UPDATE: This sweepstakes is now closed. The winner will be contacted and then announced via our Facebook page.
You may have heard about the recent “Facebook burglaries.” Using the world”s most popular social network, a group of thieves allegedly went on spree that raked in over $100,000 in stolen goods.
A little reporting on the crimes revealed that two of the cases in the spree involved Facebook. In those cases, the perpetrators had “friended” their targets, gaining access to the homeowners’ wall posts.
A PR rep from Facebook offered this advice: If you wouldn’t tell someone in person that you are leaving town, you probably shouldn’t use Facebook to tell him or her.
In real life, you don’t make friends with anyone who comes along, and you don’t share your travel plans with strangers. People do things online that they would NEVER do in the real world.
That’s why over the next 6 weeks we’re going to be reminding you of some smart online safety practices and celebrating the launch of F-Secure Internet Security 2011.
Just answer the question below on the comments of this post and you’ll be entered to win an incredible HD HERO Naked wearable camera for you PLUS F-Secure Internet Security 2011 for you and a friend. You can see the complete rules for this giveaway here.
Here’s the question for week #1: Where in the real world are you?
We don’t want to know your exact location right now because you’re too smart to reveal your exact location to complete strangers. Just give us an idea. You can tell us which planet, hemisphere, continent, country, state, province, city or neighborhood you spend most of your time. To make it easy, you can post a link to a picture that answers the question.
Again, once you’ve read the rules, all you have to do to for your chance to win is to comment on this post. Good luck!
F-Secure Internet Security 2011
GET REAL SWEEPSTAKES WEEK #1 – COMPETITION RULES AND PRIZES
If you do not accept these rules, please do not enter this promotion.
1. The sponsor of this promotion is F-Secure Corporation, located at Tammasaarenkatu 7, Po. Box 24, 00181 Helsinki, Finland (“Sponsor”).
2. The promotion will begin at 6:00 PM PDT on September 19, 2010 and end at 6:00 PM PDT September 26, 2010.
3. This promotion is void where prohibited or restricted by law. No purchase is necessary to enter.
4. 3 prizes a HD Hero Naked camera with a retail value of $259.99 and 2 F-Secure Internet Security licenses with a retail value of $119.98 will be given as prizes in this promotion at the close of the competition.
5. Only one (1) entry, per person per Sweepstakes will be accepted. Further attempts made by the same person and entries generated by a script, computer programs, macro, programmed, robotic or other automated means will be disqualified.
6. The winner will be chosen randomly from the people who participated in the competition by commenting on the “Get Real Sweepstakes Week #1 “. Sponsor will notify the winner via email. If the winner does not respond within seven (7) days, he or she will forfeit the prize and another winner will be randomly chosen. This prize is shipped to the winner within 30 days of the promotion closing date.
7. The winners are responsible for any taxes associated with receipt of the prizes. Sponsor reserves the right to substitute the prizes with other prizes of equal or greater value if the prize is not available for any reason.
8. Odds of winning the prizes depend upon the total number of eligible entries received.
9. No purchase or software download is necessary to enter or win. Purchase or software download will not increase your chances of winning.
10. To enter, visit http://safeandsavvy.f-secure.com/2010/09/19/get-real-sweepstakes-1/ and comment on the post. To comment you must provide your email address, which will not be made public. Entries are the property of Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned. Comments made be edited by F-Secure without explanation.
11. Any entrant who attempts to cheat or tamper with the Get Real Sweepstakes shall be disqualified by the Sponsor’s sole discretion.
11. The name of the winner will be announced via the F-Secure Twitter channel http://twitter.com/FSecure, F-Secure Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/FSecure and F-Secure’s Safe and Savvy blog http://safeandsavvy.f-secure.com/ once the winner has been contacted. By entering, the entrant agrees that his/her name, country and/or picture can be published at F-Secure’s aforementioned channels if he/she wins.
12. By entering, entrants agree to release and hold harmless Sponsor and all of its representatives from and against any and all costs, expenses, claims, demands, proceedings, suits, actions and/or liabilities for any injuries, death, loss or damage of any kind arising from or in connection with accidents, terrorism, theft, natural disaster, the promotion of the Get Real Sweepstakes, the distribution of any prize, entrants’ participation in and/or entry into the Get Real Sweepstakes, acceptance or use of any prize or unavailability of any prize. Prizes are provided “AS IS” without warranty of any kind from the sponsor.
13. Employees of Sponsor and family members of such employees are not eligible to enter.
© 2010 F-SECURE CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
CC image by woodley wonderworks.
