Category Archives: facebook

Facebook Plans To Use US Mail To Verify IDs of Election Ad Buyers

Facebook will start using postcards sent by U.S. mail later this year to verify the identities and location of people who want to purchase U.S. election-related advertising on its site, a senior company executive said on Saturday. From a report: The postcard verification is Facebook's latest effort to respond to criticism from lawmakers, security experts and election integrity watchdog groups that it and other social media companies failed to detect and later responded slowly to Russia's use of their platforms to spread divisive political content, including disinformation, during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Could You Have a Toxic Relationship with Your Smartphone?

It’s the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about: our devotion to and dependence on our smartphones. For most of us, our children included, smartphones have become an appendage; a limb of voracious digital consumption and social obligation that keeps us scrolling, refreshing, swiping, and responding with no end in sight.

Any friend or psychologist would encourage us to rid ourselves of toxic relationships that hinder — even threaten — our emotional and physical well-being, but what if that relationship is with a smartphone? Would you be willing to give it up (or reset the relationship) if you knew it was toxic?

Researchers are increasingly debating the impact of the smartphone on our emotional well-being, and the debate often returns to striking a balance between the ethical design of technology versus corporate profitability. One of the most compelling arguments is that of researcher Tristan Harris, a former Google Design Ethicist, on a crusade to inspire people to stop clicking and start caring about how technology is intentionally designed to shape the behavior of the people who use it. Harris has launched a nonprofit called Time Well Spent. His viral TED Talk proposes a renaissance in online design that can free tech users from being manipulated by apps, websites, and advertisers as the race for user attention increases.

From Facebook notifications to Snapstreaks to YouTube auto plays, Harris argues that our online behavior is anything but random. Instead, our thoughts and feelings are being carefully manipulated by technologists behind the scenes persuasively competing for more and more our attention.

Not convinced you among the tech lemming crowd? I wasn’t either. But the discussion got me thinking and inspired me to make some specific changes to test my smartphone dependence.

5 Ways to Drastically Reduce Smartphone Dependence

  • Turn your phone to grayscale mode (google how to do this – it’s amazing)
  • Turn off all push notifications (reclaim your attention span).
  • Park your phone in one physical location (stop carrying it everywhere).
  • Stand up when you use your phone (no more getting cozy for hours).
  • Ban your phone from the bedroom (get an alarm clock).

I made these changes for a week and here’s what happened.

Not as interesting, right?
Grayscale mode, iPhone.

Absolutely no fun in sight for the first three days. Initially, I felt overcome with a sense of vulnerability, panic even that suddenly, somehow, I wasn’t in control of something. I felt an overwhelming need to check my phone every 15-30 minutes. That time gradually increased to about an hour by the third day. Not having my phone nearby, I was sure I’d miss out on something important. For the first few days, I constantly felt as if I had lost something and I’d get up and wander around before realizing my phone was docked safely in the kitchen — just like when I was growing up and had to physically walk to the kitchen to use the phone. I resolved to check my phone once every three hours rather than carry it with me from room to room. When I did check it, surprisingly, the world had not collapsed without my attention to it. I found an average of three texts (two from family with non-critical comments, and usually, one discount text from a retailer).

Because I turned my screen grayscale (wow, what a game changer!) I didn’t feel the anticipation of checking social media, scrolling, reciprocating, uploading, or commenting. My phone in the grayscale mode made using it stale, almost irritating. I realized looking at my phone in grayscale that I being overly influenced and pulled by pretty pictures and all the colors, sounds, links, and prompts, which had come to own my attention. Sadly, I was giving my time to this relationship without any meaningful, lasting benefit coming back to me. I was in a toxic relationship, and something had to change.

By the end of the week, I felt awesome, empowered almost. I had successfully distanced myself from a toxic relationship and redefined it on my terms. I also realized something profound: There’s an unspoken cost to unbalanced technology use I’m not willing to hand over any longer, and that is my time.

When I parked my phone in the kitchen, banned it from the bedroom, and refused to sit down with it, I noticed patches of extra time magically appear in my day. What could I do with all the time I once poured into my phone? As it turns out, quite a lot.

I’m keeping my new habits, and I’m encouraging my family to do the same for a good reason. Here’s what we know: Kids are spending more time on digital devices than ever before, and that trend has no reason to reverse. Anxiety disorders linked to social media use is at an all-time high. Also, researchers are confirming the link between technology, depression, and suicide among youth.

I’m not willing to just go with the flow on this one. There’s just too much is at stake.

Take the challenge: Are you willing to take specific steps (like the ones listed above) to rethink and redefine your relationship with your smartphone?

Let us know the highs and lows of your experience by commenting below. We’re cheering you on.


toni page birdsong



Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures). 


The post Could You Have a Toxic Relationship with Your Smartphone? appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Facebook to release its own smart home speakers in July 2018

Facebook to launch smart home speakers with 15-inch display in July

Facebook is looking to take upon Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot, a brand of smart speakers developed by alongside Google Home and Google Home Max, by bringing its own set of smart speakers in the market.

According to a report in Taipai-based website Digitimes, the social networking giant is planning to enter the global smart speaker market by launching two speakers in July 2018 that are mainly aimed to allow family and friends stay in touch with each other through video chat and other social integrations.

“The sources said that the Facebook move is expected to further heat up the global smart speaker market, which has been crowded with heavyweight players, including top supplier Amazon and other tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, Apple and many China players including Alibaba. According to estimates by market researcher Canalys, the global market sales of smart speakers are likely to double to over 50 million units in 2018 from 2017,” the report states.

Codenamed, Aloha and Fiona, both the speakers are designed by Facebook’s Building 8 R&D center and will have massive 15-inch LG Display touchscreens. Taiwan’s Pegatron is reported to be the sole contract assembler for the devices.

The model ‘Aloha’, to be promoted under the official name Portal, is expected to be the more high-end model and will use voice-controlled technology. Besides this, it will include “facial recognition to identify users for accessing Facebook through a wide-angle lens on the front of the device,” the report added. It will also have more social networking functions although details are yet unknown. On the other hand, the Fiona model is believed to have less advanced functionalities, but it will include voice commands.

Facebook has signed music licensing contracts with Sony and Universal Music for smart home speakers, which means both the speakers should offer music streaming services to enrich the device’s applications.

Facebook wanted to originally launch the devices in May, but then decided to delay the launch to perfect the acoustic quality and software, the report notes.

Both the devices are expected to form the base for Facebook’s long-term plan to build an ecosystem of video consumer devices that the social media giant plans to bring out during the next five years. The smart speaker is just the initial-stage product, with more terminal devices expected to be rolled out in the coming years, the report added.

Source: DigiTimes

The post Facebook to release its own smart home speakers in July 2018 appeared first on TechWorm.

Facebook Offers A VPN Client Under ‘Protect’ Option For iOS

Is Facebook-owned ‘Onavo Protect’ app, a spyware?

Facebook who is no stranger to privacy-related controversy has adopted a novel way to collect and track its users’ data that gives information about their online habits.

Apparently, Facebook is pushing its users to download and install a Facebook-owned VPN client called “Onavo Protect” on their devices under the pretext of protecting their account. VPN (short for virtual private network) is used to safeguard users’ online privacy and keep their IP address anonymous particularly when using public Wi-Fi networks by creating a secure connection to another network over the Internet. However, Onavo Protect is just doing exactly the opposite. In fact, the VPN client is tracking users’ apps, how often they are used and what websites users visit and is sending these information back to Facebook.

However, this VPN client has been added only to the iOS platform of mobile app and not the Android app, according to TechCrunch, who were the first to spot the new “Protect” option under the “Apps” section on the Facebook mobile iOS app. On clicking this option, the user will be directed to Apple’s App Store and pushed to download Onavo Protect VPN.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Facebook has confirmed that it had recently started rolling out the Onavo Protect app access directly from its iOS app. “We recently began letting people in the US access Onavo Protect from the Facebook app on their iOS devices. Like other VPNs, it acts as a secure connection to protect people from potentially harmful sites. The app may collect your mobile data traffic to help us recognise tactics that bad actors use. Over time, this helps the tool work better for you and others. We let people know about this activity and other ways that Onavo uses and analyses data before they download it,” said Erez Naveh, Product Manager at Onavo in the statement.

It is unclear how Facebook is planning to influence the user data it will collect through the Onavo Protect app. While the app claims to ‘keep your data safe’ and add an extra layer of protection to your mobile traffic by routing it through their servers, the description of the app throws light on how the service work.

It reads, “Onavo uses a VPN to establish a secure connection to direct all of your network communications through Onavo’s servers. As part of this process, Onavo collects your mobile data traffic. This helps us improve and operate the Onavo service by analyzing your use of websites, apps and data. Because we’re part of Facebook, we also use this info to improve Facebook products and services, gain insights into the products and services people value, and build better experiences.”

While many have called the Onavo Protect app as a spyware, others who are unaware might never know that Facebook uses the data from the app for marketing purposes. However, the good news is that the app is not activated by default and requires you to navigate to the Protect tab in the app’s settings, and then install the app yourself. Those users who are unsure about the app, should refrain from installing it.

Source: NDTV, Neowin

The post Facebook Offers A VPN Client Under ‘Protect’ Option For iOS appeared first on TechWorm.

Facebook Is Spamming Users Via Their 2FA Phone Numbers

According to Mashable, Facebook account holder Gabriel Lewis tweeted that Facebook texted "spam" to the phone number he submitted for the purposes of 2-factor authentication. Lewis insists that he did not have mobile notifications turned on, and when he replied "stop" and "DO NOT TEXT ME," he says those messages showed up on his Facebook wall. From the report: Lewis explained his version of the story to Mashable via Twitter direct message. "[Recently] I decided to sign up for 2FA on all of my accounts including FaceBook, shortly afterwards they started sending me notifications from the same phone number. I never signed up for it and I don't even have the FB app on my phone." Lewis further explained that he can go "for months" without signing into Facebook, which suggests the possibility that Mark Zuckerberg's creation was feeling a little neglected and trying to get him back. According to Lewis, he signed up for 2FA on Dec. 17 and the alleged spamming began on Jan. 5. Importantly, Lewis isn't the only person who claims this happened to him. One Facebook user says he accidentally told "friends and family to go [to] hell" when he "replied to the spam."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Even Apple and Google Engineers Can’t Really Afford To Live Near Their Offices

That's according to the Y Combinator-backed real-estate startup Open Listings, which looked at median home sales prices near the headquarters (meaning within a 20-minute commute) of some of the Bay Area's biggest and best-known tech companies. Fast Company: Using public salary data from Paysa, Open Listings then looked at how many software engineers from those companies could actually afford to buy a house close to their office. Here's what it found: Engineers at five major SF-based tech companies would need to spend over the 28% threshold of their income to afford a monthly mortgage near their offices. Apple engineers would have to pay an average of 33% of their monthly income for a mortgage near work. That's the highest percentage of the companies analyzed, and home prices in Cupertino continue to skyrocket. Google wasn't much better at 32%, and living near the Facebook office would cost an engineer 29% of their monthly paycheck.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Messenger Kids Advocates Were Facebook-Funded

Fast Company: Facebook unveiled this kid-friendly version of its signature messaging service in December, while the YouTube Kids scandal was in full swing. Messenger Kids, Facebook said, had been designed to serve as a "fun, safer solution" for family communications. It would be available for children as young as 6, the company said. To forestall criticism, Facebook asserted that the app had been developed alongside thousands of parents and a dozen expert advisors. But it looks like many of those outside experts were funded with Facebook dollars. According to Wired, "At least seven members of Facebook 13-person advisory board have some kind of financial tie to the company." Those advisors include the National PTA, Blue Star Families, Connect Safely, and the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Facebook is Pushing Its Data-tracking Onavo VPN Within Its Main Mobile App

TechCrunch reports: Onavo Protect, the VPN client from the data-security app maker acquired by Facebook back in 2013, has now popped up in the Facebook app itself, under the banner "Protect" in the navigation menu. Clicking through on "Protect" will redirect Facebook users to the "Onavo Protect -- VPN Security" app's listing on the App Store. We're currently seeing this option on iOS only, which may indicate it's more of a test than a full rollout here in the U.S. Marketing Onavo within Facebook itself could lead to a boost in users for the VPN app, which promises to warn users of malicious websites and keep information secure as you browse. But Facebook didn't buy Onavo for its security protections. Instead, Onavo's VPN allow Facebook to monitor user activity across apps, giving Facebook a big advantage in terms of spotting new trends across the larger mobile ecosystem. For example, Facebook gets an early heads up about apps that are becoming breakout hits; it can tell which are seeing slowing user growth; it sees which apps' new features appear to be resonating with their users, and much more. Further reading: Do Not, I Repeat, Do Not Download Onavo, Facebook's Vampiric VPN Service (Gizmodo).

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

YouTube CEO: Facebook Should ‘Get Back To Baby Pictures’

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki won't divulge her biggest fear about competing with Facebook, but she will give them some free advice. From a report: "They should get back to baby pictures," Wojcicki said Monday at the Code Media conference in Huntington Beach, California. Video has been an obsession for Facebook, as it tries to swipe the most advertising dollars migrating off television before YouTube can get them. Facebook has been aggressively advancing the number of clips and live streams that bubble up to the top of your News Feed and has rolled out a central hub for TV-like programming called Watch. "You always have to take competition seriously. You don't win by looking backwards; you win by looking at your customers and looking forward," she said.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

German court says Facebook use of personal data is illegal

Facebook’s default privacy settings and some of its terms of service fall afoul of the German Federal Data Protection Act, the Berlin Regional Court has found. By not adequately securing the informed consent of its users, Facebook’s use of personal data is illegal – and so is the social network’s “real-name” clause, as the German Telemedia Act says that providers of online services must allow users to use their services anonymously or by using a … More

German court rules Facebook’s use of personal data and privacy settings as illegal

Facebook’s privacy settings illegal, rules German court

Time and again Facebook has been accused of invading its users’ privacy and collecting personal data for purposes like online advertising, marketing, etc. Now, a German court has ruled that the social networking giant’s use of personal data is illegal. The verdict, comes from a Berlin regional court, who said that Facebook’s default privacy settings violate German consumer law.

The Federation of German Consumers Organisation (vzbv) [advocacy website], was based on the country’s Federal Data Protection Act. According to the Federal Data Protection Act, personal data may only be collected and used with the consent of those involved. Providers are required to provide clear and understandable information about the nature, extent and purpose of the use of the data for the users to make informed choices. However, these requirements were not met by Facebook and users were automatically opted into features.

vzbv said that Facebook’s default settings and some of its terms of service were in breach of consumer law by denying consumers of a “meaningful choice”, and that the court found some of the social network’s data consent policies to be invalid.

“Facebook hides default settings that are not privacy-friendly in its privacy centre and does not provide sufficient information about it when users register,” said Heiko Duenkel, litigation policy officer at the vzbv. “This does not meet the requirement for informed consent.”

Several Facebook’s terms of service, including its authentic name policy and data transmission policies, were illegal, the court said. In total, eight of Facebook’s clauses were found to be illegal. The court also added that having certain default settings in place did not constitute users giving consent to privacy related matters.

In a statement issued by vzbv, it said, “In the Facebook app for smartphones, for example, a location service was pre-activated that reveals a user’s location to people they are chatting to. In the privacy settings, ticks were already placed in boxes that allowed search engines to link to the user’s timeline. This meant that anyone could quickly and easily find personal Facebook profiles.”

Although the judgement was issued by Berlin Regional Court on January 16, the vzbv publicly posted a copy of the ruling on its website only this Monday.

In response to the German ruling, Facebook said it would appeal the ruling. However, in the meantime, Facebook plans to update its data protection guidelines and its terms of service, largely to comply with upcoming GDPR laws.

“We are working hard to ensure that our guidelines are clear and easy to understand, and that the services offered by Facebook are in full accordance with the law,” Facebook said.

The post German court rules Facebook’s use of personal data and privacy settings as illegal appeared first on TechWorm.

