Security survey of Canadians, can Facebook hear you, Zoom video conferencing app warning

Welcome to Cyber Security Today. It’s Wednesday July 10th. I’m Howard Solomon, contributing reporter on cyber security for ITWorldCanda.com.

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How good are Canadians at looking after their cyber security? Only so-so, if an online survey is accurate. Only two-thirds of respondents said they apply the same management of security across all the personal Internet devices they own. Just over half of respondents feel they are doing all they can to prevent the loss of their personal information. Only 53 per cent of Canadians feel they should be responsible for the security of their personal data when online.

And politicians should think about this number: Only 28 per cent of respondents agreed that the government and schools are doing enough to educate the public on how to managing cyber security.

Here’s my take: You should make sure to apply the same security attitude and management for every device you have — PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. And even though Internet companies, product makers and data holders have a role to play in security, you should feel you are doing all you can to prevent the loss of your personal data.

The survey was sponsored by a security company called Palo Alto Networks and the market research company YouGov.

Ever wonder how an ad for a product you’re talking about with a friend seems to suddenly pop up on Facebook? It’s almost like … they’re listening to you. Well, USA Today recently looked into this and after talking to experts has come up with a more innocent explanation: Facebook algorithms make educated guesses based on where you are, if someone you’ve friended is beside you when you’re online, if your friends liked a product on Facebook and what you’ve just uploaded to Facebook or Instagram. There’s lots of ways Facebook has data on you beyond what you do with it — for example, if you use your Facebook ID to log onto other sites, Facebook can capture data on what you do there. It only partly helps to disable location tracking on your mobile device. As with any social media app, be careful of how much personal information you disclose, and how often you use it. Here’s a link to the news story.

By the way, users of Amazon’s Alexa assistant should remember that Amazon keeps copies of transcripts of many of your voice commands until you delete them. It does so to help train the app. The only ones that aren’t deleted are regular orders or reminders — like favorite pizzas or birthday reminders. If you find that objectionable, make sure you delete your history regularly. Here’s a link to the news story.

Mac users who subscribe to the Zoom video conferencing service should be aware that a vulnerability has been found. It could allow an attacker to turn on your video camera without you knowing it by tricking your computer into joining a meeting. While Zoom has released an update to its application, it may not be a complete solution. For that, go into Settings and in the Video section check the line “turn off video when joining a meeting.” That way when you want to join a meeting you have to turn on the camera. For everyone else out there, there are cheap stick-on laptop video camera covers you can buy to protect yourself. If you have a bigger video camera attached to your computer, either unplug it until it’s needed, or point it at the ceiling until you do to ensure your privacy.

Finally, yesterday was the second Tuesday of the month, which is the day Microsoft releases its monthly security patches. Adobe also released some patches. Make sure your computers have them installed. There’s also a new version of the Firefox browser with security improvements.

That’s it for Cyber Security Today. Links to details about these stories can be found in the text version of each podcast at ITWorldCanada.com. That’s where you’ll also find my news stories aimed at businesses and cyber security professionals. Cyber Security Today can be heard on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or add us to your Flash Briefing on your smart speaker. Thanks for listening. I’m Howard Solomon



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