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The contents of F-Secure World Wide Web pages are provided “as is” and “as available”. No warranty of any kind, either express or implied, is made in relation to the availability, accuracy, reliability or content of these pages. To the extent permitted by law, F-Secure shall not be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental or consequential damages arising out of the use of or inability to use these pages, even if F-Secure has been advised of the possibility of such damages.
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The following legal terms (“terms”) govern your right to use and access to F-Secure blog “Safe and Savvy” (“blog”) provided by F-Secure Corporation (“F-Secure”, “we”, “our”). By using or visiting the blog you have read these terms, understand them and agree to be legally bound by them. You also agree not to use the blog against these terms and specific instructions elsewhere in the blog. If you do not agree to all of these terms, or if you are below the age of twelve (12), you are not allowed to access, visit or participate in the community
Description and Purpose
F-Secure provides this blog as a service to its users and customers, to help them exchange ideas, tips, information, and techniques related to overall security related issues and to our services. This blog is here for the enjoyment and benefit of all members and accessible to all. The community of the blog, like any community, is most valuable when everyone obeys certain basic guidelines and rules for online behavior:
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Use of the blog is at your own risk. Do not post any information, especially personal information such as addresses and phone numbers, that you do not wish to make public. Any information that you post to public sections of the blog can be obtained and used by others. You are responsible for any personal information you disclose to the blog. F-Secure or WordPress.com provided by Automattic Inc. (“Platform Provider”) is not responsible for third parties’ use of information posted on the blog and to the blog community. Users of the blog agree not to upload, post, or otherwise transmit any content that includes any of the following inappropriate content:
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F-Secure may remove any information, in its sole discretion, including but not limited to personal data or data, material or content provided by any of the users, considered to violate the Terms or be inappropriate for the blog for any reason. F-Secure shall under this agreement have no obligation to monitor any of the material provided by you to F-Secure and/or to the blog community, but may do so at its discretion. F-Secure also retains the right to immediately revoke any and all of Your access rights in case Your breach of any of these Terms or suspected misuse of the blog.
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Don’t take net neutrality for granted
You don’t know what you have until it’s gone, according to the old wise saying. We have learned to value Internet as the ultimate frontier of freedom and equality. Anyone anywhere can use whatever service she likes or communicate with any other person. But will it always be this way? Not necessary. Let’s create a fictive example. Imagine a business development guy at the power company. He’s reading the paper and notices that Apple is in the headlines. They did a nice profit last year, and he gets a brilliant business idea. Their electrical network is used to supply charging power to a lot of Apple devices, so he calls Apple and proposes a deal. The electrical company will continue to provide charging power for Apple devices and Apple will pay them for allowing that. That would of course be on top of the normal fee customers pay for the electricity. Otherwise the electricity company would regretfully be forced to prevent Apple-device from charging in their network. Would that be right? Of course not, it would be extortion. This example is fortunately purely fictive, and even technically impossible as the power company can’t control what customers do with the electricity. But Internet is lot more complex than the power grid. Internet Service Providers can monitor our traffic and see what we are using our broadband connection for. So this scenario is unfortunately possible on the Internet. Not only possible, it’s reality. Do you remember the Netflix vs. Comcast affair about a year ago? Internet Service Provider Comcast’s subscribers received really poor performance on video streaming service Netflix, until Netflix started to pay money directly to Comcast. Some call it a normal peering agreement, some greedy extortion. Netflix vs. Comcast differs from the fictive power company in one way, Netflix sells a high-volume service that cause significant load on Comcast’s network. That makes it a bit easier to understand Comcast’s points, but one fact remains. Comcast’s customers have already purchased broadband connections and paid to get any Internet content, including Netflix-videos, delivered to their homes. And Comcast has gladly taken that money. The Federal Communications Commission in US also agrees that something needs to be done. They made a decision on February 26th 2015 that reclassifies Internet access as a common carrier service. This means more tools to enforce net neutrality and prevent the “greedy power company” business model. Net neutrality activists all over the world are celebrating this as an important win, but let’s not be too happy yet. Anything can happen in US’s legal and political systems and there are still mighty powers who don’t want to let a profitable business model go just like that. It ain't over until the fat lady sings. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) accumulate a significant power when building large customer bases. Not only do they get income from the customers’ fees, they are also in a position where they can control what content is delivered and at what speed. Net neutrality is, among other things, preventing misuse of this power. It may not be a widespread problem today, but there is a significant risk it will become one unless we do something. Imagine Comcast running a service that competes with Netflix. Comcast could simply terminate the deal with Netflix to eliminate one competitor. This would in practice mean that Comcast’s video streaming would be the only working choice for Comcast’s customers. That is unless we have strong net neutrality rules that enforce equal treatment of network services, and ensure that we have a choice no matter what ISP we have signed up with. This is why net neutrality is important for you, me and everybody else. Internet is a fundamental service just like water, electricity and the road network. We don’t want the power company to dictate how we use electricity, and we don’t want our ISP to control how we use Internet. Want to know more? Start with Save The Internet or Battle for the net. Safe surfing, Micke PS. By the way, we have a great tool that is designed to improve security and privacy, but it can also be used to circumvent censorship and other net neutrality violations. F-Secure Freedome. Image by Electronic Frontier Foundation (eff.org)
A Brief History of the Trusted Internet