Facebook Lost Around 2.8 Million US Users Under 25 Last Year

According to new estimates by eMarketer, Facebook users in the 12- to 17-year-old demographic declined by 9.9 percent in 2017, or about 1.4 million total users. That's almost three times more than the digital measurement firm expected. There were roughly 12.1 million U.S. Facebook users in the 12- to 17-year-old demographic by the end of the year. Recode reports: There are likely multiple reasons for the decline. Facebook has been losing its "cool" factor for years, and young people have more options than ever for staying in touch with friends and family. Facebook also serves as a digital record keeper -- but many young people don't seem to care about saving their life online, at least not publicly. That explains why Snapchat and Instagram, which offer features for sharing photos and videos that disappear, are growing in popularity among this demographic. Overall, eMarketer found Facebook lost about 2.8 million U.S. users under 25 last year. The research firm released Facebook usage estimates for 2018 on Monday, and expects that Facebook will lose about 2.1 million users in the U.S. under the age of 25 this year.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

A Facebook Employee Asked a Reporter To Turn Off His Phone So Facebook Couldn’t Track Its Location

Steve Kovach, writing for BusinessInsider: To corporate giants like Facebook, leaks to rivals or the media are a cardinal sin. That notion was clear in a new Wired story about Facebook's rocky time over the last two years. The story talks about how Facebook was able to find two leakers who told a Gizmodo reporter about its news operations. But one source for the Wired story highlighted just how concerned employees are about how their company goes after leakers. According to the story, the source, a current Facebook employee, asked a Wired reporter to turn off his phone so Facebook wouldn't be able to use location tracking and see that the two were close to each other for the meeting. The Wired's 11,000-word wide-ranging piece, for which it spoke with more than 50 current and former Facebook employees, gives us an inside look at how the company has been struggling to curb spread of fake news; battling internal discrimination among employees; and becoming furious when anything leaks to the media. Another excerpt from the story: The day after Fearnow (a contractor who leaked information to a Gizmodo reporter) took that second screenshot was a Friday. When he woke up after sleeping in, he noticed that he had about 30 meeting notifications from Facebook on his phone. When he replied to say it was his day off, he recalls, he was nonetheless asked to be available in 10 minutes. Soon he was on a video-conference with three Facebook employees, including Sonya Ahuja, the company's head of investigations. According to his recounting of the meeting, she asked him if he had been in touch with Nunez (the Gizmodo reporter, who eventually published this and this). He denied that he had been. Then she told him that she had their messages on Gchat, which Fearnow had assumed weren't accessible to Facebook. He was fired. "Please shut your laptop and don't reopen it," she instructed him.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Facebook ‘Likes’ Are a Powerful Tool For Authoritarian Rulers, Court Petition Says

A Cambodian opposition leader has filed a petition in a California court against Facebook, demanding the company disclose its transactions with his country's authoritarian prime minister, whom he accuses of falsely inflating his popularity through purchased "likes" and spreading fake news. From a report: The petition, filed Feb. 8, brings the ongoing debate over Facebook's power to undermine democracies into a legal setting. The petitioner, Sam Rainsy, says that Hun Sen, the prime minister, "has used the network to threaten violence against political opponents and dissidents, disseminate false information, and manipulate his (and the regime's) supposed popularity, thus seeking to foster an illusion of popular legitimacy." Rainsy alleges that Hun had used "click farms" to artificially boost his popularity, effectively buying "likes." The petition says that Hun had achieved astonishing Facebook fame in a very short time, raising questions about whether this popularity was legitimate.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Facebook confirms it is testing ‘downvote’ button for comments

Facebook is testing ‘downvote’ button after requests for ‘dislike’ button

In 2015, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO and co-founder, had confirmed that his company was working on the much-requested “Dislike” button by its users. Fast forward to 2018, while Facebook has yet to add the ‘Dislike’ button on its platform, it did end up adding emoji reactions (such as love, haha, wow, sad and angry) that the users can choose to react to posts or pictures.

Back then, Zuckerberg explained this move by commenting, “We didn’t want to just build a Dislike button because we don’t want to turn Facebook into a forum where people are voting up or down on people’s posts. That doesn’t seem like the kind of community we want to create.”

However, the social media networking giant has now revealed that it is testing a Reddit-like “downvote” button that will allow users to flag and hide comments in the News Feed. The new option was spotted by several users on Thursday within Facebook groups below the comments on posts, next to the “like” and “reply” buttons and old Facebook memories content.

Confirming the news, Facebook in a statement said, “We are not testing a dislike button. We are exploring a feature for people to give us feedback about comments on public page posts. This is running for a small set of people in the US only.”

The new button was first noticed by Taylor Lorenz of The Daily Beast.

The new feature appears to give users the ability to downvote a comment. When the downvote button is clicked, the user is given the option to flag the post as “offensive”, “misleading”, or “off topic”. The selected comment is then hidden from the user. This will help moderators at Facebook crowdsource the ranking of comments and content as inappropriate, uncivil or misleading.

Facebook further said that presently only 5% of Android users in the US are able to run the test feature on public posts on Pages. However, this test does not affect ranking in the News Feed and the number of downvotes does not affect the visibility of the post for other people.

Currently, it’s unclear whether or not the feature will be rolled out to all users. We will keep you updated as and when we get any information from Facebook.

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Webroot Threat Blog: Cyber News Rundown: Scarab Ransomware Strikes Back

The Cyber News Rundown brings you the latest happenings in cybersecurity news weekly. Who am I? I’m Connor Madsen, a Webroot Threat Research Analyst and a guy with a passion for all things security. Any questions? Just ask.

New Variant of Scarab Ransomware

With a few interesting changes to the original Scarab ransomware, Scarabey is quickly targeting Russian-speaking users with brute force attacks on unsecured RDP connections, rather than with the spam email campaigns used by its predecessor. Additionally, Scarabey takes the ransom a bit further by deleting 24 files from the encrypted machine for every 24 hours that the ransom remains unpaid.

Botnets Used to Spread Cryptocurrency Miners

Following the Shadow Brokers release of NSA exploits last summer, the use of EternalBlue continues with the latest trend of using the exploit to compromise machines and turn them into cryptocurrency miners. By expanding the botnet to cover over 500,000 unique machines, the attackers have successfully brought in more than $3 million since May of 2017. The use of such a large-scale botnet can effectively mine for the more resource-intensive currencies with ease and even disrupt businesses from their normal workflow for days at a time.

Bitcoin Ads Circumvent Facebook Ban

In the past week, Facebook officially implemented a ban on all cryptocurrency-related advertisements on their site. However, the ads have continued to appear for many users with characters in the phrase ‘bitcoin’ simply misspelled. The ban was initially set to block misleading financial services and products that unknowing users might click on due to the apparent legitimacy of the ads.


Do you live in one of the most-hacked states?

Mac Software Sites Distributing Crypto Miners

As crypto miners continue to gain popularity among cyber criminals, it was inevitable that they would begin focusing on Macs. MacUpdate, a well-known software download site, was recently found to be bundling miners with commonly used applications. Luckily, some of these bundles are poorly written and often fail to launch the decoy app, which is intended to draw users’ attention away from the malicious activity. To make matters worse, several other download sites were also affected and waited far too long to remove the malicious download links from their servers.

Tech Scammers Exploit Chrome Flaw

Tech scammers have long been the bane of legitimate software companies and their support teams. The latest trick, however, can easily bring an unsuspecting user to a full panic attack by simply rendering a Chrome browser completely unusable. First it displays an error message and then silently forces the browser to save a random file to disk at such a pace that the machine’s CPU maxes out and leaves the computer in a ‘locked’ state in the hopes that the victim will actually contact the phony support number being displayed.

The post Cyber News Rundown: Scarab Ransomware Strikes Back appeared first on Webroot Threat Blog.

Webroot Threat Blog

Facebook Is Testing a Dislike Button

Ever since the inception of the Like button, Facebook users have been asking for a "dislike" button. Today, Facebook is testing a "downvote" button with certain users in the comment section of posts within Facebook groups and on old Facebook memories content. The Daily Beast reports: The feature appears to give users the ability to downrank certain comments. This is the first time Facebook has tested anything similar to a "dislike" button and it could theoretically allow for content that's offensive or relevant to be pushed to the bottom of a comment feed. In 2016, citing Facebook executives, Bloomberg said a dislike button "had been rejected on the grounds that it would sow too much negativity" to the platform. It's unclear how widely the dislike button is being tested. Facebook regularly tests features with small subsets of users that never end up rolling out to the broader public. Most users currently are only able to either Like or Reply to comments in a thread. The downvote option could have radical implications on what types of discussions and comments flourish on the platform. While it could theoretically be used to de-rank inflammatory or problematic comments, it could also easily be used as a tool for abuse.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Check Chain Mail and Hoaxes: Another Facebook hoax

Lisa Vaas, for Sophos, tells us that a Facebook hoax claims:

Guess what, friends…. Facebook’s algorithm now chooses your 26 FB friends. If you can read this, please leave me a “hi,” whatever, so you will appear in my news feed.

Feel free to copy and paste on your wall, too, if you want to see more than FB’s algorithmic selection. FB shouldn’t choosing my friends. 

Here’s the Sophos article: Facebook HOAX! New algorithm will NOT only show you 26 friends

Another version of the hoax claims that:

I checked Snopes… And yes it’s TRUE…

Well, of course it isn’t. And Snopes is eager to point out that it isn’t.

Does a New Facebook Algorithm Only Show You 26 Friends?  “Facebook hasn’t limited your feed to only a certain number of people, and sharing a post saying otherwise won’t make any difference.”

Sadly, hoaxers discovered long ago that lots of people check possible hoaxes with Snopes, and try to persuade them that Snopes says white is black. More often than not, chain letters/emails and their equivalents on social media are dubious and often downright wrong. Check for yourself rather than take some anonymous person’s word for it. And yes, Snopes is an excellent place to start checking.

David Harley


Check Chain Mail and Hoaxes

Facebook Survey: More than 50% of users don’t trust news on the social network

Facebook tries to stop “fake news” by surveying its own users

Facebook is surveying its own users to try and stop the spread of “fake news” on its social media platform. The new survey asks two questions:

  1. Do you recognize the following websites?
  2. How much do you trust each of these domains?

The “fake news” phenomenon is a cybersecurity issue that we predict will be relevant in 2018 and beyond, since social media platforms are used to sway public opinion. As reported by the New York Times, social media companies provided evidence to Congress that Russian influence might have reached 126 million Americans on Facebook and other platforms during the 2016 elections.

Social media critics are questioning whether Facebook’s own users should be trusted to determine which news outlets are “fake news”. In fact, when it comes to domain trust, Facebook itself faces skepticism. A recent Panda Security survey showed that 47 percent of parents consider Facebook “unsafe” for their children to use.

Panda Security has conducted an additional survey using Google Surveys to see how much consumers trust Facebook as a gatekeeper of news and information on their newsfeeds.

We asked a weighted sample of 765 online users in the United States: “How much do you trust Facebook to choose what news you read?”

  • 8.2 percent said “A lot” or “Entirely”
  • 20.4 percent said “Somewhat”
  • 20.0 percent said “Barely”
  • 51.5 percent said “Not at all”

The data shows almost three-quarters of respondents have little confidence in Facebook’s ability as a news gatekeeper, with a minority of respondents indicating high levels of trust.

Looking at the data by gender, male survey respondents were more likely to distrust Facebook than female survey respondents. While 73.4 percent of males said they “Barely” trust Facebook or trusted it “Not at all”, 69.7 percent of females said the same.

A larger percentage of males also said they trusted Facebook “A lot” or “Entirely”: 8.9 percent of males versus 7.4 percent of females.

Trust among age groups was fairly consistent. While 49.1 percent of respondents aged 18 to 34 answered “Not at all” with respect to level of trust, 56.9 percent of respondents aged 35 to 54 answered the same. Among respondents aged 55 and older, 51.5 percent answered “Not at all”.


The Facebook Trust Survey was written by Panda Security and conducted using Google Surveys. The survey collected responses from 1,015 online users in the United States from January 25 to 27, 2018. Responses were matched down to a weighted sample (by age, gender, and geographic distribution) of 765 to produce the final results.

The following methodology description is provided by Google Surveys: Google Surveys shows questions across a network of premium online news, reference, and entertainment sites (where surveys are embedded directly in the content), as well as through a mobile app, Google Opinion Rewards. On the web, users answer questions in exchange for access to the content, an alternative to subscribing or upgrading. The user’s gender, age, and geographic location are inferred based on anonymous browsing history and IP address. On the mobile app, users answer questions in exchange for credits for books, music, and apps, and users answer demographic questions when first downloading the app. Using this data, Google Surveys can automatically build a representative sample of thousands of respondents. For more detailed information, see the whitepaper.

Download your Antivirus

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Smashing Security #064: So just a ‘teeny tiny’ security issue then?

Smashing Security #064: So just a 'teeny tiny' security issue then?

A Namecheap vulnerability allows strangers to make subdomains for your website, Troy Hunt examines password length, and ex-Google and Facebook employees are fighting to protect kids from social media addiction.

All this and much much more is discussed in the latest edition of the "Smashing Security" podcast by computer security veterans Graham Cluley and Carole Theriault, who are joined this week by special guest HaveIBeenPwned's Troy Hunt.

Facebook Hired a Full-Time Pollster To Monitor Zuckerberg’s Approval Ratings

According to The Verge, Facebook hired a full-time pollster to track Mark Zuckerberg's approval ratings last year as the young CEO was making his 50-state tour across the country. The pollster, Tavis McGinn, reportedly "decided to leave the company after only six months after coming to believe that Facebook had a negative effect on the world." From the report: It was April, and Facebook was caught up in the fallout of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. After initially discounting the possibility that fake news had contributed to Donald Trump's victory, Facebook acknowledged that Russia-linked groups had spent more than $100,000 on political advertising. Zuckerberg undertook a nationwide listening tour modeled after a modern political campaign. McGinn would fill another role common to political campaigns: leading an ongoing poll operation dedicated to tracking minute changes in Zuckerberg's public perception. "It was a very unusual role," McGinn says. "It was my job to do surveys and focus groups globally to understand why people like Mark Zuckerberg, whether they think they can trust him, and whether they've even heard of him. That's especially important outside of the United States." McGinn tracked a wide range of questions related to Zuckerberg's public perception. "Not just him in the abstract, but do people like Mark's speeches? Do they like his interviews with the press? Do people like his posts on Facebook? It's a bit like a political campaign, in the sense that you're constantly measuring how every piece of communication lands. If Mark's doing a barbecue in his backyard and he hops on Facebook Live, how do people respond to that?" Facebook worked to develop an understanding of Zuckerberg's perception that went beyond simple "thumbs-up" or "thumbs-down" metrics, McGinn says. "If Mark gives a speech and he's talking about immigration and universal health care and access to equal education, it's looking at all the different topics that Mark mentions and seeing what resonates with different audiences in the United States," he says. "It's very advanced research."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Facebook is Talking About Expanding Its TV-like Service, Watch, Into a Rival To YouTube

Facebook is talking about expanding its TV-like service, Watch, into a rival to Google's YouTube by opening the platform to more individual creators, CNBC reports citing people familiar with the plans. From the report: This would increase the amount of long-form video content that Facebook can sell ads against, and could reverse a decline in the time users are spending on the site. Facebook wants to allow more people to create their own shows on Watch, according to three media agencies who asked they remain anonymous because the conversations are private. Instead of buying rights to these shows, however, Facebook wants to create a system where creators can upload their shows for free, then earn a cut of the revenue from ads placed on that content -- similar to how YouTube pays its online creators. Another source with knowledge of the situation said Facebook's ultimate goal is to create a sustainable ad-supported video platform, where it won't have to pay for the majority of content.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Safer Internet Day 2018: How To Develop Online Respect At Home

Today is Safer Internet Day – an annual global event aimed at encouraging a better internet. And this year’s theme is a beauty: ‘Create, Connect and Share Respect. A Better Internet Starts With You.’

As a mum and technology educator, I believe respect is at the core of all positive and safe online (and offline) behaviours. Kids with a healthy amount of respect in their ‘tool box’ will almost always have more successful social interactions. But it’s important to look at respect in two ways: respect for others and, just as importantly, respect for ourselves.

Respecting Others Online

Respecting others online means you acknowledge them and are considerate of their opinions and privacy. Yet it does not mean that you have to agree with everything they say or do. To borrow the words of pop icon, Taylor Swift:

‘We don’t need to share the same opinions as others, but we need to be respectful.’

In my view, a lack of respect for conflicting opinions online is where a lot of teens (and adults) come unstuck. Many interpret an opposing opinion as criticism and respond aggressively. This can quickly turn a civil exchange of opinions into an exchange of insults! In other words, a large part of showing respect online is being mindful of the way you communicate. And this means:

  • being aware of your tone;
  • not using bad language or insulting others; and
  • avoiding use of upper case as it is considered shouting and can rapidly escalate an argument.

So, whether your child is a Tay-Tay fan or not, her words of wisdom need to be shared.

Respecting Yourself Online

On the other hand, a healthy dose of respect for yourself can be very helpful when dealing with the negativity that can sometimes be experienced online. As American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said:

‘He that respects himself is safe from others. He wears a coat of mail that no one can pierce.’

If you respect yourself, you will know when you are being treated badly and will have the courage to stand up for yourself. Self-respect also means you will treat others well and know that, by doing so, others will treat you well in return.

As parents, it is essential that we teach our kids self-respect. Showing and telling them they are worthy, valuable and important is a very good place to start. Teaching them about appropriate boundaries around their physical and mental health is also essential. So is instilling in them that no one has the right to jeopardise their physical or emotional safety. Your kids need to know that if they are on the receiving end of behaviour that isn’t appropriate, they can come to you or other nominated trusted adults in their life.

Don’t Forget About Empathy!

In my opinion, empathy is the perfect partner to respect. This is the ability to identify with and feel for another person’s concerns, and is a key element of emotional intelligence (EQ). It is an essential foundation upon which positive interactions – both offline and online – are built.

According to US parenting expert Dr Michele Borba our generation of children are experiencing an ’empathy crisis’ which is contributing to bullying and poor academic performance. She believes empathy is such a powerful emotion it can halt violent and cruel behaviour and encourage us to treat others kindly. Which makes it an essential element of positive online interactions.

So, Where Do We Go From Here?

I strongly encourage you to take some time today to consider the theme of this year’s Safer Internet Day. Do you need to fine-tune your approach to respect and empathy at home? Is there a way of weaving some of these messages into your family dialogue? And most importantly: are you modelling respect and empathy for your kids to see and copy?

Till next time!

