Starting off with a title that uses the word "evil" this article goes on to describe Verizon's sneaky tracking technique. Jim Hamm warns, "If you use Verizon, you may want to read this article." And read the comments below.
"Verizon loves you — and in particular your browsing habits. Take a read here. Better stay away from those, ah, nefarious websites...(grin)…." And this is from Jim Hamm.
(And just now, by allowing Cookies so I can post, I see 50 websites have latched onto my computer even though I clicked to Block Cookies from third parties and advertisers.)
John Carter grabs our attention with this information on how to avoid this Amazon virus.
"Here’s a new way to install a virus or tracking cookie on your computer. Just make the email message look like an official note from Amazon and include a zip file to click on to let the curious try to figure out what it’s all about.
The email address in the message wasn't mine. I never order from Amazon using the email address the message used. And if I wanted to verify the order, I would go online and check out the order ID mentioned in this email.
(Remember you can click to enlarge the illustration.)
Webmaster Mary Ann Clark has posted an informative piece on cookies by John Clark on the www.pmug.us site. Go to Benefits > Tips 'N Tricks to find this new article and nine other helpful pieces.
To keep up to date, click on RSS on the PMUG home page menu. It will set you up with PMUG listing on NetNewsWire. When that opens click to Refresh All, so the latest comes up. On this blog you scroll down to Subscribe to: Posts (Atom) and click.
Using your Mac is easy to do. Here are some shortcuts. How many are you already using? Which ones will you try later today?
See http://www.worldprivacyforum.org lists articles on ID theft, security, privacy, cloud computing, medical info on HIPAA, medical identity theft, and more.
Lots of links are provided on this website. One article brought to our attention was “Top ten opt out list.” The information goes into detail and when printed out is 12 pages long as it describes the various opt-outs you can use to stop information about you from being collected, circulated, and sold among various companies and government agencies.
One company is described which builds detailed dossiers on consumers with “information scraped from social networking sites like Facebook, and is combined with public record data.” Dossiers have been used in political campaigns and other businesses. According to their quotation from Wall Street Journal this company’s segments recently included “a person's household income range, age range, political leaning, and gender and age of children in the household, as well as interests in topics including religion, the Bible, gambling, tobacco, adult entertainment and ‘get rich quick’ offers. In all . . . more than 400 categories, the documents indicated."
This site also gives consumer tips and links on how to get your free annual credit report.
A February 2010 report discloses Digital Signage Privacy Principles which might be a new term and a previously unexplained form of sophisticated digital information collection.
Defending privacy at the U.S. Border: a guide for travelers carrying digital devices states that “for now, a border agent has the legal authority to search your electronic devices at the border even if she has no reason to think that you’ve done anything wrong.”
It discusses such agencies as CBP, ICE, TSA. Which other countries have you recently visited before entering the United States? What other connections do you have there?
Be aware of two basic precautions: make regular backups so if your computer is ever taken, lost or destroyed you’ll still have access to your data, and encrypt the information on your computer.
It gives details on how and why. Talks about hard drives, flash drives, mobile phones, details, date and disk encryption, digital cameras. It goes into how to interact with border agents, what to say, how to behave. The appendix lists 47 sources and their links with descriptions.
You can click to download a PDF with this material. This might be something you’d want to pass along to your grown kids and friends who plan to travel this summer.
These are not just the yummy ones Ginger brings to PMUG! Read on . . .
Using Firefox: are you collecting lots and lots of cookies? See how to view history and clear what you don’t want saved. http://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/how-clear-firefox-cache Using Safari: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1677
A handy little thumb drive can hold a lot of info. But they can be misplaced, lost, mishandled. Make a plan to store them and use them. How long of a life do they have? Probably you’ll want to back one up, then buy a new one & copy over again in a few years?
An infected USB thumb drive can infect a computer. This discusses software encryption, hardware encryption. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secure_USB_drive
Oh, it was a young man’s voice on the phone, but he said, “Grandma, I’m calling from Rome and I need help.” Who wouldn’t be concerned? How did he travel so far from home? What’s going on? Asking a few questions like, “Maybe you have the wrong number. What did you say your name was? What’s your sister’s name?” Ask anything that only the real grandson could possibly know. “Give me your phone number and I’ll call you back after I ...“ Make some quick excuse and sound sort of confused. Your brain’s internal warning device is in full swing now. You’ve heard about scams like this. Don’t be cheated out of your $$$.
Facebook gives crooks the information so they can find information to pretend to be your grandchild. http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/01/16/scam-artists-using-facebook-to-target-grandparents/
Alert your grandkids about posting information on Facebook, etc that would jeopardize you or them! A good reminder now and then shows you care about their safety.
