or worse, have security bugs that can put the device’s data at risk. You may be able to recover your counterfeit tablet before you throw it away. Hancock has A great guide on how to protect your child’s Android device.
For practical safety, avoid sex toys connected to the internet
Last but certainly not least. There is a general belief in cybersecurity that any device or gadget that adds an internet connection is significantly more likely to be hacked, compromised, or tampered with remotely. One device that should not be connected to the internet is one inside your body. We’ve seen our fair share of horror stories about internet-connected sex toys. In 2020, we reported on smart chastity locks with security bugs that risked permanent lock-in. And this year, another smart sex toy maker exposed its customers’ user and location data due to a leaked server, but the company has yet to fix the issue. If your sex toy includes a phone app, there’s a good chance that the toy (or the app itself) could leak personal data, either by mistake or by sharing data with advertisers. It’s okay to be a pervert, no criticism here! However, if you absolutely must use a remote-controlled sex toy, consider a device that only has a