Internet Security

Devcon raises $4.5M to beef up adtech security

Adtech cybersecurity company Devcon announced today that it has raised $4.5 million in seed funding. Over the past couple of years, ad fraud has become a bigger concern in the industry, but Devcon co-founder and CEO Maggie Louie said most existing solutions focus on things like verifying ad quality and confirming that impressions aren’t coming…


Adtech cybersecurity company Devcon announced today that it has raised $4.5 million in seed funding.

Over the past couple of years, ad fraud has become a bigger concern in the industry, but Devcon co-founder and CEO Maggie Louie said most existing solutions focus on things like verifying ad quality and confirming that impressions aren’t coming from bots. Devcon, in contrast, functions more like “a Norton AntiVirus of adtech,” preventing attempts by bad actors who are “using adtech as a catalyst to attack consumers and companies.”

In other words, Louie said Devcon works with ad networks and publishers to “eliminate 99 percent of the nefarious things that are maki

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Internet Security

Facebook is launching political ad checks in Nigeria, Ukraine, EU and India in coming months

Facebook is launching some of its self-styled ‘election security’ initiatives into more markets in the coming months ahead of several major votes in countries around the world. In an interview with Reuters the social networking giant confirmed it’s launching checks on political adverts on its platform in Nigeria, Ukraine and the European Union, reiterating too that…


Facebookis launching some of its self-styled ‘election security’ initiatives into more markets in the coming months ahead of several major votes in countries around the world.

In an interview with Reuters the social networking giant confirmed it’s launching checks on political adverts on its platform in Nigeria, Ukraine and the European Union, reiterating too that ad transparency measures will launch in India ahead of its general election.

Although it still hasn’t confirmed how it will respond in other countries with looming votes this year, including Australia, Indonesia, Israel and the Philippines.

Concern about election interference in the era of mass social media has stepped up sharply since revelations about the volume of disinformation targeted at the 2016 U.S. presidential election (and amplified by Facebook et al).

More than two years later Facebook’s approach to election security remains ad hoc, with different policy and transparency components being launched in different markets — as it says it’s still in a learning mode.

It also claims its variable approach reflects local laws and conversations wi

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Internet Security

Some US government websites won’t load after HTTPS certificates expire during shutdown

In a government shutdown, everything deemed non-essential stops. As we found out, renewing the certificates on its websites is considered non-essential. Several government sites are currently inaccessible or blocked by most browsers after their HTTPS certificate expired. With nobody available to renew them during the government shutdown, these sites are kicking back warning errors. According…


In a government shutdown, everything deemed non-essential stops. As we found out, renewing the certificates on its websites is considered non-essential.

Several government sites are currently inaccessible or blocked by most browsers after their HTTPS certificate expired. With nobody available to renew them during the government shutdown, these sites are kicking back warning errors.

According to Netcraft, a U.K.-based internet security services company, many government domains can’t be accessed until someone fixes the certificates. Some sites, like one Justice Department subdomain, are at the time of writing completely inaccessible because the domain is included in Chrome’s HSTS preload list, used by browsers to force browsers into using HTTPS only when accessing pages on the domain.

Others, li

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Internet Security

Europe dials up pressure on tech giants over election security

The European Union has announced a package of measures intended to step up efforts and pressure on tech giants to combat democracy-denting disinformation ahead of the EU parliament elections next May. The European Commission Action Plan, which was presented at a press briefing earlier today, has four areas of focus: 1) Improving detection of disinformation; 2)…


The European Unionhas announced a package of measures intended to step up efforts and pressure on tech giants to combat democracy-denting disinformation ahead of the EU parliament elections next May.

The European Commission Action Plan, which was presented at a press briefing earlier today, has four areas of focus: 1) Improving detection of disinformation; 2) Greater co-ordination across EU Member States, including by sharing alerts about threats; 3) Increased pressure on online platforms, including to increase transparency around political ads and purge fake accounts; and 4) raising awareness and critical thinking among EU citizens.

The Commission says 67% of EU citizens are worried about their personal data being used for political targeting, and 80% want improved transparency around how much political parties spend to run campaigns on social media.

And it warned today that it wants to see rapid action from online platforms to deliver on pledges they’ve already made to fight fake news and election interference.

The EC’s plan follows a voluntary Code of Practice launched two months ago, which signed up tech giants including Facebook, Google and Twitter, along with some ad industry players, to some fairly fuzzy commitments to combat the spread of so-called ‘fake news’.

They also agreed to hike transparency around political advertising. But efforts so far remain piecemeal, with — for example — no EU-wide roll out of Facebook’spolitical ads disclosure system.

Facebook has only launched political ad identification checks plus an archive library of ads in the US, Brazil and the UK so far, leaving the rest of the world to rely on the more limited ‘view ads’ functionality that it has rolled out globally.

The EC said it will be stepping up its monitoring of platforms’ efforts to combat election interference — with the new plan including “continuous” monitoring.

