I found an Amazon folder with thousands of audio recordings from my home gadgets

A woman was shocked to discover just how much data Amazon has collected about her.

She posted a viral TikTok video explaining how she requested to see the data but wasn’t expecting to receive so much.

TikToker my.data.not.yours explained: “I requested all the data Amazon has on me and here’s what I found.”

She revealed that she has three Amazon smart speakers.

Two are Amazon Dot speakers and one is an Echo device.

Her home also contains smart bulbs.

She said: “When I downloaded the ZIP file these are all the folders it came with.”

The TikToker then clicked on the audio file and revealed thousands of short voice clips that she claims Amazon has collected from her smart speakers.

She described them as “so scary” and played one of her talking about turning on a light.

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The VPN Empire Built By Intelligence Agents

For many people, a VPN is accepted as being their best bet for protecting their data and online privacy. While cyber security is certainly a concern for them, most VPN users aren’t exactly adept when it comes to information technology. Like any consumer, they typically err on the side of using a trusted name within the industry. In many ways, ExpressVPN is that standard-bearer. Since it began in 2009, ExpressVPN has signed up millions of users for its service under the promise that it does everything from encrypting data on their internet browser to masking their IP address in order to protect users against hackers and government surveillance.

What most of the 3 million users who currently use ExpressVPN probably weren’t aware of when they signed up is that the service proves the point that hackers and government surveillance aren’t mutually exclusive. On September 13th, ExpressVPN was sold to the Israeli-based company Kape Technologies in a $936 million cash and stock purchase. This acquisition added ExpressVPN to a catalog including several other VPN providers acquired by Kape Technologies since 2017. The acquiring company touted its purchase as being integral to defining the next generation in its fight for online privacy. However, the centralization the VPN services Kape Technologies owns and an examination of its history reveals the company’s efforts to undermine that very cause as a distributor of malware with ties to US and Israeli intelligence operations.

Kape Technologies was founded in 2011 by partners Koby Menachemi and Shmueli Ahdut under the name CrossRider. Early in its origins, CrossRider did not bill itself as a cyber security company. Instead, the focus of the company was on web browsing and advertising technologies. Just 20 months after its founding, the tech start-up with $2 million in working capital was purchased by Israeli tech billionaire Teddy Sagi for $37 million. Menachemi and Ahdut would stay on at the company as its CEO and CTO following the purchase. With the injection of capital that Sagi’s purchase put into the company, CrossRider pivoted its operations to change the scope of its outlook toward cyber security. In 2017, CrossRider cemented that change of direction when it purchased CyberGhost VPN for $10.4 million. Upon its acquisition of the Romanian-based VPN, CrossRider rebranded itself as Kape Technologies.

While CrossRider’s rebrand appeared to be a common tactic by a company marking a shift in its outlook as it made its first foray into cyber security, the basis of the change was rooted in a much different motive. By the time CrossRider had acquired CyberGhost VPN, the adware programs the company designed had been exposed as hacking tools. By attaching its adware to third party downloads, CrossRider was able to install potentially unwanted programs which attached to web browsers as spyware. Microsoft, Symantec MalwareBytes, and other cyber security websites categorized CrossRider’s malware program Crossid as a browser hijacker which collected user information such as browser information to IP addresses in order to monetize data for its value in targeted ad campaigns. With the CrossRider name being attached to this malicious spyware, the company was putting its newest VPN asset in jeopardy. In order to avoid losing users of CyberGhostVPN, rebranding to Kape Technologies was a measure designed to obfuscate the companies history as an entity producing malware programs which were antithetical to the interest of data security. The rebrand proved to effectuate the new image the company sought as it would go on to acquire additional VPN services years before its 2021 purchase of ExpressVPN. In 2018, Kape Technologies acquired Zenmate for $5.5 million and then Private Internet Access for $95 million in 2019.

