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US takes step backward in Internet privacy

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The U.S. Senate has recently made it legal for service providers to collect information about their subscribers and possibly sell it it third parties. There are still however ways to stay private online and MARTY P KAMDEN, CMO of NordVPN, offers some tips.|The U.S. Senate has recently made legal for service providers to collect information about their subscribers and possibly sell it it third parties. There are still however ways to stay private online and MARTY P KAMDEN, CMO of NordVPN, offers some tips.

U.S. Senate has just passed the most dangerous resolution for Internet privacy.

Last year, Federal Communications Commission had passed strict privacy regulations (not yet in effect), banning ISPs (Internet Service Providers) from selling their subscriber’s browsing data without consent. Last week, these regulations were reversed in the Senate, allowing ISPs to collect all possible information about their subscribers. Such data includes precise geolocation, financial information, health information, children’s information and web browsing history.

This also means that from now on, an Internet provider can sell their users’ private data to third parties, such as ad buyers, ad aggregators, and anyone else who might want to use it for their purposes.

True, FCC’s regulations did not cover Facebook and Google that are able to collect data without any bigger restrictions. However, putting a brake on ISPs data collection/ and sharing powers would have saved Internet users’ Internet browsing privacy.

This goes even further – the FCC is now also banned from passing even less strict regulations in the future.

How do ISPs collect data?

Besides retaining and selling user’s browsing history, ISPs have specific ways to collect data, some more intrusive than others.

1. Deep packet inspection. Deep packet inspection allows an ISP to scan the packets of data a user sends across the web, and is generally used for user protection, when checking for viruses or prioritizing data. However, it can also be used to log and sell anonymized user data in batches that include location, name, age, shopping records and so on.

2. Monitoring Internet activity. On many occasions, ISPs monitor user web activity to track, log and store data. This is a very lucrative amount of information for any company to have, and several ISPs tend to collect and sell this data to advertising companies.

3. Tracking user location through mobile devices. When it comes to web-enabled mobile devices and how they are used, ISPs can track their location throughout the day, monitoring user whereabouts in real time.

4. Complying with government’s data collection laws. Another requirement for data collection comes to ISPs from the government. Mandatory data retention laws are different across the globe, and most force ISPs to collect and store their customers’ data for a period of time. When such large amounts of data are collected and/or shared, there is always the risk of system malfunctions or hacking attacks, and huge amounts of people’s personal information can end up in the wrong hands.

Is it still possible to avoid ISP data tracking and collection?

There are still a few ways to protect one’s Internet privacy and avoid personal data collection – Internet users only must take a few simple steps.

According to Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN (Virtual Private Network), “Internet users should regularly delete cookies, install anti-virus and anti-tracking software, and make sure not to enter personal passcodes and credit card information when using open Wi-Fi networks. The best known method to keep your information private and encrypted from ISPs is a VPN.”

A VPN encrypts user data through a secure tunnel before accessing the Internet – this protects any sensitive information about one’s location by hiding their IP address. A VPN connects a user to the Internet through an alternative path than an ISP. The only information visible to an ISP is that a user is connected to a VPN server and nothing else. All other information is encrypted by the VPN’s security protocol.

NordVPN is determined to hide and secure users’ data with features like double encryption and a strict no logs policy. From the moment a user turns on NordVPN, their Internet data becomes encrypted. It becomes invisible to governments, ISPs, third party snoopers and even NordVPN.

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Bring your network with you

At last week’s Critical Communications World, Motorola unveiled the LXN 500 LTE Ultra Portable Network Infrastructure. It allows rescue personal to set up dedicated LTE networks for communication in an emergency, writes SEAN BACHER.

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In the event of an emergency, communications are absolutely critical, but the availability of public phone networks are limited due to weather conditions or congestion.

Motorola realised that this caused a problem when trying to get rescue personnel to those in need and so developed its LXN 500 LTE Ultra Portable Network Infrastructure. The product is the smallest and lightest full powered broadband network to date and allows the first person on the scene to set up an LTE network in a matter of minutes, allowing other rescue team members to communicate with each other.

