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Public Concern Over Data Privacy Pushes Tech Giants to Change their Way

Apple's announcements come on the heels of user privacy scandals that have rocked tech companies over the last several years

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Peter Stern, Apple Vice President of Services, speaks at the Steve Jobs Theater during an event to announce new products, March 25, 2019, in Cupertino, California. VOA

Mounting public concern over data privacy is pushing tech giants to change their ways, industry experts said on Tuesday, a day after Apple unveiled a series of new products, stressing their privacy-friendly features.

The world’s second-most valuable technology company will now offer a credit card, a news service called Apple News+ and a TV service with original programming, all designed to keep users’ information private and secure, it said on Monday. Apple’s announcements come on the heels of user privacy scandals that have rocked tech companies over the last several years.

Such clarity is welcome in a digital environment that lacks transparency and where people are sometimes unaware of what happens to their data, said Hielke Hijmans, a law expert at the Brussels Privacy Hub, a Belgian research center.

privacy, tech giants
Mark Zuckerberg said the company plans to encrypt more of the conversations happening on its messaging services, which could limit Facebook’s ability to parse those conversations. Flickr

“This empowers the users and helps to give them a genuine choice,” he said. Earlier this month, rivals like Google and Facebook said they were making changes to boost user privacy.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said the company plans to encrypt more of the conversations happening on its messaging services, which could limit Facebook’s ability to parse those conversations.

Google said it is working on privacy enhancements for the Android operating system that powers most of the world’s mobile phones, such as locking down access to phone cameras and microphones. At the launch event in California, Apple executives said the company will not allow advertisers to track what users read on its news service and it will not itself have that data.

privacy, tech giants, data
Apple’s announcements come on the heels of user privacy scandals that have rocked tech companies over the last several years. Pixabay

Consumer data from its credit card will not be shared or sold to third parties for marketing, and the company will not know where a purchase was made, what was bought or how much it cost, Apple said.

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Yet, Apple’s privacy moves aren’t likely to be mimicked by everyone, said Jan Penfrat, a senior policy advisor at advocacy group European Digital Rights (EDRi).

Assembling profiles of consumers for the purpose of targeting advertisements is at the heart of how Google and Facebook made money, he said .Unlike those companies, Apple’s business model is not largely dependent on advertising. “Apple is rather the exception, not the norm,” Penfrat added. (VOA)

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Passwords on Sensitive Account Are Still Easy To Guess

The most common name to be used in passwords was "Ashley", followed by "Michael", "Daniel", "Jessica" and "Charlie".

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"Nobody should protect sensitive data with something that can be guessed, like their first name, local football team or favourite band," Pixabay

Millions of people are using easy-to-guess passwords on sensitive accounts, with “123456” being the most widely-used on breached accounts, suggests a security study.

The study by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) helped to uncover the gaps in cyber-knowledge that could leave people in danger of being exploited, the BBC reported on Sunday.

For its first cyber-survey, the NCSC analysed public databases of breached accounts to see which words, phrases and strings people used.

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Security expert Troy Hunt, who maintains a database of hacked account data, said picking a good password was the “single biggest control” people had over their online security.
Pixabay

Top of the list was “123456”, appearing in more than 23 million passwords. The second-most popular string, “123456789”, was not much harder to crack, while others in the top five included “qwerty”, “password” and “1111111”.

The most common name to be used in passwords was “Ashley”, followed by “Michael”, “Daniel”, “Jessica” and “Charlie”.

When it comes to Premier League football teams in passwords, “Liverpool” came first and “Chelsea” second. “Blink-182” topped the charts of music acts.

hacking
For its first cyber-survey, the NCSC analysed public databases of breached accounts to see which words, phrases and strings people used. Pixabay

People who use well-known words or names for a password put themselves people at risk of being hacked, said Ian Levy, technical director of the NCSC.

“Nobody should protect sensitive data with something that can be guessed, like their first name, local football team or favourite band,” he said.

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Security expert Troy Hunt, who maintains a database of hacked account data, said picking a good password was the “single biggest control” people had over their online security.

“We typically haven’t done a very good job of that either as individuals or as the organisations asking us to register with them.” (IANS)