With its growing portfolio, Kape Technologies had become increasingly more visible. Its umbrella of ownership centralizing multiple VPNs was a red flag for many who placed value in cyber security. Under growing scrutiny, the concerning origins of the company’s founders came to light. It was revealed that Koby Menachemi, Kape Technologies co-founder and former CEO, began his career in information technologies while serving in the Israeli Defense Forces. Menachemi worked as a developer in the Israeli Intelligence Corps under Unit 8200. That division of the IDF was responsible for collecting signal intelligence and data decryption. Its alumni are estimated to have founded over 1,000 tech startups. Companies founded by former operatives of Unit 8200 include Waze, Elbit Systems, and slews of other startups who have since been acquired by the likes of Kodak, PayPal, Facebook, and Microsoft.

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Company That Routes Billions of Text Messages Quietly Says It Was Hacked

A company that is a critical part of the global telecommunications infrastructure used by AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and several others around the world such as Vodafone and China Mobile, quietly disclosed that hackers were inside its systems for years, impacting more than 200 of its clients and potentially millions of cellphone users worldwide. 

The company, Syniverse, revealed in a filing dated September 27 with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission that an unknown “individual or organization gained unauthorized access to databases within its network on several occasions, and that login information allowing access to or from its Electronic Data Transfer (EDT) environment was compromised for approximately 235 of its customers.”

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12 best private search engines to use

Do you think searching on Google merely in incognito mode actually keeps your searches private? Not really. No matter which search engines you use, your searches are never private unless you seek more secure alternatives.

When someone refers to search engines, you can safely assume they are talking about Google. As of June 2021 statistics, it attracts 95.08% of mobile search traffic worldwide. While the laptop/desktop share of Google stands at a slightly lower number being 87.32%, it is still the leading search engine there, too.

According to the industry estimates by the Internet Live Stats, Google handles almost 3.5 billion searches a day on average. And the number of people using the search giant daily comes to more or less 1.7 billion.

These stats show how dominant Google is in the market. Also, this hints at the potential treasure trove of data Google holds because, as you’d already know, it tracks your searches.

But that doesn’t make it the only search engine responsible for breaching users’ privacy. Rather, the relatively less popular tools like Yahoo, Bing, and others also practice the same money-making strategy, i.e., monetizing users’ data.

Precisely, all the top search engines like Google serve as data compilation tools for advertising companies helping them go on you with targeted ads.

Therefore, unless you use a secure search engine, your information ends up in the hand of a third party, and you (the user) becomes the product.

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LAPD Orders Cops To Collect Social Media Data On Every Single Person They Stop

Los Angeles police officers have been directed to collect social media information on every civilian they interview, including people who haven’t been arrested or accused of a crime, according to the Guardian, citing leaked records.

According to the report, “field interview cards” used by LAPD officers contain instructions to record a civilian’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other social media accounts – along with basic biographical information. Chief Michael Moore has reportedly told cops to collect the data for use in “investigations, arrests, and prosecutions,” and has warned officers that the cards will be audited by supervisors to ensure they’re filled out completely.

“There are real dangers about police having all of this social media identifying information at their fingertips,” said Rachel Levinson-Waldman, a deputy director at the Brennan Center for Justice, which obtained the documents.

The Brennan Center conducted a review of 40 other police agencies in the US and was unable to find another department that required social media collection on interview cards (though many have not publicly disclosed copies of the cards). The organization also obtained records about the LAPD’s social media surveillance technologies, which have raised questions about the monitoring of activist groups including Black Lives Matter. -Guardian

Monitoring of social media accounts began in 2015, when the LAPD’s interview cards contained a line for “social media accounts.”

“Similar to a nickname or an alias, a person’s online persona or identity used for social media … can be highly beneficial to investigations,” wrote former LAPD Chief, Charlie Beck.

According to the LA Timesover half of civilians stopped by LAPD and had their personal details taken were not arrested or cited. Last October, criminal charges were filed against three officers in the LAPD’s metro division for using cards to falsely label civilians as gang members once they were stopped.

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“Nothing To Hide” – A Poor Excuse To Justify Surveillance

Many people claim they have nothing to hide and use that as the reason they don’t object to the expanding web of surveillance being weaved over them. These people ignore the fact we are surrendering our right to freedom when we as a society go down this path. The reality is that when someone knows all about you and your deepest thought they gain tremendous power over you. This is directly linked to the ability to control you.

