Guest Post: Over 90% of online trackers are from Google, Facebook, and Microsoft

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 29, 2022 by itnerd

Online data trackers on websites are used to follow your browsing habits, IP address, and personal information. According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, 93.7% of online trackers are from Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. Beyond trackers, other web privacy threats, such as session replay and fingerprinting, are also present.

Notably, Google’s trackers make up 49.9% of all trackers found on the web. They follow your activity on their apps and services and have an extensive set of data based on how you interact and what purchases you make.

YouTube and ad network Doubleclick, which belong to Google, also have a significant share of trackers online. YouTube has a 13.8% share, while Doubleclick trackers make up 8.3%.

Out of all trackers, Facebook’s trackers make up 15.7% of the share. Facebook has suffered multiple data breaches in the past and has been involved in privacy scandals.

Microsoft’s trackers are the least common in this list, with 6% of the share. Finally, Hotjar has a 6.3% share of trackers online. Their tracker helps websites collect your IP address, device type, operating system browser type, window size, and content.

Other web privacy threats

Beyond trackers, other web privacy threats exist that can corrupt your safety online.

Session replay script was found in 35% of the scanned websites. This type of threat captures visitors’ journey on the website. During the recording of the user’s session, the script may also capture personal identifiable information (PII).

Fingerprinting scripts were present in 30.9% of websites. About one out of four (24.9%) websites had a newly registered domain name. Foreign actors from countries like Russia, Belarus, China, and Iran originated 9% of malicious scripts. Malware and bad SSL were each present in just 0.1% of websites.

To read the full article, head over to:

https://atlasvpn.com/blog/over-90-of-online-trackers-are-from-google-facebook-and-microsoft

  over-90-of-online-trackers-are-from-google-facebook-and-microsoft

Take Control of Cloud Costs and Maximize Cloud Benefits: Aptum Cloud Impact Study

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 29, 2022 by itnerd

Aptum, a hybrid multi-cloud managed service provider, has announced Part 3 of its annual Cloud Impact Study 2022, titled Taking Control of Cloud Costs. The findings reveal cloud computing has resulted in higher-than-expected costs for 73 per cent of IT decision-makers – a notable increase of 28 per cent from just over half (57 per cent) of companies in 2021. The report explores the common financial drivers behind cloud computing, and the causes of its unplanned expenses. 

Overall, cloud computing has given respondents more control over IT expenditure, with more than half (63 per cent) of respondents saying cloud transformation positively impacts IT spending, and the majority (86 per cent) saying cloud technology is essential to their company’s financial security. 

The operating expenditure (OpEx) payment structures of cloud computing allow organizations to pay for the compute and storage they use, while also monitoring monthly usage and spend. The study’s respondents concur: 71 per cent believe cloud transformation positively impacts operational efficiency. 

However, 65 per cent of surveyed IT decision-makers reveal they have “wasted significant IT spend due to cloud inefficiencies” and only 20 per cent of respondents have a holistic strategy in place when it comes to their transformation. The report identifies the most common causes of unforeseen costs and details how businesses can overcome these hurdles to succeed and drive business growth. The top causes of unforeseen costs include the following: 

  • Lack of familiarity with the cloud – Limited internal knowledge, expertise and resources are obstacles to managing cloud effectively.
  • Runaway cloud costs – When businesses do not configure the cloud to scale up and down effectively, they often consume more resources than predicted. 
  • The ‘Hotel California of Cloud’ effect – Cloud is temptingly easy to enter, but hard to leave. To avoid egress charges, planning and expertise are crucial to choosing the best cloud infrastructure for workloads.
  • Hybrid complexity – Mixing hybrid, multi-cloud and legacy infrastructure platforms has its own additional management costs associated to it. 
  • Cloud modernization – Organizations are increasingly looking to modernize their cloud applications. However, lack of expertise and legacy systems often add complexity and costs for those looking to do this.
  • Wrong consumption model – Companies unfamiliar with cloud may find themselves adopting the wrong consumption model.

The full report provides detailed insight into the true cost of cloud, and calls for businesses to optimize their cloud environment and make the most of their cloud budgets.
To see the full findings from part three of Aptum’s Cloud Impact Study 2022, Taking Control of Cloud Costs, download the report here: https://aptum.com/cloud-hub/2022-cis-part-3/.

