Dear old and new friends of F-Secure Lokki!
Hei F-Secure Lokin ystävät!
In Finnish / suomeksi: Tämän tekstin lopussa on suomenkielinen yhteenveto uudesta F-Secure Lokki –sovelluksesta! Voit lukea tekstin alkuosan englanniksi tai hypätä suoraan loppuosaan.
F-Secure Lokki is the most accurate and battery friendly personal location sharing app to connect you with your friends and family members. Across the world thousands of people have been taking Lokki into use since mid August when we launched the first version for iPhone and Android devices. We have this week launched a major update to Lokki for iPhone and Android. You can download the new 3.0 version from iTunes and Google Play. For more information on Lokki please visit the F-Secure product page.
We have received a tremendous amount of feedback from all over the world towards Lokki 1.0 and 2.0. This has been really fantastic as it has helped us to improve Lokki. Some of the feedback has been somewhat contradictory so we have decided which way to go. We have read all emails and we have met with a large number of Lokki users during the last couple of months. BIG THANKS to everyone who have spoken with us or sent us messages! Keep them coming! We are making this product for YOU!
Let me tell a few words about this new version 3.0, especially for the old Lokki users out there.
The new Lokki 3.0 in a nutshell
A short summary of the changes in Lokki 3.0 goes as follows: The location accuracy has gone up and the battery consumption has gone down. This has been accomplished by re-writing the software that connects your phone with the Lokki servers. The old Lokki app in your phone was reporting your location every 5…15 minutes to the server, all the time, and especially when there was no WiFi coverage this was consuming quite a lot of battery. The new Lokki reports your location to the Lokki servers only when you or someone in your Lokki group is requesting your location. As you can imagine, most of the time during the day and night there is nobody requesting this information, so your phone does not need to check its location that frequently from the GPS satellites and WiFi networks. A side effect of this change is that we no longer can show the ”has arrived” and ”has left” notifications — they are likely to come back partially in a future version of Lokki, though.
We removed the chat functionality we had built into Lokki after most Lokki users told us that our chat is not on par with the messaging apps they prefer to use. Lokki is primarily about private location sharing so we decided to put our focus on that area and not start competing against the existing chat apps out there. We will be smoothening the interplay of the Lokki app and the messaging app in your phones in the future releases of Lokki.
The most visible change in Lokki 3.0 is that we have replaced the places with a map view. This was a really difficult decision for us because we had feedback from many people that they were really in love with the cool-looking places. However, we also heard feedback that the places were a bit complicated to use, there were false reports of people arriving and leaving places, some people preferred the map view in general, and some people said that the places look a bit childish. The main reason for our design decision was the drive to simplify the new Lokki version and to get it launched as soon as possible, since we had a continuous flow of feedback indicating that quite a many people were not satisfied with the location accuracy or the power consumption in Lokki 2.0. We have an initial plan of bringing the places back, perhaps a bit simplified, in an upcoming release of Lokki.
As a bonus we are happy to tell that the new version of Lokki on Android has now been built so that it also works in the older Android devices (version 2.3.3), and those are very common among children.
Finally a replacement for Google Latitude!
We have heard from some Lokki users that Lokki has become a Google Latitude replacement for them. Google discontinued their highly popular Latitude service earlier this year and we are happy to see Lokki taking that role now. The new Lokki 3.0 is actually a very compelling Google Latitude replacement, coming from a reputable European security software house, and working on both Android and iOS devices.
That was the SHORT summary! ;-) Below you will get a more detailed description of the new things in the new Lokki 3.0. Parts of that description are somewhat technical because we know that some of the very early users of Lokki 1.0 and 2.0 are somewhat technically-minded, some might even call them nerds, in a positive way. Others may leave this text now, and we say thank you! :-)
From phone numbers to emails
The old Lokki used your phone number as your username or identity and in the new Lokki we have changed to use the email address for this purpose. You need to use a unique email address per device i.e. if you have an Android phone and an iPad, you need to use different email addresses in those to sign up to Lokki. We debated this change internally a lot and eventually chose the email because it is more commonly used in online services as the user ID and it will allow us to e.g. send Lokki users informative updates more easily than over text messaging. In the old Lokki we did not have the email address of users at all, and there are countries in the world that do not allow service providers to send mass postings via text messages, even if there is no direct marketing content in the messages.