This will take the form of monthly progress reports, starting with a Commission progress report in January and then monthly reports thereafter (against what it slated as “very specific targets”) to ensure signatories are actually purging and disincentivizing bad actors and inauthentic content from their platform, not just saying they’re going to.

As we reported in September the Code of Practice looked to be a pretty dilute first effort. But ongoing progress reports could at least help concentrate minds — coupled with the ongoing threat of EU-wide legislation if platforms fail to effectively self-regulate.

Digital economy and society commissioner Mariya Gabrielsaid the EC would have “measurable and visible results very soon”, warning platforms: “We need greater transparency, greater responsibility both on the content, as well as the political approach.”

Security union commissioner, Julian King, came in even harder on tech firms — warning that the EC wants to see “real progress

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Internet Security, Social Media

8 Tips to Protect Your Browsing Privacy

Online privacy is a hot topic recently with the influx of news stories about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica possibly misusing…

Online privacy is a hot topic recently with the influx of news stories about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica possibly misusing users data. Although the news stories are highlighting to people just how much Facebook knows about them, they are not the only company that keeps track of things you do online!

Virtually every interaction that takes place in a web browser is tracked in some way. There are many ways in which you are tracked online, IP address, browser cookies, HTTP referrer headers, browser fingerprints and user agents. All of these things make it possible to trace everything you do online.

Unfortunately, the majority of people are happy to hand out way too much information about themselves too – their location, their relationships and much more online.

For some users, browsing privacy is only just becoming a priority when they are online. Fortunately, we have compiled some tips, add-ons/browser extensions to try and minimize the amount of information available about you and your browsing habits.

 

Stop oversharing – Take your browsing privacy seriously

 

Our first and most obvious tip, stop oversharing your information online willingly! Whenever you disclose information online it is there forever. Whether this is on facebook, twitter or other social media try to simply not share information that is not relevant.

Simply customizing your social media settings to restrict who can see what you share is a good starting place.

Turning off location tracking in apps and your google account settings should be your next step.

Unfortunately, information shared willingly only scratches the surface of data that is stored about you online.

 

“Do Not Track”

 

All modern web browsers have the ability to toggle on a “do not track” option. This option is a W3C standard that tells websites, when enabled, to stop their user-tracking and disable cross-site user tracking.

An example of this would be targeted adverts. If you have ever been browsing for an item, an electric toothbrush, for example, you may have noticed that for weeks after you see lots of adverts or more electric toothbrushes. This example would not happen if a user had the “do not track” option enabled in their browser.

 

Ad Blockers

 

To avoid seeing adverts and many user tracking scripts at all you can simply install an ad blocker. There are many options available to you, common and powerful choices are Ad Block Plus (https://adblockplus.org/) and uBlock Origin (https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock).

 

Disable browser scripts

 

A slightly more aggressive way of blocking user tracking scripts is to install a browser add-on/extension that disables them all by default. No Script (https://noscript.net/) and ScriptSafe (https://www.andryou.com/scriptsafe/) are the most common options available.

By default, these extensions will block all Java, JavaScript, Flash and other tracking scripts generated by the site you are visiting. This “white list” approach can break some website until you enable certain scripts but it does give you the freedom and security of having everything off by default.

 

Become an online ghost with Ghostery – https://www.ghostery.com

 

Ghostery is a browser extensions/add-on that provides a safer way to browse online. It offers a wide range of features such as enhanced ad-blocking, enhanced anti-tracking, and smart blocking. By default, it blocks thousands of known user tracking scripts. Ghostery offers control over your browsing privacy by allowing you to run individual tracking scripts if for some reason you need them.

 

HTTPS Everywhere – https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere

 

HTTPS Everywhere is another browser extension/add-on that encrypts your data sent to many major websites.

Although most communication to websites nowadays is done through HTTPS, some information you send may sneak through in an unsecured, un-encrypted form. This is where HTTPS Everywhere steps in – It steps in and takes these unsecured HTTP requests and encrypts them.

 

Mozilla Facebook container – https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/facebook-container/

 

Following on from recent news stories, the Mozilla foundation has launched their Facebook container. When installed it will delete all of your previous Facebook cookies and ask you to log in using the container tab. It acts like a normal browser tab but with one important difference – Any Facebook activities are isolated from other browser activity.

Any websites with embedded Facebook widgets, such as like or share buttons will not work as your account login is contained inside the Facebook container tab. This makes it so that Facebook loses the ability to track your browsing activity outside of Facebook. A simple yet efficient way of restoring some browsing privacy to your daily Facebook session!

 

VPN (Virtual Private Network)

 

In one of our previous articles – Do I need a VPN for 2018 We discussed the pros of a VPN for the average user. The main point that we took from the article was that by having a VPN you are ensuring that all your online browsing information is invisible to your ISP.

A VPN will stop your ISP spying on your online browsing activities but is not a golden bullet to online browsing privacy. Using a (reputable!) VPN in conjunction with some of the add-ons/extensions mentioned in this article would be a very powerful combination to stay safe online.

 

 

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