“It has become second nature to connect various apps like Instagram, SocialCam, Angry Birds, CityVille, and Spotify to your Facebook ID. You just click ‘agree’ without even really knowing what you are agreeing to. What you don’t realize is that social apps linked to your Facebook profile can pretty much track your and your friends’ whole life.”
This quote, from Christian Sigl (co-founder of secure.me, which is now part of AVAST), originally appeared in Mashable in September, 2012.
Back then, we wanted to give users a heads-up and create awareness to think twice before sharing personal data with apps – regardless if via smartphone or the Web. Part of the message was that you never know what can happen with your data and in whose hands it could end up in.
Today, we know where the data went: The NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ, have accessed data from Angry Birds and other smartphone and tablet apps, including sensitive information like age, location, education level and sexual orientation. The data accessed was collected directly from phones including geolocation, handset model, handset ID, software version and more – but personal information like sexual orientation, age and education level probably came from social media connect options.
Rovio, the company behind Angry Birds, has reacted and denied that they provide data to the NSA. Instead, they point out that they will rethink relationships with the ad networks they work with. “The alleged surveillance may be conducted through third party advertising networks used by millions of commercial web sites and mobile applications across all industries,” Rovio announced.
Regardless of how this data landed on NSA desks, giving away your customer’s personally identifiable information to a third-party organization is never a good move.
Users couldn’t really have done anything to avoid their data from ending up with the NSA, the only preventative action that could have been taken would have been limiting the amount of personal data that could be collected from social networks. Social network data isn’t meta data, this is information people share voluntarily. So of course, we know today that the NSA can access very sensitive and personal information if they want to – they will find a way if you’re of interest to them. Most of us aren’t though and one thing you can do to limit the amount of data that’s collected is to avoid online oversharing with apps and social networks.
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By now, we are all familiar with Facebook scams that claim to give your Newsfeed a designer look. Remember Facebook Red or Facebook Black? Those pretty themes ended up spreading spam and malicious links via online surveys and fake videos. Today, the AVAST Virus Lab experts discovered a unique variety– the Facebook Music Theme Scam.
The Facebook Music Theme Scam is supposed to change the theme and add a song to your Facebook page. But when our Virus Lab expert, Honza Zika, investigated, he got more than danceable music tracks, “What this code does is modify Facebook. It automatically liked 32 photos, people, groups, … See my activity log, that is just half of it.”
Lithuania is a small European Union country, located in Northeastern Europe. Nearly 10% of 3,000,000 Lithuanians are protected by avast! Antivirus. Among them is one special person: Paulius Yla, an AVAST Evangelist.
“Evangelist” is the term we use for those people who willingly volunteer their personal time and expertise to help others benefit from avast! Antivirus. The most active place for evangelists is on the AVAST forum.
Four years ago, we organized a big meeting for AVAST Evangelists in our Prague headquarters. It was a unique, emotional meeting for both sides: The AVAST team and the AVAST Evangelists. It was an opportunity to meet people we knew only from the cyberworld – The AVAST forum. This is when I met Paulius in person. Paulius, who under the username “YLAP” on the AVAST forum, has been helping users precisely since January 20, 2005, 02:48:04 PM. During his years on the forum, Paulius has generated over 1,800 posts and helped countless of people. But the forum is not the only space where Paulius is active. You can also meet him on Facebook sharing useful tips, so do not hesitate to follow him, as Paulius is a great AVAST expert.
We value our evangelists greatly and there are no words to express our gratitude to Paulius and the others for all their work and for being “AVAST ambassadors” all over the world. In the past we have introduced you to Bob Gostischa (USA), Lisandro Carmona (Brazil) and Charlie O. Prince (USA). It’s time to meet more of the AVAST Evangelists and welcome them officially, and thank them for helping you also on social channels. Please say “Labas” (hi in Lithuanian) to Paulius and get to know one of our experts.
“Who wouldn’t want to have more likes on their Facebook page?” This is the motivation of a very trivial code to get more likes, but while other methods usually comprise of adding better content or advertising, this one is a bit easier, and much dirtier. Why not show the like button directly beneath your mouse cursor as you browse a website, make it invisible, and move it as you move your mouse?
The only thing the victim has to do is click; if they are logged in to Facebook, they will automatically like the Facebook page. And of course, it is not only about the number of likes, but each like means the victim will get all the information about this page on their news feed (until they unlike the page), and all friends will also see that you like it – so why not check it out themselves?
This method is possible due to Like Button, a social plugin for Facebook, made by Facebook developers. It is used properly on many legitimate sites, but when combined with CSS hiding and JS moving, the victim has no other chance. If you want to know how to minimize the impact of such tactics, or if you are more into technical details, read on.
On September 30th, Facebook introduced changes on the New Graph Search. Currently available only on desktops, it will be rolled out in phases. Since its release in January 2013, Graph Search has gone through a great transformation. Users are now allowed to search for status history, images, check-ins, comments - basically anything. The goal is to provide users with enhanced search options, so they can find interesting information without leaving the social network.