By Allen Scott, managing director of F-Secure UK and Ireland The internet and the industry which surrounds it is at a tipping point. The scramble to dominate in emerging product and service markets has led many organisations to lose sight of what the Internet should be. If things continue on this downward moral trajectory, we run the risk of breaching the rights of every person who uses it. As a general rule of thumb, violating customers and prospects is not a wise sales strategy. This is why the Trusted Internet is so important now, in 2015, to stem the tide. Half the world away The internet has morphed from a military funded academic computer network into the World Wide Web into what we know today. It has created new industries and billionaire business owners. It has made the world smaller by connecting people who would never otherwise have interacted. It has helped every person by making their life a little easier – from keeping in touch with family to being the number one resource for research on any given subject. It is hard to imagine life without it. Of course, not everyone is online…yet. Figures vary, but it is generally accepted that approximately 3 billion people are now connected to the internet. That is 42% of the world’s population. By 2018, it is estimated that half of the world’s population will be online. That means that every other person could have their human right to privacy (Article 12 of the Declaration of Human Rights) violated. It is unacceptable because it is avoidable. Personal data – the ultimate renewable resource The internet is now an extension of mankind. It is our marvellous creation and we are growing more and more dependent on it. The problem is that it is turning into a Frankenstein’s monster. We are so consumed with whether something (such as tracking people’s movements online) is possible, that the industry has forgotten to ask themselves whether they should. Morality has been pushed aside in the race to gain more personal data, for knowledge is power. Don’t believe how valuable data is? Just take a look at Google. A giant of the internet, it made over £11 billion in profit last year. Not bad for a company which gives away its services for free. Google collects so much data on its users that it is the fourth largest manufacturer of servers in the world. It doesn’t even sell servers! Personal data is big business. Advertisers pay a lot of money for profiles on people. What people like, where they live, who they are likely to vote for, whether they are left-handed – some marketing companies claim to have up to 1,500 points of interest on each individual’s profile. Are all of these ‘interesting points’ something which those people are happy to have shared? I doubt it. What about the Internet of Things Next up is the Internet of Things (IoT). A concept whereby a vast number of objects, from toasters to bridges, will be connected to the internet where they will share the data they collect. The benefits of this emerging network is that analysis of the data will lead to efficiencies and will make life easier still for people. For example, I could combine the data collected from my smartphone pedometer, my diet app and my watch’s heart monitor to analyse my health and make informed improvements. So far, so good. The IoT waters get a little murkier when you start asking who else has access to that data about me. Maybe I don’t mind if my doctor sees it, but I’m not comfortable with marketing companies or health insurers seeing that data. It’s private. We are fortunate that we are still in the fledgling stage of the IoT and have the opportunity to shape how it impacts our private lives. This is a relatively small window in which to act though, so we must be outspoken in order to protect people’s civil liberties. The ethical solution The next stage of internet development needs to be the Trusted Internet. People have the right to privacy online and it is entirely possible. Not every business and organisation online is part of the data-collecting frenzy. Some, like F-Secure, simply don’t care what you want to look up in a search engine or which websites you visit (unless they are malicious, of course!). We believe that your data is exactly that – yours. Until now, the internet has developed a taste for the free in people. Users have been reluctant to pay for services which they could get for free elsewhere. But now people are realising that when they don’t pay for the product, they are the product. With F-Secure, our customers are just that – customers. Being the customer, their data is their own. Our job is to protect them and their data. We believe that the internet should be a place for people to learn and interact. There shouldn’t be a price on this in the form of our privacy. If there should be a price, it should be monetary, so that people have the chance to buy the services they wish to use, rather than gaining access to services in exchange for personal information. I would happily pay to use Google, Facebook, LinkedIn or one of the many other sites which stakes claim to me when I sign up. We are the generation which created the internet. Let’s not be the generation which disposed of decency, respect and privacy too. [Image by Timo Arnall | Flickr]
Mikko Hypponen to Talk Privacy at the Mobile World Congress
This year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) is coming up next week. The annual Barcelona-based tech expo features the latest news in mobile technologies. One of the biggest issues of the past year has enticed our own digital freedom fighter Mikko Hypponen to participate in the event. Hypponen, a well-known advocate of digital freedom, has been defending the Internet and its users from digital threats for almost 25 years. He’s appearing at this year’s MWC on Monday, March 2 for a conference session called “Ensuring User-Centred Privacy in a Connected World”. The panel will discuss and debate different ways to ensure privacy doesn’t become a thing of the past. While Hypponen sees today’s technologies as having immeasurable benefits for us all, he’s become an outspoken critic of what he sees as what’s “going wrong in the online world”. He’s spoken prominently about a range of these issues in the past year, and been interviewed on topics as diverse as new malware and cybersecurity threats, mass surveillance and digital privacy, and the potential abuses of emerging technologies (such as the Internet of Things). The session will feature Hypponen and five other panelists. But, since the event is open to public discussion on Twitter under the #MWC15PRIV hashtag, you can contribute to the conversation. Here’s three talking points to help you get started: Security in a mobile world A recent story broken by The Intercept describes how the American and British governments hacked Gemalto, the largest SIM card manufacturer in the world. In doing so, they obtained the encryption keys that secure mobile phone calls across the globe. You can read a recent blog post about it here if you’re interested in more information about how this event might shape the discussion. Keeping safe online It recently came to light that an adware program called “Superfish” contains a security flaw that allows hackers to impersonate shopping, banking, or other websites. These “man-in-the-middle” attacks can be quite serious and trick people into sharing personal data with criminals. The incident highlights the importance of making sure people can trust their devices. And the fact that Superfish comes pre-installed on notebooks from the world’s largest PC manufacturer makes it worth discussing sooner rather than later. Privacy and the Internet of Things Samsung recently warned people to be aware when discussing personal information in front of their Smart TVs. You can get the details from this blog post, but basically the Smart TVs voice activation technology can apparently listen to what people are saying and even share the information with third parties. As more devices become “smart”, will we have to become smarter about what we say and do around them? The session is scheduled to run from 16:00 – 17:30 (CET), so don’t miss this chance to join the fight for digital freedom at the MWC. [Image by Hubert Burda Media | Flickr]