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Web Browser Extensions Caught Spying On Chrome and Firefox Users

Representation of data transfer due to web browser extension spying.

Not too long ago, we warned users about why some online ads they see seem to be precisely targeted to their tastes and interests, including the spooky tendencies of websites remembering browsing and shopping preferences from visit to visit or device to device. It turns out that Avast and its recently acquired AVG, have been doing a lot of background spying and data pilfering through their “free” web browser plugins.

Data pilfering is widespread and very profitable, and data thieves seem to have no problem getting willing “victims” counting the number of people using “free” products that come with all kinds of terms and conditions. So much so that some even boast of the ability to provide “[I]ncredibly detailed clickstream data from 100 million global online shoppers and 20 million global app users” that advertisers can analyze “…however you want: track what users searched for, how they interacted with a particular brand or product, and what they bought. Look into any category, country, or domain.”

All from a user looking for a solution to protect them from online threats and installing a web browser extension that is supposed to protect them from such invasion of privacy.

As reported by the creator of Adblock Plus, Wladimir Palant, Avast has been spying on the users of their antivirus products, and appears to have been doing so for years, through their Avast Online Security web browser extension which is promoted as having the ability to provide “maximum protection” from spyware and other online dangers.

The sad fact is that sometimes, users are not even aware that they have the extension because the Avast Secure Browser has Avast Online Security installed by default and is hidden from the extension listing and cannot be uninstalled by regular means. (more…)

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How To Protect Online Data Privacy Using Enhanced Tools

Mobile device showing the various tools of data privacy attacks

In the first place, and speaking of data privacy, have you ever wondered why some online ads you see are targeted to your tastes and interests? Or how websites remember your preferences from visit-to-visit or device-to-device?

The answer may be in the “web tracking cookies” installed on your computer when you visit a website, and other online tracking methods like:

  • Device fingerprinting where information is collected about your device for the purpose of identification,
  • Cross-device tracking technology which enables the tracking of users across multiple devices such as smartphones, television sets, smart TVs, and personal computer, and
  • Cross-site tracking where companies collect data on where you’ve been and what you’ve done across multiple websites.

What is a web tracker?

A web tracker is a small computer program (called script) placed by a website on your computer and is designed to collect information about your preferences and who you are as you interact with the site. Sometimes this script is placed purposefully by the website you’re on, other times a script may be from a website you’ve never visited. (more…)

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5 Critical Facts You Must Know Before Hosting Your Business In The Cloud

An illustration of several technology services and laptops in a cloud hosting simulation.

Cloud hosting seems to be the rage these days, and for very good reasons.

When you decide to look into transitioning the computer network and operations of your business or organization to  cloud hosting, you will probably be faced with conflicting advice, confusion and no real answers to your questions and concerns over security, cost and whether or not it’s appropriate for your organization.

Besides that, the simple fact is, cloud hosting is NOT a good fit for every company, and consequently, if you don’t get all the facts or fully understand the pros and cons, you can end up making some VERY poor and expensive decisions that you’ll deeply regret later. (more…)

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Contracting With A Managed IT Services Provider

Contracting

When the time is right for your business to bring on a Managed IT Services provider there are several things to consider before signing a contract. Businesses both large and small have certain needs that are better managed by professionals. Contracting with a managed service provider allows owners and upper level management to focus their attention on growing and managing the business.

Teaming up with a managed service provider has several benefits if you choose the right partner. Conversely bringing on a managed service provider that doesn’t understand your needs or one that is unable to provide the level of service required can be an expensive mistake. Here we look at the things you should consider before signing on the dotted line. (more…)

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How Businesses Can Protect Their Wireless Access Points

Image of Wireless Access Points And Devices

The current high rate of mobile users warrants that wireless access users, especially business users, should know how to protect their wireless access points.

First of all, regular business travelers, high-tech adventurers, or those who just love traveling are increasingly vulnerable to unique cyber security threats. This is even more dire in the case of business travelers because they often carry sensitive data that may be personal or business related.

And most noteworthy, this sensitive data reside on a variety of devices from laptops, tablets, and smartphones to other smart devices such as wearables and home appliances.

A recent survey of financial districts found a high percentage of Wi-Fi clients actively probing for “Free Public WiFi”, and cyber criminals create fake wireless access points (SSIDs), hoping that unsuspecting users will log into one of these.

Fraudulent SSIDs Can Lead To Wireless Access Points Attack

It can be tough to convince users — especially those challenged by shrinking travel budgets — to avoid the temptation and draw of free wireless Internet access. When employers can’t or won’t pay for unlimited wireless Internet, employees get creative. Why should they waste thankless hours waiting for planes and trains when they could be using Free Public WiFi to catch up on mail, download iTunes, or watch a little Slingbox? (more…)

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Provide Critical Data Security Using Locks

Provide Critical Data Security Using Old Fashioned Locks

Sometimes the key to data security is an old-fashioned lock. Here’s some  advice on protecting your customers and employees by securing sensitive data. One important tip: Lock it — Protect the information that you keep.

  1. Lock, stock — or peril. Computer defenses can be critical, but when it comes to protecting personal information, don’t forget “old school” physical security, too.
    Discourage light-fingered passersby by making sure every employee has a secure drawer or locker.
    Centralize sensitive paperwork and limit access to employees with a legitimate business need.
    Remind them not to leave documents out when they step away from their desks.
    Shipping data offsite? Consider encrypting it and using a mailing method that will allow you to track the package en route. (more…)
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