The Inconvenient Truths about the Cambridge Analytica Files

The Inconvenient Truths about the Cambridge Analytica Files

I reluctantly joined Facebook back in December 2011. During the couple of years I had the account, I learned more and more about the shadowy monster that provided us with our daily hourly doses of dopamine in the forms of likes, shares and status updates.

This brings us to the first inconvenient – and most obvious – truth about the so-called Cambridge Analytica case: there’s absolutely nothing new in any of it.

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Perceived Privacy vs. Revealing Reality – Case Vero

Perceived Privacy vs. Revealing Reality – Case Vero

After my previous blog post got some unexpected publicity, there were some curious instances of Vero apologists defending the platform. Two main cases they presented were:

  1. No matter how shadily Vero might treat your privacy, it’s fine since it’s covered in their Privacy Policy
  2. Every other social media platform does the same thing anyway

I’ll give it to them, the second point is almost 100% accurate, but it simply doesn’t make it any more OK to invade users’ privacy. However, it’s the first point that really grinds my gears, especially when it comes to Vero.

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PSA: Vero App Stores Your Phone Contacts Even After You’ve Disabled Its Access to Them

PSA: Vero App Stores Your Phone Contacts Even After You’ve Disabled Its Access to Them

TL;DR: if you allow Vero to access your phone’s Contacts even for a brief moment, instead of one-time reading them, it quietly stores them all, links them to your account and uses to shape the user experience. It also gives users who have given access to their Contacts a way of connecting with users who have explicitly denied Vero’s access to their respective phone’s contact list. As an icing on the cake, there’s no way you can delete that info from the service afterwards. This blog post examines how this works.

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I Have Been Pwned… Five Freaking Times and Counting!

I Have Been Pwned… Five Freaking Times and Counting!

When I started drafting this blog post a while back, the title was “I Have Been Pwned Twice Already”. That number has since risen to five, and I’m assuming it will continue to rise as old breaches come to light and some long forgotten accounts get popped. So far, no immediate harm has been caused to me from these breaches, and I’ll contribute that silver lining to the reactive and since then proactive steps I’ve taken to ensure that’s the case now and in the future. This is how also you can harden your online presence against these (inevitable) breaches.

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10 OPSEC Tips That Everyone Should Follow

10 OPSEC Tips That Everyone Should Follow

Following in the footsteps of two great guides, “10 Commandments for a Safer Internet” and “0x0A Hack Commandments”, I was inspired to give something back to the community. For the average Joe, operational security – or OPSEC for short – is basically just about risk management through identifying specific pieces of information requiring protection, and employing measures to protect them. Sounds intimidating? Don’t worry, because you’re already doing it.

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How Google & Android Track Your Location – And How to Opt-Out 

How Google & Android Track Your Location – And How to Opt-Out 

There’s a lot of details on how Google and specifically Android tracks your location, that most people aren’t aware of. And if you ask me, that’s cluelessness by design. For most people, turning on “location” on their devices, seeing that little 📍-icon popping up, means that the device is now “connected to the GPS”. In reality however, that usually means that the device is scanning Wi-Fi, mobile networks and even Bluetooth in some cases to improve the results – in battery saving mode Android isn’t actually using GPS at all to locate the device!

So why’s this a big deal? Because every Wi-Fi sharing device is automatically mapped by Google, and they’re using your devices as a tool of doing so. In a nutshell:

  1. Google knows the location of your device (i.e. you), even if you’re using a VPN and your IP would be pointing elsewhere.
  2. Your device is basically enslaved to Google, providing location data regarding its surroundings, and thus improving Google’s services with the cost of your device’s battery life, performance, and your privacy.
  3. Every Wi-Fi hotspot, router and such is unwillingly acting as a location beacon for Google.

Luckily there are few ways to opt-out of these things. In this blog post, I’m going to show you how to do just that.

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An Analysis of Finnish Police Parody Accounts on Twitter

An Analysis of Finnish Police Parody Accounts on Twitter

The Police of Finland has been noticeably increasing its presence on social media, especially on Twitter where there’s more than 60 official accounts already. Most of these accounts represent individual police officers, and therefore they’re supposed to represent the official police’s brand and communication, but of course there’s bound to be some personal nuances included in the tweets as well. This personal tone is perfectly normal and only human, but unfortunately it makes them (individuals and the police) a target for a backslash.

And oh boy, they’ve been targeted alright. As of this writing, there’s at least eight parody accounts made of Finnish Police, and most of them have been activated within the last two months. Although parody accounts are accepted in Twitter’s policy and often intended just as harmless fun, I wanted to take a closer look at these eight and see if I could find any interesting details on them.

There were definitely some similarities and other easily connectable dots between the eight that were apparent even after just a quick glance (e.g. multiple mentions of “vihapuhe” = “hate speech”). I realize that by doing this I’m just feeding the trolls, so to speak, but let’s just call this professional curiosity that prompted me to investigate further.

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