This weekend on a short trip I came across a couple of annoying examples of the government dirtying the waters and making our lives more difficult and less free. These include turning parts of the interstate system into a toll road then not taking cash as payment and so-called “photo enforcement” of traffic laws. While many states have gone to using cameras to some extent for enforcing traffic laws, the practice remains highly controversial. Whether it is incorporated in the notion of reducing labor, streamlining the system, or ending counterfeiting or money laundering, the above can complicate our life. Tech is not the gift of freedom many people think. It could be said we are being boxed in and many of our options are not being preserved.

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Browser settings to change ASAP if you care about privacy: Chrome, Firefox and more

Privacy is now a priority among browser-makers, but they may not go as far as you want in fighting pervasive ad industry trackers on the web. Here’s a look at how you can crank up your privacy settings to outsmart that online tracking.

Problems like Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal have elevated privacy protection on Silicon Valley’s priority list by showing how companies compile reams of data as you traverse the internet. Their goal? To build a richly detailed user profile so that you can become the target of more accurate, clickable and thus profitable advertisements.

Apple and Google are in a war for the web, with Google pushing aggressively for an interactive web to rival native apps and Apple moving more slowly — in part out of concern those new features will worsen security and be annoying for users. Privacy adds another dimension to the competition and to your browser decision.

Apple has made privacy a top priority in all its products, including Safari. For startup Brave, privacy is a core goal, and Mozilla and Microsoft have begun touting privacy as a way to differentiate their browsers from Google Chrome. It’s later to the game, but Chrome engineers have begun building a “privacy sandbox” despite Google’s reliance on ad revenue.

For all of the browsers listed here, you can give yourself a privacy boost by changing the default search engine. For instance, try DuckDuckGo. Although its search results may not be as useful or deep as Google’s, DuckDuckGo is a longtime favorite among the privacy-minded for its refusal to track user searches.

Other universal options that boost privacy include disabling your browser’s location tracking and search engine autocomplete features, turning off password autofills, and regularly deleting your browsing history. If you want to take your privacy to the next level, consider trying one of the virtual private networks CNET has reviewed that work with all browsers. (You can also check out our roundup of browser-based VPNs to try.)

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The history of the secret code that printers put on all your documents

In The Lives of Others, a movie about the radicalization of a playwright living under Communist rule in East Germany, a key plot point revolves around identifying what type of typewriter was used to write an article by an anonymous critic of the government. Every typewriter in East Germany is registered, so an editor smuggles in a foreign one that prints in red ink. The authorities become obsessed with hunting for the red ink typewriter; if they can find the typewriter, they will find their man.

Surprisingly, this situation isn’t all that different from an incident that was in the news last week. A once secret code, invisible to the naked eye, may have been one of the markers used to identify and eventually arrest NSA leaker Reality Winner. Security researchers have theorized that Winner’s downfall could have been a small set of dots in the corner of the Top Secret analysis she printed and mailed to online news outlet The Intercept.

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The Future Of Work At Home: Mandatory AI Camera Surveillance

Colombia-based call center workers who provide outsourced customer service to some of the nation’s largest companies are being pressured to sign a contract that lets their employer install cameras in their homes to monitor work performance, an NBC News investigation has found.

Six workers based in Colombia for Teleperformance, one of the world’s largest call center companies, which counts Apple, Amazon and Uber among its clients, said that they are concerned about the new contract, first issued in March. The contract allows monitoring by AI-powered cameras in workers’ homes, voice analytics and storage of data collected from the worker’s family members, including minors. Teleperformance employs more than 380,000 workers globally, including 39,000 workers in Colombia.

“The contract allows constant monitoring of what we are doing, but also our family,” said a Bogota-based worker on the Apple account who was not authorized to speak to the news media. “I think it’s really bad. We don’t work in an office. I work in my bedroom. I don’t want to have a camera in my bedroom.”

The worker said that she signed the contract, a copy of which NBC News has reviewed, because she feared losing her job. She said that she was told by her supervisor that she would be moved off the Apple account if she refused to sign the document. She said the additional surveillance technology has not yet been installed.

The concerns of the workers, who all spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, highlight a pandemic-related trend that has alarmed privacy and labor experts: As many workers have shifted to performing their duties at home, some companies are pushing for increasing levels of digital monitoring of their staff in an effort to recreate the oversight of the office at home.

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