Stay Safe Online,

Alex x

The post Safer Internet Day 2018: How To Develop Online Respect At Home appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Facebook Publishes Privacy Principles and Announces Introduction of Privacy Center

On January 28, 2018, Facebook published its privacy principles and announced that it will centralize its privacy settings in a single place. The principles were announced in a newsroom post by Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer and include:

  • “We give you control of your privacy.”
  • “We help people understand how their data is used.”
  • “We design privacy into our products from the outset.”
  • “We work hard to keep your information secure.”
  • “You own and can delete your information.”
  • “Improvement is constant.”
  • “We are accountable.”

In conjunction with the publication of the privacy principles, Facebook also announced the creation of a new privacy center and an educational video campaign for its users that focuses on advertising, reviewing and deleting old posts, and deleting accounts. The videos will appear in users’ news feeds and will be refreshed throughout the year.

The State of Security: Facebook’s New Policy Bans All Ads Promoting Cryptocurrencies

Facebook announced on Tuesday its plans to ban all ads that promote Bitcoin and other digital currency exchanges, initial coin offerings (ICOs) and binary options. The social network said the new policy aims to protect users from scams, describing such financial services as “frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices.” In a company blog […]… Read More

The post Facebook’s New Policy Bans All Ads Promoting Cryptocurrencies appeared first on The State of Security.

The State of Security

Facebook’s New Policy Bans All Ads Promoting Cryptocurrencies

Facebook announced on Tuesday its plans to ban all ads that promote Bitcoin and other digital currency exchanges, initial coin offerings (ICOs) and binary options. The social network said the new policy aims to protect users from scams, describing such financial services as “frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices.” In a company blog […]… Read More

The post Facebook’s New Policy Bans All Ads Promoting Cryptocurrencies appeared first on The State of Security.

Child Experts: Just Say ‘No’ To Facebook’s Kids App

A group letter sent Tuesday to CEO Mark Zuckerberg argues that younger children -- the app is intended for those under 13 -- aren't ready to have social media accounts, navigate the complexities of online relationships or protect their own privacy. From a report: Facebook launched the free Messenger Kids app in December, pitching it as a way for children to chat with family members and parent-approved friends. It doesn't give kids separate Facebook or Messenger accounts. Rather, the app works as an extension of a parent's account, and parents get controls such as the ability to decide who their kids can chat with. The social media giant has said it fills "a need for a messaging app that lets kids connect with people they love but also has the level of control parents want." But a group of 100 experts, advocates and parenting organizations is contesting those claims. Led by the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, the group includes psychiatrists, pediatricians, educators and the children's music singer Raffi Cavoukian. "Messenger Kids is not responding to a need -- it is creating one," the letter states. "It appeals primarily to children who otherwise would not have their own social media accounts."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Facebook Will Prioritize Local Stories In Your News Feed

Facebook announced today that it will begin prioritizing local news, bumping it up higher in your feed if you follow a local publisher's Page or if a friend shares a locally-published story. "We are prioritizing local news as part of our emphasis on high-quality news, and with today's update, stories from local news publishers may appear higher in News Feed for followers in publishers' geographic areas," Facebook said in the announcement. Engadget reports: Facebook, which recently announced it would be shifting its News Feed focus away from news and more towards friends' posts, says the local news prioritization will kick off in the U.S., but it plans to expand it to other countries this year. "These efforts to prioritize quality news in News Feed, including this local initiative, are a direct result of the ongoing collaboration with partners," said Facebook. "Our goal is to show more news that connects people to their local communities, and we look forward to improving and expanding these efforts this year."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Russian Trolls Created Facebook Events Seen By More Than 300,000 Users

"Posing as American activists, Russian government-linked trolls created 129 Facebook events between 2015 and 2017," writes CNN. An anonymous reader quotes their report: On multiple occasions, the events prompted real Americans to take to the streets. In a written statement Facebook gave to the Senate Intelligence Committee released on Thursday, the social media network said that the events created by one Kremlin-linked troll group were seen by more than 300,000 Facebook users. About 62,500 users marked that they would attend the event, and an additional 25,800 expressed an interest in attending. Facebook told Congress it does "not have data about the realization of these events," but CNN has previously found evidence that the Russian group successfully convinced Americans to attend the demonstrations. The events were organized on a range of divisive issues and were designed to pit Americans against each other. "The company also told Congress it had removed Kaspersky Lab from a list of free anti-virus offerings it provides users."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Robert Mueller’s Team Reportedly Interviewed Facebook Staff As Part of Russia Probe

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hill: Special counsel Robert Mueller's team has interviewed at least one Facebook employee tasked with helping the Trump campaign's digital operations during the 2016 campaign, Wired reported on Friday. The report, which cited a source familiar with the matter, does not say when the employee was questioned nor does it detail the focus of the interview. Mueller's team has been investigating for months any collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russia. During the election, Facebook deployed employees to embed with the Trump campaign to assist its digital operations. The company also worked with Hillary Clinton's campaign team but did not have employees embedded with them. The company has also been scrutinized by Congress for selling more than 3,000 ads to the Internet Research Agency, a Russian "troll farm" alleged to have carried out misinformation operations online during the campaign.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Facebook Should Be ‘Regulated Like Cigarette Industry’, Salesforce CEO Says

Facebook should be regulated like a cigarette company, because of the addictive and harmful properties of social media, according to Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff. From a report: Social networks would be regulated "exactly the same way that you regulated the cigarette industry," Benioff told CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos. "Here's a product -- cigarettes -- they're addictive, they're not good for you, maybe there's all kinds of different forces trying to get you to do certain things. There's a lot of parallels. I think that, for sure, technology has addictive qualities that we have to address, and that product designers are working to make those products more addictive, and we need to rein that back as much as possible," he added. Benioff, who founded B2B cloud computing company Salesforce in 1999, and is now worth more than $4bn, suggested that regulation of some form was inevitable for the technology industry. "We're the same as any other industry," he said. "Financial services, consumer product goods, food -- in technology, the government's going to have to be involved. There is some regulation but there probably will have to be more."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Facebook, Microsoft announce new privacy tools to comply with GDPR

In four months the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force, and companies are racing against time to comply with the new rules (and avoid being brutally fined if they fail). One of the things that the regulation mandates is that EU citizens must be able to get access to their personal data held by companies and information about how these personal data are being processed. Facebook users to get new privacy center … More

Facebook Offering $100K Grants to Fund Internet Security Projects

Facebook announced on Monday the launch of a new grant program, inviting university researchers, nonprofits and NGOs to submit research proposals for improving online security. The initiative, named “Secure the Internet Grants,” will award funding of up to $100,000 for innovative technologies aimed to combat phishing, detect and report abuse, improve security in emerging markets, […]… Read More

The post Facebook Offering $100K Grants to Fund Internet Security Projects appeared first on The State of Security.

The State of Security: Facebook Offering $100K Grants to Fund Internet Security Projects

Facebook announced on Monday the launch of a new grant program, inviting university researchers, nonprofits and NGOs to submit research proposals for improving online security. The initiative, named “Secure the Internet Grants,” will award funding of up to $100,000 for innovative technologies aimed to combat phishing, detect and report abuse, improve security in emerging markets, […]… Read More

The post Facebook Offering $100K Grants to Fund Internet Security Projects appeared first on The State of Security.

The State of Security

Your Back To School Tech Plan

I am such a fan of school holidays! No music lessons, no sport, no commitments. Bliss!! The crazy school term routine is no more and people can just ‘be’. Marvellous!! But all good things must come to an end. So, unless you want the police knocking on your door, the kids must go back to school. Ughh! So much to do. Where to start?

So, there’s shoes, uniforms, enrolments in music, drama and sport, haircuts, stationery and then of course, all things technology! Ah yes, the ‘t’ word. When you’re juggling work, running a house and a tribe of kids, managing your kids and their tech lives can be overwhelming. But as parents, it is essential that we take the time to make sure we have all things technology covered for our kids.

What Are The Main Risks Kids Face Online?

The internet, our connected devices and online activity are such a huge (and permanent) feature of our modern lives. As parents, we owe it to our kids to make sure we can prevent some of the dangers associated with a connected life. Whether it’s phishing scams, online predators, oversharing, downloading malware, falling for an online scam or worst case, becoming the victim of cyberbullying, teaching our kids how to navigate some of the perils of the online world is essential.

How Can I Help My Kids Navigate Online Dangers?

Without a doubt, the absolute best way of protecting our kids is taking the time to better understand how the online world really works. And I understand that means time – something many of just don’t have. But if you could scan the tech news of your favourite online news site every day and then allocate 20 minutes each week to research a new app or social media platform, you’d be surprised how quickly you could get yourself into good cyber parenting shape.

The Back To School To-Do List

But let’s keep it simple. It’s already January and there isn’t a lot of time left to get organised. So, here’s what I think you should focus on tech-wise to make sure you can cross technology off your ‘back to school’ to-do list.

1. Install Security Software On ALL Devices.

Many people invest in security software for their laptops, which is great. However, all devices need to be protected. Anything you can download on a laptop, you can download on a tablet or phone.

Many security software packages will include coverage for a ‘fleet’ of devices. McAfee® Total Protection software provides premium antivirus, identity and privacy protection for all your PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets – in one subscription. Easy!

2. Know How To Connect Safely On Public Wi-Fi Networks.

Wi-Fi can be an extraordinarily risky affair with hackers spending a lot of time developing ways to extract users’ personal information. If your kids absolutely must connect, ensure it is a secured Wi-Fi which means it requires a password. However, this is still not 100% safe so no banking, financial or shopping transaction should be conducted on Wi-Fi.

Why not consider investing in a Virtual Private Network (VPN)? A VPN provides a secure encrypted connection which means that anything you send or receive is safe. Check out McAfee’s VPN, McAfee® Safe Connect – it provides bank-grade Wi-Fi encryption, which means you can relax!

3. Schedule Regular Data Backups.

‘Losing’ a document is so frustrating! Avoid those late-night homework traumas and ensure your kids regularly scheduled data backups for their main devices. You could choose to back-up to a hard drive, but I think an online backup service is probably easier to use. Whether it’s Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive – find an online provider and set this up BEFORE school projects get underway!

4. Ensure All Device Software Is Up-To-Date.

Software updates (and reminders) can be super annoying and interrupt the flow of a busy day. But keeping your software up-to-date is actually one of the best ways of protecting yourself from the latest online threats.

Why not select auto-updates for software on all your devices – including your smartphones? If your software doesn’t offer auto-updates, schedule a monthly reminder in your calendar to check for and install available updates.

5. Understand Your Child’s School BYOD Policy.

Make sure you understand the Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) policy of your child’s school. Some schools require parents to be responsible (and pay) for repairs, insurance and online security associated with your child’s laptop or tablet; others will provide this for an annual fee. Please take the time to understand this before the school year starts and an issue occurs.

I know it may seem like a bit of work but taking these precautionary steps now means your kids are as protected as can be when enjoying their online lives and of course doing their homework this year! And make sure you also take the same steps to protect the adults (and their devices) in your house as well! They are just as important.

Here’s to a great school year!!

Take care,

Alex xx


The post Your Back To School Tech Plan appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Facebook Announces That It Has Invented a New Unit of Time

Facebook has announced a new unit of time, called Flicks. "According to the GitHub page documenting Flicks, a Flick is 'the smallest time unit which is LARGER than a nanosecond,' defined as 1/705,600,000 of a second," reports The Verge. (For comparison, a nanosecond is 1/1,000,000,000 of a second, making a Flick roughly 1.41723356 nanoseconds long.) From the report: Now, you may be sitting there wondering what was wrong with regular seconds that Facebook had to go and invent its own unit, especially since the second is one of the few units that is universal across SI and imperial units. The name itself is a portmanteau of the phase "frame-tick," which is also why you might want to use them. Flicks are designed to help measure individual frame duration for video frame rates. So whether your video is 24hz, 25hz, 30hz, 48hz, 50hz, 60hz, 90hz, 100hz, or 120hz, you'll be able to use Flicks to ensure that everything is in sync while still using whole integers (instead of decimals). Programmers already use built in tools in C++ to manage these sorts of exact frame syncing, especially when it comes to designing visual effects in CGI, but the most exact timing possible in C++ is nanoseconds, which doesn't divide evenly into most frame rates. The idea to create a new unit of time to solve this problem dates back to last year, when developer Christopher Horvath posted about it on Facebook.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Rupert Murdoch Pushes Facebook To Pay For News To Guarantee Quality

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Rupert Murdoch, the media billionaire who controls the Wall Street Journal, called on Facebook to begin paying publishers fees to carry the news that its users post and share online in a sign of the print industry's growing frustration with social media. "If Facebook wants to recognize 'trusted' publishers then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies," Murdoch, the executive chairman of News Corp. said Monday in a statement. "The publishers are obviously enhancing the value and integrity of Facebook through their news and content but are not being adequately rewarded for those services." "Facebook and Google have popularized scurrilous news sources through algorithms that are profitable for these platforms but inherently unreliable," Murdoch said. "Recognition of a problem is one step on the pathway to cure, but the remedial measures that both companies have so far proposed are inadequate, commercially, socially and journalistically." Murdoch, who also leads 21st Century Fox, called for a system similar to that in cable television, where large distributors like Comcast and AT&T pay fees to the TV network owners that attract their viewers.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Kaspersky Lab official blog: Phishing for cryptocurrencies: How bitcoins are stolen

The recent price rollercoaster of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have made this topic incredibly hot. Whereas only a year ago cryptocurrencies were the domain of geeks, now all online media are talking about them, and even TV and radio have joined in. Not a day goes by without fresh reports from the cryptomarkets.

But scammers too have been quick to smell the opportunity. Indeed, cryptocurrencies have given phishing — the creation of fake sites to steal credentials from unwary users — a new purpose.


Simple cryptophishing

The simplest version of cryptocurrency phishing, aka cryptophishing, involves good old-fashioned spam mailings. In this case, such e-mails appear to originate with providers of cryptocurrency-related services — Web wallets, exchanges, and so on.

The messages are markedly more detailed and sophisticated than the average phishing e-mail. For example, one might be a security alert saying that someone just tried to sign into your account from such and such address using such and such browser — all you have to do is click the link to check that everything’s OK. The potential victim might even have requested such messages on the cryptowallet site, in which case they will notice nothing untoward.

Or it might be an invitation to take a survey about a cryptocurrency event, offering a fairly generous reward for your opinion (say, 0.005 bitcoin, which amounts to about $50–$70 at the current rate). Click on the link, it says, to enter.

The result is always the same: The victim is directed to a fake version of the expected cryptocurrency site and asked to enter their e-wallet credentials. Most popular Bitcoin Web wallet sites look quite simple, yet recognizable, which helps criminals to create convincing imitations.

Three different phishing sites that look like

Three different phishing sites that look like

The stakes are pretty high: Hijacking an e-wallet that contains a few decibitcoin isn’t like stealing a piffling e-mail account — those fetch some 20 cents per bucket on the black market. In e-wallets, criminals see a quick and direct route to some juicy pickings, so they are investing more in phishing messages and making them more plausible.

Inventive cryptophishing

A more intricate cryptophishing scheme was discovered recently that uses some, shall we say, interesting features of Facebook. Here’s how it works.

  1. Scammers find a cryptocurrency community and create a Facebook page with the same title and design as the community’s official page. They make the address of the fake page very similar to that of the real one, differing by as little as one letter. Spotting the difference is not so easy, because in Facebook you can set any name for your organization or yourself, and these names are always displayed far more prominently than real addresses.
The genuine Facebook page of a cryptoplatform — and a fake one

The genuine Facebook page of a cryptoplatform — and a fake one

  1. The scammers then send phishing messages to members of the real community from the fake page. Personal messages are not suitable for this purpose for various reasons (for example, they can’t be sent to a user on behalf of a page).

    So the scammers employ an interesting trick: To target someone, they share the victim’s profile photo on their page and tag them there.

    The cunning part is that the profile photo is always visible to everyone — and it is not possible to stop someone from sharing it, or tagging you in Facebook — so the trick is effective even against people who are privacy savvy. The only way to stay protected from such activity is to disable notifications about tags created by unknown users, pages, and communities.

  1. The most interesting bit is in the text of the message scammers use to mark their prey. For example, the message might say that the user is one of 100 lucky recipients of 20.72327239 (yes, the figure is that precise) cryptocurrency units for their loyalty to the platform. And, of course, there is a link for getting hold of the coins.

    Note that the message contains detailed terms and conditions for receiving the reward (a minimum number of transactions on the platform, for example). Coupled with the appealingly exact and not excessively high but reasonable amount (about $100–$200), it all seems plausible.

Some more examples of messages from cryptophishing pages on Facebook

How to guard against cryptophishing

Lately, the cryptomarket may have resembled a magic money tree, but cryptocurrency services are not charities, and they do not give away money for the fun of it. If someone promises you free cryptocurrency, most likely it’s on the end of a hook.

  1. Always check every link very carefully. It’s best not to click on links in messages from Internet services at all — instead, type in the address of the service in the address bar of your browser.
  2. Carefully configure your privacy settings to avoid fraudulent schemes in Facebook. See this post for details of how to do that. It’s also not a bad idea to configure Facebook notifications — we have a post about that too.
  3. Use an antivirus solution with dedicated antiphishing protection. Kaspersky Internet Security is one such solution.