When you allow other people to see you in Lokki, Lokki will show you the people names with email addresses it retrieves from the contacts list in your phone. If a person does not have an email address defined, she or he won’t be visible in the Lokki invitation list, and you need to add the email address first via the Contacts app in your device. We plan to simplify this further in the upcoming Lokki releases.
Lokki and kids
Children can still use Lokki legally (with the exception being the 13 year age limit in the USA due to the Children Online Privacy Protection Act a.k.a. COPPA) so also they will need to have an email address when signing up for Lokki. Or to be exact, the device they are using to sign up needs to have a unique email address. In any case, it is good to be aware of what kind of apps your kids are installing and using in their mobile devices. Have you checked the age limits of some of the wildly popular social media sites or chat apps your kids may be using, by the way?
Read the small print — a.k.a. the Frequently Asked Questions
Many of the detailed issues around the new Lokki 3.0 are covered in the Frequently Asked Questions and you can find that in the F-Secure community knowledge base.
Lokki for Nokia Lumia and other Windows Phones
A word about Lokki on Windows Phone 8. We have an early test version of the Lokki app that runs in a beautiful yellow Nokia Lumia 520 phone. We hope to be able to release the Windows Phone 8 version in the near future when it is fully tested and free of glitches. The Windows Phone operating system is a bit different from Android or iOS and this has introduced some extra hurdles during the development process.
Beta, lean startup and pivot
We fully realize that the changes introduced with this new 3.0 version of Lokki may look awkward for many of you. You need to sign up again to Lokki and your friends and family members need to do the same. All Lokki users will need to have an email. Plus if you liked your places, you no longer can see them. :-/ However, after you are done with the initial setup, we believe you will love the new Lokki! We began to develop Lokki as a free app last spring with the goal to build the world’s best people location sharing app that is secure and fun. In the summer we had F-Secure fellows testing the beta version and in August we launched the app to the world. In “lean startup” style we have been continuously listening to Lokki users and improving the app. By early November we realized that we will not be able to satisfy Lokki users with our GPS location tracking solution; the continous location reporting simply ate too much battery and the battery consumption optimizations had an impact on the location reporting accuracy. In lean startup terms we decided to “pivot” Lokki into a new direction. Many Lokki users liked the product concept but expected it to work like Sports Tracker or RunKeeper i.e. continuously tracking the location of everyone on your display but at the same time they expected there to be negligible impact on the phone battery life. This unfortunately cannot be done on modern smartphones, especially when the service needs to run reliably on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone devices. We really like the new Lokki and feel it is superior in many ways to the earlier version, and we will be incorporating elements from the old design to the app in the future releases.
To trace or not to trace — what is your opinion?
Our short-term priorities now include a ’family pack’ functionality for Lokki, in addition to the Windows Phone 8 support. One feature that we are debating is people tracking history. As a security software company we are cautious about any ’big brother’ functionalities — yet we get requests that people would like to be able to see where their children have been. How do you feel about this? And is there some other family feature you would like to see in Lokki?
One more thing
Old users of Lokki probably noticed that Lokki 3.0 now has a new app icon. We felt that since the places are gone from this version, at least for a while, we should evolve also the icon a bit to reflect the changing functionality in the app. We hope you like the new icon!
Thanks for your support and please let us know how you feel about the new Lokki! You can reach us at email@example.com as before.
