5 secure tips for mobile holiday shopping

Will you use your smartphone for online shopping this holiday season? If so, listen up.

Last year, 52% of online shoppers used their mobile device to make a purchase. There is no denying that mobile shopping is convenient and good for online commerce, but you must not forget that tapping to buy comes with risks, especially if you increasingly rely on public WiFi.

In order to educate online shoppers, this year PRIVATE WiFi has teamed up with our partners at the National Cyber Security Alliance to help consumers be safe online when using their mobile devices as they shop.

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Shop Smart This Holiday Season With Blur: Part I

small__5311724037We at Abine just introduced Blur, the world’s first all-in-one tool for managing and securing one’s information on the web. Blur generates and saves passwords, stores billing information, and quickly creates “masked” email addresses and credit cards. Plus, we’ve made sure it’s easy to use, so you can browse (and shop!) securely with minimal hassle.

If you’re planning to make an online purchase this holiday season – and more than half of people are, according to the National Retail Federation industry group – Blur can help keep your personal information secure. It’s the ideal shopping assistant!

Let’s walk through the process of using Blur to shop online at Amazon.com. These steps apply at other e-commerce sites, too. Just make sure you install the Blur extension in your web browser before getting started. Read More



The Week in Privacy

Surveys show growing concerns about online privacy

People on both sides of the Atlantic are coming around to what we at Abine have known for some time: you can’t take privacy for granted on the web.

Three-quarters of Irish adults believe online privacy is important, new Microsoft research says. And nearly 90 percent think foreign governments must respect Ireland’s privacy laws when doing business in the country.

Privacy worries appear to be mounting stateside, too. Pew’s Internet and American Life Project reported last week that 91 percent of American adults agree that they have lost control over how companies access and use their personal information.

Wyoming may become 11th state to enshrine privacy in its constitution

Wyoming may join 10 other states in establish consumer privacy protection in its constitution, the Washington Post reports.

A member of Wyoming’s legislature is sponsoring a bill that would require state law enforcement officials to prove the necessity of violating a citizen’s privacy before doing so.

“I think the problem is a general societal erosion of privacy rights,” the lawmaker, Chris Rothfuss, said.

WhatsApp implements end-to-end encryption in Android app

Messages sent in WhatsApp’s Android messaging app are now fully encrypted, the company announced this week.

The encryption technology – open-source software called Textsecure – requires a client-side key to de-encrypt messages, meaning that WhatsApp communications on Android are now all but uncrackable.

WIRED called the move “by some measures the world’s largest-ever implementation of this standard of encryption in a messaging service.” The technology will be rolled out to WhatsApp’s iOS app at a later date.

Automakers join in privacy pledge

More and more cars are being equipped with advanced connectivity technology like 4G data services – but there’s no need for drivers to worry that their privacy will be compromised.

That’s what automakers are asserting, at least. A coalition of 19 car companies sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission promising that they wouldn’t release drivers’ location data to law enforcement without a warrant – or that they’d sell that data without drivers’ express consent.

In response to the move, US Senator Ed Markey questioned the companies’ motives for collecting data at all.

“Consumers [do not have] a choice whether sensitive information is collected in the first place,” he said.

Harsh words for Uber on privacy practices

Ridesharing company Uber irked the media this week when an executive proposed digging up personal information about a journalist – and now a member of Congress is calling for scrutiny into Uber’s privacy policies.

US Senator Al Franken, in a letter to the company (PDF), dubbed its seeming disregard for media members’ privacy “troubling”.

Franken went on to say that he had “serious concerns” about the “scope, transparency and enforceability of Uber’s policies”.

Uber raised eyebrows last month when news broke of its “God View” rider-tracking tool.



Snapcash Misses Its Chance

Snapchat, which successfully taught members of the millenial generation that they do have a choice when it comes to making their data private, missed a major opportunity when launching Snapcash.

Snapchat partnered with Square to make sending money to others easy - in lieu of focusing on next-generation payments technology called “tokenization” (used by Apple’s Apple Pay and Abine’s Blur) that makes your real credit card turn into a disposable card that expires just like Snapchat’s photos do.

Just this week, Visa CEO Charles Scharf called tokenization “the single biggest change that’s been made in the payment networks over the past 15 or 20 years and maybe longer.”

The number of Blur users creating “Masked Cards” (tokenized cards) to pay merchants online without revealing their real credit card has grown by over 700 percent so far this year. And after the recent Home Depot data breach, Blur subscription rates doubled in the last two weeks.

Curious about Masked Cards? Here’s a quick video showing how they work.

How could Snapchat, which is famous for it’s disappearing photo messages, not want to introduce the disappearing tokenized credit card number as well? Especially with Apple and others making it popular?

Sometimes trendy companies miss a trend.



The Week in Privacy

A graphical look at what’s happening to your data on the web

Al-Jazeera America published an inside look into the data collection that takes place on nearly every website today. The twist? The story is presented in the form of a graphic novel.

“With more and more companies collecting more and more dots, who knows HOW they’re connecting them?” the piece asks.

Mozilla Foundation announces privacy initiatives

The nonprofit Mozilla Foundation unveiled new efforts to make the Firefox web browser more private.

Mozilla says it will seek to make Firefox work better with the Tor Project, a global server network that helps users cloak their browsing activity.

Firefox will also receive enhancements to block “invasive tracking”.

Robustness of Tor called into question after website shutdowns

In other Tor-related news, hundreds of so-called “dark net” websites were shut down by law enforcement officials in the US and Europe. Seventeen people were arrested.

The sites were accessible only from the Tor network, raising questions about how effectively the network hides users’ identities.

“How law enforcement agents were able to locate the Dark Web sites despite their use of the Tor anonymity software remains a looming mystery,” WIRED reports.

Popular apps collect surprising amount of user data

Some of the most popular Android apps gather – and then sell – lots of information about users, Carnegie Mellon researchers say.

The university this week launched an index of Android app privacy levels. The index measures both how much information apps collect and how upfront they are about their privacy policies.

Free “flashlight” apps and Angry Birds were notably poor performers in the index.

Corporate America paying more attention to privacy

Privacy is gradually becoming a higher priority for large corporations, a survey finds.

The International Association of Privacy Professionals reports that 40 percent of Fortune 1000 companies expect their privacy budgets to grow in 2015.

Nonetheless, consumers should still advocate for the protection of their personal information, IAPP president J. Trevor Hughes told Ars Technica.

“Consumers have a role to play, whether explicitly in demanding that the organizations that they do business with are paying attention, or implicitly, in that organizations have to consider their interest when building a new product or service,” Hughes said.