Kaspersky Lab official blog

Webroot Threat Blog: Just Keep Swimming: How to Avoid Phishing on Social Media

From Facebook to LinkedIn, social media is flat-out rife with phishing attacks. You’ve probably encountered one before… Do fake Oakley sunglasses sales ring a bell?

Phishing attacks attempt to steal your most private information, posing major risks to your online safety. It’s more pressing than ever to have a trained eye to spot and avoid even the most cunning phishing attacks on social media.

Troubled waters

Spammers on social media are masters of their craft and their tactics are demonstrably more effective than their email-based counterparts. Up to 66 percent of spear phishing attacks on social media sites are opened by their targets, according to a report by ZeroFOX. This compares to a roughly 30 percent success rate of spear phishing emails, based on findings by Verizon.

In a whitepaper published last year, Facebook warned of cybercriminals targeting personal accounts in order to steal information that can be used to launch more effective spear phishing attacks. Facebook is taking steps to protect users’ accounts from hostile data collection, including more customizable security and privacy features such as two-factor authentication. The platform has also been more active in encouraging users to adopt these enhanced security features, as seen in the in-app message below.

Facebook In-Product Security Message

Types of social phishing attacks

Fake customer support accounts

The rise of social media has changed the way customers seek support from brands, with many people turning to Twitter or Facebook over traditional customer support channels. Scammers are taking advantage of this by impersonating the support accounts of major brands such as Amazon, PayPal, and Samsung. This tactic, dubbed ‘angler phishing’ for its deepened deception, is rather prevalent. A 2016 study by Proofpoint found that 19% of social media accounts appearing to represent top brands were fake.

To avoid angler phishing, watch out for slight misspellings or variations in account handles. For example, the Twitter handle @Amazon_Help might be used to impersonate the real support account @AmazonHelp. Also, the blue checkmark badges next to account names on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram let you know those accounts are verified as being authentic.

Spambot comments

Trending content such as Facebook Live streams are often plagued with spammy comments from accounts that are typically part of an intricate botnet. These spam comments contain URLs that link to phishing sites that try to trick you into entering your personal information, such as a username and password to an online account.

It is best to avoid clicking any links on social media from accounts you are unfamiliar with or otherwise can’t trust. You can also take advantage of security software features such as real-time anti-phishing to automatically block fake sites if you accidently visit them.

Dangerous DMs

Yes, phishing happens within Direct Messages, too. This is often seen from the accounts of friends or family that might be compromised. Hacked social media accounts can be used to send phishing links through direct messages, gaming trust and familiarity to fool you. These phishing attacks trick you into visiting malicious websites or downloading file attachments.

For example, a friend’s Twitter account that has been compromised might send you a direct message with a fake link to connect with them on LinkedIn. This link could direct to a phishing site like the one below in order to trick you into giving up your LinkedIn login.

An example LinkedIn phishing site

While this site may appear to look like the real LinkedIn sign-on page, the site URL in the browser address bar reveals it is indeed a fake phishing site. 

Phony promotions & contests 

Fraudsters are also known to impersonate brands on social media in order to advertise nonexistent promotions. Oftentimes, these phishing attacks will coerce victims into giving up their private information in order to redeem some type of discount or enter a contest. Know the common signs of these scams such as low follower counts, poor grammar and spelling, or a form asking you to give up personal information or make a purchase.

The best way to make sure you are interacting with a brand’s official page on social media is to navigate to their social pages directly from the company’s website. This way you can verify the account is legitimate and you can follow the page from there.

The post Just Keep Swimming: How to Avoid Phishing on Social Media appeared first on Webroot Threat Blog.

Webroot Threat Blog

Facebook Says It Can’t Guarantee Social Media is Good For Democracy

Facebook said on Monday that it could offer no assurance that social media was on balance good for democracy, but noted that it was trying what it could to stop alleged meddling in elections by Russia or anyone else. From a report: The sharing of false or misleading headlines on social media has become a global issue, after accusations that Russia tried to influence votes in the United States, Britain and France. Moscow denies the allegations. Facebook, the largest social network with more than 2 billion users, addressed social media's role in democracy in blog posts from a Harvard University professor, Cass Sunstein, and from an employee working on the subject. "I wish I could guarantee that the positives are destined to outweigh the negatives, but I can't," Samidh Chakrabarti, a Facebook product manager, wrote in his post. Facebook, he added, has a "moral duty to understand how these technologies are being used and what can be done to make communities like Facebook as representative, civil and trustworthy as possible."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Facebook VP Says Company Won’t Use Experts To Fix Fake News Because It is Worried About Criticism

Joshua Topolsky, writing for The Outline: According to Axios reporter Ina Fried, the vice president of global communications, marketing, and public policy (phew!) at Facebook shook off suggestions that the network should use outside media literacy watch dogs as opposed to outsourcing its "fake news" problem to a "statistically representative" group of its own users. While speaking at the tech conference DLD (Digital Life Design) in Munich, he revealed that the real motivation behind the company's decision was one based almost entirely on optics. This shouldn't come as much of a surprise, as the company has been totally ignorant and outrageously slow in accepting responsibility for what has been a disaster for its users. While Twitter is turning to media literacy groups such as Common Sense Media and the National Association for Media Literacy for solutions to its own troll and fake news epidemic, Facebook continues to cower behind a broken concept that the company is a neutral platform where all of its participants are equally weighted.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Facebook Will Now Ask Users To Rank News Organizations They Trust

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Recode: Facebook is doing a very un-Facebooky thing: It's going to start declaring that some news sources you see in your Facebook feed are better than others, and act accordingly. But Facebook being Facebook, it's going about it in the most Facebooky way possible: It's going to rely on users -- not the super-smart people who work at Facebook -- to figure out which of those sources are better. Mark Zuckerberg says the move is part of an effort to prioritize "news that is trustworthy, informative, and local," within the network and suggests that there will be more announcements to come. The one he describes today will prioritize what kind of news sources pop up in your Facebook News Feed, and will reward ones that Facebook thinks are "broadly trusted," based on user polls, so it can "build a sense of common ground." Facebook is also using today's news to refine last week's roll-out: Zuckerberg says the previously announced changes will reduce the amount of news stories people see in their feed to 4 percent, down from 5 percent.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

How to hack Facebook accounts exploiting CSRF in Oculus app

Facebook has fixed a couple of vulnerabilities that could have been exploited by attackers to hijack accounts by abusing integration with the Oculus virtual reality headset.

In March 2014, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced the acquisition of Oculus VR and included the handsets produced by the company to its bug bounty program.

White hat hackers discovered several vulnerabilities in Oculus platform since, including the ones addressed now by Facebook.

The flaws were reported in October by the security consultant Josip Franjković who analyzed the Oculus application for Windows.

“Oculus enables users to connect their Facebook accounts for a more “social” experience. This can be done using both the native Windows Oculus application and using browsers.” wrote Franjković. “I took a deeper look at the native Windows flow, and found a CSRF vulnerability which allowed me to connect a victim’s Facebook account to attacker’s Oculus account. Once connected, the attacker could extract the victim’s access token, and use Facebook’s GraphQL queries to take over the account.”

Facebook oculus

One of the features implemented by the Oculus application is the authentication to a Facebook account, Franjkovic discovered that attackers could have exploited specially crafted GraphQL queries to connect any user’s Facebook account to their Oculus account.

GraphQL is a query language created by Facebook in 2012 for describing the capabilities and requirements of data models for client‐server applications, a GraphQL query is a string that is sent to a server to be interpreted and fulfilled, which then returns JSON back to the client.

Franjkovic discovered that a specially crafted query allowed an attacker to obtain the victim’s access token and use it to impersonate the victim by accessing his account.

In a proof of concept attack, Franjkovic shows how to use a specially crafted query to add a new mobile phone number to the targeted account and use it to reset the victim’s password.

The vulnerability was reported to Facebook on October 24, the social network giant temporary solved the issue by disabling the facebook_login_sso endpoint.

On October 30, Facebook rolled out a patch to address definitively the problem, but a few weeks later, the expert discovered a login cross-site request forgery (CSRF) flaw that could have been exploited to bypass Facebook’s patch.

The experts informed Facebook on November 18 that disabled again the facebook_login_sso endpoint to mitigate the problem. A complete patch was rolled out after a few weeks.

Facebook paid the expert for his discoveries and classified the vulnerabilities as critical.

Step by step procedure exploited by the researcher is described on its blog, below the timeline of the hack:

  • 24th of October, 2017, 03:20 – Report sent to Facebook
  • 24th of October, 2017, 10:50 – First reply from Facebook
  • 24th of October, 2017, 11:30 – Temporary fix for the bug (disabled /facebook_login_sso/ endpoint)
  • 30th of October, 2017 – Bug is now fixed.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs –Facebook Oculus, hacking)

The post How to hack Facebook accounts exploiting CSRF in Oculus app appeared first on Security Affairs.

2018 Texting Slang Update: How to Decode What Your Teen is Saying Online

Every year we update our teen slang and this year we’ve added a handful of terms that may make your jaw drop.

Slang is an integral part of growing up. A word or abbreviation can add significant meaning or emotion to a message or text. Slang helps kids define their connections, feel accepted, and gain independence. And of course, there’s the bonus of slang which is keeping parents in the dark. Every piece of that logic is reasonable for the most part, so we should be hands-off but aware in allowing this rite of passage.

The variable that’s different between kids today kids of the past is technology. If the meaning of a veiled word or phrase is funny or harmless, then no problem. But when a term is loaded with offensive, abusive, illegal or harmful meaning, then it’s time to take that slang seriously.

As always, we’ve unofficially canvassed a handful of teens, paid attention to the digital chatter, and curated a few impressive lists and here’s the slang we found that kids are using.


Scoop: To pick someone up like at their house
Finna: Fixing to do something
Yeet: A way to express excitement over something
Skeet: Let’s go
Dip: To leave
Mans: A man/person
Low key: To keep something confidential between friends
High key: I don’t care who knows
AMOSC: Add me on snapchat
Gualla: Money
Rn: Right now
Slick: Cool
Geekin: Laughing too hard and too loud
Bet: Something is going to happen
To reject someone romantically
Salty: Talking in a sassy or bitter way
WRU: Where are you?
WUD: What are you doing?
LYAAF: Love you as a friend
NC: No comment
IDKWTD: I don’t know what to do
Expression of frustration, or realizing something
123: I agree
Hml: Hit my line; call or text me, I’ll be waiting
OBS: Obviously
OFC: Of course
ACC: Actually
POA: Plan of action
IMO: In My Opinion
GOMB: Get Off My Back
KOTL: Kiss On The Lips
Huggle: Hug and snuggle
Ship: Abbreviation for relationship
IDEK: I don’t even know
IKR: I know, right?
SMH: Shaking my head
Thirsty: Desperate, impatient, or overly eager
Dime: On an approval scale of 1-10; dime is a very attractive person
Fam: Very good friend
Basic: Someone or something is ordinary or boring
Westan: Showing support for person or cause
Woke: Awareness of current affairs or social issues (i.e., That girl is so woke 24/7.)
Savage: When a person speaks or acts bluntly or without a filter in public
Gucci: Very impressive
Sus: Suspicious


Wth: What the heck/hell
Af: As f***, used to mean “extremely”
121: Let’s chat in a private message
Aeap, alap: As early or as late as possible referencing parties
Pods: For your Juul (vape)
Clouds: The vapor from your vape
F2F: Offering to video chat or meet in person
LMIRL: Let’s meet in real life
1174: Invitation to meet at a particular place, often for a wild party
9, CD9, Code 9: Parents are nearby
99: Parents are gone
MOS, POS: Mom/Parents over shoulder
KPC: Keeping parents clueless
WTTP: Want to trade pictures?
 S2R: Send to Receive (pictures)
Sugarpic: Refers to a suggestive or erotic photograph
TDTM: Talk dirty to me
THOT: That wh*** over there
Zerg: To gang up on someone (a gaming term that has morphed into a bullying term)
KMS, KYS: Kill myself, kill yourself
TBH: To Be Honest (a candid compliment or an insult may follow)
SWYP: So What’s Your Problem?
182: I hate you
Shade: Refers to “threw shade” or “throwing shade,” to put someone down.
A3: Anytime, anywhere, anyplace


Blow: Cocaine
Pearls: A nicely rolled blunt
Bud: Marijuana
Tree: Marijuana (i.e., Looking for tree, got any? )
Dabbing: Concentrated doses of marijuana (began as a dance craze)
420: Marijuana or let’s get high
DOC: Drug of choice
Yayo: Cocaine
Baseball = Crack Cocaine
Skrill: Money
CID: Acid
E: Ecstasy
Hazel: Heroin
Blue Boogers: Snorting Adderall or Ritalin
Pharming: Getting into medicine cabinets to find drugs to get high on
Pox: Opium
Robo-tripping: Consuming cough syrup to get high
Tweaking: High on amphetamines
White Lady: Cocaine; heroin
Wings: Cocaine; heroin
Speed, crank, uppers ,Crystal or Tina: Meth

With the nationwide growth in opioid addiction, this year we’re adding this list of slang/text terms for opioids. Opioids are prescription painkillers sold on the street. If you find or overhear your kids using these terms, address it immediately. A few nicknames, slang terms include:

Demmies: Demerol
O, Oxy, kickers, OC, kickers, blues: Oxycontin
Captain Cody, Cody, schoolboy: Codeine with Robitussin or Tylenol
Percs: Percocet/Percodan
Doors & fours, pancakes and syrup: Codeine with glutethimide
Vikes, lorries, Watsons, 357s: Vicodin or Lorcet/Lortab
Pink O, stop signs, pink: Opana (oxymorphone) 
China girl, China town, tango and cash
Rids, ritties, skippy, skittles, study buddies: Ritalin
Black beauties, truck drivers, wakeups: Adderall

While these lists could go on for days, we’ve collected the ones we’ve noticed the most. Familiarize yourself with these words and abbreviations, pay attention to what your kids are talking about, who their friends are and whether or not they are using technology is amplifying positive conversations or dangerous ones. As always, make your relationship and open communication with your tween or teen a priority. It’s the #1 way to avoid digital disasters.

Have we missed any slang terms you’ve noticed online? Please comment below! 

toni page birdsong



Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).

The post 2018 Texting Slang Update: How to Decode What Your Teen is Saying Online appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

France to Impose Restrictions on Social Media to Fight Fake News

France have announced plans to impose a new law which will enforce tougher restrictions on social networks to stop the spread of fake news during an election.

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The post France to Impose Restrictions on Social Media to Fight Fake News appeared first on IT SECURITY GURU.

5 Cybersecurity Resolutions to Consider for the New Year

2018 is officially here, and you know what that means: a bunch of resolutions that will probably take a back seat come mid-February. While I’m not one for setting unrealistic expectations of myself, there is something to be said about learning from the previous year so I do not repeat the same mistakes.

As I look back on 2017, I can’t help but think of all of the teachable moments in mobile and IoT security. From fraudsters phishing with social media bait to bitcoin mining at your local coffee shop, this year was full of moments that remind us just how tricky our connected lives can be.

So, in light of all the events in 2017, here are the top five “cyber-resolutions” to consider for 2018.

Secure your Social Media

If there’s one thing phishing scams have taught me, it’s that scammers have gotten savvier at social engineering. While social media does a great job at connecting us to our loved ones, it can also connect us to people we don’t want to share our personal information with. Cybercriminals know how to use the information you share on social media to gain access to your personal data. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, always make sure your account is set to “private” and is only visible to family and friends.

Don’t skip your updates

With the holidays in our rear-view, many of us probably have a few new devices in our homes. There are so many new and exciting tech toys on the market, it’s hard to avoid getting caught up in the IoT way of life. When you’re interrupted from your shiny new device by a software update, it’s tempting to hit “skip” when you’re eager to get back to your gadgets. But if our hackable gifts have shown us anything, it’s that skipping your updates leaves the door open for hackers. Software updates are important because they often include critical patches to new bugs or flaws in the system. So, resolve to keep your software up to date!

Don’t fall for the free Wi-Fi

When it comes to public Wi-Fi, a VPN is a VIP. Access to the internet on the go is a privilege of the times. But while the Wi-Fi at your local coffee shop may claim to be secure, public Wi-Fi networks lack encryption. If you’re in the habit of using Wi-Fi on the go, get a VPN to scramble the data being sent over the network. Private online activity such as shopping or accessing your banking information without a VPN could expose your sensitive information to hackers. Investing in a VPN is a smart way to keep your private information, private.

Set Better Passwords

I can’t stress enough that using a secure password is one of the best practices for protection on the web. When you’re trying to keep up with all of your logins, it can be tempting to use the same simple combination for every account. But, choosing a solid password should always take priority. Mix it up, throw in some numbers and symbols to complicate the password, stay away from using your birthday, and remember ‘123456’ is never an acceptable password!

Secure your home

Our homes are more connected now than they’ve ever been. It’s important to make sure each individual device is secure. However, securing your connection at the source is as important as securing your front door. Consider using a home gateway with built-in security to ensure every device in your house is well protected.

Let’s start the year off on the right foot. Don’t give cybercriminals the upper hand when it comes to your personal data.

Interested in learning more about mobile security tips and trends? Follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.


