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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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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry

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Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time. 

Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable. 

We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks. 

So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility? 

Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly. 

The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.  

Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.

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