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Discover the worst gifts for privacy protection.

Views expressed in this cybersecurity, cybercrime update are those of the reporters and correspondents.  Accessed on 30 November 2022, 0410 UTC.  Content supplied by email subscription to "PCMag SecurityWatch."

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Russ Roberts (https://www.hawaiicybersecurityjournal.net and https://paper.li/RussellRoberts).

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PCMag SecurityWatch
The Worst Tech Gifts for Privacy Protection
Few things are more exciting to me on Christmas morning than watching a person I love open a gift I chose, made, or purchased with care. Conversely, it's devastating to give someone a gift and hear a slight hitch in their voice while they say their thanks or see the light die in their eyes as they unwrap your present. It can happen to anyone.
Every year, stories about the fallout from giving the wrong gift or a bad present fill the r/AITA subreddit during the holiday season. However, if your gift recipients care about online privacy, finding a gift they want that keeps their data safe is easy this year, thanks to Mozilla. The privacy-focused nonprofit organization behind the Firefox browser offers tech-centric gift guides for the holidays each year, and the list titled "Privacy Not Included" names some popular products with terrible privacy policies.

As PCMag's Rob Pegoraro writes, the worst gifts are labeled with a yellow warning banner on the site, and visitors can also cast their own vote by moving a slider from “Not creepy” to “Super creepy.” Mozilla says its team researched each product on the list and determined how it collects, protects, and sells customer data and whether the company regularly tests for and fixes security vulnerabilities. Unlike PCMag's review process, Mozilla did not do hands-on testing with the products on its list. Instead, the organization examined publicly available information about each product.

The list contains items such as Meta's Quest Pro VR headsetGoogle's Nest Hub, and just about every Amazon product on the market. According to the anonymous researcher who wrote the review for Amazon's Fire HD Tablets entry on Mozilla's list, Amazon may not sell your personal information to third parties, but that's just because the company is using the data for its own targeted advertising campaigns. Mozilla's beef with Amazon's privacy policies for its products is that the documents are very complex, long, and confusing, so the average consumer cannot be expected to parse them before purchasing.

Mozilla also included some safe products on the list. Garmin watches, Sonos speakers, and Apple's HomePod all get Mozilla's stamp of approval. A few apps, such as DiscordSignal, and FaceTime, also made the list.

Looking for a privacy or security-focused gift? PCMag has eight great options for anyone interested in computer security.

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What Else Is Happening in the Security World This Week?

GameStop Claims Data Leak Was Just a Test and 'Not Actual Customer Data.' But it turns out some of that data belongs to real people.
US Bans Huawei Equipment, Cites 'National Security Risk.' The Federal Communications Commission has prohibited the importation or sale of communications equipment made by Chinese companies, including Huawei.
UK to Criminalize Deepfake Porn. The nonconsensual sharing of deepfake porn may soon be outlawed in the UK as lawmakers work to pass legislation to better protect victims.
Intel Reveals 'World's First' Real-Time Deepfake Detector. FakeCatcher is said to have a 96% accuracy rate. It works by analyzing blood flow from video pixels.
Is Your Twitter 2FA Acting Up? How to Recover and Secure Your Account. If your SMS-based 2FA isn't cooperating, here's how to ensure you don't get locked out of your Twitter account.
Save $50 on IPVanish VPN
Beware of Privacy Snoops Repairing Your Tech
Few repair shops have privacy policies in place to safeguard your personal data when your gadgets are in for a fix, and as PCMag’s Stephanie Mlot writes, lax security could leave customers open to privacy violations.
Researchers from the University of Guelph sent rigged devices to repair shops across North America and discovered what they call "widespread privacy violations by technicians." The incidents include snooping on personal data, copying information off the device, and even attempting to cover digital tracks by removing evidence or trying not to generate it in the first place.

Half of the devices used in the study were configured to appear as if they belonged to a man and the other half to a woman. The latter, according to the study, were more likely to be tampered with.

Samsung recently rolled out the Maintenance Mode privacy feature for its Galaxy S21 and S22 phones, which allows users to lock the device so that private data or media cannot be accessed during a repair.

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