To see the full findings from part two of the report, Solving the Security Equation, download the report here: https://aptum.com/cloud-hub/2022-cis-part-2/.

For part one of the report, Hybrid: Why and How– Applying Lessons from Digital Transformation, visit here: https://aptum.com/cloud-hub/2022-cis-part-1/.

The study canvassed the opinions and approaches to cloud technology of 400 senior IT professionals. Respondents were from organizations with 250+ employees in the U.S., Canada and UK. Industries included financial services, technology, telecommunications, manufacturing, retail, public education, and the commercial sector.

Apple Appears To Have Deleted Its Tweets From Twitter

Posted in Commentary with tags , on November 29, 2022 by itnerd

If you go to Apple’s Twitter page, you’ll see something interesting. Which is nothing:

Apple appears to have deleted everything from their Twitter page. There is literally nothing left. I also checked Apple Podcasts and Apple Music and the same thing hasn’t happened on those two twitter accounts. But you have to wonder if that’s going to happen shortly. This has to part of what set Elon off yesterday when he went on multiple Twitter rants about Apple. Then there’s likely the fact that Apple not advertising on Twitter will cost him about $100 million. Either way, Apple is expressing its displeasure with Elon as only Apple can.

The next few days should be interesting to watch.

As Twitter Restores Banned Accounts, Things Go REALLY Downhill For The Social Media Platform

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 29, 2022 by itnerd

Since starting to cover this story, I’ve been saying on a daily basis that it cannot possibly get any worse. Except that it keeps getting worse and at some point, things will break for Twitter and it will be game over for the platform and it’s rather unstable leader Elon Musk. Here’s what’s happened overnight. And it’s a lot so buckle up:

First up, banned accounts are returning today. And according to Platformer around 62,000 banned or suspended accounts with 10k+ followers have so far been reinstated:

In fact, since Musk’s poll, Twitter has begun the process of reinstating roughly 62,000 accounts with more than 10,000 followers, Platformer has learned, including one account that has over 5 million followers, and 75 accounts with over 1 million followers. (The identities of the accounts could not be learned before press time.) Internally, employees have referred to this event as “the Big Bang.”

The project could cause more instability at Twitter at a time when the company is hemorrhaging engineering talent, according to current employees. Each reinstatement requires Twitter to rebuild a social graph, activating data on who the account follows and who follows the account. For large accounts like Trump’s, with 88 million followers, that’s millions of lists that Twitter has to update and maintain. 

Also, the same Platformer article shows that Musk has apparently come up with his own “reality distortion field” when it comes to Twitter Blue:

The move also comes the same week that Musk plans to relaunch Twitter Blue, allowing anyone to buy a verified badge for $8 a month. An internal document about the launch, designed for employees in sales, says that impersonations have been “extremely rare,” despite all evidence to the contrary

“We anticipated early efforts like this from bad actors, and we are adapting dynamically to prevent and detect them,” the document reads. What about “large scale coordinated misinformation attacks funded by wealthy organizations or governments?” the document asks. “Large-scale bad actors would also require a huge supply of unique credit card numbers and mobile phones,” the document says. “As we detect and suspend these, the logistical hurdles to re-offend at scale become insurmountable.”

Uh… No. We saw what happened the last time. It was a mess. And this re-launch has the potential to be the same for Twitter.

Now over to Donald Trump. You know, the first guy to be let back onto Twitter by Musk. Except that he’s still suing Twitter:

Donald Trump is not backing down from his ongoing legal fight against Twitter despite his ban from the site being lifted by Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk.

Trump’s attorney, John Coale, said the former US president has no plans to withdraw his appeal against a May ruling that dismissed his lawsuit against Twitter, per Bloomberg.

Earlier this month, Trump asked an appeals court to revive his legal challenge against Twitter for suspending his account after the January 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol.

Trump separately sued Meta’s Facebook and Google’s YouTube over similar bans they imposed on him after the riot.

Lawyers for Trump argue that the Twitter ban was “contrary to First Amendment principles,” and amounted to “overtly partisan censorship,” according to court documents.

However, legal experts have said it will be challenging for them to prove that the ban amounted to censorship, per Bloomberg.

Despite Trump’s Twitter account being reinstated, Coale said the former president had no intention to drop the case without reaching an agreement on terms to end the dispute, per Bloomberg.

