Category: General

Microsoft acquires LinkedIn: privacy issues arise

16. June 2016

Early this week, Microsoft announced the acquisition of LinkedIn, a professional network with more than 400 million users. This makes LinkedIn to be one of the largest databases worldwide. The acquisition will allow Microsoft to have access to the professional profiles of LinkedIn users.

According to Microsoft´s CEO, Satiya Nadella, this operation will make possible that, for example, LinkedIn´s newsfeed shows articles related to the project the user is working on and on the other hand, Office may suggest professionals in LinkedIn who are experts in the task that is being completed at the time.

However, privacy related issues have aroused upon the acquisition, especially regarding the amount of personal data that LinkedIn processes. Dimitri Sirota, CEO of BigID, a customer data protection company, states that Microsoft should show that this acquisition “can enrich the software offerings from Microsoft in areas such as CRM, communication, productivity, etc.” He also remarks the importance of personal data management, so that there is no infringement of local data privacy legislations.

Software companies, such as Microsoft, gain marketing, sales and intelligence value through these kind of operations, but they also have to deal with privacy risk and compliance legislation.

In this scenario, LinkedIn should continue handling personal data as stipulated in its terms of service. This does not prevent Microsoft from signing a data transfer agreement with LinkedIn in order to have access to the data. Such access would allow Microsoft to analyze the personal data received.

Several IT-Security experts agree on the fact that data privacy and data protection should stay at the foreground.

Uber must pay a total over $1 million

14. June 2016

Accoring to the New York Times, Uber was fined €800,000, about $900,000, plus court fees, which adds to a total over $1 million, for running an illegal transport service and breaking privacy laws in France.

Half of those sanctions that Uber has to pay are “suspended sentences,” which means that Uber only needs to pay 50 percent of the fines as long as there are no further breaches of the law.

On top of that, Uber’s EMEA director Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty and Thibaud Simphal, the French company’s boss, were fined €30,000, about $34,000, and €20,000, about $22,500. The two men were detained for questioning by French authorities a year ago.

 

Category: General
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Twitter: 32 million accounts may have been hacked and leaked

9. June 2016

Hackers may have used malware in order to gain more than 32 million Twitter login-data that are now presumable being sold on the dark web. However, a Twitter spokesman said that “We are confident that these usernames and credentials were not obtained by a Twitter data breach – our systems have not been breached. In fact, we’ve been working to help keep accounts protected by checking our data against what’s been shared from recent other password leaks.”

LeakedSource, a site with a search engine of leaked login credentials, says that the respected data of Twitter contains 32,888,300 records consisting of email addresses, usernames and passwords.

Due to the provided information included in the respected data, for example the fact that passwords are displayed without encryption, LeakedSource stated that the data was collected by malware that has infected internet browsers rather than stolen directly from Twitter. In order to verify that the leaked data is valid, LeakedSource asked 15 users to verify their passwords. All of them confirmed that the passwords were correct.

However, Twitter stated that the hacking of accounts belonging to celebrities was due to the re-use of passwords that were leaked in the LinkedIn and Myspace breaches. A spokesman said that “A number of other online services have seen millions of passwords stolen in the past several weeks. We recommend people use a unique, strong password for Twitter”.

Whether or not the leaked data is valid, it is recommended to change passwords, not only when using the same password for several accounts.

Belgian court ruled on “right-to-be-forgotten”

3. June 2016

The Belgian Court of Cassation confirmed the broad interpretation of the “right-to-be-forgotten” by a Belgian Court of Appeal.

The case was initiated by a person who fought against a Belgian newspaper because it did not comply with a request to remove an article from 1994 from its online archives regarding a car accident causing the death of two persons in which the individual was involved.

The Court of Appeal ruled that disclosing the name of the individum in the article was not in public interest and that is why it was damaging the reputation of the relevant individual. Therefore, it ordered the newspaper to anonymize the online version of the article.

However, the newspaper contested the Court of Appeal’s judgment and brought the case before the Belgian Court of Cassation.

The Court of Cassation decided that the publication of articles in newspapers’ online archives can be considered as a new disclosure of facts of an individual’s judicial past, which could potentially infringe the individual’s right-to-be-forgotten. Furthermore, the Court of Cassation confirmed that the online publication of the non-anonymized article years after the accident could have caused damages to the individual’s reputation. Therefore, the Court of Cassation decided that the right to privacy of the relevant individual could justify an interference with the newspaper’s right to freedom of expression and that in this case the newspaper has to remove all references to the individual from the article in its online archives.

European Data Protection Supervisor issues opinion on EU-U.S. Privacy Shield

1. June 2016

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), Giovanni Buttarelli, issued this week his opinion on the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield. The EDPS is an independent EU institution created in 2004 that assesses EU institutions on policies and legislation related to privacy and data protection and cooperates with authorities in these matters.

The EDPS emphasized on the following key aspects related to the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield:

  • The current draft is not solid enough and improvements should be made in order to withstand scrutiny before the ECJ.
  • The Privacy Shield should offer a long-term solution regarding international data transfers to the U.S.
  • The protection provided by the Privacy Shield should ensure the rights to redress, transparency, data privacy and oversight.
  • It should also prevent from indiscriminate surveillance by American authorities.
  • The draft should comply with the GDPR, including international data transfers.
  • International companies should be aware of and comply with their obligations on privacy and data protection issues.