Harri and the Lokki team at F-Secure in Helsinki, Finland
In Finnish / suomeksi lyhyt yhteenveto uudesta Lokki 3.0-versiosta:
Lokin paikannustarkkuus on parantunut ja puhelimen virrankulutus laskenut. Tämän saimme aikaiseksi toteuttamalla puhelimen ja palvelimen välisen paikkatietojen välityksen uudella tavalla. Vanha Lokki lähetti puhelimen paikkatiedon palvelimelle joka 5…15 minuutin välein kellon ympäri ja uusi Lokki lähettää paikkatiedon vain silloin kun joku oman piirini Lokki-käyttäjä sitä kysyy. Kolikon kääntöpuoli on tässä se, että aiemmat ”on lähtenyt” ja ”on saapunut” –viestit on jouduttu jättämään pois — saatamme tosin tuoda niistä jatkossa Lokkiin yksinkertaisemman version.
Jätimme uudesta Lokista myös pikaviestimen pois. Suuri osa käyttäjistä kertoi meille, että Lokin chat ei ole tarpeeksi hyvä, joten me päätimme keskittyä turvalliseen ja tehokkaaseen paikkatiedon jakamiseen ja jättää pikaviestimen kehittämisen muille. Jatkossa Lokista pääsee helposti hyppäämään puhelimessa oleviin pikaviestinsovelluksiin.
Näkyvin muutos uudessa Lokissa on paikkasymbolien korvaaminen karttanäkymällä. Todella moni on kertonut meille pitävänsä näistä paikoista paljon, mutta vielä useampi on kritisoinut paikannustarkkuuden ja virrankulutuksen tasoa. Halusimme tuoda nämä parannukset Lokin käyttäjille mahdollisimman nopeasti, joten jouduimme jättämään paikat pois tästä Lokki-versiosta. Jatkossa saatamme tuoda paikat takaisin, ehkä vähän yksinkertaisemmassa muodossa.
Uusi Lokki toimii nyt myös vanhemmissa Android-puhelimissa (käyttöjärjestelmäversio 2.3.3) ja myös Windows Phone 8 –versio on meillä työn alla.
Lähitulevaisuudessa keskitymme lisäämään Lokkiin toiminnallisuutta perheitä varten. Haluaisimmekin kuulla teiltä, mitä toivoisitte! Olisiko Lokissa vaikkapa hyvä nähdä, missä lapset ovat olleet menossa vaikka viimeisen parin tunnin aikana, vai olisiko tämä tarpeeton tai jopa ei-toivottu ominaisuus?
Kiitos teille kaikille, jotka jaksoitte lukea tänne asti. Kertokaapa meille, mitä mieltä olette uudesta Lokki 3.0 –sovelluksesta! Saatte meidät kiinni osoitteesta firstname.lastname@example.org kuten ennenkin.
Harri ja F-Securen Lokki-tiimi Ruoholahdessa Helsingissä
[Image by Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York via Flickr]
The sad killing of British soldier Lee Rigby has been in the headlines lately after release of a report about how authorities handled the case. Publicity was boosted because the committee thinks Facebook is responsible for the killing. They think the social media giant has a clear obligation to identify and report people who plan attacks like this. Just like the fact that phone companies report everybody who are talking about terrorism and the postal service sends a copy of all fishy letters to the Scotland Yard. I’m sure you get the sarcasm. What happened is that British agencies, MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, had identified the killers, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, as interesting persons before the attack. They did however fail to investigate properly and apparently made no attempts to get the suspects’ communications from Facebook. There would have been several ways for them to do that, by a direct request from the police to Facebook or by the secret intelligence connections between GCHQ and NSA. Meanwhile Facebook's internal controls had flagged the killers’ communications and automatically closed their accounts. Facebook did however never report this to the British agencies. Which gave the Brits a convenient scapegoat to focus on instead of the fact that they never asked for that data. Ok, so the Brits blame Facebook. Let’s take a closer look at some numbers and what they really are demanding. There’s about 1,6 billion users total on Facebook. 1,3 billion monthly active and about 860 million daily active users. These users share around 5 billion items and send over 10 billion messages every day. This creates a total stream of around 10 million items per hour and 173 000 per second. Quite a haystack to look for terrorists in! Facebook has some 8 300 employees. If every single one of them, Mark Zuckerberg included, would spend their full working day monitoring messages and shared items, they would have to do over 60 items per second to keep up. Needless to say, any kind of monitoring must be automated for volumes like this. Facebook is monitoring its content automatically. Some keywords and phrases trigger actions, which can lead to closure of accounts. This is understandable as no company want to be a safe haven for criminals and many kinds of harmful activities are prohibited in the user agreement. But Facebook is walking a thin line here. Their primary