You are precious. You are very valuable. At least to companies dealing in advertising and customer profiling. The value of you and your peers make giants like Google and Facebook tick, with a combined revenue of about $78 billion. I’m sure most of you understand this value. But how many are really making smart choices to guard it? If you’re on Facebook, you may have seen posts like this: “Your Friday night. Tina wants to sleep. Jan destroys furniture. Aaron wakes up handcuffed. Wilhelm starts a drinking competition.” Clicking the image takes you to nametests.com, or a localized version in your own language. Once there you can create your own test that reveals funny things about you and your friends. It’s obvious that these test are more entertaining than scientific. And this site can’t be blamed for lacking fantasy! Who thinks you’re sweet? How many children will you have? Who should you write a love song for? Who of your friends belong in your stuffed animal collection? Stuffed animal collection! OMG. LOL. :) You can find out all this and much more with the tests at nametests.com. The site is operated by a German company named Socialsweethearts, that claim to have over 1500 tests in more than 40 languages! OK, just another funny and harmless site that creates virally spreading posts and cashes in on advertising, you might think. But let’s take a closer look at what’s going on here. Many of the test involve your friends, revealing whom would be or do something. And to provide this they must know who your friends are, right? So it’s perfectly legit when a dialog pops up asking for access to your Facebook account and friends list. Wait! This is where you should stop and think. Let’s rephrase what’s going on. You purchase an automatically generated joke about you and your friends and pay by allowing them access to your friend list and Facebook wall, including all your past, current and future posts. A good deal? No, I don’t think so. And on top of that, you pay with knowledge about all your friends too, but without asking them for permission. Ok, Socialsweethearts is a German company, and Germany has strong privacy laws. I think there is a pretty good chance that this company isn’t misusing your data shamelessly, even if they definitively has the technical opportunity to do so. But this is pure luck. I bet that virtually none of the folks using these tests actually checked the background of the company and made an educated decision to trust it. Did you? But on the other hand. Pretty much all the giants that make billions on our private data are from the Americas. Europe has totally lost this race. A German company entering the same business successfully would be bright news, sort of. Bad news for your privacy but good news from European business perspective. So don’t worry too much if you have used the services on nametests.com. But this is anyway an excellent opportunity to clean up the list of apps that have access to your data. In Facebook, go to Settings and choose Apps in the menu to the left. Now you see a list of all apps and sites that have been granted access. Some of them are no doubt legit, for example apps that should be able to post to your wall. But the permissions will stay when you stop using something. And some permissions are only needed on a one-time basis, but they will stay on the list. Nametests.com belongs to that category and should be erased. Go through the list and remove anything you don’t need. If you see something that you don’t understand the meaning of, it’s safest to remove it too. Permissions can always be added back and apps that lose their permissions will notify you and ask you to grant new permissions. Happy cleaning, Micke [caption id="attachment_8485" align="alignnone" width="300"] This is what it looks like when nametest.com want's permission to access your data in Facebook.[/caption] Images: Screenshots from nametest.com and facebook.com
Kaisu who is working for us is also studying tourism. Her paper on knowledge of and behavior related to information security amongst young travelers was released in May, and is very interesting reading. The world is getting smaller. We travel more and more, and now we can stay online even when travelling. Using IT-services in unknown environments does however introduce new security risks. Kaisu wanted to find out how aware young travelers are of those risks, and what they do to mitigate them. The study contains many interesting facts. Practically all, 95,7%, are carrying a smartphone when travelling. One third is carrying a laptop and one in four a tablet. The most commonly used apps and services are taking pictures, using social networks, communication apps and e-mail, which all are used by about 90% of the travelers. Surfing the web follows close behind at 72%. But I’m not going to repeat it all here. The full story is in the paper. What I find most interesting is however what the report doesn’t state. Everybody is carrying a smartphone and snapping pictures, using social media, surfing the web and communicating. Doesn’t sound too exotic, right? That’s what we do in our everyday life too, not just when travelling. The study does unfortunately not examine the participants’ behavior at home. But I dare to assume that it is quite similar. And I find that to be one of the most valuable findings. Traveling is no longer preventing us from using IT pretty much as we do in our everyday life. I remember when I was a kid long, long ago. This was even before invention of the cellphone. There used to be announcements on the radio in the summer: “Mr. and Mrs. Müller from Germany traveling by car in Lapland. Please contact your son Hans urgently.” Sounds really weird for us who have Messenger, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Skype installed on our smartphones. There was a time when travelling meant taking a break in your social life. Not anymore. Our social life is today to an increasing extent handled through electronic services. And those services goes with us when travelling, as Kaisu’s study shows. So you have access to the same messaging channels no matter where you are on this small planet. But they all require a data connection, and this is often the main challenge. There are basically two ways to get the data flowing when abroad. You can use data roaming through the cellphone’s ordinary data connection. But that is often too expensive to be feasible, so WiFi offers a good and cheap alternative. Hunting for free WiFi has probably taken the top place on the list of travelers’ concerns, leaving