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]
It’s a well-known fact that UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron doesn’t care much about peoples’ privacy. Recently he has been driving the so called Snooper’s Charter that would give authorities expanded surveillance powers, which got additional fuel from the Paris attacks. It is said that terrorists want to tear down the Western society and lifestyle. And Cameron definitively puts himself in the same camp with statements like this: “In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read? No, we must not.” David Cameron Note that he didn’t say terrorists, he said people. Kudos for the honesty. It’s a fact that terrorist blend in with the rest of the population and any attempt to weaken their security affects all of us. And it should be a no-brainer that a nation where the government can listen in on everybody is bad, at least if you have read Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. But why does WhatsApp occur over and over as an example of something that gives the snoops grey hair? It’s a mainstream instant messenger app that wasn’t built for security. There are also similar apps that focus on security and privacy, like Telegram, Signal and Wickr. Why isn’t Cameron raging about them? The answer is both simple and very significant. But it may not be obvious at fist. Internet was by default insecure and you had to use tools to fix that. The pre-Snowden era was the golden age for agencies tapping into the Internet backbone. Everything was open and unencrypted, except the really interesting stuff. Encryption itself became a signal that someone was of interest, and the authorities could use other means to find out what that person was up to. More and more encryption is being built in by default now when we, thanks to Snowden, know the real state of things. A secured connection between client and server is becoming the norm for communication services. And many services are deploying end-to-end encryption. That means that messages are secured and opened by the communicating devices, not by the servers. Stuff stored on the servers are thus also safe from snoops. So yes, people with Cameron’s mindset have a real problem here. Correctly implemented end-to-end encryption can be next to impossible to break. But there’s still one important thing that tapping the wire can reveal. That’s what communication tool you are using, and this is the important point. WhatsApp is a mainstream messenger with security. Telegram, Signal and Wickr are security messengers used by only a small group people with special needs. Traffic from both WhatsApp and Signal, for example, are encrypted. But the fact that you are using Signal is the important point. You stick out, just like encryption-users before. WhatsApp is the prime target of Cameron’s wrath mainly because it is showing us how security will be implemented in the future. We are quickly moving towards a net where security is built in. Everyone will get decent security by default and minding your security will not make you a suspect anymore. And that’s great! We all need protection in a world with escalating cyber criminality. WhatsApp is by no means a perfect security solution. The implementation of end-to-end encryption started in late 2014 and is still far from complete. The handling of metadata about users and communication is not very secure. And there are tricks the wire-snoops can use to map peoples’ network of contacts. So check it out thoroughly before you start using it for really hot stuff. But they seem to be on the path to become something unique. Among the first communication solutions that are easy to use, popular and secure by default. Apple's iMessage is another example. So easy that many are using it without knowing it, when they think they are sending SMS-messages. But iMessage’s security is unfortunately not flawless either. Safe surfing, Micke PS. Yes, weakening security IS a bad idea. An excellent example is the TSA luggage locks, that have a master key that *used to be* secret. Image by Sam Azgor
We have a dilemma, and maybe you want to help us. I have written a lot about privacy and the trust relationship between users and software vendors. Users must trust the vendor to not misuse data that the software handles, but they have very poor abilities to base that trust on any facts. The vendor’s reputation is usually the most tangible thing available. Vendors can be split into two camps based on their business model. The providers of “free” services, like Facebook and Google, must collect comprehensive data about the users to be able to run targeted marketing. The other camp, where we at F-Secure are, sells products that you pay money for. This camp does not have the need to profile users, so the privacy-threats should be smaller. But is that the whole picture? No, not really. Vendors of paid products do not have the need to profile users for marketing. But there is still a lot of data on customers’ devices that may be relevant. The devices’ technical configuration is of course relevant when prioritizing maintenance. And knowing what features actually are used helps plan future releases. And we in the security field have additional interests. The prevalence of both clean and malicious files is important, as well as patterns related to malicious attacks. Just to name a few things. One of our primary goals is to