The post 5 Cybersecurity Resolutions to Consider for the New Year appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Facebook phishers want you to “Connect with Facebook”

As we edge toward Christmas, scammers are throwing their own party—in the form of Facebook phishing pages linked to and from bogus landing pages hosted on sites(dot)google(dot)com URLs.

These landing pages, adorned with very large and very fake “Login with Facebook” buttons, may be extra convincing to the unwary, due to a combination of the trusted Google name and the fact that the sites are HTTPS rather than standard HTTP.

HTTPS is becoming increasingly popular with scammers as it adds an extra air of authenticity to the whole operation. As a result, you can’t just assume a “secure” site is also a safe one. There could well be a phisher lurking in the distance.

The landing pages are all themed around loss of Facebook access, with potential victims most likely directed there by phishing emails. (We haven’t seen any associated with this particular campaign, but given the messaging on the sites and the typical methods used to steer someone to them, it seems a reasonable bet to make.)

The bulk of the fakeouts look like either of the two examples below, with zero additional content on the page except for a big blue box asking you to “Login to Facebook” to “comfirmation your account!!!” [sic]

facebook phish landing page

Click to Enlarge


another phish landing page

Click to Enlarge

…”Connect with Facebook.”

There’s a few other designs out there, but they’re nowhere near as common as the two above. Here’s one of the alt-designs:

Fake Facebook warning page

Click to Enlarge

The word salad on the fake Facebook security page reads as follows:

Dear Facebook users

Your account is reported to have violated the policies that are considered annoying or insulting Facebook users. Please confirm your account with accurate data to avoid blocking. Note: if you do not verify your account permanently disabled automatically. Thanks, the Facebook team

Regardless of which landing page you kickstart the process from, the end result is the same—you’ll be directed to a number of secondary websites hosting the pages where user data will be phished. First, scammers will ask for login details:

fake lock landing pageClick to Enlarge

After that, they go straight for security questions:

fake lock

Click to Enlarge


The text on the page reads as follows:

We will temporarily lock your account. Please answer a few security questions to ensure that the actual owner of your account. We will provide 1X24 hours, to verify the identity of your account. If you do not confirm, the system will automatically shut down your Facebook account permanently.

This information will help us to restore your Facebook account

Upon hitting the “Protect your account” button, victims will be sent to the legit Facebook login page, another common trick to make the victim think all is well—right up to the point the login mysteriously alters and they lose access. We’ve seen Facebook scams a lot less complicated than this also ask for payment information, so we’re a little surprised that none of the sites across both sets of websites— the landing pages, and the sites playing host to data collection—do this.

We’re certainly not complaining, mind.

At time of writing, many of the secondary sites appear to have been taken down, though there’s still a fair few landing pages still up and running. As such, it would be easy for the scammers to set up new phish pages and point the landing URLs to them instead.

URLs you should avoid:

(leads to) help-unblocking-fb(dot)site/contact/2017/index(dot)php

We’re working on having the last of these sites taken offline, but please be careful around any websites claiming they’ll confirm, review, or connect your Facebook account, especially in relation to supposed security alerts or “bad behaviour” on your part. If in doubt, visit the official Facebook site directly and take things from there. There’s a good chance it’s just someone trying to ruin your festive fun, and that definitely doesn’t fall under the season for giving.

The post Facebook phishers want you to “Connect with Facebook” appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

The CNIL Serves Formal Notice to WhatsApp Regarding Sharing Data with Facebook

On December 18, 2017, the French data protection authority (“CNIL”) publicly announced that it served a formal notice to WhatsApp regarding the sharing of WhatsApp users’ data with Facebook Inc. (“Facebook”). This decision, dated November 27, 2017, follows the CNIL’s investigations regarding Facebook’s 2014 acquisition of WhatsApp. In 2016, WhatsApp updated its Terms of Service and Privacy Policy to reflect the sharing of information with Facebook. Following this update, the Article 29 Working Party (“Working Party”) requested explanations from WhatsApp on its data processing practices and data sharing, and asked the company to stop sharing data for targeted advertising purposes. The Working Party also gave a mandate to its subgroup in charge of the cooperation on investigations and sanctions to coordinate actions of the relevant national data protection authorities. It is in that context that the CNIL started its investigation of WhatsApp’s data processing practices.

In its decision, the CNIL found that WhatsApp violated the French Data Protection Act of January 6, 1978, as amended (Loi relative à l’informatique, aux fichiers et aux libertés) by: (1) sharing data with Facebook without an appropriate legal basis, (2) not providing sufficient notice to the relevant data subjects, and (3) not cooperating with the CNIL during the investigation.

Lack of Legal Basis

While WhatsApp shares its users’ data with Facebook for both business intelligence and security purposes, the CNIL focused its analysis on the “business intelligence” purpose. WhatsApp represented that such sharing was based on consent and legitimate interest as legal grounds. In its analysis of both legal bases, the CNIL concluded that:

  • WhatsApp cannot rely on consent to share users’ data with Facebook for “business intelligence” purposes on the grounds that: (1) the consent is not specific enough, and only refers to the messaging service and improving Facebook’s services, and (2) the consent is not freely given, as the only way for a user to object to such processing is to uninstall the application.
  • WhatsApp cannot rely on a legitimate interest to share users’ data with Facebook for “business intelligence” purposes because the company has not implemented sufficient safeguards to preserve users’ interests or fundamental rights. There is no mechanism for the users to refuse the data sharing while continuing to use the application.

Lack of Notice to Data Subjects

The CNIL found that WhatsApp did not provide sufficient notice on the registration form to data subjects about sharing personal data with Facebook.

Lack of Cooperation with the CNIL

The CNIL found that WhatsApp did not provide necessary cooperation during the investigation, such as refusing to provide the CNIL with data pertaining to a sample of French users on the basis that such request conflicts with U.S. law.

The CNIL’s Requests

In its formal notice, the CNIL requires WhatsApp to, within one month:

  • cease sharing users’ data with Facebook for the purpose of “business intelligence” without a legal basis;
  • provide a notice to data subjects that complies with the French Data Protection Act, and informs them of the purposes for which the data is shared with Facebook and their rights as data subjects;
  • provide the CNIL with all the sample personal data requested (i.e., all data shared by WhatsApp with Facebook for a sample of 1,000 French users); and
  • confirm that the company has complied with all of the CNIL’s requests above within the one month deadline.

If WhatsApp fails to comply with the terms of the formal notice within one month, the CNIL may appoint an internal investigator, who may propose that the CNIL imposes sanctions against the company for violations of the French Data Protection Act.

What To Do If Your Email Is Hacked

I think I could count on my hand the people I know who have NOT had their email hacked. Maybe they found a four-leaf clover when they were kids!

Email hacking is one of the very unfortunate downsides to living in our connected, digital world.  And It’s often a situation that even the savviest tech experts find themselves in. In August this year, over 700 million email addresses (and a large number of passwords) were leaked publicly courtesy of a misconfigured spambot (a program designed to collect email addresses). Many savvy tech types were caught up in the hack including Troy Hunt, a leading Australian computer security expert and creator of Have I Been Pwned?.

Just this month it was confirmed that every single Yahoo email account was compromised in the 2013 data breach. A whopping 3 billion accounts with stolen data including names, email addresses, phone numbers and birth dates. And recent reports have confirmed that thousands of Australian Government Officials including high-profile politicians, Defence Officials, judges and members of the Australian Federal Police were among the victims.

So, in short – it can happen to anyone…

But Why Should I Worry? I Have Nothing Valuable in My Email

If you have an identity and email address you are very valuable to a hacker – no exceptions! Even if you don’t consider yourself to have Kim Kardashian’s celebrity status or the CEO power of  James Packer, a hacker is still very keen to collect every piece of information they can about you.

Remember, hackers want to get their hands on your data. Why – I hear you ask? So, they can cash in! Some will keep the juicy stuff for themselves – passwords or logins to government departments or large companies they may want to ’target’. But the more sophisticated ones will sell your details including name, telephone, email address and credit card details and cash in on The Dark Web. They often do this in batches. Some experts believe they can get as much as AU$140 for a full set of details including credit cards.

So, you can see why they’d be interested in you!

How Big Is the Problem?

There is a plethora of statistics on just how big this issue is – all of them concerning!

According to IDCARE – a support service for Australian and New Zealand victims of identity fraud – about 1 million Australian have their identity stolen each year at a cost of about $1 billion.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recently revealed that hacking scams cost Australian businesses close to $3 million during 2016 with the number of people reporting scams activity at record levels.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre nominates $20 million as the fallout from ‘phony emails’ aka phishing in 2016/7.

Regardless of which statistic you choose to focus on, we have a big issue on our hands!

So, What Do I Do If My Email Is Hacked?

If you find yourself a victim of email hacking there are a few very important steps you need to take. But the key here is to act FAST!!

1. Change Your Password

This is the very first thing you must do to ensure the hacker can’t get back into your account. It is essential that your new password is complex and totally unrelated to previous passwords. Always use at least 8-10 characters with a variety of upper and lower case and throw in some symbols and numbers. I really like the idea of a crazy, nonsensical sentence – easier to remember and harder to crack!

If you find the hacker has locked you out of your account by changing your password, you will need to rest the password to by clicking on the Forgot My Password link.

2. Let Your Email Contacts Know

A big part of the hacker’s strategy is to ‘get their claws’ into your address book with the aim of hooking others as well. Send a message to all your email contacts as soon as possible so they know to avoid opening any emails (most likely loaded with malware) that have come from you.

3. Change Your Security Question

If you have a security questions associated with your email account, please change this too. And please make it unpredictable and niche! It is possible that this was how the hackers broke into your account in the first place. When Yahoo had 500 million accounts hacked in 2014, not only were the passwords stolen but the security questions too. If you have a security question associated with your account, make up a response that makes no sense. This is the perfect opportunity to tell a lie!

4. Commit to Multi Factor Authentication

Yes, multi-factor authentication adds another step to your login but it also adds another layer of protection. Enabling this will mean that in addition to your password, you will need a special one-time use code to login. This is usually sent to your mobile phone. So worthwhile!

5. Check Your Email Settings

It is not uncommon for hackers to modify your email settings so that a copy of every email you receive is automatically forwarded to them. Not only can they monitor your logins for other sites but they’ll keep a watchful eye over any particularly juicy personal information! So, check your mail forwarding settings to ensure no unexpected email addresses have been added.

Don’t forget to check your email signature to ensure nothing spammy has been added. And also ensure your ‘reply to’ email address is actually yours! Hackers have been known to create an email address here that looks similar to yours – when someone replies, it goes straight to their account, not yours!

6. Scan Your Computer for Malware and Viruses

This is essential also. If you find anything, please ensure it is addressed and then change your email password again. And if you don’t have it – please invest. Comprehensive security software will provide you with a digital shield for your online life. McAfee Total Protection lets you protect all your devices – including your smartphone – from viruses and malware. It also contains a password manager to help you remember and generate unique passwords for all your accounts.

7. Change Any Other Accounts with the Same Password

Time consuming but very worthwhile! Ensure you change any other accounts that use the same username and password as your compromised email. Hackers love the fact that many of us use the same logins for multiple accounts, so it is guaranteed they will try your info in other email application and sites such as PayPal, Amazon, Netflix – you name it!

8. Consider Creating a New Email Address

If you have been hacked several times and your email provider isn’t mitigating the amount of spam you are receiving, then consider starting afresh but don’t delete your email address! Many experts do warn against deleting email accounts as most email providers will recycle your old email address. This could mean a hacker could spam every site they can find with ‘forgot my password’ request and try to impersonate you – identity theft!

Your email is an important part of your online identity so being vigilant and addressing any fallout from hacking is essential for your digital reputation. And even though it may feel that ‘getting hacked’ is inevitable, you can definitely reduce your risk by installing some good quality security software on all your devices. Comprehensive security software such as McAfee Total Protection will alert you when visiting risky websites, warn you know when a download looks ‘dodgy’ and will block annoying and dangerous emails with anti-spam technology.

It makes sense really – if don’t receive the ‘dodgy’ phishing email – you can’t click on it! Smart!

And finally, don’t forget that hackers love social media – particularly those of us who overshare on it. So, before you post details of your adorable new kitten, remember it may just provide the perfect clue for a hacker trying to guess your email password!


Alex x

The post What To Do If Your Email Is Hacked appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Family Tech: How to Save Your Vanishing Attention Span

technology and attention spanResearchers have published a handful of studies in the past few years that examine the impact of technology on the human brain and our dwindling attention spans. One study even compares our now eight-second attention span (down from 12 seconds in the year 2000) to that of a goldfish.

While several studies cite the social and neurobiological impact of technology, most of us can leapfrog all those statistics and admit that we — as well as our kids — simply aren’t as present as we could be.

It doesn’t take a study to illustrate the reality that most of us have been swept away by the “always-on” river of stimuli created by technology. Our brains have been slowly but surely rewired to engage with and respond to living in a digital culture.

Reclaiming Our Attention Spans

Our attention span can be defined as the amount of concentrated time we give to a task without becoming distracted. So how healthy is your family’s attention span?

Take an honest look at your home on any given Saturday. How many devices are powered up at one time? How many faces are planted on screens? How much time is spent together void of devices? How quick are you to respond to your email, social media, and text messages? How many details need to be repeated because of digital distractions? Do you interrupt face-to-face time with others when your phone beeps? How long does it take an individual to disrupt a gathering to look up something on their phone and then how long does it take before everyone feels permission to do the same?

More and more our entire lives are connected from home to school, to the office, and beyond. It’s easy to conduct our days fully connected and uninterrupted if we chose to do so. Such connectivity brings incredible positives but at what cost to our family’s attention spans?

If you’re serious about nursing your attention span back to health and raising kids that know how to do the same, here are a few practical changes to consider. If our brains can create new neuropaths that can efficiently multitask a digital life, they are also capable of creating paths designed to rebuild our attention spans.

5 Tips to Restore Your Attention Span

  1. Master single tasking. While most people see multitasking as a strength, studies show multitasking actually decreases productivity. Focus on one thing (or person) at a time. Put the phone down, close the laptop, and mute the TV. Not only will this improve your ability to focus and get things done, but you may also see a boost in the quality of your relationships. Resolution: Master the art of single tasking.
  2. No tech zones. The first thing we do in the morning can set the tone for the entire day. So, if you check your phone when you wake up, this can open the door to a distraction-filled day. Go old school. Leave your phone technology and attention spanin another room when you go bed and purchase an old-fashioned alarm clock. Keep your phone in a drawer for the first hour of your day so you can focus on your family and thoughts without distraction. This applies to kids as well. Resolution: Make the bedroom (and mornings) tech-free.
  3. Nurture your senses. Constant technology can deplete our physical senses. Two things can restore them: Taking periodic breaks from technology and drinking more water. Simply by putting down your technology and taking a walk or doing a physical task can restore your senses and boost your attention span. Also, staying hydrated helps every aspect of your ability to stay focused on the things and the people around you. Experts also encourage mediation, breathing deeply, and exercising as ways to nurture focus. Resolution: Take the time daily to restore your senses.
  4. Audit digital distractions. Studies show that for every distraction we indulge, it takes an average of 25 minutes to get back on course. Time tracking tools such as Toggle and Rescuetime can help you identify distractions. And, tools Google Chrome’s Stay Focused, will even block distracting sites.
  5. Streamline social. If you are active on ten social media channels, it could be time to streamline. Adding online groups and social networks to our lives — from communities within apps to Facebook groups — is a slow creep much like gaining weight. Audit your technology and attention spandigital communities and determine which three deserve your time and attention. Delete or deactivate the others. It may sound extreme but striking balance requires censoring. To help kids in this area, parental controls with time limits are an option. Resolution: Simplify social activity.
  6. Turn off notifications. Yes, sometimes the biggest changes are one simple step away. Turn off notifications that somehow have become the norm. Get rid of those Facebook, email, and Twitter notifications that pop up on your phone and fragment your attention span — and your relationships. Resolution: Live life notification free!

Author Bob Goff says, “What constantly distracts us, will eventually define us.” That’s a heavy thought for parents bringing up kids in a digital world. Building your attention span is like building up a muscle. It will take time, consistency, and you will make revisions along the way. So begin gradually and build. You may be surprised at rewards that start coming your way.


toni page birdsong


Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).

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Holiday Challenge: How Serious Are You About Curbing Your Screentime?

I tinkered with the idea of signing off Facebook for the holidays. I even wrote the popular “I’m unplugging for the holidays” post, looked at it for a moment, and then deleted it. What about the holiday photos I wanted to share? And the fun pictures of friends and family that had become a welcome part of my routine? Oh, and all those kids dressed in holiday outfits — I confess — I look forward to the warm fuzzies that come with seeing babies or puppies online. Sad but true, Facebook has become my daily dose of Vitamin F for fun (or rather, Vitamin D for distraction).

Is that so bad? Yes and no.

No, it’s not a ding in our character if we hop online seeking out friends, knowledge, laughs, or entertaining content to fill our curiosity wells. However, it becomes a problem when we spend more time (and prefer) scrolling through pictures of Christmas lights rather than getting in the car together to see them. Or, when we’d rather admire, like, and comment on other people’s Christmas memories rather than taking time to create our own.

Real life trumps screen life — every single time.

