Nov 23

The Last Progress Report

Abstract

We are on the final stretch of the project. All that is left to do is finish creating the videos about the privacy and security over Thanksgiving when I have access to my Windows 8 computer. Once everything is uploaded to my website and a video hosting site like YouTube, I will share them and spread them across multiple social networking sites besides Twitter while keeping my own self protected of course. To prepare for the showcasing of my Privacurity project, I will make sure I have a setup that will play all of my videos and I will make sure to answer any and all questions from the viewers.

Report

Hello again everyone. It looks like we are approaching the end of the Privacurity project. Once I finish up the final touches, I hope that I do accomplish my main goal of informing a large number of people about the privacy and security issues that come with the technology we use every day. What I have done since the last report was create two videos for both Windows 7 and Web Browsers with the help of VLC and Audacity. Once I go home for Thanksgiving, I will record the videos for Windows 8 and iPhone using a program called AirServer. My final job after that is to host all of my videos on my website and upload them to YouTube for everyone to see and learn the dangers and workarounds for themselves.

Once everything is up and good to go, I will use more social media other than just Twitter to get my project out there even more and possible change something. I will be happy as long as I am able to inform just one person on the project. The Showcase approaches as well and I don’t have to do much prepping for that since all of my videos and information will be on my site ready for everyone to view as they stop by to see my project. It’s also my first time participating in Showcase, so I will make sure I can answer any questions about my project that they throw at me.

Nov 11

Project Update! iPhone and iCloud

Abstract

For this update to the Priva-Curity project, I researched how the iPhone tracks your location with Location Services and the ads on the web browser app. I also found some information on how the iCloud hackers from last year manage to hack the celebrities accounts and how there is basically no real security on iCloud. I’ve been having some trouble with my computer lately, so I decided to do the videos as soon as possible. I also decided to remove Android phones from the project because I wanted to focus on Adobe Flash.

Report

Hello once again for another Priva-Curity project update. Forgive me for not posting last week. I was having troubles with the laptop that I have with me, but it is all fixed now. If you recall, I said I would have worked on both the iPhone and iCloud by the next post, so let’s begin with Apple’s wonderful products.

The iPhone is similar to the other smartphones out on the market today. The web browser app comes installed on the phone tracks all of the ads that you click on web using it along with the other basic web browser tracking methods. In order to make sure that you always find your iPhone from wherever you are, you have to keep Location Services on, so that you can use the “Find My iPhone app.” The majority of the apps you download also ask for Location Services to be on for you to use some of the features. Unlike Windows 10, the A.I. Siri doesn’t have to know everything about you in order to be used, so that is a plus.

For the iCloud, all of the data stored in the cloud is encrypted with 128-bit AES encryption. That makes you feel safe that everything is protected, but the hackers of iCloud from last year who released a lot personal photos from celebrities only used about 20,000 passwords before getting into an account. 20,000 different passwords may seem like a lot, but it actually isn’t. After that incident, Apple decided to send notifications to devices and e-mails if your iCloud is being accessed elsewhere. That doesn’t really prevent you from getting hack, so there isn’t much you can do until Apple decides to actually put up some security.

There wasn’t much to research and experiment with because of how Apple is rather low key with their view on security and privacy. What’s next is actually putting together multiple videos on how you go about protecting yourself and how you can improve your online security. I finally decided what part of the project to replace since Adobe Flash was a rather important topic and I wanted to focus on that. Android Phones is what I removed only because I believe I covered most of the smartphone security and privacy problems with the iPhone. I also wanted to start on the video making as early as possible because I am still having a bit of trouble with my computer, so expect to see some videos and tutorials soon.

Oct 28

Web Browser Progress Report

Abstract

For this week, I ended up researching Adobe Flash, Google Chrome, and the Hola browser extension. Adobe Flash had some security problems that let hackers install malware when and old version of Flash is in use. Chrome doesn’t need your permission when updating and it tracks the majority before sending it to Google. Hola selling your bandwidth in order to make a profit and users share IP addresses with each other. Next up, is research on Apple’s iCloud and iPhone and following that is research on the Android phones.

Report

Last week, I stated that I would be researching Google Chrome and Adobe Flash next. Well, I found out some interesting information while also researching something else. First, I shall begin with Adobe Flash. Back in July 2015, some problems with Flash came forth after a group of hackers called the Hacking Team decided to leak a lot of data. The leak was approximately 400GB of emails, invoices, and more. The vulnerability of Flash could allow more hackers to crash systems, take control of them, and plant malware. This can all happened when you have an out of date Adobe Flash and happen to do something Flash related on the web. For example, watching a video or playing FarmVille could give a hacker access to your computer. Adobe mentioned that if other problems with Flash came up, they would deal with them when they appeared. That implies they know another security problem will appear in the future and it did, but the problems were the same as before.

For Google Chrome, there are a number of problems, but I feel like every web browser also has these problems. One of the problems is similar to what I talked about with the Windows Operating Systems. Chrome tracks all of your data and sends it back to Google for storage. They also track whatever you type in the address bar even if you don’t hit the Enter key. For some reason, Chrome doesn’t need your permission for quite a few things, like updating the browser.

