Facebook & Firefox Call For Flash To End, Once And For All

It’s been a rough week for Adobe Flash. On Monday, July 13, 2015, the Firefox internet browser blocked Adobe Flash Player by default and Facebook’s chief security officer called upon Adobe to announce an end-of-life date for Flash. This all comes after finding out that Hacking Team, a spyware organization, was using Flash to remotely take over victims’ computers and infect them. Flash has been notoriously vulnerable over the years.
Firefox users will no longer be able to access Flash content and will have to manually re-enable Flash on the browser. Or they can choose to use another browser, like Google Chrome or Internet Explorer, which still support Flash for now. It will be much like using smartphones, which don’t support Flash.
As of now, around 1 in 10 websites still use Flash (according to W3Techs), despite the fact that Google punishes sites that use Flash because of its lack of mobile usability. According to CNN Money, Flash is a type of “middleware” that allows for rich content to be viewed. It was used extensively 10 years ago to power games and animations. In 2005, all YouTube videos required a Flash plug-in to view.
In 2010, Steve Jobs called for the end of Flash, saying it was the number one reason that Macs crashed and lamenting its unbelievable lack of security. Over the years, Flash has been exploited over and over again, causing millions of systems to be infected with malware. It puts users at risk and tech giants like Facebook, Mozilla, and Apple aim to protect their users.
Facebook wants Flash to go away for good. “It is time for Adobe to announce the end-of-life date for Flash,” tweeted Facebook security chief Alex Stamos on Sunday.
However, Mozilla stated that Flash could once again be enabled on Firefox as long as Adobe “releases a version which isn’t being actively exploited by publicly known vulnerabilities,” according to CNN.
If you are worried about a Flash vulnerability, Flash can be disabled on all browsers.
Chrome: Go to chrome://plugins, find the Flash player, and click disable.
Safari: Go to preferences security manage website settings, and then Adobe Flash Player. On the “when visiting other websites” dropdown menu, click block.
Firefox: Click the hamburger icon and then click add-ons. Go to the left hand column and find plugins. Under the dropdown menu, select “never activate.”
Internet Explorer: Click the gear icon in the upper right corner and then click internet options > programs > manage add-ons Shockwave Flash Client. In the lower right, click disable. 

How To Stay Secure Online While Traveling

This summer, many of us will take planes, trains, and automobiles to new destinations and to get a break from the daily grind. Traveling makes us particularly vulnerable to cyber criminals and hackers who want to steal your identity and your money. Don’t let your summer vacation turn into a nightmare. Know what you need to do to protect your mobile device from the prying eyes of thieves and prevent a vacation disaster.

Always enable a passcode lock on your phone and a password on your laptop. This is a no-brainer and this is something you should be doing daily anyway. If you should lose your device, this prevents someone from immediately getting in and stealing data or your credit card information or from logging into your accounts. They might be able to get in eventually if they are skilled enough but this will give you a little bit of time. If you should misplace your device, you can remotely log out of email, Facebook, online banking, and other accounts. You should also change your passwords at this time.

Log out of apps you don’t use often and delete browsing history. If someone gets ahold of your device, they could learn a lot about you based on your browsing history. Take the time to delete this trail of information before your trip. Also be sure that apps and websites aren’t automatically filling in login credentials.

Get a Virtual Private Network, or VPN. A VPN is basically a private network within a public network. It ensures that everything you’re sending over the internet is encrypted and hidden from people trying to spy on you. Connecting to a public Wi-Fi network is risky and a VPN gives you the benefits of free Wi-Fi without the risk. Also, only turn on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you need to because it’s possible for your phone to automatically connect to an unsecure network.

Don’t overshare on social media. Many of us will announce to the world on social media that we are going on vacation but this is a baaaad idea. This tells anyone who sees your post (and anyone they tell) that your home is empty and available for robbing. There’s also a new threat called social engineering. According to Travel and Leisure, this is when a criminal sees what hotel you are at while on vacation. They then pose as an employee of that hotel asking for your credit card information and you give it to them. So watch what you post to Facebook or Instagram.

Update software and use an antivirus. This is also a tip that should be followed even when you’re not road-tripping. Software updates often come with patches to fix security flaws. Using an antivirus is absolutely vital to any device that connects to the internet. Not using an antivirus leaves devices wide open to anything criminals want to throw at it.

Don’t use a shared computer and don’t use a storage device (USB, disc, etc.) that you find. Shared computers like those in libraries, internet cafes, hotels, and business centers should be avoided at all costs. They are usually infected with malware. While using them, you could log into your accounts while someone is watching your keystrokes or you may forget to logout of your accounts when you’re done. And using a found USB is extremely dangerous. Some bad guys plant them for people to find and plug into their devices. The USBs contain malware that can take over an entire system and steal information.

These tips will help you enjoy your vacations and trips this summer without bringing home any unwanted souvenirs.