So here’s the challenge. Don’t try to go cold turkey with your screentime — and by screen time we mean smartphone, tv, tablets, and gaming systems — just try to reduce that time by half. Pay attention to the activity that takes most of your time and cut that out. For me, as noted, that would be Facebook. For some reason, I’ve started checking Facebook before I even open my email — not a wise strategy for a successful day. Without thinking, I find myself giving my first 20 minutes of my day scrolling, liking, searching for the right emoji, wishing people happy birthday, writing heartfelt comments, and clicking on a variety of news links that frankly, I could skip.

Maybe your one vice is endless hours of Hallmark movies, Netflix binging, or a favorite news channel. We challenge you to cut that routine in half.

So this holiday, will you join us? We’re not trying to be perfect, just trying to do better with the valuable 24 hours we have each day. For every hour you are absent from your screen, you become fully present to enjoy family and friends and make this holiday season unforgettable.

Need a little nudge off the couch (I do!)? Here are just a few ideas that may inspire you to reduce your tech and boost your family time.

Dream a little. Fire up the imaginations. Ask each family member what the perfect holiday looks like to them. Then, figure out how to make as many of those ideas come to life this holiday as possible. Maybe it’s starting a new tradition together, finding a favorite story to read each night, sharing more meals around the table, visiting a tree farm, making handmade gifts, finding local events to attend, Christmas caroling, volunteering in a soup kitchen, ice skating, or taking a few outings to pop in and visit friends you’ve been missing.

Grab some rays. Get outside. Grab your mittens, your hat, and head out. Tip: Don’t take a poll and ask who wants to go, just announce the family hike that’s about to go down. Because screen time can physically deplete our senses, green time — time spent outdoors — can be a simple, but powerful way to recharge the spirits and refresh perspectives. A hefty dose of Vitamin D from sunlight and moving your eyes from a boxed-in screen to a boundless sky is one of mother nature’s most potent anti-depressants. And, it will bring your family together immediately.

Make unplugging fun. Depending on the age of your kids, unplugging may seem like a punishment. So make it fun. Play a game. For every half or a full day spent minus a device or tv, let your child choose and plan how to spend the day. Maybe it’s volunteering, baking cookies, playing board games, singing Karaoke together, doing a puzzle or craft together, or spending time together downloading all those online photos and making real photo albums.

Plan for success. Make sure you are armed and ready with activity suggestions before you set screen limits. Don’t underestimate the fact that some of the best family memories have likely been planned out. Winging it and trusting kids to keep themselves busy apart from their devices could disappoint.

Prepare a family meal together. What’s your family heritage? Have you explored the foods related to your country of origin? Find some of the meals your ancestors may have prepared and have a culinary adventure together in the kitchen. Or, if you have a few of grandma’s recipes on hand, now is a great time pass the torch to the next generation.

Build team spirit. It’s never too late to start the tradition of a family football, basketball, bowling, mini-golf, or volleyball tournament. Split into teams, wager a few chocolate Santas, and let the tech-less games begin.

Create together. The possibilities here are endless. Get an oversized canvas, some acrylic paints, and create a family masterpiece together. Add some dimension. Use magazines clippings, old clock parts, discarded jewelry, and even some small childhood toys or book pages to create a meaningful collage that represents the whole family. Not into paint? Make some handmade ornaments that represent each family member’s unique personality or make a Christmas tree garland using paper or cranberries and popcorn.

It’s easy to read this article, nod in agreement, then tuck it away in your database without taking action. But if you do just one thing on this list, consider your holiday a success. It won’t be easy. Routine — especially a digital routine — can be tough to break. You aren’t alone; we’re accepting the challenge as well to unplug and plug fully into the holiday season. Happy Less-Tech Holidays to you and yours and let us know how it goes!

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Tech-Thankful: 10 Ways Technology Empowers Our Parenting Today

thankful for technologyHave you taken a moment to reflect and collect a list of the things for which you are grateful this year? Here’s a kickstart: Imagine your life without _________________. Then, give thanks for those things.

Once you get started on your list, you may have trouble stopping simply because it’s human nature to pay more attention to life’s pain points. This means too often the good stuff of life — the stuff that makes it so sweet — quietly passes us without garnering its due applause.

One of those good things we may take for granted is technology.

As much as we naturally ferret out the potential dangers tech brings, for every one negative, we’re thankful that countless positives flood that equation. Face it. We’re plugged-in, click-happy, smartphone parents who have a lot to be grateful for — namely the way technology has revolutionized parenting.

What would life look like without the internet? How about the world minus that Smartphone? And what would our day look like without our kid tracking, fitness, social, or map apps? With technology comes opportunity; the opportunity for smarter working, living — and parenting.

10 pieces of technology that empower parenting

  1. The internet. Wow, where do we begin? The internet has put the world at our fingertips and given our parenting experience a million new dimensions. Just to name a few perks: Shopping, crowdsourcing, collaboration, cloud computing, innovation, communication, philanthropy, education, entertainment and the list goes on. For the infinite positives and added scope of knowledge, this has added to our life; we are beyond thankful.
  2. Facetime. Can’t get home for the holidays? Isn’t it amazing that we can facetime with friends and family all over the world? Don’t forget to fire up your smartphone or Skype this holiday and connect in real time with the ones you love (no texting!). Technology like this makes all the difference sometimes.
  3. Pinterest. Many of us will hover over the stove this week, smartphone in hand, as we follow a new, rock star recipe found on Pinterest. In just a click, Pinterest helps with any life hack imaginable making us instantly more confident as we tackle new skills alongside a community of pinners around the world.
  4. Tracking apps. If you’re a parent of a tween or teen tracking or location apps, have spared you more than a few grey hairs. Can’t find your child? No worries, a tracking app will keep you connected 24/7. And, we all know what happens if they turn off their location . . . phone privileges get zapped. Add to this anti-anxiety mix, the handful of apps that keep kids from texting and driving.
  5. Facebook. Okay, this one brings all kinds of issues — addiction, bullying, narcissism, hate speech, and the list goes on — however, let’s rest our attention the genius of Facebook for just a moment. Arguably, this pioneering social network has done more to shrink the world and amplify connectivity than any other tech tool. We’re now connected instantly to everyone from childhood friends, to new friends, to aging parents at any time of the day or night. Facebook’s influence, reach, and power, as a resource, is endless. For that, we’re taking a moment to be thankful.
  6. Amazon. This one site has radically changed the way we purchase and make buying decisions for our family. Amazon has saved us countless hours of travel, shopping time, and the dreaded time and cost of returns — who isn’t grateful for those helpful (verified) consumer reviews? Along with Amazon, we can now add countless grocery, restaurant delivery, meal services, and car shuttle services to our technology Thanksgiving list.
  7. Safeguards. Filtering and security tools come in many shapes and sizes these days. From software packages to network security built into products, the consumer’s safety and security are now at the forefront of many minds. Without intentional safeguards, it would be impossible to enjoy the power of our technology. We’re also grateful for the battalion of watchdogs, companies, and innovators committed to keeping technology and the internet a better place to be.
  8. EBooks. If you grew up in love with the library or running to the mailbox to see if your book of the month arrived, the avalanche of reading material now available with one click deserves its own parade. Is there anything more gratifying than seeing a young child reading a book on his or her tablet or a teenager engrossed in a reading site? Books, and the knowledge they carry, continue to shape us — now more than ever — thanks to technology. Along with books, we can celebrate the many, many free educational resources online that make learning (and helping our kids learn) so much more exciting for kids and parents.
  9. Wi-Fi and data. This bit of technology has revolutionized the way we work, which in turn, has dramatically impacted our families. Many parents now enjoy flexibility making the elusive work-life balance more possible than ever. The opportunities for our children in their work choices have also expanded thanks to technology.
  10. Google. Google has empowered parents everywhere to step into shoes that sometimes feel way too big. Can’t answer the tough ones like “How do planes stay in the sky?” or “Why can’t the government just print more money and get out of debt?” No worries! Just Google it and come off as a superhero every time. Adding to our superhero parenting skills are the amazingly informative and empowering YouTube and HowItWorks where we can become pros on any topic in a matter of minutes.

No doubt technology comes carrying a bucketful of concerns that can easily keep any parent up at night. But for this moment of reflection, it’s clear — we love our tech, we’re better for it, and this moment of applause is long overdue. Have a wonderful, rest-filled, tech-thankful holiday!

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Kids Glued to YouTube? Here are 7 Ways to Keep them Safe While Having Fun

YouTube safety

I spend a lot of time on YouTube. I watch health, parenting, and cooking videos until my eyes cross. And on the weekends I become a DIY expert thanks to YouTube teaching me how to caulk my tub, fix my lawn mower, and change the oil in my car. YouTube is amazing. But, it’s also got some safety glitches that can impact your family.

As much time as I spend on YouTube, I know my kids hang out there even more. In fact, they are no doubt part of the loyal 30 million people that log-on to the video channel every single day.

If your kids and their friends are huddled around a phone screen, laughing hysterically chances are they are on YouTube where viral videos, hilarious stunts, and make-up and beauty tutorials rule the day. YouTube is also the music hub for up and coming artists as well as the celebrity launching pad for countless teen YouTubers that captivate millions of teen fans.

Unfortunately, along with the fun, kids can also encounter inappropriate content and behavior. Site guidelines state that users are not to post: “Nudity, pornography, or other ‘sexually explicit’ content, or harmful or dangerous content that encourages others to do things that might lead to injury. Or, violent or graphic content that’s shocking, sensational, or disrespectful or hateful content that promotes or condones violence.” However, people have found ways around these rules and like any other platform, unsafe content finds its way in.

Family-Related YouTube Facts:

  • Despite the popularity of sites such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter, more teens report using YouTube over any other platform.
  • YouTube on mobile alone reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S.
  • The number of hours people spend watching videos on YouTube is up 60% year-over-year. In fact, 6 out of 10 people prefer online video platforms to live TV.
  • YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and third most visited site after Google and Facebook.

So with all this time spend glued to video content, here are just a few tips to help sharpen your YouTube skill and keep your kids safe on this popular platform.

YouTube Family Talking Points:

  1. Respect age limits. To create a YouTube account, users must be at least 13 yrs old. These age limitations are in place for a reason. Kids can encounter crude language, inappropriate content, and get into conflicts in the comment section of the videos. So, whether your child wants to browse videos, or create his or her own channel, make sure he or she is of age to become part of the YouTube community. If they can’t wait, set up a family account and keep tabs on your child’s activity. Any videos they view on the account will show up in the History button on the left-hand side of the screen.YouTube safety
  2. Use the platform. If your kids love YouTube and you want to understand the risks, spend time there. Ask them what their favorite channels are and look around. Get to know kids’ favorites such as: PewDiePie, Smosh, NigaHiga, Bethany Mota, Shane DawsonTV, Tyler Oakley, Zoella, Joey Graceffa, Nash Grier, and Todrick Hall.
  3. Block pornography. Worried about inappropriate content? Google has a security filter, or safety mode, in YouTube that if turned on, will hide objectionable videos from the site. However, this option isn’t 100% reliable. If you want to make sure nothing inappropriate streams into your home, filtering software is a must.
  4. Report problems. If you see a video that is inappropriate, harmful, or incites bullying, report it to YouTube. YouTube’s policy center covers everything from harassment, to hate speech, to childhood endangerment.
  5. Discuss concerns immediately. If your kids view or post questionable content on YouTube, or comment inappropriately, address it immediately. Speak with your kids directly about editing or removing videos, comments, or profile information that compromises their safety or reputation.
  6. Read YouTube’s Safety Center. Take the time to read through the YouTube Safety Center for anything and everything related to safety such as privacy settings, cyberbullying and harassment, suicide and self-harm content, and other issues directly related to teens.
  7. Be wise with video. Video content goes viral quickly. Remind kids: Don’t post or share videos you wouldn’t want your Grandmother to see. Show discernment and wisdom in the content you post, comment on, and share with others.

YouTube and other video-based platforms grow each year in popularity. Connecting, sharing, and expressing oneself through a video community is likely one of your child’s favorite online activities. So, have fun with it too, explore the video world, learn, and more important, know how to coach your kids through the danger zones.


Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).

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Risky Apps, Jail Time for Parents of Bullies, and More Family Safety News

Saraha App Icon

If you haven’t been able to skim the family safety headlines lately — no worries. We’ve plucked a few stories from the top of the family safety heap for you. Talk about them around the dinner table tonight, continue monitoring smartphone apps, and most importantly, keep the relationship and communication with your kids strong.


Sarahah and are two new apps tweens and teens seem to love that, unfortunately, also bring inherent dangers into your family.

Saraha, an Arabic word that roughly means honesty, allows kids to send anonymous comments to friends. Users can also comment on other profiles anonymously, including accounts of strangers. While some kids use the app to send kind comments or flirt harmlessly with a crush, Saraha has also become a hub for bullying. Comments are anonymous, which can give kids the digital courage they need to say things online they would never say to a person’s face. App Icon is a live-streaming app that allows users to broadcast to unseen followers and encourages building a celebrity-like following. Unfortunately, while most kids dream of becoming Instagram or YouTube famous and are attracted to this app for that reason, they may also encounter pornographic, illegal, and predatory accounts. also shares a user’s location and allows others to search for people streaming near them.

Family Talking Points

Anonymity = bullying. Anonymity and technology just don’t mix. When apps allow anonymity, then it’s likely that bullying and crude behavior become part of that culture. Discuss integrity — the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles — so that kids understand why being accountable (not hiding anonymously) online is important.

Live streaming is risky. Live steaming opens the door to a world of content that your child may or may not expect to see including pornography, drug use, criminal activity, racy behavior, racism, crude language, and even live violence. Remember: Live streaming invites strangers into your home and you into the homes of countless strangers, where it’s uncertain what you will find.

Monitor apps. Your child isn’t going to be the first to surrender his or her phone each week for review so if you want to know what apps your child uses; it’s up to you to be consistent with monitoring. Be able to recognize the app icons to look for (see above, right) and make sure you approve of the apps your child is using. Remember, you are the parent, you set the expectations and rules, and enforce the consequences.

21-Year-Old Blind After Excessive Gaming on Smartphone

Smartphone Addiction: Know the signs

A recent story out of China reminds us that good digital habits begin early and that technology addiction is a real thing with real consequences.

A 21-year-old Chinese woman has reportedly gone blind in one eye after days of playing Honor of Kings, a favorite, multiplayer Smartphone game. According to reports, doctors diagnosed the young woman with Retinal Artery Occlusion (RAO) in her right eye. RAO is a blockage in one of the small arteries that carry blood to the retina, which is a layer of tissue in the back of the eye able to sense light.

Family Talking Points

Know the signs. Signs of tech addiction include a sense of euphoria when digitally connected, neglecting friends and family, sleeping less, dishonesty about usage, feeling ashamed, anxious, guilty or depressed as a result of too much technology use, and withdrawing from favorite activities.

Take action. As parents, we usually sense when something is awry in our family dynamic — even if we linger in denial for a little while. If you have a hunch your kids (or you) are too tethered to technology, you are probably right. Some quick tips: Practice being present. Being present requires you to put away your phone, make eye contact, ignore visual distractions, actively listen and engage with the person speaking. Also, establish tech-free zones such as movie time, dinnertime, and car time. If the expectation is in place and parents are leading the charge, kids will learn early to unplug.

Is Your Kid a Bully? Then You Could Go to Jail

Technology has taken bullying to historic levels both online and off. And, a new law in one city addresses the issue of bullying by punishing parents of bullies with fines and even jail time.

Could you be at risk for jail time?

Parents could face punishment if their child violates the city’s curfew or any city law, including bullying, twice over the course of 90 days. According to reports, parents could be fined $250 and sentenced to 15 days in jail. The law is now in effect in North Tonawanda, a city just north of Buffalo.

Family Talking Points

Stress Accountability. What the police are doing to parents — holding them accountable and responsible for the actions of their minor children — models real-world consequences. With schools and cities overwhelmed with bullying cases, take the time to discuss with your child, the responsibility that comes with owning a piece of technology and what happens with misuse. Put consequences in place for inappropriate or intimidating behaviors online or in a public place. Most importantly, know what your kids are doing. Stay connected, stay talking, and stay on top of their behavior online and off.

Get serious about empathy. Don’t ignore or minimize the damaging ways kids can treat one another. The wounds of bullying today run deeper than prior generations can imagine. Ask your child to think about what mean comments, exclusion, or “joking” words would feel like if directed his or her way. Teach empathy — the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person — every chance you get. Get involved immediately if you see bullying happening to your child, another child, and explore ways to help them heal.


Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).

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Facebook Phishing Targeted iOS and Android Users from Germany, Sweden and Finland

Two weeks ago, a co-worker received a message in Facebook Messenger from his friend. Based on the message, it seemed that the sender was telling the recipient that he was part of a video in order to lure him into clicking it.

Facebook Messenger message and the corresponding Facebook Page

The shortened link was initially redirecting to, but was later on changed to redirect to yet another shortened link –

Changes in the Picsee short link

The shortened link supported two types of redirection links – original link and smart links. If the device that accessed the URL was running in iOS or Android, it was redirected to the shortened link, otherwise it was redirected to

The short link with the smart links

So for the iOS and Android users, they were served with the following phishing page:

Phishing page for short link

For the rest of the devices, the users ended up with the link that went through several redirections which eventually led to That page contained an ad-affiliate URL which redirected to, a mobile advertising company.