“There’s more to it than just letting him back in so we want to talk to see if we can figure something out,” Coale said. “You don’t just do things on your own, you should talk to the other side or wait.”

Trump seems to want back onto Twitter. But on his terms. And despite having his own social media platform which he claims that he wants to stick to. That’s curious. We’ll have to keep an eye on this one.

Next up, is Wired reporting that cuts to Twitter CSAM monitors have been drastic. How drastic you ask? Well…:

REMOVING CHILD EXPLOITATION is “priority #1”, Twitter’s new owner and CEO Elon Musk declared last week. But, at the same time, following widespread layoffs and resignations, just one staff member remains on a key team dedicated to removing child sexual abuse content from the site, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, who both requested to remain anonymous. 

It’s unclear how many people were on the team before Musk’s takeover. On LinkedIn, WIRED identified four Singapore-based employees who specialize in child safety who said publicly they left Twitter in November. 

With only one person on that time, I am not sure how Musk squares that circle. Because clearly with that staffing level, it’s not “priority #1” for musk.

Finally is CNN reporting that alongside the account restorations, Twitter has abandoned its ban on harmful COVID-19 misinformation:

Twitter did not appear to formally announce the rule change. Instead, some Twitter users Monday night spotted a note added to the page on Twitter’s website that outlines its Covid policy.

“Effective November 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 misleading information policy,” the note read.

Free speech is one thing. But allowing misinformation about a communicable disease that kills people is another thing entirely. And when you tie this into the sort of people Twitter is letting back onto the platform, it seems to me that Twitter is becoming a cesspool under Musk’s leadership. And he is fine with that quite clearly.

No wonder advertisers are leaving the platform in droves as they clearly don’t want to be associated with this sort of toxic mess.

Elon Musk Claims That Apple Is Threatening Him With The Removal Of The Twitter App From The App Store

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 28, 2022 by itnerd

Related to this Twitter rant from Elon Musk earlier today comes this:

Musk then went on to say this:

I suspect Elon isn’t telling the complete truth here. My thought is that Apple did tell him why, assuming that this conversation did happen, but since that doesn’t fit with the narrative of being the victim, he’s resorted to this. But we don’t have both sides of this conversation so that’s impossible to prove or disprove.

It would not at all surprise me if Apple made demands to have moderation on the Twitter platform or face being Thanos Snapped off the App Store, just like Parler was after January 6th. This could be a terminal event for Twitter. Doubly so if Google follows suit. Which they did with Parler. So you can see why Elon has become extremely unhinged today. And he’s decided to pick a fight against a trillion dollar company in the process. The problem for Elon is that he will lose. Apple makes the decisions in terms of if and what is on its App Store, and there are rules that Twitter agreed to. Though Twitter has tested the limits of that from time to time. Regardless, Elon should really reconsider his position here because he doesn’t have the cards to play that will lead to a win.

Elon Musk Goes Off The Deep End By Accusing Apple Of Censorship And “Hating” Free Speech

Posted in Commentary with tags , on November 28, 2022 by itnerd

From the “You can’t make this stuff up” department comes Elon Musk putting out a series of Tweets that accuses Apple of “hating” free speech and practising censorship. Here’s the start of Elon’s Tweetstorm:

Gee, perhaps Apple has joined the large number of Twitter advertisers who have paused advertising on Twitter because:

  1. Elon fired a lot of people. And a significant number of people who were left quit.
  2. Because of #1, there’s no moderation on the platform any longer. Which of course scares advertisers.
  3. Elon’s behaviour is, erratic to say the least.
  4. Twitter has seen hate speech skyrocket since Elon took over.
  5. Twitter needs advertisers more than advertisers need Twitter.

And by the way, like I said earlier today. Berating advertisers for pausing advertising Twitter is not a good business development strategy. But clearly Elon doesn’t see it that way.

But Elon wasn’t done there. He then said this:

Really? I am thinking that he’s conflating things. But without a context to work from, it’s hard to say. But if I had to guess, Apple was asking LBRY to do this to fight COVID misinformation.

Oh, you’ll note that Twitter automatically added a link to see the latest COVID info to the bottom of that Tweet.