Happy Data Privacy Day!

Today marks Data Privacy Day all across the globe. It is a day when people everywhere are reminded of the importance of keeping personal information safe online. After the attacks on Sony, JP Morgan, and Staples, and many other large corporations and with the rampant use of stolen payment credentials, data privacy is now more important than ever. And it can only get worse as more and more everyday items are being connected to the internet.

Individuals and businesses need every data protection reminder they can get. Thankfully, security is starting to keep up with the ever-changing technology. According to USA Today, Michael Kaiser, director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, said the future of cyber security is right around the corner.

“There’s a ton of stuff coming, it will address fundamental, ecosystem-wide flaws in the system,” said Kaiser.

The future protection tools may include software or gadgets that know if it’s really the right person logging in to a device.

While online tools and gadgets are important, they will never take the place of personal responsibility and staying smart online. There are countless ways an identity can be stolen. This can be a headache for consumers. However, a worse headache would be when all of your bank accounts are drained by hackers. Here are catmandu’s best tips for protecting your identity and your data:

  1. Don’t put anything you wouldn’t want seen online. This includes watching what you write in private emails and messages, in a Google Doc, anywhere. Think about the embarrassing Sony Executives’ emails.
  2. Don’t use the same email or pin number for every account. If one gets hacked, they all get hacked.
  3. Turn on two-step verification for any account that allows it.
  4. Be wary of ALL emails, especially those with attachments, and NEVER give out login credentials or credit card numbers via email no matter who is asking.
  5. Unfortunately, you have to think before clicking any link online. Install a free antivirus like Avast, which will place a handy green checkmark beside links that are okay to click.
  6. On your phone, always require a passcode. It takes no technical skill whatsoever for someone who finds your lost phone to steal valuable information. Also, install an app that allows you to access your phone remotely and erase its content if necessary.
  7. When connecting to Wi-Fi, be sure that your home connection requires a password. When using a public connection, don’t engage in transactions you want to keep private like online shopping or accessing your bank account.
  8. Protect yourself with a good firewall and security software. This is the cornerstone of stopping hackers from gaining access to your devices. The slogan of Data Privacy Day says it best: “Stop. Think. Connect.”

Don’t Let The NSA Spy On You

2013 brought us the revelation that the government is all over our personal information, snooping through phone records and internet activity. To combat this, 2014 brought us new tools and methods to stop this (unfortunately legal) invasion of privacy.Though it is impossible to completely block out the National Security Agency from your life, there are a few steps you can take to make it slightly more difficult to be spied on.

On the internet:

If you are going to store data online, use Google services. Google has spent a lot of money this year working to make themselves the safest place on the internet, according to IT World.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt said. “We massively encrypted our internal systems,” he said. “It’s generally viewed that this level of encryption is unbreakable in our lifetime by any sets of human beings in any way. We’ll see if that’s really true.”

When surfing the internet, you may have noticed your recent searches spawning advertisements on unrelated sites. If it bothers you that your searches are being tracked, you can browse in private mode in most browsers. For the extreme individual, there is also the Tor Project, which allows you to browse privately over encrypted channels, according to the The Blaze.

On your phone:

Make sure you buy an encrypted phone. Apple and Google phones have the highest level of security and their newest phones will lock down messages, contacts, and photos stored on the phone, keeping them away from anyone (including the NSA) who might want your data. However, many phones automatically store data in the cloud, which is not safe from government spying. Turning off automatic cloud storage is simple to do but you risk losing all data if your phone is lost or broken, according to The Hill.

Android users should use encrypted apps such as TextSecure or WhatsApp to send and receive messages and iPhone users should use Apple’s iMessage serve. To protect yourself when making phone calls, use Whisper System’s apps RedPhone for Android users and Signal for iPhone users.

Completely shutting yourself off from the government is impossible while using devices. Your phone is, at its core, a tracking device that allows anyone with the technical skills to locate your exact location.

“Spying on the content of cell phone communications is trivially easy,” said Eva Galperin, who works for digital rights advocate Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), according to The Hill.

However, these tips can allow for a small amount of privacy in an age where nothing is private.

Yahoo Killing Certain Smartphone Services To Make Way For New

Yahoo is cleaning house and that means you can say goodbye to some of the apps you might be accustomed to using by the provider. These service include, but aren’t limited to, Yahoo Deals, Yahoo SMS Alerts, and the Yahoo Mail and Messenger apps used on feature phones.

It can be debated about the reasoning behind this move, but Executive Vice President Jay Rossiter says that it’s all about getting rid of the old to make room for the new.

“We want to bring you experiences that inspire and entertain you every day,” Rossiter wrote. “That means taking a hard look at all of our products to make sure they are still central to your daily habits. As part of that ongoing effort, today we are shutting down a few more products.”

Most of these shut downs will take place before the end of the month.