The final digital tool that I did some last minute research on was Hola. Hola is a browser extension that acts as a free VPN or virtual private network. I always thought that this extension was bit strange because VPNs are usually a monthly subscription. Well, turns out that Hola was making money off all of the users who had it install in their browser or on their computer by selling their bandwidth. This means they are basically reselling something that you are paying for and what makes it worse is that you share it with all of the other users. So, what if someone does something illegal on your IP address? The answer is that you would be the one to get caught if the authorities tried to track you.

I know this is a lot to taken in, but the project is still going. Up next, I will be researching iCloud and the iPhone followed by the Android the week after.

Oct 16

Progress from Fall Break

Abstract

Since my last report, I have messed around with both Windows 8 and Windows 10. I’ve discovered the Diagnostic Tracking Service in Windows 8 that gather a lot of your data and encrypts it before sending to Microsoft. Windows 10 has an AI called Cortana that needs a lot of your data in order to be used to it’s full potential. This upcoming weekend, I will be researching Adobe Flash and the Google Chrome web browser and then after that I will be focusing on the iPhone and the iCloud.

Report

This past weekend, I managed to get some more research for my Privacy/Security project done. As you know, I was tasked to research Windows 8 and Windows 10 and I found out that after Windows 10’s release, Windows 8 and Windows 7 were given some suspicious files when you used Windows Update. One of them was the Diagnostics Tracking service and it is known that it sends your data, encrypted, somewhere and stores it for Microsoft.

Windows 10 has some questionable questionable settings that makes some people worried. To begin with the simple stuff, Windows 10 automatically updates the system instead of letting the user choose when to update like the past operating systems. At first, this seems like a splendid idea because it is more convenient to let the Operating System do everything, but what if the OS somehow installs some more hidden files like the ones I mentioned earlier? You won’t be able to remove the update since it will always update to the current one.

Windows 10 also tries to make the user use the apps installed instead of other programs that would use from the internet and  the AI, Cortana, pulls data from your text messages, e-mails, location history, browsing history because it needs to know more about the user to know how to react to them. Microsoft even created a FAQ for Cortana because people were so worried about their privacy and why this AI needed so much of your data.

Up next on my to do list for this project is web browsers. However, I am only going to be focused on Google Chrome because I have finally decided to take a look at Adobe Flash for this project. You probably have already heard about the security problems that Flash has during this past summer. Apparently, Flash still hasn’t fixed those problems, so they are back in the news again and that would fit pretty well in this project. Once I have completed that this weekend, I will then move on to the Apple iPhone and the iCloud.

To conclude, Microsoft has been doing some pretty sketchy stuff with their Operating Systems causing people to actually start caring about their security and privacy online also with the devices they use. Stay tuned for Flash and Google Chrome next week!

Oct 07

Privacy Project Progress Report

Abstract

I managed to do a lot of research and experimenting with Windows 7 these past two weeks, but I only managed to find out that two Gadgets were pretty harmful to the users and to their computers. If anyone were to take control of these Gadgets, they would be able to force the user to download malicious content and even gain access to the files to all of the files on the computer. My Windows 8 and 10 research and experimentation will begin this upcoming weekend with Fall Break and will be finished by the time I arrive back on campus on Tuesday and I think it would be good idea to research Adobe Flash for my project since it was reported to have a lot of security problems last summer.

Report

Only two weeks into my Privacy Project and I’ve just finished up the research and experimentation on the Windows 7 portion of the project and I will begin the research and experimentation with Windows 8 then upcoming weekend. I found some rather interesting information about the operating system. If you were a Windows 7 user, you may have used some of the Gadgets that were preinstalled on every computer with operating system. There are Gadgets for weather, RAM usage, CPU usage, currency, and more, but only two of these had some real security issues. Microsoft found out that weather and currency gadgets could be used to run a code to take control of the current user of the computer with Gadgets active. The attacker could then use the computer’s administrative rights to create or install even more malicious Gadgets. These Gadgets also have complete access to every file on the computer and some can even bring up some distasteful information and content, thus bringing harm to your computer.

Even though Microsoft has stopped supporting these Gadgets, they can still be found and activated on your computer if it has Windows 7. I find that a bit strange because if it was so harmful, why didn’t they just remove them all together with a Windows Update?

In my proposal, I said that I would be recording all of my research and experimentation along the way, but I think it is best if I save all of that after I finish researching and experimenting with each operating system, cloud service, phone, etc. The reason why I decided to that is because I am also learning about new issues as I go along and I want to make sure that I am knowledgeable enough to create an educational video.

As I briefly mentioned earlier, I will be working on Windows 8 this upcoming weekend. Only because my computer with Windows 8 installed on it is off campus, so I will be using Fall Break to mess around with it. I will also work with the Windows 10 computer at my home as well since it will be difficult for me to do so on campus.

Before I conclude this progress report, I would like to say that I am thinking about researching Adobe Flash. You may have heard about the security issues with Flash over the summer and how a lot of websites switched over to an alternative like HTML5. I think it would be interesting to add that into the project since it happened fairly recently and some don’t even know when they are using Flash, but I may need to take something out of the project for it. I will put some more thought into it, but that concludes this progress report and I will be back soon with another progress report.

Dec 19

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