Elon has clearly lost his mind as advertisers pausing ads on Twitter is costing him money and he doesn’t know how to solve that problem. And picking a fight with Apple is not a smart thing to do because Apple will likely win that fight. So perhaps Elon needs to take a chill pill and think about how he addresses this in a sane and rational manner. Just a thought.

UPDATE: This who thing has become a farce based on this:

Really? Perhaps Twitter should publish the rationale for who the ban or un-ban? After all, fair is fair right?

OVHcloud positioned in the “Major Players” Category in IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Public Cloud Infrastructure as a Service 2022 Vendor Assessment

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 28, 2022 by itnerd

OVHcloud, the European cloud leader, is named as a “Major Player”  in the IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Public Cloud Infrastructure as a Service 2022 Vendor Assessment (doc #US48861822, November 2022). The IDC MarketScape evaluated 13 companies to assess strategies and capabilities.

According to the IDC MarketScape report, “OVHcloud has attractive and transparent pricing (e.g., it does not bill for API calls). It also has valuable service adjacency given it also offers dedicated private servers, web hosting, and hosted private clouds. This helps make it a one-stop shop for companies still early in their journey to the public cloud, as they can start the transition with OVHcloud using older deployment models and then maintain the same commercial relationship if and when they decide to move those workloads. ”

The report also noted, “OVHcloud’s roots as a European service provider also puts the company in the catbird seat for conversations about sovereign cloud and data residency, and indeed, it has baked these factors into its development approach for years. It has also made sustainability a strong focus for many years.

From a portfolio standpoint, the IDC MarketScape notes  the recent investments made in building out software services higher up the stack in areas surch as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, databases, and container orchestrations, while continuing to court partners focused on commercial and open-source software to build its ecosystem. 

You can download the relevant section of the report here.

Meta Slapped With Hefty Fine For Because Of A Data Breach

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 28, 2022 by itnerd

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) has fined Meta $265 million USD for a data breach that affected millions of Facebook users in 2021. This information from ‘scraped data’ included phone numbers, Facebook IDs, names, locations, DOBs and email addresses.

The DPC commenced this inquiry on 14 April 2021, on foot of media reports into the discovery of a collated dataset of Facebook personal data that had been made available on the internet. The scope of the inquiry concerned an examination and assessment of Facebook Search, Facebook Messenger Contact Importer and Instagram Contact Importer tools in relation to processing carried out by Meta Platforms Ireland Limited (‘MPIL’) during the period between 25 May 2018 and September 2019. The material issues in this inquiry concerned questions of compliance with the GDPR obligation for Data Protection by Design and Default.  The DPC examined the implementation of technical and organisational measures pursuant to Article 25 GDPR (which deals with this concept).

John Stevenson, Product Director, Cyren had this to say:

“Every single one of the 533m Facebooks users whose information was published on hacking forums faced potential follow-up phishing scams exploiting their exposed PII in the pursuit of more valuable credentials. 

So, whilst the initial data leak was back in 2021, it’s nonetheless encouraging to see fines being issued retrospectively. Hopefully, the consequences here will encourage other enterprises to comply to cyber regulations and follow best practices to avoid a mercenary penalty in future, particularly given cyber insurers increasingly setting a higher bar for due diligence to avoid extortionate payouts like this one.”

Besides other enterprises complying with cyber regulation. I hope that this encourages Facebook to play by the rules for fear of being punished heavily. $265 million USD is a non-trivial amount of money, and I hope it gets their attention.

Elon Musk Can’t Pay His Staff On Time…. While The French Call Him Out Over Lack Of Content Moderation…. Oh Yeah, Twitter Is Hiring

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 28, 2022 by itnerd

Imagine surviving the Twitter downsizing exercise, and then you make it to payday and find out that you haven’t been paid. That’s what’s happened apparently to Twitter employees:

Twitter staff in the United Kingdom and Germany didn’t receive their salaries as scheduled for November, journalist Chris Stokel-Walker reported. Employees normally get paid on the 28th of every month.

As a result, Stokel-Walker said some Twitter workers were forced to go into overdraft when the money didn’t appear as expected.

“This is a huge issue that has got current and former employees in private groups up in arms,” Stokel-Walker tweeted. “Staff in Ireland and the Netherlands were paid on time. In the last 30 minutes, some of the salaries have been hitting bank accounts… one at a time, suggesting they’re doing it by hand.”

