As many Americans have no doubt heard, probable 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush has publicly released a large number of e-mails from his tenure as Florida’s governor. Unfortunately, in their rush to release the e-mails, his staff neglected to redact sensitive information from his constituents such as real names, physical addresses, e-mail addresses, and Social Security numbers! According to the article, Bush’s staff is working on fixing the problem.
I’m not sure why anyone would include their Social Security numbers in an e-mail to their governor, but the incident reminds us that we may not always be the weakest link when a leak or breach occurs. This particular one may have been averted if senders had been more careful about including personal information in an e-mail to a public figure or if Bush’s staff had been more thorough, but there will be times when we have to send sensitive information or otherwise place it in the hands of another party, thus taking it out of our direct control. It is therefore not merely as individuals but as a society that we need to be more vigilant about our privacy and security.
According to Reuters, thefts involving smartphones have declined in three major cities (San Francisco, New York, and London) after manufacturers implemented software-based kill switches into the devices. Smartphone theft is a serious problem. The article notes that in certain cities in California, smartphone thefts account for more than half of all crimes. Last year, California passed a law that requires all phones sold after July 1, 2015 to contain a kill switch. The full text of the bill is here if you’re interested in the details.
Before we all jump up and down and rejoice at the decrease in violent crime resulting from smartphones, however, consider these two arguments against kill switches in a Wired article: Continue reading iPhone Thefts Decrease Due to Kill Feature, But Don’t Get Too Excited
Recently, media outlets have been reporting on privacy concerns with Samsung’s SmartTV. Much of the concern appears to be focused on the “Voice Recognition” section of their SmartTV privacy statement:
“If you enable Voice Recognition, you can interact with your Smart TV using your voice. To provide you the Voice Recognition feature, some voice commands may be transmitted (along with information about your device, including device identifiers) to a third-party service that converts speech to text or to the extent necessary to provide the Voice Recognition features to you. In addition, Samsung may collect and your device may capture voice commands and associated texts so that we can provide you with Voice Recognition features and evaluate and improve the features. Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.” Continue reading Privacy Concerns With Samsung’s SmartTV
Yesterday, the New York Times reported on flaws in the security and privacy of cars with wireless systems. The article was based on a report released today by the office of Ed Markey, a United States Senator for Massachusetts. The report is titled “Tracking & Hacking: Security & Privacy Gaps Put American Drivers At Risk” and, as the title implies, focuses on the following two problems:
1. Wireless technologies allow hackers to “gain access and control to the essential functions and features of those cars.”
2. Other parties can “utilize information on drivers’ habits for commercial purposes without the drivers’ knowledge or consent.” Continue reading Modern Cars With Wireless Systems Are A Threat to Privacy And Security