* * *
Here is an alternative way to opt out …
Install Linux. (Maybe you have a friend, relative who knows how to do this and can teach you how to work with Linux. Learning something new is good for the brain!)
Turn off the internet connection for Windows.
Go online only with Linux.
Use all the programs you’ve got used to in Windows (while being offline).
This way you could still safely use Windows XP.
… or try to tame the beast …
– Windows 10 is spying on almost everything you do – here’s how to opt out (BGR, July 31, 2015):
Windows 10 is amazing. Windows 10 is fantastic. Windows 10 is glorious. Windows 10 is faster, smoother and more user-friendly than any Windows operating system that has come before it. Windows 10 is everything Windows 8 should have been, addressing nearly all of the major problems users had with Microsoft’s previous-generation platform in one fell swoop.
But there’s something you should know: As you read this article from your newly upgraded PC, Windows 10 is also spying on nearly everything you do.
It’s your own fault if you don’t know that Windows 10 is spying on you. That’s what people always say when users fail to read through a company’s terms of service document, right?
– New ‘Bash’ software bug may pose bigger threat than ‘Heartbleed’ (Reuters, Sep 24, 2014):
A newly discovered security bug in a widely used piece of Linux software, known as “Bash,” could pose a bigger threat to computer users than the “Heartbleed” bug that surfaced in April, cyber experts warned on Wednesday.
Bash is the software used to control the command prompt on many Unix computers. Hackers can exploit a bug in Bash to take complete control of a targeted system, security experts said.
Some of the secret keys, including Facebook and LinkedIn, were discovered by PlayDrone, a tool developed by Columbia Engineering researchers that uses hacking techniques to circumvent Google security to successfully download Google Play apps and recover their sources. Credit: Columbia Engineering
– Researchers find thousands of secret keys in Android apps (Phys.org, June 18, 2014):
In a paper presented—and awarded the prestigious Ken Sevcik Outstanding Student Paper Award—at the ACM SIGMETRICS conference on June 18, Jason Nieh, professor of computer science at Columbia Engineering, and PhD candidate Nicolas Viennot reported that they have discovered a crucial security problem in Google Play, the official Android app store where millions of users of Android, the most popular mobile platform, get their apps.
“Google Play has more than one million apps and over 50 billion app downloads, but no one reviews what gets put into Google Play—anyone can get a $25 account and upload whatever they want. Very little is known about what’s there at an aggregate level,” says Nieh, who is also a member of the University’s Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering’s Cybersecurity Center. “Given the huge popularity of Google Play and the potential risks to millions of users, we thought it was important to take a close look at Google Play content.”
– Microsoft’s secret battle against the Tor botnet (The Daily Dot, Jan 16, 2014):
In August 2013, 4 million infected computers woke up and waited instructions from their master.
The pathogen was Sefnit, a nasty bit of malware that makes infected computers mine bitcoins. Once the computers woke up, they worked under the command of Ukranian and Israeli hackers named Scorpion and Dekadent. The malware communicated with the two by downloading Tor, the powerful anonymizing software, and talking over encrypted channels. It was the first time a botnet, as a collection of slave computers is called, used Tor in such a potentially powerful way.
By using an unconventional method to exploit Windows, the hackers unwittingly forced Microsoft to show a hand few knew it had: The ability to remotely remove progams en masse from people’s computers, without them even knowing it.
– US govt caught using pirated software for military, settles for $50mn (RT, Nov 28, 2013):
The Obama administration has agreed to pay Apptricity US$50 million for pirating the company’s logistics software the US Army used beyond contracted parameters.
While the Obama administration’s has launched efforts against intellectual property theft – including the Joint Strategic Plan run by Vice President Joe Biden that aims to curb copyright infringement – the US Army was concurrently using pirated Apptricity enterprise software that manages troop and supply movements. The company sued the government, accusing the US military of willful copyright infringement.
– NSA infected 50,000 computer networks with malicious software (NRC, Nov 23, 2013):
The American intelligence service – NSA – infected more than 50,000 computer networks worldwide with malicious software designed to steal sensitive information. Documents provided by former NSA-employee Edward Snowden and seen by this newspaper, prove this.
A management presentation dating from 2012 explains how the NSA collects information worldwide. In addition, the presentation shows that the intelligence service uses ‘Computer Network Exploitation’ (CNE) in more than 50,000 locations. CNE is the secret infiltration of computer systems achieved by installing malware, malicious software.
– Seattle Police Deploy Crime Prediction Software City-Wide (Secrets Of The Fed, May 24, 2013):
After initial testing in two precincts, The Seattle Police Department and Mayor Mike McGinn announced last week that they will now deploy their “Predictive Policing” software to all five precincts.
The federally-funded cloud-based crime prediction software known as PREDPOL, uses mathematical algorithms similar to ones used in earthquake prediction to predict when and where a future crime is most likely to take place down to a 500-square foot area. The program combines five years’ worth of past crime data with sociological information about criminal behavior.
“We’ve had anecdotal successes with the pilot project in East and Southwest Precincts, so we’re expanding Predictive Policing citywide,” said Mayor McGinn
– Write Gambling Software, Go to Prison (Wired, Dec 3, 2013):
In a criminal case sure to make programmers nervous, a software maker who licenses a program used by online casinos and bookmakers overseas is being charged with promoting gambling in New York because authorities say his software was used by others for illegal betting in that state.
New York authorities say that about $2.3 million that Robert Stuart and his company, Extension Software, received in cash and money orders for licensing his software constitutes direct proceeds of illegal, U.S.-based bookmaking operations.
“These defendants abetted large-scale illegal gambling in the U.S. and abroad,” said District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. in a press release in October when Stuart was charged. “In doing so, they gave bettors an easy way to place illegal wagers, and created an appetite for further unlawful activity.”
But Stuart, who has been charged along with his wife and brother-in-law with one felony count for promoting gambling in New York through their software firm, says that his company sells the software only to entities outside the U.S. and that he’s not aware of anyone using it in the U.S. or using it to take illegal bets in the U.S. He also says the software doesn’t place bets, it simply provides online gambling sites with the infrastructure to select and display which sporting events they want to offer for betting and also stores the bets.
“It’s overreaching where they’re going after a software developer who sells the software with a legal license, and yet we’re still being prosecuted on how it’s being used,” Stuart says. He notes that authorities have not told him yet who exactly he’s accused of aiding and abetting.
A hearing in the case is scheduled to be held in New York on Jan. 8.
The prosecution of a commercial programmer for crimes committed by people who used his software would set a dangerous precedent for other software makers who might be held liable for how their legally licensed software is used, says Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties for the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford University.
“It’s scary for software distributors, if someone happens to use their software for illegal activity,” she says. “If you know what people could use it for, and didn’t prevent it, did you take enough steps? What level of knowledge you need to have and all of that is not as clear as it should be [under current laws].”
– Software Meant to Fight Crime Is Used to Spy on Dissidents (New York Times, Aug 31, 2012):
Morgan Marquis-Boire works as a Google engineer and Bill Marczak is earning a Ph.D. in computer science. But this summer, the two men have been moonlighting as detectives, chasing an elusive surveillance tool from Bahrain across five continents.What they found was the widespread use of sophisticated, off-the-shelf computer espionage software by governments with questionable records on human rights. While the software is supposedly sold for use only in criminal investigations, the two came across evidence that it was being used to target political dissidents.
The software proved to be the stuff of a spy film: it can grab images of computer screens, record Skype chats, turn on cameras and microphones and log keystrokes. The two men said they discovered mobile versions of the spyware customized for all major mobile phones.