“The LXN 500 weighs six kilograms and comes in a backpack with two batteries. It offers a range of 1km and allows up to 100 connections at the same time. However, in many situations the disaster area may span more than 1km which is why they can be connected to each other in a mesh formation,” says Tunde Williams, Head of Field and Solutions Marketing EMEA, Motorola Solutions.

The LXN 500 solution offers communication through two-way radios, and includes mapping, messaging, push-to-talk, video and imaging features onboard, thus eliminating the need for any additional hardware.

Data collected on the device can then be sent through to a central control room where an operator can deploy additional rescue personnel where needed. Once video is streamed into the control room, realtime analytics and augmented reality can be applied to it to help predict where future problem points may arise. Video images and other multimedia can also be made available for rescuers on the ground.

“Although the LXN 500 was designed for the seamless communications between on ground rescue teams and their respective control rooms, it has made its way into the police force and in places where there is little or no cellular signal such as oil rigs,” says Williams.

He gave a hostage scenario: “In the event of a hostage situation, it is important for the police to relay information in realtime to ensure no one is hurt. However the perpetrators often use their mobile phones to try and foil any rescue attempts. Should the police have the correct partnerships in place they are able to disable cellular towers in the vicinity, preventing any in or outgoing calls on a public network and allowing the police get their job done quickly and more effectively.”

By disabling any public networks in the area, police are also able to eliminate any cellular detonated bombs from going off but still stay in touch with each other he says.

The LXN 500 offers a wide range of mission critical cases and is sure to transform communications and improve safety for first responders and the people they are trying to protect.

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Kaspersky moves to Switzerland

As part of its Global Transparency Initiative, Kaspersky Lab is adapting its infrastructure to move a number of core processes from Russia to Switzerland.

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This includes customer data storage and processing for most regions, as well as software assembly, including threat detection updates. To ensure full transparency and integrity, Kaspersky Lab is arranging for this activity to be supervised by an independent third party, also based in Switzerland.

Global transparency and collaboration for an ultra-connected world

The Global Transparency Initiative, announced in October 2017, reflects Kaspersky Lab’s ongoing commitment to assuring the integrity and trustworthiness of its products. The new measures are the next steps in the development of the initiative, but they also reflect the company’s commitment to working with others to address the growing challenges of industry fragmentation and a breakdown of trust. Trust is essential in cybersecurity, and Kaspersky Lab understands that trust is not a given; it must be repeatedly earned through transparency and accountability.

The new measures comprise the move of data storage and processing for a number of regions, the relocation of software assembly and the opening of the first Transparency Center.

Relocation of customer data storage and processing

By the end of 2019, Kaspersky Lab will have established a data center in Zurich and in this facility, will store and process all information for users in Europe, North America, Singapore, Australia, Japan and South Korea, with more countries to follow. This information is shared voluntarily by users with the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) an advanced, cloud-based system that automatically processes cyberthreat-related data.

Relocation of software assembly

Kaspersky Lab will relocate to Zurich its ‘software build conveyer’ — a set of programming tools used to assemble ready to use software out of source code. Before the end of 2018, Kaspersky Lab products and threat detection rule databases (AV databases) will start to be assembled and signed with a digital signature in Switzerland, before being distributed to the endpoints of customers worldwide. The relocation will ensure that all newly assembled software can be verified by an independent organisation and show that software builds and updates received by customers match the source code provided for audit.

Establishment of the first Transparency Center

The source code of Kaspersky Lab products and software updates will be available for review by responsible stakeholders in a dedicated Transparency Center that will also be hosted in Switzerland and is expected to open this year. This approach will further show that generation after generation of Kaspersky Lab products were built and used for one purpose only: protecting the company’s customers from cyberthreats.

Independent supervision and review

Kaspersky Lab is arranging for the data storage and processing, software assembly, and source code to be independently supervised by a third party qualified to conduct technical software reviews. Since transparency and trust are becoming universal requirements across the cybersecurity industry, Kaspersky Lab supports the creation of a new, non-profit organisation to take on this responsibility, not just for the company, but for other partners and members who wish to join.

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