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Apple can share your iMessage contacts with authorities

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A week after we discussed the lack of privacy in Google’s Allo messaging app, a report made by The Intercept details how Apple’s iMessage service can send information about people you’re in contact with to law enforcement.

As soon as you begin entering a phone number in iMessage, Apple’s servers immediately begin logging the IP address and metadata of your contact person and your own. The host has to do this in order to check if that specific number has an iMessage account. If not, the messages will be sent through SMS instead. All that sounds trivial, but the issue lies in the length this data is stored.

The information, together with the exact time and date you inputted them, will be readily available in Apple’s servers for 30 days. The police or any government agency may then ask for the data with a valid court order.

You might now be asking: Aren’t all my messages encrypted and protected by Apple’s privacy policy? Yes, definitely, but that doesn’t include your contacts, whether or not you actually sent them a message.

The original source appears reliable. The Intercept claims the information comes from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Electronic Surveillance Support Team, which is a “state police agency that facilitates police data collection using controversial tools like the Stingray, along with conventional techniques like pen registers.”

It’s not as bad as you’d think; if you’re clear of any criminal deeds, you shouldn’t have to worry about using iMessage — or any messaging service for that matter. As proven by the NSA debacle a few years ago, nothing online is truly private, so don’t stop messaging unless you’re guilty of something illegal.

Source: The Intercept

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How to hide from Instragram’s new Activity Status feature

It’s on by default!

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Instagram silently rolled out a new feature of its app. If you don’t like your friends to know that you’re online (and also protect your privacy), you might want to take action. Why? Because it’s automatically turned on.

If you have the latest app, you probably noticed something new inside the Direct Messages section. This new feature dubbed “Activity Status” lets your Instagram buddies know if you’re online. If you happen to be scrolling through your timeline moments ago, the status will show that you’ve been available earlier.

This is switched on by default but the data is only shared with users that you follow and those you message privately. There’s no need to panic if you think a stalker will know that you’re online — unless you follow them, too.

How to turn it off?

You can easily switch it off inside the app. Just go to your profile page and tap the top-right icon for Options.

Next, scroll down until you see “Show Activity Status” and switch the toggle button beside.

That’s it! Now that it’s off on your end, your status will not show up to your buddies. Although, you won’t be able to see the status of other accounts as well.

Since the new feature was smoothly included in the recent updates from the Play Store or App Store, it’s not clear when Instagram introduced the function. Some might not have it yet, which could mean it’s still an experimental approach with a limited number of users.

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Pokémon Go will drop old iPhones that don’t support iOS 11

You must upgrade to play!

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Bad news for Pokémon Go trainers out there with an old iPhone. If the “battery-gate” fiasco is not enough to make you upgrade, this announcement might force you if you want to keep on playing.

Niantic announced its plans to drop support for iOS devices that can’t be updated to iOS 11. Primarily, these are iPhones and even iPads released in or before 2013. They are the following:

  • iPhone 5c
  • iPhone 5
  • iPad (4th generation)
  • iPad (3rd generation)
  • iPad mini (1st generation)
  • iPad 2

The anticipated update will take effect starting February 28, 2018. After that date, Trainers using Apple devices that can’t be updated to iOS 11 will no longer be able to log in, catch Pokémon, and use their PokéCoins or other items. They must switch to a supported device to continue playing.

Niantic stated that the change is a result of improvements to Pokémon Go which push the game ahead of the capabilities of old iPhones and iPads.

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6 free VPN apps for Android and iOS

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If you’re connecting to a public Wi-Fi, it’s best to use a virtual private network or VPN to mask your IP address and avoid security risks. A VPN creates a secure, encrypted “tunnel” over the internet between your device and any website or app you are trying to access.

(more…)

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