How does Facebook Graph Search work?
The top search bar works similarly to a browser search engine. The exception is that it searches within Facebook itself and requires specific search commands to make your search successful. For example, imagine you are a passionate bowler. You would like to set up a bowling team, however you don’t know any fellow bowlers in your hometown. Now you can log in on Facebook and search using the following search terms:
People who checked in at Bowling Alleys in Los Angeles, California
You will see all your friends who may have gone bowling without your knowledge, as well as other people, you may or may not know, who checked in. You can interact with them and, for example, establish a Facebook Interest group, to finally create your dream bowling team.
Another example: You love to travel and you would like to investigate places you are planning to visit ahead. Search for:
Images taken in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
to preview all public pictures of the place you want to visit. Moreover you can see the comments, recommendations, and tips from others. A final example:
TV shows my friends who live in Dallas, Texas like Read more…
Hiew V.Y. from beautiful Kota Kinabalu in Malyasia wrote this winning #SecurityTip during Round 2 of the AVAST #SecurityTip contest.
First and foremost, I cover myself with Mobile Security & Antivirus. Like the old saying goes:
[A]lone in the dark,
[V]arious dangers lurks,
[A]ctive protective is a must,
[S]afety ensured by professionals,
[T]rust we can get from AVAST.
On steps I take personally, don’t ever click and access anything that I’m not certain about, and disbelief any vaguely unbelievable things.
Since AVAST is one of the most trusted mobile security apps with more than 50 million users, we decided to ask:
The first prize for best answer was a Nexus 4 smartphone and a 1-year license for avast! Mobile Premium, our new upgrade to avast! Free Mobile Security with premium anti-theft features. Congratulations to Hiew V.Y. for winning Round 2. Five participants also won a 1-year license for avast! Mobile Premium after asking their friends to vote for their tip. Congratulations to:
- Guylaine H. from Canada
- Ghazala N. from Pakistan
- Parag S. from India
- Muhammad T. from Pakistan
- Darshan S. from England
ROUND 3 has begun
Don’t miss your opportunity to share your knowledge and experience with others in Round 3 of the #SecurityTip contest. This week’s question is all about social media. Click here to go directly to the entry form.
When you answer the question, remember to include #SecurityTip, and after you publish it, ask your friends to vote by using the links in the app. The top 5 most voted tips for the week will receive a 1-year license for avast! Internet Security. Our favorite tip will win a brand new Nexus 7 tablet.
In a blog post published back in June, we shared the stories of a few unfortunate people who were fired from their jobs or passed over for a job promotion because of over-sharing on social networks. If you are looking for a job and wonder why you are not getting a call back, it could be because of what’s on your Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ profiles.
A new survey from Jobvite says that more than 90% of HR managers and recruiters report reviewing job candidates’ social profiles during the hiring process. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are still the recruiters social networks of choice – but they are also looking through blogs, YouTube channels, Yammer, Instagram and other networks to source talent. Based on what they find, 42% of companies said they reconsidered hiring candidates.
Posts related to illegal drug use and those of a sexual nature met with universal disapproval. Profanity, and grammar and punctuation errors in posts and tweets trigger negative reactions among recruiters over 60% of the time. On the other hand, posts which share your volunteering gigs or donations to charity give recruiters a positive feeling about hiring you.
Read our tips on giving your social profiles a makeover during job hunting time.
Recently, we have seen many Facebook posts with links leading to applications called Give Hearts, Drink It Up and Daily Horoscope. The applications are very popular – they have over 5 million monthly users – and are managed by the same provider called App Discovery Engine. The posts attracted my attention because they seem to be posted automatically. The entire post consists of the URL which contains quite long text separated with ‘+’. (Later we will see that the text is a horoscope that you see on the page of the application).
To begin investigating these apps I follow the link leading to the Give Hearts application. It redirects me directly to the application. But before I can use it I am asked to grant Give Hearts access to information on my Facebook account like my email or friend lists.
Millions of users access social networks every day in order to share, engage, and look for information as well as entertainment. The transparency of social networks come with a risk and we very often expose ourselves to hackers and scammers that can take advantage of information we share. Social platforms constantly improve security and privacy settings, to deliver a safe experience to the users, but who has time to follow all this news? Well, you can relax and rely on us. AVAST specialists are here to deliver this information in an accessible way.
Last month we prepared a security and privacy update following the most important changes on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Check what has changed since than to enjoy a secure social media experience!
At the end of August, Facebook chief privacy officer Erin Egan published an official blog post, as a response to rumors and extensive discussion on the company’s Data Use Policy. One of the biggest concerns were related to how Facebook displays our data to its clients advertising on the social network. Currently pages can target us even by our name.
Advertisers may also be able to reach you on Facebook using the information they already have about you (such as email addresses or whether you have visited their websites previously).
#AVASTtip: There is not much space for us users to really influence it, but Facebook is open to user feedback. If you would like to comment or express your opinion, you can do it here .