To sum up, the Privacy Shield should offer an equivalent data protection level to that existing in the EU.

Category: EU · General
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Newest Google instant messaging app criticized due to lack of end-to-end encryption by default

24. May 2016

Allo, the new instant messaging app from Google, has been presented this week and is expected to be available for users this summer. As many other technological companies, such as WhatsApp, Facebook, or Apple, Google has decided to implement end-to-end encryption in this app. End-to-end encryption ensures privacy in certain messaging and video call apps so that not even authorities have access to the information stored.

However, unlike WhatsApp, Facebook messenger or iMessage, end-to-end encryption in Allo has to be activated by the user by selecting the “incognito” mode, what has been subject to strong criticism. As Google explained, end-to-end encryption is not activated by default in order to be able to connect it with the functionalities of Google Assistant, which provides tailored recommendations to its users according to the data stored in Google apps. This means that queries to Google’s own servers may be necessary. If “incognito” mode is active Google Assistant’s features may not be able to be used.

Morey Haber, Vice-President of technology, at the cybersecurity company BeyondTrust, acknowledges the possibility to combine end-to-end encryption with the artificial intelligence feature, but he admits that in this case it is not possible that the queries to Google Assistant are fully processed.

Google engineer, Thai Duong, has posted in his personal blog about the security and privacy features of the app.

LinkedIn: Hacker selling 117 million e-mail adresses and passwords

19. May 2016

In 2012 LinkedIn was hacked and 6.5 million encrypted passwords were posted online.

This data breach has now turned out to be far more extensive than originally thoght. This is due to the fact that a hacker called “Peace” is trying to sell account information of 117 million LinkedIn users, including their e-mail addresses and passwords.

The hacked data search engine LeakedSource, has also obtained the data. Although the passwords were originally encrypted, so that a series of random digits were attached to the end of hashes, in order to make them harder to be cracked, LeakedSource claims to have cracked 90 percent of the passwords in 72 hours.

The security researcher Troy Hunt, maintaining the breach notification site “Have I Been Pwned?,”talked to some of the victims of this data breach. Two of them confirmed that they were users of LinkedIn and that the password that Hunt shared with them was indeed the one they were using at the time of the data breach.

LinkedIn confirmed this week that the new data is legitimate:

The company’s chief information security officer Cory Scott stated that “Yesterday, we became aware of an additional set of data that had just been released that claims to be email and hashed password combinations of more than 100 million LinkedIn members from that same theft in 2012,“ and went on “We are taking immediate steps to invalidate the passwords of the accounts impacted, and we will contact those members to reset their passwords. We have no indication that this is as a result of a new security breach.“ Furthermore, Scott also suggested that in order to keep their accounts as safe as possible, members visit their safety center to learn about enabling two-step verification, and to use strong passwords.

Category: General
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Report: Google denies about 70 to 75 percent of “right to be forgotten” requests

17. May 2016

Two years ago, the Court of Justice of the European Union established the “right to be forgotten”. An organization named Reputation VIP launched a website, forget.me,  that should help consumers in Europe submitting requests to Google and Bing.

Based on the consumer submissions through the site, 130,000 URLs, the company released a new report on the trends of the outcome of the requests of the “right to be forgotten” related to geographic location and success rates of those requests.

The study shows, that with regard to geographical means the top three countries from which requests originate are Germany, the UK and France. In more detail it is to say, that more than half of all requests came from Germany and the UK.

With respect to the success rates of the mentioned requests the report states, that Google denies about 70 percent to 75 percent of them.

Furthermore, the study shows, that Google most frequently denies removal requests concerning professional activity. Whereas the type of request is in 61 % of the cases due to an invasion of privacy.

 

 

Serious data breach in HIV clinic in London

11. May 2016

A clinic in London has been fined 180.000 GBP due to a “serious data breach”. The clinic offered a service to HIV-patients in order to receive newsletters and test results as well as make appointments via email. It sent an email newsletter to 781 of its patients with all patient emailaddresses in the “To” field and not in the “Bcc” field. 730 of the emailaddresses included the full names of the patients. The newsletter was used to inform the patients about sexual health services and general treatment details. The Information Commissioner´s Office (ICO) said, “the breach caused a great deal of upset to the people affected”. Information about the health or sexual life of a person is considered to be sensitive personal data and should be protected specifically. Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the clinic, has been fined 180.000 GBP. The responsible ICO investigation trust discovered, that a similar error had happened already in March 2010. Although some remedial measures were taken at that time, no specific training had taken place since then.

Twitter blocks U.S. Intelligence Agencies from Dataminr service

10. May 2016

Dataminr is used as a tool that analyzes and traces social media posts and notifies users about breaking news in real time, such as the terror attack in Brussel´s airport in March. This analysis is carried out by using key words, patterns, or geotags.

Twitter, that owns 5% of Dataminr, has now blocked U.S. intelligence services from its Dataminr service, in order not to appear to support the surveillance activities of the U.S. Intelligence services.

Dataminr services where used by the American Government in 2013 to detect any risks on the inauguration of U.S. President Obama´s second term. However, it is not clear how Dataminr provided this service to the U.S. Intelligence services, as Twitter´s privacy policy prohibits selling its data to governmental agencies.

Category: General · USA
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