guard your privacy. But we could on the other hand benefit from data on your device. Or to be precise, you could benefit from letting us use that data as it contributes to better protection overall. So that’s our dilemma. How to utilize this data in a way that won’t put your privacy in jeopardy? And how to maintain trust? How to convince you that data we collect really is used to improve your protection? Our policy for this is outlined here, and the anti-malware product’s data transfer is documented in detail in this document. In short, we only upload data necessary to produce the service, we focus on technical data and won’t take personal data, we use hashing of the data when feasible and we anonymize data so we can’t tell whom it came from. The trend is clearly towards lighter devices that rely more on cloud services. Our answer to that is Security Cloud. It enables devices to off-load tasks to the cloud and benefit from data collected from the whole community. But to keep up with the threats we must develop Security Cloud constantly. And that also means that we will need more info about what happens on your device. That’s why I would like to check what your opinion about data upload is. How do you feel about Security Cloud using data from your device to improve the overall security for all users? Do you trust us when we say that we apply strict rules to the data upload to guard your privacy? [polldaddy poll=9196371] Safe surfing, Micke Image by balticservers.com
We are all sad about what’s happened in Paris last Friday. It’s said that the terrorist attacks have changed the world. That is no doubt true, and one aspect of that is how social media becomes more important in situations like this. Facebook has deployed two functions that help people deal with this kind of crisis. The Safety Check feature collects info about people in the area of a disaster, and if they are safe or not. This feature was initially created for natural disasters. Facebook received criticism for using it in Paris but not for the Beirut bombings a day earlier. It turned out that their explanation is quite good. Beirut made them think if the feature should be used for terror attacks as well, and they were ready to change the policy when Paris happened. The other feature lets you use a temporary profile picture with some appropriate overlay, the tricolor in this case. This is a nice and easy way to show sympathy. And it became popular very quickly, at least among my friends. The downside is however that it seemed so popular that those without a tricolor were sticking out. Some people started asking them why they aren’t supporting the victims in Paris? The whole thing has lost part of its meaning when it goes that far. We can’t know anymore who genuinely supports France and who changed the picture because of the social pressure. I changed my picture too. And it was interesting to see how the feature was implemented. The Facebook app for iOS 9 launched a wizard that let me make a picture with the tricolor overlay. Either by snapping a new selfie or using one of my previous profile pictures. I guess the latter is what most people want to do. But Facebook’s wizard requires permissions to use the camera and refuses to start until the user has given that permission. Even if you just want to modify an existing picture. Even more spooky. The wizard also asked for permission to use the microphone when I first run it. That is, needless to say, totally unnecessary when creating a profile picture. And Facebook has been accused of misusing audio data. It’s doubtful if they really do, but the only sure thing is that they don’t if you deny Facebook microphone access. But that was probably a temporary glitch, I was not able to reproduce the mic request when resetting everything and running the wizard again. Your new profile picture may be temporary, but any rights you grant the Facebook app are permanent. I’m not saying that this is a sinister plot to get more data about you, it may be just sloppy programming. But it is anyway an excellent reminder about how important the app permissions are. We should learn to become more critical when granting, or denying, rights like this. This is the case for any app, but especially Facebook as its whole business model is based on scooping up data about us users. Time for an app permission check. On your iOS device, go to Settings and Privacy. Here you can see the categories of info that an app can request. Go through them and think critically about if a certain app really needs its permissions to provide value to you. Check Facebook's camera and microphone permissions if you have used the temporary profile picture feature. And one last thing. Make it a habit to check the privacy settings now and then. [caption id="attachment_8637" align="aligncenter" width="169"] This is how far you get unless you agree to grant Facebook camera access.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_8638" align="aligncenter" width="169"] The Settings, Privacy page. Under each category you find the apps that have requested access, and can select if the request is granted or denied.[/caption] Safe surfing, Micke PS. The temporary profile picture function is BTW simpler in Facebook's web interface. You just see your current profile picture with the overlay. You can pan and zoom before saving. I like that approach much more. Photo by Markus Nikander and iPhone screen captures