Facebook psychology studies and privacy

In the last 24 hours, there have been a lot of stories about Facebook running a psychology experiment on its users. Reactions included the following arguments: that it was bad science, that it breached ethical guidelines, and even that it might have been illegal (although there is at least some dispute as to its legality). In general, many people seem to believe that Facebook “totally screwed with a bunch of people in the name of science.” Admittedly, not everyone agrees, but there is no denying Continue reading Facebook psychology studies and privacy

Cell phone privacy and hacking

In the past two days, there have been two major developments relating to cell phone privacy. First, in the UK, verdicts were returned for Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks in the infamous News International phone hacking scandal. Verdicts on the charge of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office are also pending against Coulson and former editor Clive Goodman.

The second major development was a unanimous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that police need warrants to search the cell phones of people they arrest.

These developments reveal two distinct ways in which our privacy is threatened Continue reading Cell phone privacy and hacking

Your Digital Footprint and its Real-World Ramifications

Today, the ABA gave the go-ahead to attorneys to look at “publicly available musings” of citizens called for jury service and in deliberations, but stopped short of allowing them to “follow or friend” jurors. Such “musings” may even impact the outcomes of legal proceedings; the article cites a case in which a defense attorney asked for a new trial on the basis of a juror’s post. There is a clear tension here between the privacy of jurors and the right of defendants to have their case heard by impartial jurors, but it is certainly not the first time an online user’s digital footprint has led to repercussions in the real world.

For years, college admissions officers have been using the digital footprints of applicants to help make their admissions decisions. In 2008, only 10% used social media during the admissions process. By 2011, Continue reading Your Digital Footprint and its Real-World Ramifications

Beware the dangers of Vishing

I recently came across a random comment in a Youtube video listing a phone number purportedly belonging to Gmail technical support. I have redacted the last 5 digits of the number so that nobody calls this number by accident: 1-855-23_-____

I was never going to call this number, but I was curious about it and wanted to investigate further. I know from personal experience how difficult it is to reach Google for any kind of technical support, so I was highly skeptical of the idea that they would have a dedicated support line Continue reading Beware the dangers of Vishing

TrueCrypt: What happened? Who cares? What’s next?

What happened?

Sometime in late May, TrueCrypt’s homepage began redirecting users to a Sourceforge page. As of this moment, the Sourceforge page says that the development of TrueCrypt has ended and that the program may not be secure. The only version of TrueCrypt offered at the page now (7.2) is a crippled version that only has the ability to decrypt files.

There was much speculation as to the reason for TrueCrypt’s demise, ranging from its site being hacked to the desire of the developers to call it quits. At this point, Continue reading TrueCrypt: What happened? Who cares? What’s next?