Monday 11 August 2014

Moving Past Privacy-Poaching Facebook Messenger

Facebook is again making privacy headlines.  Sources have discovered that Facebook's new Messenger app has a laughably invasive list of terms and conditions to which users must agree.  What is worse is that this app replaces messaging services offered within the main Facebook app, trying to force millions of users to agree to terms no one should have agree to.

According to The Toronto Star, the app can access personal information and also take action based on the data discovered.  For instance, users will allow the app to do the following:

  • Call phone numbers without your intervention and sending text messages;

  • Record audio with the microphone, and taking photos and videos with the camera, without your confirmation;

  • Read your phone’s call log.
  • By contrast, services like our SumRando Messenger are security-focused and privacy-protecting while still being easy to use and convenient on the go.  We have gone out of our way to design an app that protects users and those they message while other services continue to force unfair terms on their users.

    You should not have to worry about anyone collecting information from you and also take invasive action based on that information.  In contrast to Facebook Messenger, these are a few of our specs:
    • Two forms of encryption (AES-256 and SSL) to keep your messages secure
    • No direct link between your phone number, device email address, or other identifying account; the decision on who you want to communicate with is strictly yours
    • Messages automatically deleted upon logout with only 10 messages stored (if you do not clear you conversation) stored for future conversational reference.
    See the difference?  We don't believe consumers should have to choose between privacy and convenience.  What remains striking is just how many major developers try to force consumers to make that choice.

    The benefit of a story like this about Facebook Messenger is that it is a story that could attract millions of Facebook users to take privacy concerns seriously.  One of the largest social media and messaging companies in the world has taken a stand against privacy, and their users are retaliating.

    What remains to be seen are two things: How many users will refuse this new Messenger app and what Facebook will do (if anything) to bring them back into the fold.

    Wednesday 6 August 2014

    Cyber-exposed Thailand Prepares New Security Measures

    It's no secret that Thailand lacks sufficient cyber infrastructure.  Rated third among the 10 worst countries for internet safety by UK security firm Sophos, Thailand experiences significant exposure to malware attacks.  Around 20.8% of PCs experience malware attacks in a span of three months.  To put that figure in perspective, the safest countries (Norway, Sweden, and Japan) range from 2.6 to 1.8%, and the most dangerous country (Indonesia) is only a little higher than Thailand at 23.5%.  Research has shown the country is additionally susceptible to ATM-related and government cyber attacks. (Needless to say, Thailand is somewhere you would want to use a VPN.)

    Surangkana Wayuparb, Director of Thailand's
    Electronic Transactions Development Agency
    Thailand made headlines this week when Surangkana Wayuparb, the country's Director of Electronic Transactions Development Agency, addressed the Regional Asia Information Security Exchange Forum in Bangkok.  Bangkok Post reports that Surangkana told those in attendance, "All these world records reflect that Thailand urgently needs to set up a national computer emergency response team (Cert) as a command centre to manage and collaborate on national cybersecurity threats and cyberwarfare... Cyberattacks pose a serious challenge to people at all levels, from end-users to enterprises and government agencies."

    According the Bangkok Post:

    “Surangkana said information security threats were no longer only technical dangers. They can have a major effect on the country's economy and national physical security. "Cyberattacks pose a serious challenge to people at all levels, from end-users to enterprises and government agencies,” Surangkana said… The ETDA [will] propose a national Cert to the junta. If approved, the ETDA expects a centre will be created by year-end. The creation of a national Cert is expected to upgrade the ETDA's existing computer emergency response team to a full national command centre, she said.”

    Read more about Thailand's cybersecurity plans at Bangkok Post.