While we are bemoaning the loss of truth, honesty, and respect in the world today we of the “generation with years of experience” must continue to be relevant and responsible. It’s part of our heritage, how mama and dad raised us to be decent and trustworthy. It’s like doing push-ups for exercise. Now, we’re exercising our brains. And part of that is continuing communication. Listen and learn. Respond as best as you can!
Let your computer help you keep in touch. Let PMUG help you learn.
"A 'John Battelle,' whom I've not heard of, wrote an article sort of defending Google in doing this. Gruber disagrees with both Google and Battelle on this issue (as I do, too), and the article lists some of Battele's comments followed Gruber's response."
Jim explains, "If you're not familiar with Gruber's blog, Daring Fireball, I have a lot of respect for his opinions and comments, on this and other topics.
"Google wrote code to specifically circumvent Safari's settings, and apparently no longer does this egregious action. Google certainly has been helpful in searching for stuff on the net, but I don't appreciate sneaky actions like this on their part."
Earlier we'd looked at Cookies. Now after the upgrade to Safari 5.1 the Command + Comma command brings up a new look at Preferences > Security. Go to Privacy on the bar there to bring up Block Cookies, Limit website access, and the list of Cookies and website data. After carefully opting in to Cookies only to post to my blogs and then afterwards deleting all Cookies it was a shock to see a huge list of 595 websites which have latched on to tracking my data since upgrading to Safari this afternoon. (To see the topic of Cookies go to Labels on the right side of this home page and scroll down.)
Since starting this post I've had 35 new websites latch on to my computer. Is this the way Safari is going to behave now?
“Never” doesn’t work anymore on Safari, on Google. Not wanting to allow Cookies to establish their territories on my computer I have clicked on “Only from Sites I Visit” under Preferences > Security only when I want to post to my blogs, as is required by blogspot. Then, as soon as I’m done I’d go to Security, click Show Cookies and choose Remove All. Next, I’d promptly do Done and change Accept Cookies to “Never.” After that I could check back at any time and see that “Never” had done its job. No cookies were listed.
Now, within the past week or so, “Never” doesn’t live up to its name. A list of websites have found some unknown-to-me loophole and helped themselves to Cookies, showing up in that list. I do Remove All, and select “Never” again, and go to look at the weather, news, etc. When I check again later there’s a new crop of websites that have set up shop.
Does this have something to do with the Flash Cookies that Jim Hamm had discussed earlier? Scroll down and click on Cookies on the list of Labels on this newsblog. See the previously posted entries.
I went to the Adobe site to assure myself that the settings were still on.
Now it was time to see if people much smarter than me had experienced “Never” Cookies. To make sure only recent articles would come up I chose “Past Year” under AnyTime on the left side of the Google page after entering key words in Search.
The Apple Discussion group suggests going to Cookies.plist and deselecting AutoFill.
The Macworld forum has some complaints about Safari permitting cookies.
On Arstechnica someone mentioned a Cookies.plist in the Library.
Where is Library? Spotlight doesn’t list it. Go to Finder and click the little house icon in Places. There’s Library with a folder named Cookies. Brings up a list of Geek-talk.
So, I close here, uncertain as to the solution. Do you have ideas and experiences to share? I’m going to go and check my unwanted Cookies right now.
See yesterday's posting on Adobe Flash Cookies. Jim Hamm goes on to say, "After further exploration of this Flash cookie situation, here's something thing I've done just to see how it works out. I went to the Flash folder (~/Library/Preferences/Macromedia/Flash Player/#SharedObjects) on my hard drive and changed the settings as follows:
Original settings: jimhamm - read and write....everyone - read only
Revised settings: jimhamm - write only (Dropbox)....everyone - No access
Flash cookies perhaps can still get into the folder, but no one can access them. I'll find out if I incur any problems with these settings. So far, Flash on websites seems to work okay...after I click the 'ClicktoFlash' program. This latter program prevents Flash from loading on websites unless I want it to.
"I'm not at all worried or paranoid about Flash cookies -- I'm just doing this because I enjoy doing this kind of 'stuff' (technical term) and because I don't think Adobe should be allowing this to begin with. To a friend I said the following: 'This behavior of storing cookies doesn't seem to have anything to do with Flash.'
"He replied: 'Sure it does... the biggest customers for Flash are advertisers, and advertisers want to target you. Just follow the money.'
"I'll see how this all works out," Jim says.
The concern of Adobe Flash allowing cookies that are not controlled by your browser, to be stored is discussed in the articles here. First, second, third.
Jim Hamm sends this info: "I have read about this previously, and when I checked the cookies in my Mac using Adobe's Settings Manager (third link) I was amazed at the number of cookies I had, and I did not recognize many of the names. On several, I recognized the name but, to my remembrance (which, admittedly, can be shaky), I had never visited the website.