task is not to be a law enforcement agency but to provide a social media service. They must also be well aware of the fact that reporting innocent people to the authorities is highly irresponsible. Commonly accepted practices of justice are not obeyed anymore when dealing with potential security threats and there is no transparency. There are numerous cases where western authorities have detained and even tortured innocent persons, apparently based on some very vague indications. Maher Arar’s case is a well-known example. So the bar for reporting someone must be high. It is easy for an Internet service to throw out a suspected user. They are after all not paying anything and Facebook have no obligation to let them be users. This ensures compliance with the user terms, no criminal activities allowed. But the threshold to report someone is naturally a lot higher. Especially when the volume forces Facebook to make automated decisions. This is not a sign of carelessness from Facebook’s side, it’s because people by default are entitled to communication privacy. It is also a direct consequence of the fact that terrorism suspicions are handled outside the normal justice system in many western countries. You carry a heavy responsibility if you feed innocent peoples’ data into a system like that. Let’s face it. There’s a large number of criminal conversations going on right now both on Facebook and other social services. Many terrorists are also on the phone right now and some are picking up deliveries with items related to planned attacks. Nobody is expecting the phone company to routinely listen in to identify potential terrorists and nobody is expecting the post to check parcels randomly. Facebook may not report every flagged conversation, but they are at least doing something to not be a safe haven for terrorists. Still they are the only of these services that the Brits call a safe haven. Not very logical. The simple reason for this apparent inconsistency is naturally the need for a scapegoat. The British agencies failed to investigate so they need someone else to blame. But there is a more dangerous aspect hidden here as well. Snowden made us aware of the privacy threats on Internet. The wide-spread mass surveillance has so far to a large extent been secret and even illegal. Pandora’s Box is open now and authorities all over the world are racing to get legal rights to mass surveillance, before the large masses understand what it really would mean. Putting pressure on Facebook fits that agenda perfectly. To be fair, one can naturally also ask if Facebook could have done more. A calm and balanced debate about that is welcome and beneficial. The flagged messages is probably quite a haystack too. To what extent is Facebook reviewing those messages manually, and could this process be improved to catch more potential killers? And at the same time avoid reporting any innocent users. To illustrate that this isn’t as simple as many think. People are asking why Facebook didn’t react on stuff containing the phrase “let’s kill a soldier”. Well, this blog post contains it too. Am I a killer because of that? Should this post be flagged and given to MI5? Safe surfing, Micke
Many techie terms in the headlines lately. Supercookies, supertrackers, HTTP headers and X-UIDH. If you just skim the news you will learn that this is some kind of new threat against our privacy. But what is it really? Let’s dig a bit deeper. We will discover that this is an issue of surprisingly big importance. Cookies are already familiar to most of us. These are small pieces of information that a web server can ask our browser to store. They are very useful for identifying users and managing sessions. They are designed with security and privacy in mind, and users can control how these cookies are used. In short, they are essential, they can be a privacy problem but we have tools to manage that threat. What’s said above is good for us ordinary folks, but not so good for advertisers. Users get more and more privacy-aware and execute their ability to opt out from too excessive tracking. The mobile device revolution has also changed the game. More and more of our Internet access is done through apps instead of the browser. This is like using a separate “browser” for all the services we use, and this makes it a lot harder to get an overall picture of our surfing habits. And that’s exactly what advertisers want, advertising is like a lottery with bad odds unless they know who’s watching the ad. A new generation of supercookies (* were developed to fight this trend. It is a piece of information that is inserted in your web traffic by your broadband provider. Its purpose is to identify