Tag Archives: roundup

Privacy Roundup #7 of 2013

August is upon us and summer in the northern hemisphere is in full swing. And although it seems like yesterday, news of PRISM broke several months ago and Edward Snowden continues to be firmly in the conversation. Further, the US government has been under relentless pressure from foreign governments, congressmen, senators, and companies for what many consider a very intrusive information gathering policy.

For this roundup we did try to include some links to news other then the aforementioned but – as you can tell below – we still felt obligated to include several PRISM / NSA related coverage as the associated privacy issues are still significant.

Click away and catch up on some of what has been going on in the world of online privacy and security in the last month:

From our perspective, we are happy to see a national and international debate rising around privacy and its growing importance in the online world in which we live. This will be a significant issue of our time as we need to understand where lines should be drawn and who is responsible for drawing them. Finding a fitting quote to end this privacy roundup with was not a terribly difficult task in light of this recent news.

“Big Brother is Watching You.” ― George Orwell, 1984

Privacy Roundup #6 of 2013

Summer is officially in full swing in the northern hemisphere. For us Americans that means a celebration of fireworks and cookouts and freedom. This year in particular we are thinking a little more about what ‘freedom’ means in the backdrop of PRISM and its impacts on our society.

It is a complicated issue for sure as we all want to live in a safe place – away from harm and terror. However, we also need to be fully aware of the costs and what we are willing to give up to achieve this safety. It is a dialogue that is finally entering the public discourse and one that we hope will continue in the weeks and months ahead.

This edition of the Privacy Roundup serves up a collection of the most interesting, eye opening and informational news pieces and blog posts on the topic of privacy and of course focus on the late breaking news around the growing Snowden/PRISM scandal:

The weekly quote for this roundup may have to be from “Cosmo” the lovable blind hacker from the 1992 movie “Sneakers” – “There’s a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it’s not about who’s got the most bullets. It’s about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think… it’s all about the information!”

As always, we hope you have a productive and private month ahead! Until next time…

Privacy Roundup: PRISM Special Edition

May has rolled into June and summer is fast approaching. Originally I had planned for this privacy update to be another collection of somewhat random links regarding the world of security and privacy. And then… We had Thursday. And then PRISM. And it seemed only right to gather as much information, opinion and material as possible around PRISM and make it available to our readers.

But what is PRISM?

This far in, all anyone can tell for sure is that PRISM is the name of a data collection model and technology solution that improves speed and simplicity in allowing NSA and possibly other US agencies to access user data from a large number of the worlds most popular online services. (Including Google, Skype, Microsoft, Facebook etc.)

It seems the program in itself actually does not introduce any new laws, or even break any current ones. What it does however is enables a more effective way for the NSA to request and receive private user data. And of course, this makes it ripe for speculation as to what this ‘new’ stream lined procurement process is being used for and how.

One of the most informative posts as to the model, use, and participants ironically enough comes from the NSA themselves (via Washington Post) and can be found here:

NSA slides explain the PRISM data-collection program

If you desire to dig a bit deeper into PRISM, what people are saying / thinking, and what companies may or may not have been directly involved, here are a collection of what we found to be the most informative links on the subject from the last several days:

Though we will be elaborating on the PRISM program in relation to SpiderOak in a separate blog post,  I can say definitively that our users’ data is encrypted client-side, uploaded, and stored in its fully encrypted state which means we  are never able to view plaintext user content under any circumstances. In short, PRISM would be wholly and entirely useless in the SpiderOak context. 

To Note: We also have yet to even be contacted by any agency regarding the program – surely a result of our ‘Zero-Knowledge’ privacy environment. After all, encrypted data is rather useless for conducting data mining activity.

In light of recent news and the topic for this special roundup I think it’s only fitting we sign off with this quote of the week:

He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” – George Orwell in 1984


Security, Privacy & Encryption 101 Roundup

As you know, privacy and security is not something we take lightly. In our efforts to help educate our fellow humans on their importance and the role they play in our lives on and offline, we’ve compiled the below list of recent news, resources and tips.

[For the past few weeks we've focused on encryption. If you missed them: Just Because It's Encrypted Doesn't Mean It's Private and Encryption 101.]

If you would like to share links or resources we’ve missed, we encourage you to do so below.

May Highlight


News & Information



Interesting Reads



  • Don’t send sensitive information over the Internet before checking a website’s security
  • Pay attention to the URL of a website. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs. .net)
  • Install and maintain anti-virus software, firewalls, and email filters to reduce suspicious traffic
  • Don’t use passwords that are based on personal information that can be easily accessed or guessed
  • Use both lowercase and capital letters in your passwords
  • Use different passwords on different systems
  • Do business with credible companies
  • Do not use your primary email address in online submissions
  • Devote one credit card to online purchases
  • Encrypting data is a good way to protect sensitive information. It ensures that the data can only be read by the person who is authorized to have access to it
  • Use two-factor authentication if available (coming soon to SpiderOak)
  • Back up all of your data on a regular basis

Privacy Roundup #5 of 2013

Time marches on and it is hard to believe the first four months of the year have now come to a close. The month of April has been a big one for SpiderOak as we have released our long awaited 5.0 client including our newest feature ‘Hive’ as well as Explorer integration for Windows and our newly redesigned 2.0 iOS application (with Android currently in Beta).

In world news it can be noted that the Crypto Coin craze is still going strong with Bitcoins (btc) hovering above $100 and companies such as Butterfly Labs and Avalon shipping more and more advanced equipment for mining cryptographic currencies (more on this and privacy and security implications of crypto currencies in a future post). The world has seen the rise and possibly fall of CISPA once more, and the debate on surveilance drones rages on.

