Friday, September 12, 2014

The fight for your personal data takes place every single day

“Get up, stand up, Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, Don't give up the fight.” These inspiring words from the song "Get up, stand up" by Bob Marley encourage us today to reflect on how we defend our rights, specifically our right to privacy.

Since the former contractor of the National Security Agency Edward Snowden reported its abusive surveillance practices carried out in the Prism program framework, it appears that most of governments, businesses and citizens have begun to understand that their personal data is a treasure and they must protect them from strangers.

During the years of absolute secrecy that preceded the Snowden’s revelations, some companies unsuccessfully fought against US government’s request of information about their foreign users made under the umbrella of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. At least, that is what it is inferred from the 1,500 declassified pages which were made public yesterday. They show how Yahoo secretly carried out a legal battle against such law. In fact, in 2008, the Internet giant had to face the threat of a $ 250,000 fine a day if it did not deliver the requested data.

Meanwhile, the security expert Malte Pollmann ponders why privacy policies have been traditionally different between Europe and North America. The European Union has always safeguarded EU citizien’s personal data through very strict protection policies, while in the United States, this legislation has been more flexible allowing each company to deploy the measure it considered appropriate. Pollmann attributed it to the different cultural and historical heritages, emphasizing the consequences of World War II had on Europe, especially in Germany.

While privacy concerns grow, some studies raise some privacy fails, like the one carried out by the Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN). After analysing 1,211 mobile apps, GPEN says that 85% of them did not adequately inform users how they collect, use and dispose of personal information, so it urges their developers to make improvements in this regard.

In any case, we should not lose sight of other kind of espionage that is not covered by any law. We mean industrial cyber espionage. The security company FireEye has discovered two organized groups of Chinese hackers operating in parallel from different parts of the country. On the one hand, there is one known as Moafee which works from the Guangdong province . It pursues military and government organizations in countries with interests in the South China Sea. On the other hand, one group known as DragonOK which operates from the Jiangsu Province. It targets high-tech and manufacturing companies in Japan and Taiwan. Both gangs use "use similar tools, techniques and procedures, including custom-built backdoors and remote-administration tools (RATs) to infiltrate their targets’ networks," as noted by researchers at FireEye.

Such both groups of hackers unequivocally have economic reasons, although that is not always the case. According to a survey to a hundred hackers by security firm Thycotic, more than half of them said they hack everything that comes their way just for fun or for the thrill. Only 18% said to pursue material benefits. Another striking fact is that 86% of them are sure they will not be punished for their criminal acts.

Are you concerned about the security of your personal data? Do not forget that the best weapon you have to keep them safe is to stay well informed, so we invite you to follow us through our social channels (find the links at the right sidebar) or on our blog.

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