the user from whom the traffic comes. And to generate revenue for the broadband provider by selling information about who you really are to the advertisers. These supercookies are typically used on mobile broadband connections where the subscription is personal, meaning that all traffic on it comes from a single person. So why are supercookies bad? They are inserted in the traffic without your consent and you have no way to opt out. They are not visible at all on your device so there is no way to control them by using browser settings or special tools. They are designed to support advertisers and generate revenue for the mobile broadband provider. Your need for privacy has not been a design goal. They are not domain-specific like ordinary cookies. They are broadcasted to any site you communicate with. They were designed to remain secret. They are hidden in an obscure part of the header information that very few web administrators need to touch. There are two ways to pay for Internet services, with money or by letting someone profile you for marketing purposes. This system combines both. You are utilized for marketing profit by someone you pay money to. But what can and should I do as an ordinary user? Despite the name, this kind of supercookies are technically totally different from ordinary cookies. The privacy challenges related with ordinary cookies are still there and need to be managed. Supercookies have not replaced them. Whatever you do to manage ordinary cookies, keep doing it. Supercookies are only used by some mobile broadband providers. Verizon and AT&T have been most in the headlines, but at least AT&T seems to be ramping down as a result of the bad press. Some other operators are affected as well. If you use a device with a mobile broadband connection, you can test if your provider inserts them. Go to this page while connected over the device’s own data connection, not WiFi. Check what comes after “Broadcast UID:”. This field should be empty. If not, then your broadband provider uses supercookies. Changing provider is one way to get rid of them. Another way is to use a VPN-service. This will encapsulate all your traffic in an encrypted connection, which is impossible to tamper with. We happen to have a great offering for you, F-secure Freedome. Needless to say, using Freedome on your mobile device is a good idea even if you are not affected by these supercookies. Check the site for more details. Last but not least. Even if you’re unaffected, as most of you probably are, this is a great reminder of how important net neutrality is. It means that any carrier that deliver your network traffic should do that only, and not manipulate it for their own profit. This kind of tampering is one evil trick, throttling to extort money from other businesses is another. We take neutrality and equal handling for granted on many other common resources in our society. The road network, the postal service, delivery of electricity, etc. Internet is already a backbone in society and will grow even more important in the future. Maintaining neutrality and fair rules in this network is of paramount importance for our future society. Safe surfing, Micke PS. The bad press has already made AT&T drop the supercookies, which is great. All others involved mobile broadband providers may have done the same by the time you are reading this. But this is still an excellent example of why net neutrality is important and need to be guaranteed by legislation. (* This article uses the simplified term supercookie for the X-UIDH -based tracker values used by Verizon, AT&T and others in November 2014. Supercookie may in other contexts refer to other types of cookie-like objects. The common factor is that a supercookie is more persistent and harder to get rid of than an ordinary cookie. Image by Jer Thorp
First Finland, next the world! We knew it all along, and now it's confirmed: F-Secure Freedome, our super-simple security and online privacy app, has won the Best Mobile Service in Finland award. Freedome took away the award in the Utility and Infotainment category. Freedome's product manager, Paivi, and Samu, head of Consumer Security at F-Secure, were on hand to accept the award. "It's great to see F-Secure, a 25-plus-year-old company, competing among startups --- and winning, thanks to Freedome's fresh and user-friendly design," says Paivi. The competition was organized by Teleforum and The Federation of Finnish Technology Industry together with key industry players such as Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung, IBM and others. 110 mobile services were evaluated in 11 categories. Check out Freedome for yourself to see what the buzz is about!