For this Privacy Roundup we have as usual hand picked some interesting tidbits from the news, so stay vigilant and check out some of what we felt was important in the last few weeks:

Well that about sums it up. This week we sign off with a quote from Sean Parker’s character from the movie “The Social Network”: “We lived on farms, then we lived in cities, and now we’re going to live on the internet!”.

As always, we hope you have a productive and private month ahead!

Privacy Roundup #4 of 2013

It is now March 28th and the 4th Privacy Roundup is upon us. As the year marches forward so too are we seeing an exploding number of events involving the importance and necessity of privacy. From increased surveillance efforts to the financial crisis in Cyprus to the rise of Bitcoin and Litecoin as crypto-currency alternatives, privacy awareness is making headlines and raising eyebrows.

On a slightly different note but worth mentioning, we at SpiderOak are in the last phases of a major 5.0 release which will include exciting new features, bug fixes, and functionality updates. Additionally, we will be launching our mobile 2.0 effort which makes the ‘on-the-go’ experience much more powerful. Exciting times indeed…

As always, below find a cured selection of privacy and security related news from across the globe:

Google Takes the Dark Path, Censors AdBlock Plus on Android.

Smart Homes: Our Next Digital Privacy Nightmare.

Web advertisers attack Mozilla for protecting consumers’ privacy.

Cisco switches to weaker hashing scheme, passwords cracked wide open.

Viruses, Trojans, and worms, oh my: The basics on malware.

Privacy 101: Skype Leaks Your Location.

New Google Chrome Spell Checker Monitors Everything You Type, While FBI Secretly Watches.

One in six Amazon S3 storage buckets are ripe for data-plundering.

This week we are closing out with a meta-quote from the movie ‘Hackers’, where one of the main characters can be found quoting Ozzy Ozbourne’s famous: “Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most”. Sending our best wishes for a great April ahead.

Privacy Roundup #3 of 2013

The third privacy roundup of 2013 is upon us. And much has happened in the security and privacy space.

Here at SpiderOak we have certainly been busy between throwing an event around RSA 2013, working on exciting new features for the application and launching Crypton (our ‘zero-knowledge’ application framework) – allowing any developer to build ‘zero-knowledge’ privacy applications.

So with no further ado, please enjoy this additional selection of privacy and security related news below:

Apple iCloud censoring ‘Barely Legal Teen’ emails.(SFW)

Google accused of privacy violations yet again.

The Problem With Google Glass: People Wearing Them Can Record You Without You Knowing.

Ragtime: Code name of NSA’s Secret Domestic Intelligence Program Revealed in New Book.

INFOGRAPHIC: Managing Mobile Privacy.

Bypassing Googles two-factor authentication..

And for this weeks closing quote, a little William Blake’s America: A Prophecy: “Fiery the angels rose, and as they rose deep thunder roll’d. Around their shores: indignant burning with the fires of Orc.”

Privacy Roundup # 2 of 2013

We are back for the second privacy roundup of this new year 2013. And not surprisingly, there are still a flood of privacy issues being talked about and revealed.

At SpiderOak we continue the cause by working diligently to improve our overall service offering, build new and exciting features (including a new mobile application, a ‘SpiderOak Folder’ which will closely resemble a dropbox but private, and increased OS integration – all which will be launched this month) and planning an innovative new event around the RSA conference in San Francisco on February 25th. Actually – at the event we will be unveiling a new ‘zero-knowledge’ application framework that will push privacy further into the web.

More on all of these wonderful new topics to come. Back to the main focus of this post, please find a few stories that caught our eye and are around the topic so dear to our hearts – privacy. Enjoy and – as always – please feel free to send thoughts / ideas / reactions!

The Creepy Details of Facebook’s New Graph Search

Yes, U.S. authorities can spy on EU cloud data. Here’s how

Google Will Fight Government Over Access To Your Emails

Path fined $800,000 by FTC over iOS privacy breach

FTC calls on Apple, Google, Microsoft and BlackBerry to improve mobile privacy disclosures

Are You Guilty of Oversharenting? Why We Owe Our Kids Online Privacy.

In closing with a quote: “The future is not set. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.” – Sarah Connor, Terminator 2

The first Privacy Roundup of 2013

Another year has passed and we are ushering in another year of technological breakthroughs, computer crashes, storage problems and of course security and privacy issues. Fortuitous then that we bring you the first privacy roundup of the new year, filled with informative and interesting news from around our globe.

As usual you will find a wealth of information on privacy and security below, and just like always we look forward to your feedback.

Facebook chose Bing over Google because of privacy concerns

At Disney Parks, a Bracelet Meant to Build Loyalty (and Sales)

Chips off the old block;
Tracking children has never been easier. Nice for parents, not for privacy

Yahoo! Mail makes HTTPS available.

Silent Circle Adds Android For Encrypted Voice And Video Calls.

After a year in the grave, can SOPA and Protect IP return?

As always, Live long and Prosper!

Privacy Roundup – Holiday Edition

In time for the Holiday Season we bring you the 4th edition of our ‘Privacy Roundup’. We are happy to report that the end of 2012 has brought with it a focus on privacy in Washington and can only hope it is a sign for things to come in the new year. In the meantime – however – here is another list of advice, news, tips and tricks to help you stay on the path to privacy as we enter 2013.

Presented below are the most eye opening and informative writings on the topic of online privacy over the last few weeks:


On Privacy: It’s Not What I’m Hiding (Or Not Hiding) That Matters

Technology built into mannequins helping stores track customers

It’s Time to Modernize our Privacy Law

Hacker locates John McAfee through smartphone tracks

Get Ready for Ads that Follow You from One Device to the Next

Black boxes in cars raise privacy concerns

Trust you all will have a wonderful & happy Holiday Season and looking forward to continuing the dialog.

Until then and in the slightly altered words of Ron Burgundy – “Stay ‘private’ my friends…”