Some irate staff members, including those cut from the company following Elon Musk‘s takeover, tweeted that they still haven’t been paid for November.

This might have something to do with the fact that Twitter has lost most of their payroll team. Because if you don’t have a payroll group, people aren’t going to get paid. And related to that, if you mess with people’s pay, those people will head to the exits because it is suicide for an employee to mess with people’s pay.

Oh yeah. It also affects recruitment efforts, which apparently Twitter is recruiting employees after downsizing employees:

Just a week after taking control of Twitter, new owner Elon Musk laid off around half the company’s staff.

Since then, the tech mogul and Tesla CEO has let further staff go, some through layoffs aimed at downsizing the company and others through more targeted firings.

But after scrambling to get rid of staff, Twitter is still now actually hiring, Musk said in a presentation to the company, slides from which he posted on Twitter.

“We’re recruiting,” the slide simply read.

Twitter’s job-search site, however, doesn’t show any open roles at the company.

Ignoring the fact that this suggests that the downsizings combined with mass resignations have placed Twitter behind the eight ball, I have to ask this question. Seeing as Twitter is literally become a train wreck next to a dumpster fire with Elon Musk at the controls, who would be crazy enough to work for Elon Musk? I would suggest only the truly desperate or those who are taking a risk would. And to those people I would submit the following: Look elsewhere because it isn’t worth it.

Finally, remember when I said that the EU might make Elon’s life more miserable than it already is…. That may be starting to happen:

Twitter has shown a lack of transparency in the fight against misinformation, France’s regulator in charge of digital communications Arcom said on Monday, as the social media platform faced heightened scrutiny following steep job cuts.

In a third yearly report on “the fight against the manipulation of information,” Arcom pointed to Twitter’s “very loose transparency regarding data” on the matter, adding that the company had provided “imprecise” details on how its automated tools worked.

A spokesperson for Twitter in France did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment. The spokesperson has not responded to queries since Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter last month.

Arcom has no power to sanction online platforms for the spread of false information.

But under a French law adopted in 2018, 12 of these platforms must disclose the processes they have put in place to handle their own definition of misinformation, leading to “naming and shaming” presentations by the authority.

The 12 online platforms include Alphabet’s YouTube, online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, Meta’s Facebook and — for the first time — the fast-growing short-video platform TikTok, owned by China-based firm ByteDance.

French laws also compel large online platforms to provide means to its users to report false information that could alter the potential outcome of an election.

Twitter wasn’t the worst in class, according to Arcom’s report.

“TikTok, Yahoo and, to a lesser extent, Google, stand out particularly by the absence of tangible information allowing Arcom” to analyse the effectiveness of measures aimed at fighting information manipulation, the authority said.

The report comes a week after Twitter France’s head announced his resignation.

While Twitter wasn’t the worst here, this isn’t good news and is likely to get the attention of the EU. Who is likely chomping at the bit to pull him in for a little chat. And that will be very bad for Elon as being willing to be held accountable isn’t one of his strengths as a human being. Which means the EU will really have some “fun” with him as a result.

Uber Supports Canadian Organizations Leading On Women’s Safety

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 28, 2022 by itnerd

Sexual assault and gender-based violence don’t belong anywhere in our communities. Which is why Uber remains committed to help stop incidents before they happen—by partnering with and learning from women’s safety groups, building tools and policies, promoting awareness, and empowering our community of users.

They renewed our commitment to Driving Change, a multi-year, multi-million dollar campaign where Uber partners with leading sexual assault and domestic violence partners around the world. In Canada, Uber is proud to extend ongoing partnerships with YWCA CanadaWomanACTEVA BC and Le Chaînon with $450,000 (CAD) over the next two years. 

YWCA Canada is Canada’s oldest and largest women’s multi-service organization. YWCA Canada represents 32 member associations whose programs and services create change for 1 million women, girls, and their families. Annually, YWCAs invest over $230 million to support 330,000 women and girls, in 300 communities across Canada. YWCA Member Associations offer immediate assistance to women fleeing violence, provide counselling and referral services, offer violence prevention and intervention programs. Informed by Member Associations, research and trends, YWCA Canada develops resources and initiatives to create systemic change and shift the needle forward on ending gender based violence. The funds from Uber Canada will enable YWCA to advance their work in research, resource development, education, and knowledge mobilisation.