Citizen Lab



Sites Feed Personal Details To New Tracking Industry

“The largest U.S. websites are installing new and intrusive consumer-tracking technologies on the computers of people visiting their sites—in some cases, more than 100 tracking tools at a time—a Wall Street Journal investigation has found.

“We are delivering free content to consumers,” says Mike Zaneis, vice president of public policy for the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade group of advertisers and publishers. “Sometimes it means that we get involved in a very complex ecosystem with lots of third parties.”

The growing use and power of tracking technology have begun to raise regulatory concerns. Congress is considering laws to limit tracking. The Federal Trade Commission is developing privacy guidelines for the industry.”

From The Wall Street Journal

Also see this commentary in the Inquirer

Malware threat at new high: McAfee

“McAfee Inc., the No. 2 security software maker, said production of software code known as malware, which can harm computers and steal user passwords, reached a new high in the first six months of 2010.

“We do not want to overstate this threat. But it serves as a reminder that in this age of cybercrime, data theft and identity theft users of all operating systems and devices must take precautions,” McAfee said.”

From The Globe and Mail

Google under probe in South Korea over data collection

“South Korean police said they raided Google Inc.’s Seoul office on Tuesday on suspicion that the Internet search leader had illegally collected data on users.

The probe in one of Asia’s most wired countries came as a fresh setback to Google, which already faces investigation over “Street View” by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, a variety of probes overseas and class action lawsuits.”

From the Globe and Mail

Web Browser Privacy Settings Flawed

“Private and anonymous settings in Firefox, Internet Explorer, and others can expose more details than users expect, security researchers in Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon found. Their first-ever study of the privacy mode in browsers found multiple weaknesses, which attackers could exploit.

What the researchers found were numerous vulnerabilities in how these browsers and add-ons approach privacy. As a result, “current private browsing implementations provide privacy against some local and web attackers, but can be defeated by determined attackers,” they said. ”

From InformationWeek

BlackBerry deal just one step in UAE’s security crackdown

“They tried to sneak it in, and got caught,” said Theodore Karasik, director of research and development at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai of UAE’s past attempts to hack the BlackBerry as part of a broad campaign to improve intelligence. “Now they’re going the opposite way, just declaring what they need.”

Dubai, the UAE’s largest city, is a case study in the need for such surveillance. In the same way that Vienna served as a waypoint for rogues from all sides of the world wars, this desert city has now become a den of intrigue about the Middle East and South Asia. According to local analysis the Arab states are only demanding the same surveillance capacity thought to be already available to several other countries, suh as Russia, China and the United States.

Some described the issue as a matter of national pride for the United Arab Emirates.

“RIM succumbed to so many other countries, so why not ours?” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a politics professor at Emirates University. “It’s about double standards. We’re a booming economy, an important market, and the Canadians should respect us.”

From The Globe and Mail

What Toronto’s top minds are reading this summer

The Star wondered what the city’s top scientists and scholars read when they aren’t in their labs, at their computers or writing manuscripts. Find out what the Director of the Citizen Lab Ron Deibert recommends as a meaningful summer read, and what he himself is reading in his free time.


Cyberspace confidential

In his essay in the Globe and Mail Professor Deibert provides illuminating insight questions related to the use and abuse of cyberspace, as well as Canada’s role in the constantly evolving space of global communications.

Indonesia also demanding data access from RIM

“RIM has built a $15-billion (U.S.) business by pitching the BlackBerry as the world’s most secure wireless communication device, but is now under mounting pressure to maintain that reputation in the face of demands by some governments for easier access to data. On Wednesday Indonesia joined a growing group of countries who want the device maker to give governments easier access to private messages.

Ronald Deibert, who runs a global Internet research lab at the University of Toronto, says a researcher based in the United Arab Emirates recently noticed Web searches made on BlackBerry devices are censored. He maintainted that it is likely one of many compromises RIM has made for operating in countries where regimes restrict or monitor the flow of information to monitor dissidents, opposition politicians and human rights advocates.”

From Globe Investor

Repression in Motion

CBC’s Matt Galloway spoke with Ron Deibert regarding the UAE threat to ban RIM products over national security concerns. Watch here .

Aussie government backing away on censorship plans

“The Australian Labour government has two plans on the table which will involve censoring the world wide wibble. The first is a filtering plan which means that Australians will not see anything on the net that the government does not want them to see. The other is a top secret plan to snoop on Australians’ web surfing.

However, with an election which is too close to call, the last thing they want is to confirm that they are planning to bring in controls on the internet which even the Chinese have not tried.”