Archive for December 24, 2013

Alternative Christmas Message from E. Snowden

Don’t miss that: On Channel 4 UK, First Broadcast: 4.15 PM Wed 25 December

Whistleblower Edward Snowden, who revealed the mass surveillance programmes organised by the US and other governments, gives this year’s The Alternative Christmas Message.

YourPrivateVPN blocked by o2 in the UK

out site Unfortunately we discovered that our service is blocked in the UK. You can check our or any other site here. That includes our blog too, where we inform about government spying and data collection of major companies.

out site We think this is a shame for a country that is proud of their freedom of press. Publicly the Cameron government states this is to protect children from the influence of pornographic presentations. However, you will not find these kind of images on our pages.

You can always reach our website using this address:

Data Collection: 2# Social Media Buttons

Nowadays almost every website uses social media buttons from Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. However, when visiting any of these sites these buttons send information back to Facebook & Co. Even if you are not logged in into one of these networks, they collect the address of the web page you are visiting and some other meta data which can identify you. Clicking on the social media button is not required. This way these networks are able to track which websites users are visiting and are able to build fairly complete browser histories of their users. Creepy, I know.

To prevent this unwanted data leakage we choose an alternate approach. The concept is fairly easy. Per default only a gray mockup image of a like-button is embedded. Only if a user clicks this button the real like-button is loaded and information is sent to the social network. With a second click the user can then like the webpage (or tweet it etc.). Unfortunately some of our competitors don’t know this and expose their visitors to third party data collection.

Internet porn blocked by BT by default

We already informed on our main website about the upcoming internet censorship for British households. 

Today BT (British Telecom) has announced that all new customers will have parental control filters switched on by default when they subscribe to its service. Thus BT joins other providers like TalkTalk and Sky who make all new customers make a choice on whether the filters should be switched on or off when they sign up. Since web-blocking circumvention tools are also targeted by this filter, you might not be able to access YourPrivateVPN or this blog anymore.

I hope you will not have to state whether or not you have children in the house when opting out. Otherwise you possibly can expect a knock on the door from social services. 😉

Data Collection: 1# Facebook

That Facebook in general isn’t the best choice, when trying to maintain a certain degree of privacy, is almost common sense. However, before posting something on Facebook it’s always a good idea to think twice whether you want this information to be associated with your name.

So when writing something in a post or chat field you might sometimes decide not to actually post it. Facebook though seems rather interested in what you have intentionally chosen not to share. They call it “self censorship” and two Facebookers have now published a study about this. The article closes with the following:

… we have arrived at a better understanding of how and where self-censorship manifests on social media; next, we will need to better understand what and why.

For the future it may be helpful to keep in mind, that the technology to save your unpublished content already exists. It is basically the same how Google offers search suggestions while you are typing in the search box.

Cell phone wiretapping roundup

Matt Blaze wrote a nice roundup about cell phone wiretapping and tracking. As some of these techniques are already well known by interested individuals, I just want to add another method which at least seems imaginable.

As modern smart phones are basically personal computers, it shouldn’t be that difficult for some agencies to exploit them in order to place some nice malware on the phone. So it’s perfectly imaginable to leave the cellular radio running and registering with the cell network even after the off button has been pushed and the phone appears to be off. For that reason don’t be surprised when you discover you’ve been tracked and spied on while carrying a power-off cell phone with a battery in it.

Welcome to the YourPrivateVPN news blog

More than half a year the NSA scandal is running. More than half a year in particular the British Guardian and the New York Times are publishing further details from the Snowden documents. Despite this we are not experiencing any statistically significant reactions from this. There are no mountains of discarded smart phones and most people continue to use their well monitored emails from Google, Yahoo and other questionable services.

As I am with YourPrivateVPN for almost five years now, privacy and electronic surveillance has always been a major concern for me. Often I am aware of new developments and interesting details which will never make it to the big news sites or will be published when its already the oldest story in the book.

This is why I decided to start this blog. If I come across some interesting security related stuff I will drop a note here. Please feel free to follow me on my journey or comment on any topic you like.