pickpockets and getting burnt in the sun behind. Another conclusion from Kaisu’s study is that travelers have overcome this obstacle, either with data roaming or WiFi. The high usage rates for common services is a clear indication of that. But how do they protect themselves when connecting to exotic networks? About 10% are using a VPN and about 20% say they avoid public WiFi. That leaves us with over 70% who are doing something else, or doing nothing. Some of them are using data roaming, but I’m afraid most of them just use whatever WiFi is available, either ignoring the risks or being totally unaware. That’s not too smart. Connecting to a malicious WiFi network can expose you to eavesdropping, malware attacks, phishing and a handful other nasty tricks. It’s amazing that only 10% of the respondents have found the simple and obvious solution, a VPN. It stands for Virtual Private Network and creates a protected “tunnel” for your data through the potentially harmful free networks. Sounds too nerdy? No, it’s really easy. Just check out Freedome. It’s the super-simple way to be among the smart 10%. Safe surfing, Micke PS. I recently let go of my old beloved Nokia Lumia. Why? Mainly because I couldn’t use Freedome on it, and I really want the freedom it gives me while abroad. Image by Moyan Brenn
It’s amazing how advertising can power huge companies. Google has over 57 000 employees and some 66 billion US dollars in revenue. And Facebook with 12 billion and 10 000 employees. These two giants are the best know providers of ad-financed services on the net. And modern advertising is targeted, which means that they must know what the users want to see. Which means that they must know you. Let’s take a closer look at Facebook. We have already written about their advertising preferences and I have been following my data for some time. Part of the data used to target ads is input by yourself, age, gender, hometown, movies you seen etc. But Facebook also analyzes what you do, both in Facebook and on other sites, to find out what you like. It’s obvious how the tracking works inside Facebook itself. Their servers just simply record what links you click. Tracking in the rest of the net is more sinister, it’s described in this earlier post. Your activity record is analyzed and you are assigned to classes of interest, called “Your Ad Preferences” by Facebook. Advertisers can then select classes they want to target, and the ad may be shown to you based on these classes. You can view and manage the list using a page that is fairly well hidden deep in Facebook’s menus. Let’s check your preferences in moment, but first some thoughts about this. Advertising may be annoying, but it is the engine that drives so many “free” services nowadays. So I’m not going to blame Facebook for being ad-financed. I’m not going to blame them for doing targeted ads either. That can in theory be a good thing, you see more relevant ads that potentially can be of value to you. But any targeted ad scheme must be based on data collection, and this is the tricky part. Can we trust Facebook et al. to handle these quite extensive personal profiles and not misuse them for other purposes? It’s also nice that Facebook is somewhat open about this and let you view “Your Ad Preferences” (Note. Not available in all countries.). But that name is really misleading. The name should be “Facebook’s Ad Preferences for You”. Yes, you can view and delete classes, but that gives you a false sense of control. Facebook keeps analyzing what you do and deleted classes will reappear shortly. I made a full clean-up a couple of months ago, but now I have no less than 210 classes of interest again! This is really amazing if you take into account that I block tracking outside of Facebook, so those activities are not contributing. And I have a principle of not clicking ads in any on-line media, including Facebook. And liking commercial pages in a very restrictive manner. But the thing is that Facebook has realized that people dislike ads. “Suggested posts” or “Sponsored posts” are in fact masqueraded ads and any interaction with them will record your interest in the classes they represent. I have to admit that I do click this kind of content regularly. And where did that suicide thing come from? No, I’m fine. I’m not going to jump off a bridge and I’m not worried about any of my dearests’ mental health. I have not interacted with any kind of Facebook content related to suicide. Except that I can’t know that for sure. Facebook tries to give an open and honest image of itself when presenting its Ad Preferences settings and the possibilities to manage them. But this rosy picture is not the full truth. The inner workings of Facebook advertising is in reality a very complex secret system. When you interact with something on Facebook, you have no way of knowing how it affects your profile. Something I have clicked was apparently associated with suicides even if I had no clue about it. Ok, time to take the Facebook personality test. Let’s see what kind of person they think you are. Follow these instructions: Go to Facebook and locate an ad, a “sponsored post” or a “suggested post”. These items should have a cross or a down-arrow in the upper right corner. Click it. Select “Why am I seeing this?” from the pop-up menu. This screen contains some interesting info but proceed to “Manage your ad preferences”. Review the list and come back here to tell us what you think of it. Delete the inappropriate classes. Deleting all may reduce the number of ads you see. So let’s see what people think about this test’s accuracy: [polldaddy poll=9023953] So using Facebook’s Ad Preferences as a personality test may be entertaining, but not very accurate after all. You should probably look elsewhere for a real test. The catch is that you can select what test to take, but not how others collect data about you. Someone else may rely on this test when evaluating you. You have actually granted Facebook the right to share this data with basically anyone. Remember this clause in the agreement that you read and approved before signing up? “We transfer information to vendors, service providers, and other partners who globally support our business, such as providing technical infrastructure services, analyzing how our Services are used, measuring the effectiveness of ads and services, providing customer service, facilitating payments, or conducting academic research and surveys.” You did read it before signing, didn’t you? Safe surfing, Micke Image: Screenshot from facebook.com