Archive for April, 2012

The terms and conditions of Google’s new cloud service “Drive” allows US law enforcement agencies to access your data, without your knowledge and without the need for a warrant.

Google cloud

Or so says the inventor of one of the first cloud computing services, TrendMicro cloud evangelist, David Asprey.

Mr Asprey told news.com.au that the terms of use of Google Drive “destroys any expectation of privacy because you license your data to a third party”.

“You give Google full right to do whatever they want to do with your data and of course one of those things is to give your information to law enforcement without a subpoena,” Mr Asprey said.

By signing up to Google Drive, users give the tech giant a global license to “use, host, store, reproduce, modify or create derivative works and to publish, publicly perform and distribute that content.”

Mr Asprey said the new terms of service extended the reach and power of the Patriot Act – which was passed shortly after September 11, 2001, giving the US Government permission to look at people’s documents without their knowledge or permission.

The new terms gives the US Government and law enforcement more opportunity to encroach on the rights of citizens worldwide, Mr Asprey said.

“Having all your data in the cloud be private, and requiring a warrant in order for it to be viewed by law enforcement will just go away over the next few years if Google allows this to stand,” Mr Asprey said.

Google says they comply with US laws and legal processes “just like any law-abiding company”.

“We have a track record of advocating on behalf of user privacy in the face of law enforcement requests (including but not limited to US Dept of Justice subpoenas),” Google said in a statement to news.com.au.

“We look at each request to be sure they adhere to both the letter and the spirit of the law before complying. We do our best to notify the subject named in any such requests in order to give them the opportunity to object.”

Mr Heitman said that Google’s privacy policy, which was updated last month, no longer said that it would only hand over court documents without a court order or a warrant.

“They basically said they’ll comply as these things fit,” he said.

The lawyer and certified technologist also said that Google was the only service that explicitly stated that it would scan your data in order to better market advertisements for you.

Dropbox doesn’t do that. Microsoft SkyDrive doesn’t do that,” Mr Heitman said.

“So you’ve got this situation as ever with Google that you are the product. Whatever you have on your Google drive can be used for any of its purposes.”

“They keep changing their purpose, so as time goes on you may find yourself in the circumstance that the use of your data becomes more intrusive than just targeted ads on your search page or on YouTube.”

Google said that it made clear “what belongs to you and stays yours”.

“You own your files and control their sharing, plain and simple,” the tech giant said. “Our Terms of Service enable us to give you the services you want – so if you decide to share a document with someone, or open it on a different device, you can.”

Mr Heitman and Mr Asprey said that if people were concerned about their privacy, they should encrypt their data before uploading it to the cloud.

Encryption basically allows users to “encode” their data, making it unreadable to anyone accept the user who possesses a “key”, which is an algorithm that unlocks the data in order for it to be viewed.

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Further Mac trojan viruses discovered

Posted April 30, 2012 By David Kolle

switched on apple
A computer security company has found another virus that has been infecting the Apple computers via a Java plug-in, spreading across computers when people open email messages with links directing them to malware.

The virus is the second to be discovered in a week, after news earlier that more than 650,000 Mac computers had been infected with a Trojan virus known as “Flashback”.

The chief security expert of anti-virus software provider Kaspersky Lab, Alex Gostev, said the latest virus is called “SabPub” – an abbreviation of its formal name, “Backdoor.OSX.SapPub” and has the potential to infect more computers than Flashback.

“SabPub is classic backdoor Trojan, so it opens full access to a victim’s system for attackers,” Mr Gostev said.

“Flashback and its known variants is a downloader and clickjacking bot, which means it conducts click fraud scams by hijacking people’s search engine results inside their web browsers.”

This incarnation of SabPub is also more powerful than its previous versions.

“In February, SabPub was exploiting a Microsoft Word vulnerability, which was fixed a long time ago,” Mr Gostev said.

“The latest version of SabPub uses the Java exploit to spread infection in a more effective way because the Java exploit is delivered via a drive by download, which occurs when people click on URLs with malware via email.”

The security expert also said the attackers appeared to attack specific targets and had a select list of victims that was not very large.

Mr Gostev said Mac users could no longer delude themselves that they were safe from viruses. Before 2012, experts had detected 300 kinds of Mac malware. This year, more than 70 viruses had been detected during the past three months.

“We recommend users update their systems immediately with the latest security update from Apple,” Mr Gostev said.

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Scientists begin developing a road network in the sky

Posted April 17, 2012 By David Kolle

Scientists are now thinking about creating a road network in the sky that could accommodate thousands of flying cars.

Fifth element
Scientists say vehicles that convert into flying machines are now close enough to reality that there is a real practical need to develop a digital network in the clouds, which could be in use in 20-30 years.

The complex aerial grid would allow workers to step out of their house straight into their own personal plane and reach work in half the time.

Aerospace engineers at Liverpool University plan to use GPS technology combined with hi-tech detection and avoidance systems to avoid collisions.

It is hoped the equipment would enable thousands of machines, known as Personal Air and Land Vehicles (PAL-Vs), to fly at any one time.

One recently revealed James Bond-style prototype car-plane features rotary blades which, along with the propeller, can be electronically packed away to create a land vehicle in just 10 minutes.

This can then be driven like a car which, according to the Dutch company behind the concept, can hit a speed of 100km/h in eight seconds.

It costs $230,000 and requires costly flying lessons, so at this stage is an option only for the social elite, but flying taxis like the ones in The Fifth Element could be available for hire at a fraction of the cost.

Scientists at Lausanne, in Switzerland, have also been assisting in the project and have tested 10 prototype machines flying in the air simultaneously.

Mike Jump, who heads the digital mapping scheme, says that in an attempt to reduce the risk of crashes, the new flight paths will avoid big airports.

The PAL-V planes will also fly much lower than modern passenger jets – a height of between 300m and 450m – to reduce the risk even more.

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Concerns have been raised that Facebook‘s acquisition of Instagram may make it easier for marketers and advertisers to access your personal information.

Instagram
The social network giant recently purchased the mobile photo-sharing app for $US1 billion, ($0.976 billion) which many believe was to capture users’ personal data.

Instagram contains information about users’ image locations, places they visit and other social networks – which could be worth up to $4900 per person per year to marketers.

“Marketers could be presented with a whole new world of data, Deborah Mitchell, director for the Center of Brand and Product Management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison told Smartmoney.com.

“They’re getting a much richer picture of you and what you’re interested in.”

Michael Fertik, founder of Reputation.com, said Facebook will have a bigger foothold on phones via the Instagram app, which could allow it to gain more access to the data on your device.

Photographs on Facebook have been dubbed the “holy grail” by Scott Steinberg, chief executive of business consulting firm TechSavvy. He told Smartmoney.com photographs tell them exactly where you are, and what activities you’re interested in.

He said marketers can analyse the photo content for basic details and then send ads relating to the photos – improving the chances that you’ll click through.

Mr Steinber said users have to realise that on social networking sites, there’s someone looking over your shoulder at any given time.

In 2010 Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg admitted the social networking service had made blunders that it hopes to fix with coming changes to its privacy controls.

Earlier this year Lars Rasmussen – Facebook’s director of engineering – toldnews.com.au the main issue for Facebook remains that of privacy.

He said the company may not always get it right but made sure to listen to the concerns of the site’s estimated 800 million users.

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