"I deleted all of them, and went to the Global Privacy Settings panel and set it to block all cookies. Unfortunately, it seems all this does is block a website from accessing a camera or microphone.
"I'm not clear if one can set Adobe Flash to block cookies completely and permanently. If someone does know, I'd appreciate your letting me know how to make this setting.
"As a general statement, I'm not concerned so much about cookies that I might pick up in my browser -- and I can set Safari to block cookies. Cookies do serve a useful purpose in many cases and, from what I've read, are not malware as such. But I'm not clear as to why Adobe should capture these cookies. According to the article, 'Adobe condemns the practice of using Local Storage to back up browser cookies for the purpose of restoring them later without user knowledge and express consent.' "
Flash “cookies” can be up to 100 kb. They never expire, will never be deleted automatically, and by default they don’t have to ask your permission to save all this data. There’s no easy way to delete them yourself, your browsers are not aware that they exist, so clearing Cookies and History doesn’t help. Adobe has hidden the settings in a Flash app deep in their website. Got your attention, so far?
Also, did you know you can set privacy settings for access to your camera and/or microphone on your computer? The Maintain Blog alerted me to check out Adobe’s Website Storage Panel. The page that comes up has the information from your computer already listed. You can view and make changes in Storage, Security Settings, Global Notifications Settings, and more. Reassuringly, it says, “Adobe has no access to this list or to any information that the websites may have stored on your computer. (Double click on this illustration to enlarge.)
This just in from David Passell, "Look what the regularly scheduled MacScan found this morning after yesterday's Google Chrome testing. Coincidence? Maybe not since the file path leads to Firefox/Profiles. Needless to say I will isolate (remove) it. (I'll look at that file first)." See http://macscan.securemac.com/ for Free trial.
And this from Apple, "will find, isolate, and remove spyware, keystroke loggers, and trojan horses as well as detect whether remote administration applications have been installed on a computer." Free download of MacScan 2.7 here. (Double click to enlarge screen shot.)
Remember when cookies were those yummy ones that Mama made? Cookies for the computer are something else!
Corresponding with John Carter I mentioned that "Never" doesn't seem to mean Never. Going to a website for a look before mentioning it on PMUG blog seems to have stirred up their Cookies. Deleting seemed to have taken the Cookies off, clicking Delete All, and then Allow Cookies Never didn't cancel their return. Later the Cookies were back.
Here's John's take: "This is very surprising. I haven't gone to the trouble to check if cookies come back on me - ever. So I have not experienced this problem, but it may be there nontheless. I am using Chrome as my default browser now, and you'll see my report on that in another email. I'm going to start checking for cookies on sites that I have deleted cookies on and don't revisit (pingtest.net being one) to see if those cookies return."
Soon John wrote back with more info on Cookies. "Ah-ha! I think I just discovered why you are getting those cookies. Safari has loaded the sites you visited in Top Sites. Every time you delete a cookie from a site, close Safari, and reopen (and maybe you don't even have to reopen), Top Sites might be reloading the cookies when it refreshes the list in Top Sites.
"Maybe if you clear all browsing data and your browser history from Safari after deleting cookies this will also clean out Top Sites and the problem will go away.
"But like I said, you should not choose Never for saving cookies because that will prevent you from visiting sites that require cookies to be set unless you have entered those sites in your cookie allowed list. It can be more of an inconvenience to update that list than it is to allow cookies only for sites that you visit.
"The only logical reason (logic and reason being at odds with each other) to block cookies is the fear that one of them will pass personal data to the outside world."
John continues, "Here's an excerpt from Wikipedia:
'A cookie can be used for authentication, session tracking (state maintenance), storing site preferences, shopping cart contents, the identifier for a server-based session, or anything else that can be accomplished through storing textual data.
"Cookies act as spyware simply because they can report personal information that you enter at a site such as your name, address, phone, login name, and literally anything you enter into a field except a password. That information stored by a cookie is only readable by the site that put the cookie there. That's what makes doing online banking and online purchasing safe. Such personal information is used by the site to confirm you as a returning customer. This is why you should not allow cookies to be stored on a public computer (at the library). When you connect your computer to a public LAN (at the library), your computer is protected from prying eyes simply by the fact that the server (at the library) prevents crosstalk between computers even though you are able to see all the other computers connected to that same LAN.' This needs to be confirmed by one of our Internet gurus in the club, but I believe it to be correct.
"I take serious issue with the claim that cookies can be used to track people or violate privacy concerns. Information about what kind of computer you have, what kind of operating system you use, and what kind of browser you use is not considered private information. No other information can be collected from your computer by a cookie.
"Cookies cannot infect your computer in any way."
John's conclusion is reassuring, "That being said, nothing is impossible. Just keep your operating system and your browser updated when updates are available and you'll be protected in the best possible way."