Phishing page’s ad-affiliate URL

Based on the data from the links, the campaign began last October 15th when it targeted mostly Swedish users. On the 17th, it moved to targeting Finnish users. Then from 19th onwards, it mostly went after German users.

The total number of clicks for the entire campaign reached almost 200,000, where close to 80% of the visitors were from Germany, Sweden and Finland.

Statistics from tracking page

The campaign ran for two weeks with a main motive of stealing Facebook credentials from iOS and Android users. The cybercriminals used those stolen credentials to spread the malicious links, and subsequently gather more credentials. However, while in the process of stealing the credentials, the cybercriminals also attempted to earn from other non-iOS and non-Android users through ad-fraud.

This practice of using email addresses in place of unique names as account credentials creates a big opportunity for phishers. Just by launching this Facebook phishing campaign, they can mass harvest email and password credentials that are later on used for secondary attacks such as gaining access to other systems or services that could have a bigger monetary value because of password reuse.

We highly recommend the affected users to change their passwords as soon as possible, including other systems and services where the same compromised password was used.


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Conversation Starters: Keep Your Kids Safe on the Road, at School, and Online

Making “safety” a priority for kids is about as exciting as watching the snow melt on a snow day. So how do we make safety a priority to a fun-loving, preoccupied tween or teen?

We make consistency the goal. We make digital safety as practical an expectation as brushing teeth and finishing homework. Just as you’d take away car privileges for reckless driving, much of the responsibility for getting digital safety information to sink in comes back to consistent parenting. That means the 360-degree commitment of communicating, setting expectations, and following through with consequences.

This month there’s a ton of digital chatter around bullying, distracted driving, and cybersecurity — and for a good reason. All three areas can wreak havoc on a family if ignored.

On the Road: Distracted Driving


  • Younger drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes and are 4x more likely than adults to get into car crashes or near-crashes when talking or texting on a cell phone.
  • 11 teens die every day as a result of texting while driving.
  • Every day, over 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone.
  • Texting while driving is 6x more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk.
  • According to an AAA poll, 94% of teen drivers acknowledge the dangers of texting and driving, but 35% admitted to doing it anyway.
  • Cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year.

Practical Solutions: 

  • Avoid temptation. Place your cell phone in the glove box or trunk every time you get in your car.
  • Secure potential distractions before you get on the road. Clean your car and get rid of soda or water bottles or any other loose items that can roll under your feet while driving.
  • If driving, don’t allow kids to bring pets in the car.
  • Install an app that blocks calls while driving.
  • Discuss. Just because your state may not don’t ban drivers from using handheld devices, doesn’t mean your family can’t establish and enforce its own its own rules. Discuss expectations around phone use while driving and consequences. Talk about accidents in the community caused by distracted drivers, their impact, and what you can all learn.
  • Put it in writing. Develop your family contract that includes expectations and consequences. Get everyone to sign it — parents too!

Conversation Starters:

Phrase it well. Let’s face it, too often when underlying parental fear collides with teen defensiveness, a family “chat” quickly becomes a lecture, and things get awkward quick. One way to avoid this is to ask your teen questions that inspire critical thinking. So turn statements into questions such as:

“Hey, can I brainstorm with you about creating a family driving contract?”
“Let’s talk about this and see what we can come up with together.”
“What kind of consequence do you think is fair if someone breaks the contract?
“Here’s a time I did something stupid behind the wheel and learned from it . . .”
If in the car together, ask your child: “How many drivers can you count on cell phones right now . . . what are a few of the things you think could happen while they aren’t looking at the road?”

At School: Cybersecurity

October is also National Cybersecurity Month, and chances are, your kids are thinking about anything but what they need to do to keep these devices secure at school. Here’s what you need to know:


  • Kids adore their devices. According to a internet-connected device during school hours for school-specific work. And, 57% of students spend three or more hours per day using a connected device during school hours for school-specific work.
  • Kids use devices to cheat. Half of the students (47%) claim to have seen or heard of another student using a connected device in the classroom to cheat  – with 21% admitting to doing it themselves.
  • Kids blow off restrictions. Students are finding ways around school online security restrictions. Still, 24% of the students have leapfrogged restrictions and accessed banned content.

Practical Solutions:

Clarify the rules. Get a copy of the school/student technology contract. Go over the contract with your kids and clarify if
needed. Discuss the reasons schools put restrictions in place and why using phones and technology wisely at school matter. Does the contract spell out the terms of a ‘classroom device usage’ so there is no room for misunderstanding? Discuss things such as staying on task, being considerate of others’ privacy, and staying honest when using devices for in-classroom work.

Review the basics. Help kids understand the reality and risks to their private information online — which includes using technology at school correctly. Empower them — rather than scare your child — into becoming a savvy digital citizen wherever he or she logs on. This includes locking devices, choosing strong, two-factor authentication passwords, watching out for scams, software updates, and being responsible online.

Celebrate the wins. As you observe your child online, catch him or her being a digital leader and praise them. When she makes smart security decisions, is an encourager to others, reports a bully, or demonstrates she is using apps and networks wisely, make sure you recognize the effort.

Conversation Starters:

“What are some of the reasons you think your school puts restrictions on wifi and cell phones during school hours?”
“What kinds of things would you change about cell phone use at school if you could be principal for the day? Why?how would you treat students who used their phones to cheat?”
“Why do you think people cheat? What do you think you can gain by cheating? What do you think you can lose by cheating?”
“When people say your name, what are some of the values and things you want to be known for?”

Online: Bullying

With all the good that comes from the internet, there’s going to be conflict, meanness, embarrassment, and people who abuse their digital power. And like it or not, your child is going to brush elbows with a bully sooner or later — and it’s gonna hurt.


  • Almost one out of every four (22%) students have been cyberbullied
  • 44% are experiencing or seeing it before the 9th grade
  • Facebook (69%), Instagram (46%) and Snapchat (38%) are mostly used for cyberbullying.

Practical Solutions:

Be aware. Be on the lookout for changes in your child’s grades, mood, or friends.
Monitor devices. You don’t have to be a hawk to check in with your kids. If they are on twitter, lurk and listen to conversations there (don’t interact).
Coach them well. Often it’s the unfortunate misuse of a word or a small misunderstanding that blows up between kids online. Know how to coach them through (not control) the daily drama.
Talk values. Talk about the values that are important to you and your family: respect, kindness, integrity, and compassion.

Conversation Starters:

If you suspect your child is being bullied, has witnessed it, or may even be a bully, these prompts may help spark a more in-depth conversation:
“What do you think you can do to help turn this around? Is there anything I can do to help?”
“I sense something is off. Are you okay?”
“Wow, how scary that must have been; I’m glad you’re okay. What happened next?”
“I know it’s embarrassing to talk about, but I’ve been bullied, and this is how I felt . . .”
“What would you do differently next time?”
“What’s your plan to make sure this doesn’t happen again?”
“Who gets bullied or teased at school? Why?”
“How should someone handle it if they are bullied?”
“If you were XX and someone said or did that to you online, how would you feel?”
“If you are in trouble, I want you to know that you are not alone. Is there anything I can do to help?”


Stay positive about covering this vast digital terrain as a parent. You’ve got everything you need to raise awesome digital kids who know how to handle any digital situation be it while driving, at school, or in their online communities. It’s too easy to slip into parenting out of fear rather than a sense of faith in our kids and ourselves. This is why a good relationship is the #1 Internet safety tool a parent can possess. Connect with your children. Talk casually and frequently with your kids about what’s happening in their life, what’s up with school, friends, problems, and anything else important to them. Along the way, you’ll find out plenty about their online life and gain the necessary permission (and trust) to talk candidly and impactfully about all of these topics with your kids.


Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).

The post Conversation Starters: Keep Your Kids Safe on the Road, at School, and Online appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

‘No One Likes You’: And the Other Hurtful Ways Kids Bully One Another Online

National Bullying Prevention MonthOne of the most wounding things a young person can hear is “No one likes you.” Most likely because that one phrase sums up our deepest fears: The fear of rejection and the fear that somehow we may not ever measure up.

And sadly, kids — bullying kids — use this phrase not always understanding it’s full weight along with other callous phrases such as:

“Why are you here?”

“Go kill yourself.”

“Why do people even like you?”

“You’re so annoying.”

“You gonna cry?”

“You’re ugly/stupid/fat.”

“Chill out. It’s just a joke!”

Cyberbullying is the intentional and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices — which means that it also comes with its own native language. And while we often associate it with youth, we can’t ever forget that every day — even all day — adults can be the worst offenders in the digital space.

Veiled VernacularNational Bullying Prevention Month

Often, coded messages may be a parent’s first clue their child is being bullied (or bullying) online. Here are just a few texting terms related to bullying to look out for in your child’s digital circles:

Dirl: Die in real life

Gcad: Get cancer and die.

Foad: F*** off and die.

Fugly: F****** ugly.

IHML: I hate my life.

KMS: Kill myself.

KYS: Kill yourself.”

182: I hate you

4Q: F*** You

GCAD: Get cancer and die

FINE: F***ed up, Insecure, Neurotic, Emotional

FUB: Fat ugly b**tard

IWTKM: I want to kill myself

JLMA: Just leave me alone

Cyberbullying looks, sounds, and affects differently than traditional bullying simply because of the amplification factor of technology.

Cyberbullying Terminology

  • Dissing: Sending or posting cruel gossip or rumors about a person (target) to damage his or her reputation or friendships.
  • Target: The person who is on the receiving end of online social cruelty.
  • Bash Board: An online bulletin board on which individuals can post anything they want. Frequently, posts are malicious, hateful statements directed against an individual.National Bullying Prevention Month
  • Exclusion: Deliberately excluding someone from an online chat group, friend group, or event.
  • Flaming: Sending angry, rude, or obscene messages directed at a person or persons privately or an online group. A flame war erupts when flames are exchanged between individuals (or groups) repeatedly.
  • Impersonation: Breaking into someone’s account, posing as that person and sending messages to make the person look bad or damage that person’s reputation.
  • Outing: Sharing someone’s secrets or embarrassing information online.
  • Harassment: Repeatedly sending offensive, rude and wounding messages.
  • Cyberstalking: Repeatedly sending messages that include threats of harm or are highly intimidating. Cyberstalking also includes engaging in other online activities that make a person afraid for his or her safety.
  • Trolling: Intentionally posting confrontational comments about sensitive subjects to create conflict and bait others into an online argument.

While we can’t singlehandedly shift an entire digital culture, we can educate ourselves and our kids about the power of words, the direct and indirect ways people bully, and how to respond if in a hostile or intimidating environment be it online or in other areas of daily life.

Family Talking Points

Tell someone. Encourage your child to come to you (or another trusted adult) at the first sign of bullying or conflict online. Monitor his or her online circles and take the time to evaluate the tone of conversations.

Sometimes it’s a friend. Though rarely discussed, sometimes the person bullying your child may be a friend. Look for signs of intimidation, jealousy, insincerity, and dishonesty — the bully could be closer than you think.

Offer perspective. The emotional roots of bullying run deep. Kids bully for some reasons. Often, bullies hurt others because they’ve been hurt. They lack compassion, empathy, and kindness because they haven’t been shown that in their home environment. While this is no excuse, talking about this with your kids can help them not take the words of a bully to heart.National Bullying Prevention Month

Words = power. Stress the consequence of hurtful words when they are shared and multiplied online. Be candid about the effects cyberbullying can have on another person such as depression, anxiety, and self-harm. Define and discuss kindness, empathy, and compassion and model it in your relationships.

Don’t respond. In the cyber arena, it’s wise not to respond to harassing, negative, or intimidating comments. The best thing to do (as hard as it is to refrain from engaging) is to print out the comments before you delete them and report the abuse. Also, save all evidence. If someone is bullying your child, print copies of messages and websites. Use the save feature on instant messages and take screenshots of posts or comments on social networks. Depending on the severity of the situation, report the abuse to the online platform, to school and/or the Internet Crimes Department of your local law enforcement agency.

Technology has elevated bullying to terrifying levels for kids. Be aware of your child’s demeanor by connecting and talking consistently. If your child’s schoolwork slips, he or she loses interest in friendships, or becomes anxious or depressed — it could be a symptom of being bullied. Follow your instincts, monitor devices, and err on the side of being intrusive if you suspect your child is suffering in silence.


Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).

The post ‘No One Likes You’: And the Other Hurtful Ways Kids Bully One Another Online appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

October is Bullying Prevention Month. Are You Willing to Do Just One Thing?

Life is busy. Events, celebrations, and deadlines fight for space on the family calendar. It’s so easy to zoom through October, which also happens to be Bullying Prevention Month.

But please don’t. Because your child needs you to know a few things and chances are, he or she is not going to bring it up these facts around the dinner table*:

  • Between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 U.S. students say they have been bullied at school.
  • 28% of U.S. students in grades 6–12 experienced bullying and 20% of U.S. students in grades 9–12 experienced bullying.
  • Approximately 30% of young people admit to bullying others.
  • 15% of high school students (grades 9–12) were electronically bullied in the past year. However, 55.2% of LGBT students bullying online.
  • 6% of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools and 62% witnessed bullying two or more times in the last month and 41% witness bullying once a week or more.


What does all of this mean? It means that your child likely falls in one of three categories: 1) is a victim of bullying 2) is bullying someone else 3) is witnessing bullying. All three carry their own emotional and physical risks.

Prevent Bullying: Choose One Thing

So rather than play detective, lecture your kids, or lay awake wondering how to best parent through the complexities of bullying today, try committing to doing just one thing. And what happens if we all choose to do just one of these things? Together, we can put a considerable dent in the devastating effects of bullying.

Look up, look around. Commit to becoming more aware and encourage your kids to practice this too. Look up from your phone, look around, and make a difference. Bullying can take place in school, outside of school, and on the school bus. Bullying also happens wherever kids gather in the community such as ball fields, the mall, or parks. And of course, cyberbullying — a significant type of bullying — happens online. Just being more aware of different kinds of bullying and where bullying occurs online, can help diminish its impact. A recent study from McAfee reveals that cyberbullying starts early and students see and experience it on different mediums. Almost one out of every four (22%) students have been cyberbullied, and shockingly 44% are experiencing or seeing it before the 9th grade. Facebook (69%), Instagram (46%) and Snapchat (38%) are mostly used for cyberbullying.

Celebrate differences. It’s a fact: Young people who are perceived as different from their peers are often at risk for being bullied. Ask your kids to share with you some differences they notice in others and discuss how those differences make that person unique, courageous, creative, or beautiful. With understanding, rather than criticism, we can open our children’s minds to the gifts we all possess. A 2014 McAfee study revealed that in 2014 cyberbullying tripled with 87% of youth have witnessed cyberbullying versus the prior year. The reasons? Of those cyberbullied, 72% responded it was due to appearance while 26% answered due to race or religion and 22% stated their sexuality was the driving factor.

Make an impact — in ten seconds. Studies show that bystanders who intervene on behalf of young people being bullied make a huge difference. When bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds 57% of the time. This doesn’t mean encouraging your kids to put themselves in danger; it merely means teaching them how to step in and help deflect an escalating situation online or off.

Expand your reading. The world is changing quickly around us and digital culture shifts can and will affect your family. It’s a chilling reality that digital disaster is just one click away. Choose just one book this month to strengthen your perspective on digital issues. Internet safety expert Sue Scheff looks at online shaming in Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate, written with Melissa Schorr. The book covers a variety of topics, including revenge porn, cyberbullying, and backlash-inspiring gaffes, and offers strategies for protecting yourself and your family online. It will open your eyes to the cultural ripple effect of our words and actions online and is a powerful family read.

Define bullying clearly for kids. Bullying is unwanted aggressive behavi54eor; observed or perceived power imbalance; and repetition of behaviors or high likelihood of repetition. Bullying can be direct — in the physical presence of a target — or indirect in the form of rumors or innuendo. There are many different modes and types of bullying. It can also be physical, verbal, relational, or damage to property. So what your kids call others just being mean, is bullying. Teach kids to understand it when they see it and how to handle it and report it.

Have the conversation. Bullying may cross your mind but have you taken the time to talk about it with your kids? Make October the month you do just that. Parents can help prevent bullying by keeping the lines of communication open with kids. Talk about bullying and encourage your kids to make a difference by being part of the crowd that refuses to bully others, speaks up if they are bullied, and understands how to help others.

Teach empathy and kindness. These two words have earned new meaning in today’s digital world. We’ve seen so much hate, judgment, and bullying that these two words have become two core digital prescriptions. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. One of the best ways to grow your child’s empathy muscle is to role-play. Find teachable

moments in which empathy has been overlooked. Has a friend been neglected for a party invitation? Is someone not present being mocked or talked about cruelly? Look for opportunities to explain and illustrate empathy. Model kindness for your kids in ordinary moments throughout your day. It can be as simple as returning your shopping cart, helping a neighbor carry in packages, or anonymously paying for a person’s coffee in the car behind you — these simple acts reiterate the importance of being aware of others and finding small ways to inject kindness into your community.

With the added element of technology, bullying has reached epidemic proportions and has played out in some surprising (and tragic) ways across the headlines. The effects of bullying can cause depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties and poor school performance in kids. Want to do more? Here’s a list of ways you and your family can take part in October’s Bullying Prevention efforts.



Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).

The post October is Bullying Prevention Month. Are You Willing to Do Just One Thing? appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Smart Parents Dig Deeper Than Clickbait

We’ve all seen it – that family at the café, heads down, scrolling on screens. Tsk tsk! We judge instantly and bemoan a loss of connection with nostalgic memories of how we used to play cricket in the street and talk to each other instead.

Cue the sensational headlines warning of the dangers of screens being linked to everything from speech delays to autism and stripping humans of empathy, replacing it with narcissism – these play into our niggling fears and are rich sharable fodder for social media where we can absolve our parenting doubts with digital thumbs-up.

Regularly our tech use is compared to drugs and addiction, a harsh and overplayed analogy that further entrenches melodrama while failing to propose the practical skills to empower positive digital citizenry. Preparing young people for a technologically enhanced future requires older generations to become meaningfully engaged in the complex issues of what it means to be a human in an online world – one in which most  children have a ‘digital tattoo’ before they’re born and on average 1000 images shared on social media by their 5th birthday.

Modern parents are just as likely to be glued to their screens as their teenage offspring. While they’re checking work emails from the footy sideline in an effort to keep the epidemic of busyness at bay, they’re playing a powerful role in their child’s social learning. Like playing dress-ups in high-heels, children mimic adults’ tech-use – watching eagle-eyed at the brightly lit screen and competing with the device for attention.

Not ‘getting’ technology is no longer an excuse that these ‘digital immigrants’ can hide behind while young people are left, quite literally, to their own devices. Where high-powered computing gadgets are regularly gifted for birthdays and festive seasons, and ‘keeping up with the iPhoneses’ is a by-product of digital obsolescence – we need to also give the gift of digital literacy and digital intelligence (DQ) by knowing how to model it ourselves.

Being ‘smart’ online is not simply about protecting kids from being groomed by predators, stopping them from sexting or saving their grandparents from online email scams. More-and-more it’s about our overall digital health and wellbeing and our ability to find that elusive balance between using technology to flourish and getting trapped in a downward scrolling spiral.

This week is Stay Smart Online Week. It’s an opportunity to move beyond the simplistic narratives of ‘switch it off’ and counting digital calories through ‘virtually impossible’ screen time limits, and engage in the tougher, deeper conversations around the quality of the online content, the context in which its consumed, and the cognitions that accompany it. While computers will certainly become more and more invaluable to parents, there’s no app “solution” (yet) for present, patient parenting.

Banning technology or promoting ‘detoxing’ from it doesn’t equip us with the skills to moderate usage. Instead it becomes a salacious item to cunningly access or to binge/purge from. Conversely using screens to bribe or pacify young people as they learn to regulate their emotions can teach dysregulated responses and demand behaviours.

In some instances, we can use software to mitigate security risks, track our scrolling habits and help regain control of our time online, but increasingly it’s the development of ‘soft skills’ – traits linked to emotional intelligence – that are key to mastering a savvy and sustainable relationship to technology.

What’s missing are the skills to stop and smell the science – to think critically about the headlines (many of which we can’t resist sharing out on social media, sometimes without even reading), the quality of the research we’re shown and the discourse that goes with it.  Both media and digital literacy are skills, quite different to the traditional technical ones, that cannot be taught effectively by ad-hoc school incursions or annual guest speaker slots. Parents and schools must be partners in providing young people with ongoing and authentic opportunities to safely explore the digital frontier and to understand the emerging cyber-psychological issues which add a new layer of complexity to an already challenging developmental period of their lives.

So, next time you see that family in the café – maybe wonder if they haven’t already been on a long bike ride together and dig deeper into what they’re really doing, reading an open source journal, improving their phonics with a research-backed app, chatting to a cousin in Hanoi or booking into their next gym class.  It’s not all sexting, selfies and Candy Crush.

Key points:

  • Beware of sensational headlines about the zombie apocalypse: the kids are alright.
  • Being smart online is also about protecting our digital health and wellbeing, creating healthy digital habits (including how we think and behave online).
  • Screen ‘time’ is a simplistic metric and we need to ask deeper questions about the quality of the content, context and function of the activity.
  • Parents benefit from checking/correcting their own online habits and consider their role as media-mentors, and co-consumers/participants alongside their kids.
  • Digital abstinence or detoxes, bans or a reliance on monitoring software don’t teach the social-emotional skills required to use technology in a balanced meaningful way.
  • Developing digital literacy and digital intelligence (#DQ) are crucial skills for being a savvy digital citizen.

The post Smart Parents Dig Deeper Than Clickbait appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Artificial Intelligence: Friend Or Foe?

The future of cyber safety and personal development lies in the partnership between humans and machines.

While our primary interactions with the digital world today may be through our PCs, laptops, smartphones, and smart watches, in the future they will become much more sophisticated.

Overall, the digital world will inevitably become a lot less cumbersome and confusing. A large number of the purposeful decisions we are forced to make every day will be made for us by digital assistants powered by artificial intelligence.  For some this will sound scary or unsettling, but there are actually incredibly significant benefits that these new technologies will bring in streamlining the ways we associate with the ever more pervasive, digitally-connected world … all the while keeping us safe.

Contrary to popular belief, our cyber safety is not usually compromised by some “dark force” hacking away at our online lives and personas, in an unknown or unspecified location.  It’s more often because we, as individuals, have developed a casual approach to what needs to be done to keep ourselves and our families safe when we’re online.

That’s not to suggest that anyone is “at fault”. The speed at which technology constantly develops means that it’s getting harder and harder to keep up with healthy online practices, that would keep us all digitally savvy.

In the future, much of what will be required of us to remain safe online could actually be offloaded to these increasingly present, artificially intelligent digital assistants, thus removing the boring part of having to improve security at the cost of an enjoyable and exciting user experience.

Looking at this further, we can even see that the combination of digitally-powered, situational awareness around cyber safety could be combined with behavioural analysis to make for more educated, intelligent human beings.

For example, scientifically-proven behavioural and psychological research could be applied to help shape, guide or restrict kids and developing adults’ interactions with the digital world, with the appropriate levels of intervention from parents. In this way, we would be able to create situations where computers are no longer the enemy of conscientious parents, and actually become a positive influence and assistance in helping to raise healthy, well-balanced young people.

Computers – in all their forms – are often an area of great uncertainty, confusion and, even, anxiety for parents. Take screen-time, for example. It’s a commonly debated topic. Are kids spending too much time in front of screens? What are the social, psychological, and future-professional ramifications of social media? Are there other things I should be worrying about that I’m not aware of? These are just some of the questions commonly asked by parents, and they will evolve as technology changes.

Imagine if a digital assistant powered by artificial intelligence, which is programmed by scientific research around brain and human development, could interject at crucial points during a child’s interaction with digital content to educate them. It could tell them to perform a chore before allowing more online access.  Or limit their screen time when a scientifically-proven or parent-enforced limit has been reached.  All the while keeping them safe online. Parents should be able to set guidelines and goals, and use digital assistants to see that these are met.

This week is Stay Smart Online Week, and it serves as a timely reminder that the challenge, in a rapidly developing, hyper-connected world, is in having to keep up with an increasing number of technologies. The way forward is in allowing the machines to aid ourselves and our kids in our quest to be smarter, safer, and future-proofed in a rapidly accelerating digital landscape.

The post Artificial Intelligence: Friend Or Foe? appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Facebook Live Oyster Pearl Party Scams

A little off-topic but recently I've been asked so many times about the Pearl Parties live broadcasts appearing all over Facebook status walls. If you haven't heard of Pearl Parties, they are sales broadcasts where the hosts entice viewers to buy sealed oysters which are opened live on the broadcast, any pearls found inside are sent to the buyer, and there always seems to be plenty of pearls found.

So after watching a few of these broadcasts, it becomes clear why these broadcasts are appearing all over Facebook, as the party hosts constantly offer the chance to win free oyster opening to all viewers that share the broadcast. After further investigation, it becomes even clearer these Pearl Party broadcasts aren't the harmless fun the presenters insinuate but are scams.
Oysters Originate from the Far East & Individually Vacuum Packed

The oysters you see opened on the Facebook live broadcast are real enough, they are bought in wholesale by the oyster party, but the copious pearls discovered inside them aren't quite as legit, rare and valuable as you might think. I have discovered two methods behind the high number pearls found inside them.  Either the freshwater oysters have been cultured, basically hacked and farmed into growing the pearls, or the oysters had the pearls inserted within them, after which they are dropped into a chemical bath to make them snap close, killing and preserving the oyster. With either method, the oysters individually vacuum packed before being shipped off from the Far East to the party hosts in bulk.
Cheap as Chips Oysters are bought in Bulk

On the Pearl Party broadcasts I observed, it cost £30 to £50 to open a batch of 5 oysters, which is a considerable markup from the direct online price of around £1 to £2 per oyster. Often the punters don't get the chance to buy a set number of oysters to be opened in the hope of receiving any pearls found inside, as there is a random based game to be played to determine how many oysters are opened for their set payment. These games involve rolling a dice or spinning a wheel to decide the number oysters open, which in itself probably breaks gaming licensing laws in many countries. This game is part of the scam, it is used to make buyers think they have won something and disguise the fact are paying well over the odds for the low grade nearly worthless pearls they end up receiving.

Pearl Party Sales are similar to the Shopping Channels

As the party host opens each oyster on the broadcast, they blag how wonderful the pearls look, using lightening and display techniques to make each pearl look as glamorous as possible, the same techniques employed the professionals on jewellery shopping channels, but with fibs. The reality is these pearls are nothing of the quality of actual rare high-value natural pearls. Some hosts will even measure, rate the colour and shape, and conclude a value for each pearl, which is always way more the buyer has actually paid, again all part of the con. If the host really thought the pearls were worth as much as they are saying, why on earth would they bother with the broadcast and just sell them directly themselves!

The host will also offer to set your pearls in jewellery, like earrings and necklaces, all for an extra cost of course.

I also found some hosts operate on behalf of companies in a pyramid-like scheme, where they pay a set amount in, oysters are supplied to them, the more they sell the more they rise up the pyramid ranks and the more money they make.

So be warned, don't participate in promoting these scams to your friends by sharing Pearl Party Facebook Live broadcasts. You'd think Facebook would do something about these types of illicit practices on their Facebook Live service, but apparently not. Given the lawless of Facebook Live, I think we can expect further scams of this nature in the near future.

Twitter – Den of Iniquity or Paragon of Virtue… or Someplace in Between?

Twitter - Den of Iniquity or Paragon of Virtue or Someplace in Between

Recently there's been some coverage of Twitter's propensity for porn. Some research has shown that
one in every thousand tweets contains something pornographic. With 8662 tweets purportedly sent every second, that's quite a lot.

Now, this is not something that has escaped our notice here at Smoothwall HQ. We like to help our customers keep the web clean and tidy for their users, and mostly that means free of porn. With Twitter that's particularly difficult. Their filtering isn't easy to enforce and, while we have had some reasonable results with a combination of search term filtering and stripping certain tweets based on content, it's still not optimal. Twitter does not enforce content marking and 140 characters is right on the cusp of being impossible to content filter.

That said - how porn riddled is Twitter? Is there really sex round every corner? Is that little blue bird a pervert? Well, what we've found is: it's all relative.

Twitter is certainly among the more gutter variety of social networks, with Tumblr giving it a decent run for boobs-per-square-inch, but the likes of Facebook are much cleaner — with even images of breastfeeding mothers causing some controversy.

Interestingly, however, our back-of-a-beermat research leads us to believe that about 40 in every 1000 websites is in some way linked to porn — these numbers come from checking a quarter of a million of the most popular sites through Smoothwall's web filter and seeing what gets tagged as porn. Meanwhile, the Huffington Post reports that 30% of all Internet traffic is porn - the biggest number thus far. However, given the tendency of porn toward video, I guess we shouldn't be shocked.

Twitter: hard to filter, relatively porn-rich social network which is only doing its best to mirror the makeup of the Internet at large. As a school network admin, I would have it blocked for sure: Twitter themselves used to suggest a minimum age of 13, though this requirement quietly went away in a recent update to their terms of service.

Facebook’s new terms, is the sky falling?

You have seen them if you are on Facebook, and perhaps even posted one yourself. I’m talking about the statements that aim to defuse Facebook’s new terms of service, which are claimed to take away copyright to stuff you post. To summarize it shortly, the virally spreading disclaimer is meaningless from legal point of view and contains several fundamental errors. But I think it is very good that people are getting aware of their intellectual rights and that new terms may be a threat.

Terms of service? That stuff in legalese that most people just click away when starting to use a new service or app. What is it really about and could it be important? Let’s list some basic points about them.

  • The terms of service or EULA (End User License Agreement) is a legally binding agreement between the service provider and the user. It’s basically a contract. Users typically agree to the contract by clicking a button or simply by using the service.
  • These terms are dictated by the provider of the service and not negotiable. This is quite natural for services with a large number of users, negotiating individual contracts would not be feasible.
  • Terms of service is a defensive tool for companies. One of their primary goals is to protect against lawsuits.
  • These terms are dictated by one part and almost never read by the other part. Needless to say, this may result in terms that are quite unfavorable for us users. This was demonstrated in London a while ago. No, we have not collected any children yet.
  • Another bad thing for us users is the lack of competition. There are many social networks, but only one Facebook. Opting out of the terms means quitting, and going to another service is not really an option if all your friends are on Facebook. Social media is by its nature monopolizing.
  • The upside is that terms of service can’t change the law. The legislation provides a framework of consumer and privacy protection that can’t be broken with an agreement. Unreasonable terms, like paying with your firstborn child, are moot.
  • But be aware that the law of your own country may not be applicable if the service is run from another country.
  • Also be aware that these terms only affect your relationship to the provider of the service. Intelligence performed by authorities is a totally different thing and may break privacy promises given by the company, especially for services located in the US.
  • The terms usually include a clause that grant the provider a license to do certain things with stuff the users upload. There’s a legitimate reason for this as the provider need to copy the data between servers and publish it in the agreed way. This Facebook debacle is really about the extent of these clauses.

Ok, so what about Facebook’s new terms of service? Facebook claim they want to clarify the terms and make them easier to understand, which really isn’t the full story. They have all the time been pretty intrusive regarding both privacy and intellectual property rights to your content, and the latest change is just one step on that path. Most of the recent stir is about people fearing that their photos etc. will be sold or utilized commercially in some other way. This is no doubt a valid concern with the new terms. Let’s first take a look at the importance of user content for Facebook. Many services, like newspapers, rely on user-provided content to an increasing extent. But Facebook is probably the ultimate example. All the content you see in Facebook is provided either by the users or by advertisers. None by Facebook itself. And their revenue is almost 8 billion US$ without creating any content themselves. Needless to say, the rights to use our content is important for them. What Facebook is doing now is ensuring that they have a solid legal base to build current and future business models on.

But another thing of paramount importance to Facebook is the users’ trust. This trust would be severely damaged if private photos start appearing in public advertisements. It would cause a significant change in peoples relationship with Facebook and decrease the volume of shared stuff, which is what Facebook lives on. This is why I am ready to believe Facebook when they promise to honor our privacy settings when utilizing user data.

Let’s debunk two myths that are spread in the disclaimer. Facebook is *not* taking away the copyright to your stuff. Copyright is like ownership. What they do, and have done previously too, is to create a license that grant them rights to do certain things with your stuff. But you still own your data. The other myth is that a statement posted by users would have some kind of legal significance. No, it doesn’t. The terms of service are designed to be approved by using the service, anyone can opt to stop using Facebook and thus not be bound by the terms anymore. But the viral statements are just one-sided declarations that are in conflict with the mutually agreed contact.

I’m not going to dig deeper into the changes as it would make this post long and boring. Instead I just link to an article with more info. But let’s share some numbers underlining why it is futile for ordinary mortals to even try to keep up with the terms. I browsed through Facebook’s set of terms just to find 10 different documents containing some kind of terms. And that’s just the stuff for ordinary users, I left out terms for advertisers, developers etc. Transferring the text from all these into MS Word gave 41 pages with a 10pt font, almost 18 000 words and about 108 000 characters. Quite a read! But the worst of all is that there’s no indication of which parts have changed. Anyone who still is surprised by the fact that users don’t read the terms?

So it’s obvious that ordinary user really can’t keep up with terms like this. The most feasible way to deal with Facebook’s terms of service is to consider these 3 strategies and pick the one that suits you best.

  1. Keep using Facebook and don’t worry about how they make money with your data.
  2. Keep using Facebook but be mindful about what you upload. Use other services for content that might be valuable, like good photos or very private info.
  3. Quit Facebook. That’s really the only way to decline their terms of service.

By the way, my strategy is number 2 in the above list, as I have explained in a previous post. That’s like ignoring the terms, expecting the worst possible treatment of your data and posting selectively with that in mind. One can always put valuable stuff on some other service and post a link in Facebook.

So posting the viral disclaimer is futile, but I disagree with those who say it’s bad and it shouldn’t be done. It lacks legal significance but is an excellent way to raise awareness. Part of the problem with unbalanced terms is that nobody cares about them. A higher level of awareness will make people think before posting, put some pressure on providers to make the terms more balanced, and make the legislators more active, thus improving the legal framework that control these services. The legislation is by the way our most important defense line as it is created by a more neutral part. The legislator should, at least in theory, balance the companies’ and end users’ interests in a fair way.


Safe surfing,


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